My Wootie Woo
FROM MY HEART - Barbara Gonzalez-Ventura (The Philippine Star) - July 14, 2019 - 12:00am

I wish I could include a grownup photo of my grandson Julian who, when he was a baby, I called “my Cutie Wootie Woo,” which eventually became shortened to “Wootie Woo.”  But I restrained myself because everyone would fall in love with him. That’s the first thing you notice about him. He is drop-dead gorgeous. So just to keep all the young girls and all women in check, no photos now.

My grandson Julian is my second daughter Sarri’s only child. He spent his first few years growing up with his mother and me. He was an adorable little baby. Wootie Woo had in me the craziest grandmother ever. I sang all my stupid songs for him. I would sing them making silly gestures and tickling him. He would giggle and laugh out loud. I remember him as a little year-and-a-half toddler holding on to my headboard and jumping up and down saying “Namana namana namana.” After work I would carry him around the house holding a soft plastic ruler. We would go to my bedroom window where many lizards clung to the screen from the outside. He would put his little hand on mine and we would beat the lizards until they jumped off and hopefully crashed to the ground. Soon there were no more lizards at home. All of them must have noticed the crazy woman who beat them off with a ruler and the baby who laughed so hard when they hit the ground.

He had many baby tricks. We were always laughing together. Once I received a Christmas card on my computer where you clicked your mouse on various things and they would light up. He would sit on my lap and we played almost forever.  He would always say, “Again, again, again.”

Most memorable for me however was when he graduated from high school in England. There, they give you a gap year, one year to figure out what you want to become. He decided to come home to the Philippines with his English friend Dan. They were thinking of setting up a business giving advice on computer programming. I told them they should call it “Dan & Woo.” “That’s such a dramatic name,” I said, glee lighting up my eyes. I don’t think they liked it.

But after Dan and all his guests left we had serious conversations. He wanted my advice on whether he should go to college or not. “Look at me,” I said. “I never went to college but I became president of an ad agency. And I’m a columnist.  And I know how to do almost anything except drive. But you have to know what you want to be and you must be determined to study it yourself. Now that I am old I can claim that I learned everything I know on my own and I know it deeply because for the longest time I was afraid that people who went to college knew more than me. So I worked very hard at learning everything. I read a lot. Was curious about everything.  You don’t have to go to college,” I told Wootie. “But you must work hard. And you must believe in yourself.”

Wootie said there were certain quarters who were hot on his going to a proper college. His father was always telling him to go to college. “It’s up to you,” I said.

He went back to England when the gap year was over.  He worked for a rather sophisticated IT group for a while. Then he took a leading-edge course on IT but I don’t know if he finished it. It seemed to bore him.

One day a close friend of ours came up to me in exercise class and said, “Have you heard? Julian got accepted into a masteral course in London’s Royal College of Arts!” I could not believe it! Apparently he decided to apply at the Royal College of Arts so he put a presentation of his artwork together and practiced to present it to them. He did such an outstanding job he got accepted.

Well, my Wootie Woo graduated last July 3 with an MA in Information Experience Design, from London’s Royal College of Art! He never went to college but he has a master’s degree.  His mother texted: “His degree show/exhibit closed yesterday. It was brilliant! He also topped his exams ... Congratulations to us all who had the honor of raising him, including you, of course.”

Including me for being a crazy grandmother who at the end of dinner would excuse herself from table by singing, “Let me go, let me go, let me go, lover,” to a cute Wootie Woo who was only three years old and who would reward me with peals of laughter. Congratualtions from deep within my heart! I knew I would teach you something more than beating lizards to the ground.

Now I have eight grandchildren and I love them all. But Wootie Woo just graduated and I am bursting with pride. I hope you all understand.

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