There is something wonderful about mornings, especially way back when I and my cousins were still in school and we have someone who whips up a special breakfast for all of us before we crack our heads in class- reading literature or solving math problems.
It’s a distant memory now. I don’t know with my cousins but my breakfasts now consist mostly of coffee. And nothing else.
Before I continue and on behalf of our family, I wish to extend gratitude and appreciation for being with us for the past few days and waking up early today to bid farewell to our Mamang Cian. It means a lot to us that you are with us in prayer and in tears for the loss that we bear.
I feel privileged to speak on behalf of the family especially for my siblings and cousins whose lives have been touched as much as it touched mine by our dear Mamang Cian.
I say she is a woman to reckon with. And its quite difficult for me to try to capture her entirety as a person and share it with all of you this morning. Because in one way or the other she has touched your lives as well. 89 years is too much of a time here on earth and is a blessing for us to have been with her for that long a time.
Our Mamang Cian was a teacher and maybe it is through her that I got the inspiration to go into teaching as well. You see, being a teacher requires us to love learning and impart this learning. She is all that, and I think because of her, I do as well. And so, I honor her with a list that I call “Things in life that I have learned from Mamang Cian”
1. There is supposed to be a place for everything and everything should be in place.
I remember her telling all of us, day in and day out to fix our things, put things in their proper places and that everything should be spic and span. She keeps her place neat, tidy and fresh. On Saturday morning, right about this time, chores were assigned to everyone and so everyone was busy. We start our day with a simple but sumptous breakfast.
Our breakfasts usually consist of fried fish, ensaladang talong or colio camote and fried rice that is never to be missed. I have yet to perfect my own fried rice just like hers. We down it with Milo or milk or on lean days, only water. But never without a cup of coffee by her side. Maybe it was her who influenced me to love coffee- wakes me up and warms my stomach.
And so the chores begin. We scrub the floor, somebody else sweeps and so on and so forth. She was constanly in the kitchen, making sure that pots and pans are squeaky clean and the plates and other utensils are well cleaned, ready for the next meal.
She was like that, very organized and orderly. Again, I have learned to appreciate all of these things when I started to live on my own in Manila. I tried my very best to keep the apartment clean.
2. When cooking dinengdeng or pakbet, never add water right away. Let it produce its own flavor.
Hers was a roster of cooking tips which I have treasured and put to heart. She has a skill in cooking being a home economics teacher for a long time. And it is evident in the food she cooks. Name it and she knows how to cook it. We were all well fed! But I feel so lucky that young as I was, I asked her so many questions and she gave me skills that I learn to keep.
I think my siblings can attest to that as they love my cooking as well.
Mamang Cian is our top chef.
Like the vegetables in dinengdeng, she told us that each of us has a talent and skill of our own. We are blessed with it and it will come out, maybe in the most trying times, to flavor our life or the world.
3. Eat a balanced diet. Go, Grow and Glow
Mamang Cian loves to eat. She eats plenty and she eats well. She told us that with rice comes fruits and vegetables and a portion of meat. That for sure is a balanced diet- go, grow and glow food in one.
She masticates food well, she takes time in chewing them. She doesn’t rush her food, she takes time to eat and enjoy her food. The best part of it is, she tells stories while we eat. Stories that were not in the books. Usually she end up telling us how they make azucar de trapichi. I will never forget that. It stirs memories of living with her for a long time.
Azucar de trapichi comes rare these times. Much like her stories.
4. Tend a garden, it will save your life.
I have a fond memory of Mamang Cian laughing so hard at me when one sunday afternoon she asked me to transfer the pig somewhere far from her garden. It was an easy task which I don’t mind doing. I untied the pig’s rope from the peg without knowing that it ran around me and coiled the rope around my legs. Frail and nimble as I was, when it ran all over the place, it dragged me and I shouted “Mamang, mamang, muri ya yo!”
She came to my rescue laughing so hard…
I will miss her laughter. She loves to laugh as much as she loved to eat. I will also miss her garden where she got most of the vegetable she puts on the table. The bananas and papayas she personally grew will be missed. Those were the best fruits I have tasted so far. Maybe, because it were tended to my her loving hands.
5. Study hard. Education is the only thing that can bring you far.
Yes Mamang Cian, I agree. When I got my college degree, she was so happy. She was happy because she knew that after all the hurdles and the drama, I got my degree. She was happy because it was our dream that before she passes away, she will have to see me graduate. And she did. All the efforts that we both put to it, paid off and she was there with me through all of it. She was proud, she was beaming proud and she hugged me. Silently, without words, we knew that we both succeeded that day.
I graduated on her birthday.
She was not fond of saying I love you. As I think I am. But she knows how to express it in her actions. Her I love yous came in the form of the efforts she puts in to all of us. Her i love yous were silent but her actions were loud. She loves her children so much that it pains her when she saw them having misunderstandings. She tells me stories of how my mom were as a child, she tells us stories of her children and how she was proud of them individually.
She resents that some thought of her as someone having favorites. She told me she does not, there are just some of her children she said, that needs more love and care than others. And she felt it was just for to do that.
Then she told me, always be gentle to people. “Conversa con pausa”
Words, however untangible, can pierce the heart with so much pain.
Conversa con pausa, she said.
She is gone now. When I heard the news, I was distraught but at the same time relieved. Distraught because I was too far away to come and be at her side and maybe hold her hand and hug her like we usually do. I was relieved because I felt that the time has arrived for her to get her much needed rest. She braved a life of too many hardships, she weathered so many storms. She fought battles, most of which were not her own.
She was there. A mother to all of us. Our much needed solace in times of difficulties.
With much respect and honor, I have woven all these words for her. That all of her teachings have not been naught.
I love you Mamang Cian and you will be painfully missed. But as they say, there are no goodbyes. Only see you later.
Thank you and Good Morning.