Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.
Magandang hapon po sa inyong lahat.
In my former life as a radio broadcaster-journalist, a lot of my loyal listeners eventually became close friends. Mommy Nenita was one of them. This bond was made stronger by my close friendship with her daughter Madonna, who recorded songs and radio drama for me, and was always a willing performer at my productions.
Mommy Nenita was in no way a passive listener. She was outspoken with her feedback, whether it be regarding my programs, or any one of the poems that came out in my column Karinyo-Brutal, which is published in my friend Evelyn Zaragoza’s Philippine Community Herald Newspaper. You could tell she was actively engaged with the world.
Mommy Nenita had both the yin and the yang in her. She could be both hot and cold, feisty and sentimental, warrior and nurturer, all at the same time. She had an enquiring and analytical mind, but she also possessed a magnanimous heart and infinite capacity for love.
Mommy Nenita was refreshingly unpretentious. She was not your average senior shrinking violet. She was very forthright and articulate with what she liked and did not like, but at the same time she was fair and rational. She could be quick to anger and passion, but she was always accepting and appreciative of honesty and sincerity.
Every year, I would always block off the first weekend of October in my social calendar, for the annual celebration of Mommy Nenita’s birthday. She always looked forward to the event, and she would remind me herself to save the date way ahead of time. And I always made sure that I did.
During those events, I would look forward to our intimate conversations, which for me, offered insights into her soul. She spoke about her concerns for what she considers unfettered misadventures of her free-spirited artist daughter. She related how she could see through the hypocrisy of people, the quick rush to unfair and unwarranted judgement, and lamented the unfortunate injustice of it all.
She would talk proudly of how her family’s ancestral home in Dapitan, Zamboanga, was our national hero Jose Rizal’s first residence while in exile. Being an avid student of Philippine history, I listened to the stories handed down to her with great fascination.
At most times, she would talk about about how proud she was of her daughters and grandchildren, of how much she loved her sons-in-law, and of how thrilled she was to be a great grandmother.
Because at the end of the day, Mommy Nenita just loved her family and wanted them all to be alright.
I love you, Mommy Nenita.
Thank you for your friendship.
In my garden of earthly memories, you will not be the shrinking violet.
Instead, you will be the one solitary, exuberant sunflower, proudly facing the sun.