by DR. R. DANTE G. JUANTA, OAM, JP
Philippine Honorary Consul General
Adelaide, South Australia
A Tribute To My Late Sister,
AURORA JUANTA TUAZON
(26 Nov 1935 – 12 Sep 2011)
Call me a sentimental person. No matter, I treasure so much the memories of childhood years with the family especially the wonderful, fun time with Aurora. Who was she? Benjamin, Sevilla Paz, Felicidad, Aurora and I were five of seven children born to Nicolas and Severina Juanta of Guagua, Pampanga, Philippines. Sadly, Salvador and Esperanza died at young tender ages of 1 and 2 respectively. They did not survive the harsh conditions and deprivation that people suffered during the Japanese Occupation of the country during the last World War.
Years went on. The Juanta brothers and sisters raised families and, with the exception of Felicidad, they all migrated later to South Australia. Fate, however, took its natural course in 2011. Two siblings died barely three months apart. Benjamin passed away on June 25, followed by Aurora on September 12.
I wrote my tribute on Coyang (older brother Ben) in previous editions of PCHN. I want to do a similar acknowledgement on the life of Aurora, one thing so much wished for by my eldest daughter Zette (Cortesse) in memory of her Aunt.
People who knew Aurora called her by endearing names. Doting cousins and intimate friends called her “Baby”, demonstrative of the affection and liking for her. Others in her friendship circle addressed her “Auring”. The family nicknamed her “Uring”. But as we grew up, it became quite strange to me why my older siblings called her “Maura” occasionally. I found out later that it was Father’s eldest brother Gregorio that gave Aurora the nickname Maura. He was fond of Aurora, a healthy round girl with chubby cheeks.
There were times Aurora and I were left behind at home, while everyone in the family went to work. We played games with the children in the neighborhood. We were good at “piko” (ladder game), “bahay-bahayan” (play house) and “saing-saingan” (playing chef and cook).
I vividly recall a big drama that happened one day. Aurora had won a silver plated imitation ring from a “bunot” game on purchase of a Double-Bubble Chewing Gum at the nearby corner store. “Bunot” in those days was a game of chance similar to a Lucky Dip”. You pull out a small piece of rolled paper loosely attached to cardboard, unroll the paper and unravel the prize. On this particular day, Aurora was crying and screaming, absolutely petrified and traumatized. She could not take the ring off her left ring finger. It became incredibly swollen and looked like a longganiza (Spanish sausage). Instantly I became a super hero on the rescue. I ran inside the house, took the iron shears out from Uncle Oniong’s (Apolonio) tool box and gently but firmly snipped off the imitation ring on Aurora”s finger.
Father often took me on walks around town visiting relatives and friends. Approaching the house of his older and only sister named Anastacia, Father would call out in a loud voice, “Sha!” and my Auntie would quickly come out and hug my Father. Hearing my Father calling his older sister by her nickname I got used (also) to calling Aurora “Uring” without the “Ate”, the prefix used in addressing older sisters. It was not being disrespectful, by any means, for we grew up close to each other. We were playmates like the other kids in the neighborhood. Aurora and I started school together in 1945 immediately after the War. We were in the same class section in Grade One at Guagua Central School.
Aurora and I in Grade One 1945
By the time we reached Grade Four, enrolments in the school increased and classes became large. As there were not enough seats in our section, I was forced to sit next to girls. What a laugh! It made me the butt of jokes among classmates including Aurora. And that started the teasing, the tug of war and guerilla warfare between me and Aurora which was quite normal among growing kids. I’ll save some funny anecdotes about our tug of war at another time. Nonetheless, Father asked the school principal to place me and Aurora in separate sections. Allelujiah!