fresh no ads
Mondays and laughter |


Mondays and laughter

FROM MY HEART - Barbara Gonzalez-Ventura - The Philippine Star
Mondays and laughter
Laughter times three: Author Barbara Gonzalez-Ventura with Tessie Tomas-Pullin and Gemma Cruz-Araneta

Monday! When I was working I hated Mondays, felt like sleeping right through them. But this Monday was different. I was getting together with two of my longest friends — Butch Tan, once an account executive, and Tessie Tomas (now Pullin), once our creative director in the at McCann-Erickson’s Coke Group. We slaved together, traveled together, laughed together, dropped dead from exhaustion together. We were a big group. If I mentioned all our names I would probably fill a page. But we have grown apart since we worked together though we retained our friendship through the years.

Tessie now lives on the Isle of Man, a picturesque island between England and Ireland where her husband Roger decided to retire after spending a long time living and working here. Butch retired from McCormick, while I didn’t retire at all. I just quit my job. Tessie is now a seasoned actress here; her last triumph was the role of Doña Cielo in Dirty Linen, a highly successful local series. Butch is never seen without his camera, a Leica Android, while I am many things still — a columnist, a rosary maker, a writing/et cetera teacher, a Stem Enhance Ultra seller. In a word, I am retired.

Before she became a full-time actress, Tessie worked in many ad agencies. Whenever she comes home her schedule is full of lunches, merienda or dinners or all of the above. Last Monday she invited Butch and me to meet her at Via Mare at Rockwell in the afternoon for merienda. We got there on time but she was late, though she had just come from upstairs where she had lunch with her friends from another agency.

We ate, told each other stories but we weren’t prepared to say goodbye yet. “Let’s go to Barcino’s and share a bottle of wine,” Tessie said. It was only 5 p.m., too early to drink, Tessie thought, but I said, “Let’s drink now. We’re retired. No longer subject to rules of time.” So off we went but we couldn’t stay in the air-conditioned indoors because there was going to be a party there. We had to sit outside.

Our bottle arrived. We toasted. I saw this tall familiar lady walk past. It’s my cousin Mimi, I thought. “Mimi!” I called out. She didn’t turn around. Tessie, who has a louder voice, called out “MIMI!” She still didn’t turn around. “Gemma!” I shouted, joined by my two friends.  The lady was my first cousin known to me as Mimi, the daughter of Tito Toto, my mother’s older brother. Tito Toto and my father, Mimi’s Tito Vlady, were killed by the Japanese at the same time.  Mimi was a year and six months old. I was six months old. We grew up together as orphans. My friends and you know her as Gemma Cruz Araneta, our first Miss International, a real standout.

She turned around at “Gemma!” She came to greet me. I did the introductions. Tessie asked her to join us, and she did. She had come from a lecture on education. Butch took hold of his camera and shot pictures.  We talked about everything — politics, on which we disagreed, why Gemma had chosen to live in Mexico, how our daughters had become best friends in school, why the Mexicans were fixated on the skull as a symbol. Tessie’s birthday was on Oct. 31, she said. I said that was my parents’ wedding anniversary before it became Halloween. Tessie said she didn’t celebrate Halloween either. Just her birthday. That was big enough.

We had a wonderful time talking, laughing, drinking and taking pictures together. Tessie treated us to croquettes and chorizos from money she made from Dirty Laundry, she said. Gemma invited them to the museum trip she had organized. Tessie begged off because her husband is arriving on Friday night. Butch couldn’t decide if he would come or not. Finally it was eight at night and time for all of us old people to go home.

I could see as we walked to the car that my friends were walking on air. They were totally delighted to meet The First Miss International of the Philippines and found her so beautiful, so charming, so intelligent! I was genuinely happy to see Mimi, my childhood pal, my best “frenemy” — that’s my childhood friend and enemy. I remembered once we were playing with our dolls on the bridge that connected the second floor of their home to the second floor of her grandfather’s clinic. There were no Barbies yet then. We were around eight, nine years old. We decided that our little dollies had died and made coffins out of the plastic containers of hairbrushes. The bottom rectangular tray was solid but the top was domed and transparent and made lovely coffins.

How marvelous it is to remember those lovely moments when both of you were so young and innocent!  Mondays are not so bad after all.

* * *

Please text your comments to 0998-9912287.

vuukle comment


Are you sure you want to log out?
Login is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with