Ah, the marvels of air travel! And the incomparable service and hospitality of Philippine Airlines! It is indeed the heart of the Filipino.
I boarded from San Francisco after midnight, tired, sleepy, and naturally anxious. At the door of the aircraft, a perfectly groomed flight attendant helped me across the threshold of the Airbus 340. She asked if I was traveling alone. I said yes.
And as she rolled my bright red carry-on to my seat, she said, “Well, you are no longer alone, ma’am. We are all here to take good care of you.”
Suddenly I was home.
It was a long vacation, and unforgettable from the first welcome to the last goodbye.
It started in mid-April on a long flight to Las Vegas, with my second son. It was a sad trip for both of us but I was grateful for the time. I realized during those endless hours in the sky that it was the longest uninterrupted time I had spent with him since God knows when. Every scary bump was well worth it.
Then came Atlanta with my sister, 11 days with my youngest in Florida, and then Seattle with my grand- and great-grandchildren.
My last stop was San Francisco. I spent four fun-filled days with my niece and nephew in the East Bay. The night of my arrival was all about a reunion with long-missed relatives who came from all the way across town for hugs, kisses and yummy food.
At noon the next day we lined up at True Food in Walnut Creek. It was all natural, organic and delicious.
Then it was lunch at The Stinky Rose in North Beach. I loved their exquisite garlic clams on black pasta. After dessert we drove by the Embarcadero, took in the sights and sounds of Chinatown, and gawked at the sky-high Salesforce Tower. We saw the famous nozzle-shaped Coit Tower but an early fog foiled our view of the majestic Golden Gate.
The drive made me once again experience the magic of my city by the bay—where it all began.
And I remembered 2nd Avenue, Lone Mountain (San Francisco College for Women), their vivacious registrar and my boss, Sister Marina Mapa; and me, pregnant with my sixth child, trusting that our old Ford would start if we glided it downhill.
Memories! All good.
But my visit to Seattle was the cherry on top of the icing on the cake. I got there a few days before the arrival of my 10th great-grandchild. Cheers and rejoicing greeted his birth on July 14 in Bellevue, Washington.
Remy Xavier is my daughter’s first grandchild. I told her: “Welcome to the elite group of mothers (now grandmothers) who know nothing about babies.”
Please don’t misunderstand. I am perfectly happy sitting on the sidelines. I have had my share of nail-biting, eye-rolling episodes watching new parents struggle with a colicky baby.
Today’s new parent knows it all. Information is available in one click. Siri can be put in charge of details like how long the baby should nurse. I guess Alexa could do the same.
One can’t help but be awed by all these new gadgets and gimmicks. But I have my reservations.
I was introduced to the Snoo, a smart bassinet with a cozy swaddle attached at the center. It promises to add a full hour of sleep for baby and parents.
Dr. Harvey Karp, pediatrician, created it for exhausted, sleep-deprived new moms and dads. It is touted to be “the first responsive bassinet that boosts sleep for babies and parents.” This latest contraption, to no one’s surprise, costs a small fortune.
The Snoo rocks the baby and swooshes white noise that mimics the sounds in the womb. It is so smart it tells you when your baby is agitated or calm, upset or uncomfortable. Or how would one know otherwise, right?
I think the new devices leave nothing for the new mom and dad to figure out for themselves. How will they ever learn to distinguish a hunger cry from a “carry me” whimper?
I worry that these new gadgets may interfere with the innate maternal “need to be needed.” How will moms (and dads) ever know the satisfaction of having rocked their baby to sleep, or feel the joy of calming down their fussy child and making him comfortable by just holding him and doing a silly dance or humming a mindless nonmelody?
My friend wonders with me. He asks: How would a mom (or dad) know they have the God-given capacity to put aside their own comfort in favor of this new and strange-looking human being?
It is said that the most amazing thing about becoming a parent is that you will never again be your own first priority.
I am old school. I was told to feed on demand, and to always have aceite de manzanilla on hand to rub on a gassy tummy. It may sound medieval or like an old wives’ tale, but it worked.
Most of the advice from our “oldies” did. Well, maybe except the wet piece of cotton on the forehead to stop hiccups.
I know times have changed. But let us not get so into the new stuff that we are rendered helpless without them.
Follow the urges of your heart. Arm yourselves with a good dose of common sense and maybe, get a chair that rocks. Like mine.