At the start of the American regime, a young ilustrado named Pio Gozo from Majayjay, Laguna, married Eugenia Estella, a comely village girl from barrio San Isidro. Thus our Gozo family tree took root.
Within 15 years Lola Genia gave birth to 12 children, six of whom died very young. Lolo Pio died of tuberculosis in the mid-’20s. A good provider, he combined careers in civil service and small business to satisfy the needs of a growing family.
Lola Genia raised her six remaining children by dint of hard work and simplicity of life. She trained all of them in all facets of housework, with special emphasis on cleanliness and orderliness in the house.
My mother, Inay Aurea, was second to the oldest, composed of Padre Vicente (a priest), Tio Ino (a doctor), Tia Litay (a housewife), Tio Felix (a town mayor) and Tio Eming, the youngest.
I have one sister and 14 cousins who are Lola Genia’s grandchildren. They live abroad in Chicago, Indiana, Connecticut, California, Melbourne, and here in Cagayan de Oro, Pampanga and Ayala Alabang.
There are 22 great-great grandchildren of different colors, blond, yellow, and brown, a result of intermarriages between us Filipinos, Chinese, and Americans.
I am the eldest (now 78 years old) among Lola Genia’s grandchildren. I act as the keeper of nostalgia and the receiver of news, good or bad. I am considered an elder chief of the tribe, deserving praise and reverence from members of the clan.
Approval and joy
This year, a windfall of big events lifted my spirits. From December 2013 to June 2014, two of my nieces and two of my nephews marched down the aisles of matrimony
. The news reverberated here and abroad and was greeted with exuberant approval and joy.
With four new marriages, the 100-year-old Gozo family tree was grafted with new branches and bushy leaves.
The first wedding happened in December 2013, when my nephew Kyle Gozo married Jenny Jabeguero at the Basilica of San Sebastian. Kyle, the son of Dr. Felix Gozo and Pamela Cook, studied advertising in Columbia University, and came to work and live in the Philippines. Jenny is a fast-rising executive in the advertising business.
The second wedding was held on April 26, when my nephew Eugene Aguana married Mary Cresencia McBean at the Baguio Cathedral. Eugene is the son of my cousin Dr. Ching Gozo Aguana and Ret. Gen. Rogelio Aguana Jr. The bride is the daughter of John McBean and Crispina Smith of Baguio City.
The third marriage took place on May 3, when my beautiful niece, Irene, a newly graduated doctor, daughter of Rita Gozo and Carlos Rosas, married Marvin Jumaquio, an airline pilot. The matrimonial ceremony was held at the shrine of the Sacred Heart in Makati City.
The fourth took place on May 24, when my other niece Christina Marie Tien married Donald Robert Gazillo in Morristown, New Jersey, US. Christina is the daughter of my cousin, Dr. Ave Gozo, and Dr. Huey Tien from Taiwan.
On top of four successive weddings, my own family got a big bonus from heaven. My dream-come-true granddaughter was born on June 16 to my daughter Claudine and husband Art Pascua. The baby is beautiful, and we named her Amelia.
The church weddings of my nieces and nephews brings me back to the profound experience of my own church wedding many moons ago.
I fully empathized with the depth of emotions and optimism of Irene and Christina, Kyle and Eugene as the church rituals unfolded in their full solemnity and sanctity. So much endearment, so much passion, so much discernment, so much exclusivity, and so much optimism were experienced by Irene and Christina, Kyle and Eugene before the altar of God in the sacrament of matrimony.
Our Catholic religion has endowed the union of man in wife with transcendence in a sacrament that’s generous with holiness and joy. Jesus Christ himself performed his first miracle by turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana.
The symbols are eloquent: the exclusivity of marriage vows, the exchange of wedding rings, the sharing of the same veil, the tying of the cord for unity and the lighting of two candles to signify the Lord’s presence, all these in front of God’s altar. Like they say, beautiful marriages are made in heaven.
I hope the marriage of Irene, Christina, Kyle and Eugene will be endowed with the good genes of Lola Genia and Lolo Pio, whose lasting marriage thrived in sacrificial love, loyalty, thoughtfulness, kindness, and prayerfulness. Prayer is the ultimate source of courage along the way in overcoming problems and heartaches.
I’m personally praying that the newlyweds help each other to be the best that each can be as wife and mother, as husband and father.
Ahhh… pretty baby granddaughter Amelia! At two days old, she’s mind blowing. I felt like French actor Maurice Chevalier singing with his grandfatherly voice, “Thank heavens for little girls!”
Her Lola Encar, my wife, is crazy about babies. She cradled baby Amelia in her arms without taking off her gaze. Amelia, wrapped in a white baby blanket like a suman, wiggled to be free but couldn’t escape. I touched her and felt her skin, face and hands, all so cotton soft. She opened her eyes half-way, still unused to light. She puckered her mouth and broke into a quick, short smile.