My simple, prayerful, family-caring Lola Talia
My grandmother Talia would have been 119 years old last Dec. 1. I thought of writing some of my random memories of her.
Lola Talia was known for her cooking. On her birthdays, as far as I can remember, she would always cook her specialty—chicken estofado. This eventually became an iconic food for us, the Rigunan-Balisi-Tamayo clan, during special occasions—like birthdays.
And every Sunday, without fail, she would cook lauya. On week days, she could make the best of whatever dish she knew how to cook—pinakbet, igadu, dinardaraan, adobo, adobong balangeg, dinengdeng, sinigang, pansit, tortang giniling with balicucha as dessert. Always, when she cooked food, she would load the pot to the brim, on purpose, for the traditional “padigu,” which means sharing the food with neighbors.
As early as the month of November, we would feel the spirit of Christmas as she already would display her personally crafted Christmas ornaments—like the crepe paper poinsettia; card board pop-up Christmas Belen; undersized Christmas Tree from a guava tree, sprayed with fake snow out of Perla soap and generously gingered up with dangling edible confectioneries like chocolate coins and candy canes. All of these, together with the star-shaped lanterns made by my grandfather Lolo Dodo, would give our home a festive Christmas glow.
Before the end of the year and advent of new year, Lola Talia would give us her grandchildren many newly-waxed coins as presents.
We used to have a little sari-sari store. Lolo Dodo and Lola Talia, before dinner, would sometimes drink a glass or two of Shoktong or Cruz De Oro wine (called memmem) and smoke Alhambra cigarettes from the store. Whenever they have one glass too many and felt tipsy, Lola Talia would excitedly talk about what food to prepare the next day, reciting a litany of possible dishes, or complain about the high prices of commodities and the like, while Lolo Dodo would share with store-goers what he read in Teodoro Valencia’s Over a Cup of Coffee column that was published in the now-defunct Daily Express. At other times, Lolo Dodo would charm her with an Ibanag song and dance, rendering Lola Talia dazzled and spellbound.
My grandmother’s hands were wrinkled and old, but always full looking after the welfare of the clan. I remember when my eldest cousins were starting college in Manila; Lola Talia would secretly give them money rolled and bundled up with a rubber band, and wrapped in a handkerchief.
Finally, on days when Lola Talia was not busy, I would see her in the afternoon seated in her rocking chair with a rosary wrapped around her old and weary hands, praying silently for the whole family.
REGINALD B. TAMAYO, assistant city council secretary, Marikina City