01 May 2007

Tiyo and Tiya: in memoriam

The last surviving brother and sister of my wife's father has gone to meet the Maker ...

I simply knew her as Tiya. I rarely heard her name so I got stuck with the affectionate term of endearment. But everytime we visited Dolores, Quezon, Tiya would always welcome us with a wide smile and a hug. She always made us feel welcome. It was always actually a sad moment when we have to leave for Manila for she would cry, with my wife assuring her that we will be back to visit her again.

Tiyo Desio, on the other hand, I met only a couple of times. They have a house in San Pablo and that was where we visited them. The first time we did, he was already under medication but he looked really good and alert. In fact, he ushered us into their inner kitchen and brought out a bottle of brandy. I slightly winced and glanced at my wife, who immediately understood my message. Hard drinks don't sit well with me. But she didn't stop Tiyo Desio, and I likewise graciously took the shot offered me, with cold water hastily running after the hot liquid down my throat. I felt woozy when we left them a couple of hours later, but with a wonderful feeling with it. Tiyo Desio rarely had visitors, and he and his wife were really gracious hosts.

The second time we visited them, my wife's cousins also arrived less than half an hour later. It was like one big family reunion. Look the photo below ... can you identify where I am? It was really strange, but I look like one of them. The first time I went to Dolores, everybody remarked how I closely resembled Venal, one of the older boys in the family.

But I digress.

Tiya passed away December of last year. My wife went to her home province to pay her respects. Then last week, my wife told me the sad news: Tiyo Desio had passed away too. So off we went to Dolores to pay our respects to the last of the siblings.

That evening, my wife's brothers, cousins, and friends were at the house for a round of drinks. I also met Napoleon, who was getting well-acquainted with a couple of ginseng in the bottle. It was amazing how those tubers can live in a brandy world. While I mentioned that I don't really drink hard alcohol, I was offered the shot as it made its rounds, so accept I did. Bonding moment with in-laws and relatives.

Staying there and listening to their stories make you realize their hardships and the lengths they had to go through in the final moments of Tiya and Tiyo. But in the face of adversity, their kinship grows ever so strong. And in the true nature of Filipinos, they took things in stride.
Some questions turned up in the conversation. How come people don't usually come to birthdays and other joyous occasions? But when someone passes away, people from all over will take time to visit?

Dejarme and Orioste family in Dolores, Quezon

And though I did not voice this out, I was reminded of a question I sometimes ask myself: have you ever wondered if there will be a lot of people who will visit you at your funeral? It's a morbid thought, I know. But death is something that will happen to all of us. It's one of those questions that you ask but wouldn't really search for the answer.

Looking back, that night was more than just a bonding session. It was remembering those who have gone ahead and met the maker, and at the same time celebrating the companionship of those left behind.

Cheers to you, Tiyo and Tiya.
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