It’s been 12 years since you left us, yet there’s still that same twinge of sadness whenever I remember this day of your birthday. I can still imagine this as quite a big day when we were younger, you coming home after the day’s work, lugging in food and some gifts from officemates and friends and sharing it with everyone.
It might have been simpler then, and much happier too, with everyone in the old family still intact, the lolos and the lolas, the uncles and the aunties, and then us, little children celebrating in our wooden Ponciano house back then.
As the years passed, some of these precious ones had sadly done so too, while us the children, had grown to have families of our own. The Bajada compound, our mothership that had become accustomed to grandchildren running around all day, pretty much celebrated your birthdays with livelier celebrations.
A newer level when it came to honoring you on your birthday was what it was. Some of your old friends dropping by unexpectedly with goodies, the rest of the faraway brood surprising you and bringing their specialties from as far as Manila and Gensan, and then of course, you bringing home the rest of the many cakes given at the office. In a way, despite changes in venue and fresh faces, everything has been quite the same.
Dinners were equally-memorable, while the kids milled around the telly, and the teens huddled with secrets, the grownups sat at the mahjong table, with updates on anything under the sun. Our own childhood Ponciano birthday evenings may have been quite the same, but it’s now mostly black and white in my memory, and smudged in some details.
Alas, things are really different. We now celebrate your name day like the islands that we have become. Twelve years is also a lot of water flowing under the bridge. Take in both the good and the bad, especially the good. Through these years, your birthday has become slowly surrounded by other birthdays of new grandchildren, anniversary dates and other celebrations.
They have not however, dimmed our memories a bit as we fondly remember you on this, your grand day. It even appears that, at these times, as we all celebrate your birthday, you are not alone because we have lovingly surrounded it with our own dates. This has really made December our special time with you in the middle.
It is even the only reason why I dedicated this Mindanao Times column in your memory. Truth is, everything that we are is because of you. So, you have a grand, grand time mommy dearest, Mama Pin, mama, and everyone’s nanay. We love you forever.