Such love!

NEW BEGINNINGS (The Philippine Star) - May 26, 2013 - 12:00am

On May 23, Thursday, my mother woke up very early as usual, went to the kitchen and filled a big ceramic mug with hot water. With a full smile crisscrossing her face, she reached for the instant coffee and scooped a teaspoonful of it into the mug. Then she added a teaspoonful of sugar to her coffee. And half a teaspoon of creamer. Her face registered bliss and solemnity as she stirred and sipped her morning fix. When she finished half of the coffee, she stepped out of the house, went straight to the backyard and placed the mug on my father’s hammock that was silently suspended under the himbaba-o tree.

“Happy anniversary, Syo. Heto ang kape mo. Tulad ng dati, hati tayo sa lahat. I love you,” she whispered to the wind.

It’s been three years since her husband passed on. But he remains so much a part of her that it’s automatic for my mother to share her coffee with him. He is also the reason why to this day my mother splits her McDo burger into two and joyfully brings the other half to her husband’s gravesite.

Last Thursday was the 48th wedding anniversary of my loving parents, Cresencio Tenorio Sr. and Candida Dinulos.  He was 30 when he brought to the altar his 20-year-old bride on May 23, 1965. She walked down the aisle of the St. Polycarp Parish Church in Cabuyao wearing a beautiful immaculate white wedding gown. He was wearing a rented black suit. A simple farmer like him couldn’t afford to buy his own. But he could never forgive himself if even the traje de boda of his wife would be pulled out from a rental shop. So, he saved P120 to afford his bride a brand-new wedding gown, which was sewn by the neighborhood seamstress named Toneng. 

Even their wedding rings — the symbol of eternal love — were lent to them by the priest who solemnized their marriage. After the matrimonial ceremony, even before they could board their borrowed matrimonial car, they returned to the priest the rings. That was all they returned to the priest. They kept with them the love they promised to give each other before God.

Both born to want, they vowed to work together. They both became farmers. They would sing kundiman and harana songs for each other while working in the field. They were the same songs they sang to their five children for their nightly lullabies. The couple was poor but they were happy. They were in love.

My mother’s “ultimate  commandment” to my father could be summed up into two rules: 1. Don’t hurt me — emotionally and physically. 2. Be mine — exclusively. She told him she was used to penury but she would never take physical and emotional pain that could come with married life. Her husband honored his promises to her — not with a walk-in-the-park kind of life but with a life filled with loving kindness and honesty. For 45 years, they survived on that.

So my brothers and I grew up not seeing our parents fight. And we came to know our father to provide exclusive love to his wife.

He loved her. In return, she served him well. Up to his last few days on earth, she served him well. She endured sleepless nights and backbreaking sleeping conditions at the hospital’s cramped lounge when her husband was confined at the ICU for 24 days due to a massive stroke. Every day, since the day of his confinement, she would be there beside her husband to greet him “Good morning” and to whisper to him her sweet nothings. Every faint smile she got from her intubated husband was already a prize, a cause for her celebration, a miracle to be thankful for. On Jan. 18, 2010, when it was impossible to revive him, she stood for hours beside her husband in the ICU, she was holding his right hand. She was quiet. She drew her lips closer to his ears and whispered: “Syo, mamahalin kita kahit kailan (I will love you forever).” Her husband pressed her hands  three times. Then the monitor started to register erratic lines that later on became one single flat line. She quietly kissed him goodbye.

Three years later, she managed to survive her being a widow. She banked on the love she received from her husband to make her last each day without him. She smiles a lot lately. “Namatay lang naman ang Tatay n’yo. Pero buhay pa rin ang pag-ibig namin (Your father only died. But our love for each other lives on),” she told us one day. The cliché, after all, is true: True love never dies. 

So every Sunday morning, right after her trip to the palengke where she gets the ingredients for her husband’s favorite pancit mi-ke, she visits him in the cemetery. Very quietly, she sings to him some of his favorite songs: Anak Dalita, Sa Lumang Simbahan, Pakiusap. Then she bids him goodbye with a spring in her heart.

I consider myself blessed that right before my very eyes, I am a witness to an eternal kind of love. When things don’t seem to go my way, I just think of the love story of my parents and I easily breeze by. And if there are days when I see an unfinished mug of coffee in the kitchen, I know that it is my mother’s way of saying that her love for my father is undying, unending.

Such love.


(For your new beginnings, please e-mail me at Follow me on Twitter @bum_tenorio. Have a blessed Sunday!)

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