A reunion with the Legardas

STAR BYTES - Butch Francisco -

Sen. Loren Legarda is one happy and ecstatic mom this Christmas season. Her younger son, Lean (pronounced Le-an — short for Leandro Antonio) came back for the holiday break last Dec. 15 after burning the so-called midnight oil for one semester studying at Yale University.

Forgive Sen. Loren for being such a proud Mama because Lean is the president of the freshman batch of this Ivy League school. Any mother has the right to stand on the roof of the house to shout this achievement loud enough for the neighborhood to hear. The prim and proper senator has not done that yet.

But for sure Sen. Loren will be sharing that with everyone at family gatherings in Lean’s presence —   and to the boy’s embarrassment. Hey, don’t blame Mommy. That’s a natural parental behavior.

Older child Lanz or Lorenzo Antonio (the senator only has two kids) is done with his studies in the US and currently pursuing art history in London. The kid is unable to fly over for a visit and savor once more what Philippine holiday season is like.

And Lanz had been missing out the fun family reunions on his mother’s side.

Only two weeks ago, there was already one in celebration of Sen. Loren’s youngest brother AA’s birthday at the Loyola Grand Villa Clubhouse.

It was a surprise party lovingly tendered for him by wife Jennifer and their four kids. Present, of course, was their father, Tony Legarda, who came with his special friend Sandra (he was widowed in 1996 when wife Bessie succumbed to breast cancer).

It was too bad that middle child Gary had to be away in China that time. Duty called. He had to leave as part of his job as a top shot in Singapore Bank in Manila.

Sen. Loren with son Leandro Antonio

To non-relatives who were at the affair, Sen. Loren jokingly described her family as jologs. “We are all jologs,” she proudly proclaims. As outsiders, eventually realized, they gave the now hip word jologs a very positive meaning.

On her mother’s side, Sen. Loren is actually the direct granddaughter of one of the greatest men in Philippine journalism, the late Jose Bautista. The Bautistas were in attendance in that birthday party and blended and mingled harmoniously with the Legardas. We met two cousins and we can’t tell from which side they come from because everyone grouped together like they were all blood relations. The two we remember who proved to be very accommodating to family outsiders were musician Benjie and AC, who is a lovely executive working for the Ayala group of companies.

The family Sen. Loren oh-so-fondly described in jest as jologs turned out to be among the most decent people we had met in this life. Oh, they were fun and had a great sense of humor. But they also were what society describes as the educated class.

The women were dressed very simply and yet the fine breeding was discernible in each one of them.

Sen. Loren hopped from table to table like she was just a regular cousin and not the accomplished broadcaster and lawmaker she is. She was “manang” (that’s how she is called by her two siblings) to the younger cousins. No one fussed over her and she was very respectful toward the older aunts and uncles.

Her brother’s almost Spartan-like celebration (just a short buffet table with no fancy dishes) was one of the most enjoyable parties we enjoyed this Yuletide season. (For entertainment, AA and Jennifer’s artistically inclined children, Luigi, Javi, Bea and Martina were around — ready to perform at no cost.) 

Lean also missed that party (he came a week later) and so his mother hosted a strictly family affair at their home. It was even simpler and smaller than AA’s dinner celebration.

As you read this, Sen. Loren, Lean and Nanay Fely (the faithful and loyal nanny of the senator and her two brothers) are abroad to get reunited with Lanz.

 Sen. Loren’s personal life may not have been perfect, but life made up for it by giving her the best parents, siblings and relatives. Even her two boys were raised very well in the Bautista-Legarda tradition. The senator’s mother, the very lovable Bessie, must now be smiling from ear to ear watching with approval from heaven with how her children and grandchildren turned out to be.











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