Sunday Lifestyle

A crazy, beautiful weekend

LOVE LUCY - The Philippine Star

Most weekends will roll by lazily, bestowing on you the gift(s) of 1) staying in bed longer; 2) lounging at home in your pajamas; 3) eating burger upon burger all day, and after that, some cake smothered with ice cream, OR maybe pork barbecue dipped in native vinegar, eaten with endless cups of rice — basically just lots of whatever you crave when you wake up; 4) a long nap in the afternoon; and 5) upon waking up, more of 1,2,3 and 4.

But last weekend was not like most weekends. Not in the lazy way we wish most weekends to be. It was crazy, beautiful, frenetic, real, happy all throughout. Nursing the flu, I hydrated myself and, with a prayer, plunged into it full-on. The highlight was a beautiful wedding, the kind where the groom looks lovingly into the eyes of his bride, where lovely and thoughtful details abounded, where the wedding guests were happy as can be — to be there, to be with each other, to be part of something beautiful and sweet. As fresh flowers dripped over crystal vases and chandeliers, so did all the champagne and good wishes. It overflowed the whole night. And as the night deepened, so did the fun — all the laughter, the sharing of stories, the reminiscing over weddings past, the endless dancing as sustained by feet bare of sexy stilettos, protected instead by bedroom slippers thoughtfully secured by one of the groom’s friends for the ladies who were suffering in sexy high heels (this one included). We swayed to music from the ‘80s and ‘90s, learning new dance moves, rediscovering old ones. A girlfriend who was several years older than most of the other girls in our group gave us a quick lesson in dancing; she said the moves of this generation are not as sexy as those during her time, when all they had to do was close their eyes, oblivious to all else but the music. It was the music that would then dictate how they swayed, this way and that. There was no right or wrong dance move. As long as you moved, propelled by a feeling that welled up from within. Oh, yeah. Cheers to some deep dancing. I will need to work on that without opening my eyes or laughing out loud, mid-dance. I think what she just shared was a lesson in how to “dance like no one is watching.” I wish one day to have the courage to do just that. In that one night, owned by the bride and groom themselves, it was so easy to feel alive and grateful. The moment was enough to speak of heart and happy endings, even as it acknowledged all the in-betweens. How truly beautiful it all was.

I also thankfully had time to be with family, and visit Lola Carmen’s house in Martinez Compound. When Lola Carmen died, so did a part of her home as it sat on a hill. It just was never the same again without her. What used to be a sunny space brimming with life and laughter was now nothing but a house filled with Lola’s beautiful things. I realize, with hindsight, that Tito Gabby, who was the de facto caretaker after she passed, just lost his own bite for life, close as he was to her. He became sickly himself, and two years ago we said goodbye to him. Tita Monette, with her cheerful and bright personality, took over and this visit made me see just how wonderfully she has done so. She rearranged things here and there, mainly guided by old photos of how the house looked when it was brand new.  She warmed the place by hanging beautiful photographs, of Lolo Julio and Lola Carmen dancing, their eyes bright with happiness. There are photographs of each of the eight children, in different stages of their lives, and also of all the grand- and great grandchildren. Tita Monette took out pretty linens from stuffy closets and draped them over the old piano and wooden tables. All the porcelain and China are organized again into sets and they sit obediently in drawers and shelves. She created many heart spaces — pretty corners lit with lampshades — that invite you to sit, and sigh, and read a book, write a letter, or tell a story. I would like to think it is a tribute, if unconscious, to Lola Carmen, a true romantic, who believed any woman could be more beautiful in the glow of a yellow light, and especially with pearl earrings on. “Maka gwapa kayo,” she used to say, her forever-red lips suspended in a soft smile. I walk through the different rooms and, gently, I walk back in time to my happy college days — the joys, my little heartbreaks, the midnight binges with aunts and cousins, falling in love with Ridge Forrester of The Bold and The Beautiful, the dawn procession we had to participate in every first Saturday, all the fun times we had sneaking out with Tita Liclic to go dancing. Lola Carmen was rocked with trials throughout her life but she survived it all because she was steadfast in faith and prayer. I think of her strength, and my mom’s own strength after her, and I find comfort in their truth, their first line of defense, when life casts a dark shadow every now and then.

We sat down to dinner at the big round table as we reminisced about days of old, wishing it were simpler to see each other more; except that it isn’t because life has taken over our days and we all live far from each other. There is Instagram and text messaging, thankfully, and the gift of memories nestled in both heart and mind. Before I leave I make friends anew with one of my favorite treats as a child — gelatin. But Tita Monette, she who makes the best fruit salad in the world (she uses soda as an ingredient), prepared it in a simple but most delicious way, substituting plain water with coconut water and mixing it with the sweetened syrup from canned lychees. She adds whole lychees and shavings of young fresh coconut to the mix before transferring it to a mold, and then freezing it. It is refreshing, delicious, simple, sentimental — very much like the weekend that just was.      











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