My mother loved to cook. Her love language was food and she expressed it beautifully, deliciously, lavishly.
This was how she made cocido, a Spanish/Portuguese stew.
She would bring a large pot half-filled with water to a boil, and then add:
2 whole white onions studded with 4 pieces of cloves
250 g Jamón Serrano (whole or cut into large chunks)
2 pieces dried Spanish chorizo (whole or cut into large chunks, depending on the size of the chorizo)
2 kg kenchi, whole (sometimes she would use bulalo).
After 45 minutes, add 2 kg of liempo (1 kg slab each).
After 30 minutes, add 2 whole chickens
2 pieces of morcilla (blood sausage)
1 large can of Spanish garbanzos
Mom would add water from time to time (just enough to cover the meats) and continue to cook the cocido until the meats were fork-tender.
Then she would put in the vegetables:
1 head cabbage (sliced into wedges)
½ kg green beans
4 medium whole carrots, peeled and cut in half
While waiting, Mom would make the sauce by heating up 2 tbsp olive oil, sauté 1/3 cup of onions and 2 tsp of garlic. When the onions were translucent, 2 cups of Spanish tomato sauce and 1 cup cocido stock would be added.
Mom would simmer the sauce until it was slightly thick, and then finish it with 2 tbsp of chopped parsley and a fresh drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.
While we’re gathered at the dining table, she would serve the soup, then the meats and vegetables arranged beautifully on a serving platter, with the sauce on the side.
I will miss her cooking and her presence. She joined our late dad on Nov. 20 at age 93.
Indulge me as I pay tribute to her.
‘Kumain ka na?’
How do we say goodbye to you… Your presence we always felt. You always had our backs. You were always there. You were unwavering, constant.
We always felt safe and walked tall, because we had you by our side.
Now that you’re gone… Who will ask, “Kumain ka na?”
Who will sit in my kitchen at Christmas time to help pack my Christmas products?
Who will, at the end of a long day, say, “Go to sleep and rest, you’re tired!”
It saddens me to think we will no longer have daily afternoon reunions with you and my sisters.
Mom, we will miss you for the little things.
Now, we will have to learn a new normal—that is, life without you, and it won’t be easy.
When I was young, Dad was my light. True to form, Joe Aspiras was a ray of Sunshine (as he was known in government as Tourism Minister), who’d waltz into the room, hands in the air, waving, saying, “Paparapapa! Hello girls! How was your day? I love you! You look beautiful!”
Dad was charming, and you, Mom, hmm well, sige, beautiful, I’ll give you that.
Dad laughed and smiled all the time. He made us believe that we could be anything we wanted to be.
Dad was fairytale, while you, Mom, were reality. Dad was the good cop and you, well, the not-so-good one.
When we’d ask for money, Dad would give us a hundred, and you would give us 10 and ask us to explain what it was for, and after, you’d ask for the change.
Mom would pull the covers if we were still asleep past 7 a.m. on weekends, saying, “Ano’ng mangyayari sa inyo, if you wake up so late?”
You would constantly nag us to clean our rooms, fix our things, to study, to finish what we started, to clean our plates of every grain and morsel, otherwise, purgatory awaits!
You knew how to maneuver your slippers and we were petrified.
You demanded us to pray, to say the rosary, go to procession, go to birthday parties of lolos and lolas, titos and titas we never liked and, worse, did not know…
Mom, you knew how to ruin a good time.
With age, though, I came to appreciate what you stood for all these years—discipline, duty, consistency, obligation, constancy, faith in God and love of family. You taught by example!
Mom, as you join Dad in heaven, we promise that we will continue to love one another and be there for each other.
You lectured us on the importance of staying together and that family, in the end, is all we’ll ever, really have.
And you know, Mom, and I’m sure you’re proud, that to this day, though we’ve had our squabbles, your children have never fought!
Mom, even in your passing, you were selfless and considerate. You fought until we finished all our commitments, not wanting to burden us with the guilt of not being by your side in your final moments.
On the day you passed on, you waited for every single family member, including your sisters, our cousins, to be by your side.
I was always Daddy’s girl but, as I grew older, you, Mom, became my north star. Most of what is good in me and what is right, I all learned from you.
I love you, Mom, and I thank you for everything.
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