There’s an afternoon I remember distinctly. I think I was around 5 or 6 years old. My maternal grandfather, Lolo Angie, was taking a nap in the spare room of our home. My mother’s siblings and parents are all based in the States — and visits like this were rare. I had been sitting in the kitchen (probably polishing off a sugary treat — pasalubong from Lolo) when I heard him calling me.
I rushed to the room. He was holding a piece of foil containing an unfamiliar chunk of food and some crackers. He handed them to me: “Tikman mo.” I gingerly took the crackers & spread on the unknown substance. I took a bite & made a face. My grandfather chuckled. I’d tasted blue cheese for the first time and I was not happy.
I took a bite & made a face. My grandfather chuckled. I’d tasted blue cheese for the first time and I was not happy.
Still, I’d see him having a bit of cheese and crackers during his stay and I’d have a nibble or two — in between games of “sawsaw-suka”. Sawsaw-suka is a finger game and we played the Bisaya version…it involved a boat, a kulasa (girl) and a buwaya (crocodile).
By the time he was set to fly back to the US, I loved that moldy cheese so much that was fixing our snacks myself. My grandfather had that effect on many people. The things he loved just rubbed off on you. He’d never insist you do something or like something — he just showed you and let you experience things for yourself.
The evening I turned 30, I was enjoying a chunk of my favorite Roquefort when this particular afternoon with my Lolo Angie came to mind.
I suddenly became aware of where I was — in a beautiful house that he helped build but never set foot in. Like my lifelong love for cheese, he was responsible for so many good things in our life even as he lived miles away. In our family there was simply no room for doubting Lolo’s (and Lola’s) love — you simply knew you were loved.
Even if we spent so little time in the same space together; Lolo Angie left deep imprints on my character. He taught us all that family came first. He was the eldest of his siblings and he put them and his nephews and nieces through school. He showed us all that hard, honest work has its rewards.
Above all, Lolo Angie demonstrated an unwavering brand of faith — the kind of faith in God and in others that makes this world a far better place than when we first came into it.
Thank you, Lolo Angie. Thank you and enjoy the cheese platters there in heaven.
Angelo Taala Acuña | May 30, 1924 – June 12, 2016
“The righteous perish, and no one takes it to heart; the devout are taken away,
and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil.
2 Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in”
My daughter’s friend recently celebrated his birthday. My daughter and I bought the gift together. As we browsed, I decided the present must be useful. I thought about what the parents of my daughter’s friend would say. I thought about how much I was willing to spend. So much back and forth in my head to buy such a small token.
Some days later, we were wrapping the present & I asked my daughter to help. She got out her box of stickers and started decorating the plain brown wrapper. I’d noticed she was using her favorite stickers. I realized she might not understand that once she gives the gift to her friend, the stickers wouldn’t be coming back.
“Are you sure? Those are your favorites.”
“Oo nga. It’s for my gift. I’ll give him my favorites,” she said as she continued to stick on more stickers. When she was done, all of her favorite stickers were on the gift.
I watched her with awe. Her idea of giving was so far from mine. In fact, I couldn’t call my cold calculations in the shopping mall “giving” at all.
With an open palm, my daughter freely shared what she loved most, precisely because it was what she loved most.
May we all learn to give as children do.
- The internet fools us into thinking that words are cheap. Fifty pesos for a hundred words? What a bargain!
- A mass of letters could come cheap. Ideas, the ones that percolate…the ones that stain our walls, the ones that are rest on our foreheads as we sleep, ideas that bother, enthrall, and enrage — these ideas have no price.
- Ideas make words weapons. Word-wielders carry murderous instruments…at the tips of their fingers and in their furrowed brows.
Today I was told by a media contact: “I appreciate you’re not being a PR person but a true one. Hope to meet more of your kind in this business.”
This is the best compliment one can get in an industry filled with smoke and mirrors.