I remember celebrating Easter as a little girl in a bungalow by the beach. We usually spent summer vacations in one of four houses inside Lola Ichay Guevara’s compound in Baclaran, a short walk away from the original Redemptorist Church.
On Easter Sundays I recall singing (salimpusa) at High Mass with my older cousins. I loved climbing that rickety choir loft. Church was followed by a sumptuous lunch with several families bringing the best from their kitchens to the huge table setup under the trees close to the water.
The meal was endless, and when it was done the young men made a mad dash for the hammocks, there to sleep their siesta time away.
We played games. There were prizes. We pinned tails on donkeys, broke candy-filled piñatas (palayok) and had sack races. And when the time was right and it was no longer “right after eating,” we were let loose in our bathing suits and rushed into the ocean, finally, after having been deprived since Maundy Thursday.
It was a happy time. We didn’t have a care in the world.
But the significance of Easter was somehow lost on us, who at the time were just part of the huge gang of out-of-school kids happy to be on vacation and romping all over the beach.
We sang our hearts out in church but didn’t understand what we were singing. It was all in Latin. I had no idea!
Thank God that years later, I heard the real good news and I learned that we are confident of our salvation through the sacrificial death of Jesus on the Cross, and in His resurrection.
The Resurrection is the firm foundation of our faith. Believing that Jesus was born of a Virgin, was crucified, died and was buried and rose from the dead fills us with hope of a life to come.
Now that’s something to sing about.
Apo Night unplugged
It was a restful Holy Week. Quiet. No traffic.
The week before was hectic. I was rushing to get Apo Night organized. We held it here at home.
I have 10 grandchildren in Manila. Nine came. One of them was on a school mission in Shanghai. Eight live in the United States. There were five out of 10 great-grandkids here that night. Spouses came and a couple of significant others.
I chased their parents (my children) away. They were not invited.
It was a special evening.
Even with so many missing, it was still a problem to find a big enough turkey. Did you know that they don’t have any big ones before Thanksgiving and Christmas? Actually, even their holiday ones are often not big enough. Anyway, I finally found a 9-kg bird at Santi’s and grabbed two extra breasts at the grocery. All that plus lasagna, pork tenderloin and Caesar salad and we were good to go.
My guests were punctual. They were hungry.
But first things first.
Aside from being with as many grandchildren as I could and conversing with them, the hugs and kisses, the stories and laughter, the highlight of my evening was seeing my crystal bowl filled with their cell phones and gadgets.
When my first apo arrived I said I was toying with the idea of asking them to separate themselves from their devices. That’s all it took.
He found the bowl and deposited his phone and smart watch. The rest just followed suit. No one seemed to feel out of sorts. Well, maybe for a couple of minutes. I caught them glancing at the bowl. Once. Maybe twice.
Before dinner, we gathered in my casita. We were 17 adults. I ran out of chairs. Some sat on the floor.
I asked some questions. Did I detect a few moments of discomfort? Maybe. Briefly. We talked about parents and parenting. We asked about one another. Reviewed past events.
Before dinner we prayed. Now they know what’s in my heart.
Then we feasted. Conversation was animated. We actually looked at one another as we conversed. Wonderful! I wanted to cry for joy.
For a couple of magical hours we had one another’s undivided attention. It was amazing.
It has been a week. We are still talking about it. My favorite feedback: “Let’s do it again soon, Lola, exactly the same way.”
That was my best night in a very long time.
News about territorial limit disputes confuse me. I know I read a few years ago how we had won that argument. What has changed? Should we be worried?
I hear experts expostulating the merits of our international agreements.
One predicts: “There will be no invasion. The enemy is already within. Haven’t you heard? They keep coming in. And we are not allowed to go where they congregate, in our own country.”
I feel a strange chill.
I remember my uncle’s gardener, Mr. Ikeda. My sister and I bought mongo con hielo from the Japones across the street, and there was that nice Mr. Uchida who made our beds and the fine cabinets for my aunt’s house on Taft Avenue, then the ritziest part of Manila. Like the rest of them, he even spoke Spanish.
I suddenly wonder, where did they all go after Pearl Harbor? Were they perhaps part of an “advance party”?