Sunday, June 8, 2008

Go Grandma, It’s Yo Birthday

The main reason I went to the Philippines last month was to celebrate my Grandma’s birthday. My Grandma celebrated a milestone birthday, her 75th, and my parents and I came to represent. The party was held on her rooftop terrace overlooking the neighborhood where I lived until I was eight years old. Our old house has since been demolished and replaced by a string of four identical townhouses my Grandma built a few years ago. All of my Grandma’s children and their families, except my dad and Uncle Art, live in this compound.

The lot next door belonged to my great-grandparents, and their house has also been demolished to make way for a new structure. It made me sad to see only rubble and fruit frees remaining from the old house and yard; I remember visiting that house frequently as a child to visit my great-grandmother. My great-grandmother and I got along very well, and she would often fix me sandwiches made out of pandesal and condensed milk in the afternoon. This may sound like a weird thing to eat but it was my favorite food at the time, and I looked forward to eating that sandwich every day. I often think about my great-grandmother whenever I see cans of condensed milk at the grocery store, and remember the times I spent on her lap, both of us moving to the rhythm of her rocking chair while I ate my sandwich. I miss my great-grandmother; she passed away when I was 12 years old.

The neighborhood has changed dramatically since my last visit. The most dramatic change is the height of the homes – back then houses were one story or two stories tall at the most. Now it looks like contest for the tallest building: most of the houses are now two or three stories tall, sometimes even four, with many yards being swallowed up and becoming part of the house. Yards have been replaced by rooftop terraces made of concrete or brick that provide little shade during the heat of the day. However, rooftop terraces can make pretty cool party venues at night, and this is where my Grandma’s party was held.

In a way the party was like a mini-family reunion. I got a chance to meet relatives I never knew I had and got reacquainted with ones I haven’t seen in over 19 years. The last time I saw my cousin Patricia she was only a toddler, and my cousin Gladys wasn’t even a year old yet. Now they are educated ladies, Patricia having just graduated recently from college and studying for her NCLEX certification for nursing and Gladys starting her last year of college at University of the East this month. I also met cousins Benjie, Boggs, and Ira for the first time, after years of seeing their pictures at my Grandma’s house. I caught up with my aunts Anna, Malou, Jing, and Lala, who used to babysit me during school holidays and vacations, and who remember me as a scrawny eight year old kid that liked to climb trees and hated afternoon naps.

Despite the rain showers that appeared just after dinner was finished, the party was a success. Everyone, including the DJ hired for the occasion, moved downstairs where my Grandma blew out her birthday cake. I am already looking forward to seeing her on her 80th birthday party in 2013.

More pictures here.

1 comment:

Camels & Chocolate said...

Awww your grandmother is way cute! And doesn't look a day over 65 =) So cool that you got to go back for the occasion!

And is it just me, or is Philippines hard to spell? I can never remember if it's two "p's" or two "l's"...