Daddy (Valeriano Aranas Penales) was a public servant. He worked for the General Auditing Office (now the Commission on Audit) where he rose from clerk to provincial auditor. He was often referred to as the “first Filipino auditor,” but I won’t take that hook-line-and-sinker until I get that fact confirmed. The nomadic nature of his work prompted Daddy to take his family – and countless numbers of nephews and nieces and extended family members in his entourage– to places where he was posted (Lanao, Leyte, Cebu, Capiz, Negros) while Mommy (Clara Aba Reyes of Tanjay, Negros Oriental) managed the huge household.
Daddy – fondly called as Tiyo Ano – was the “godfather” of the Penales clan. He was the youngest in a brood of 16 and as expected outlived his siblings.
He was a tall mestizo with a statesmanlike bearing and charisma. He was always dressed to the nines with a Dick Tracy hat and two-toned Fred Astaire shoes. His Zippo was secured by a silver chain attached to his belt loop. His porma was accented by a cigar or a pipe (Mixture #79 was his favourite). Godfather na godfather ang dating!
When I was about two years old, I thought Daddy was part of the detective series “Streets of San Francisco” and I was made to believe that my Kuya Lou (Penales) was Michael Douglas (Karl Malden’s sidekick in the series). My confusion – or excitement – was heightened everytime the show Kojak goes on air as my Daddy shares the same hair-state with Telly Savalas.
Daddy was so simpatico, gentlemanly and affable. He could make women swoon even while already way past the golden age. Tita Moni once told that when Daddy went to Congress to visit his friend, Speaker Cornelio Villareal, he was mistaken for US President Dwight Eisenhower when he stepped out of the fin-tailed limo that took him there.
My late Tita Susing (My mom’s elder sis) would sometimes refer to Daddy as “Valentino” – punctuated with a naughty wink for whatever reason I yet have to discover. But true enough, Daddy died on St. Valentine’s Day in 1986 when he was 85.
Mommy Car – we were told -- was a “super OC”. She’d always win the “cleanest and most orderly” house contest wherever they lived. I remember Mommy – although she with a failing eyesight – dutifully inspecting all rooms in our ancestral house in Dauis every morning and directing whoever was at hand to fix this or that, making sure that not a speck of dust was on the ledge or furniture. Daddy and Mommy’s house could pass as a living proof for Johnson’s Floor Wax for having the shiniest floor and banisters in town. While leading the nightly orasyon – where all members of the household are gathered before the family altar when the bells toll at 6pm – the series of “Maghimaya ka Maria” (Hail Mary) would sometimes be cut to give way to sudden instructions on how to cook our dinner or to ask if all the Petromax (paraffin lamp) were already lit up (there was no electricity in Dauis until the late 1970s).
Unfortunately, I have faint memory of my paternal grandparents. I only saw my lolo (Brigido Gutierrez of San Jacinto, Masbate) once when he went to Manila for a visit when I was about 2-3 years old. He died about a year after Papa died in 1980. I never saw my lola who passed away before I was born. A giant picture of my lola adorned my Papa’s study. One of my paternal aunts asked for lola’s portrait when Papa died.
My kids are fortunate to have their grandparents – my Mama and Tita Moni -- looking after them and from afar, their Lola Sita and Tiya Perlita (Mara’s mum and auntie).
Me and my Mama
The kids with their Lolo Orling in 2002. The old man died in Nov. 5, 2006, a year after seeing all his grandchildren (including Arlene's kids) in one roof.
With my Ate Luisa- my mom's cousin. She took care of me when I was a kid.
To cap this entry, I’m reposting the following piece which I first read on its English version (I presume, it was the original). The essay was written on a hand-made poster displayed at the visitor’s lounge of the St. Joseph’s Home – the retirement home of nuns belonging to the Religious of the Virgin Mary congregation – which I saw while visiting my dear auntie, Sister Diosdada Loquellano. It was after reading this piece that I came to value more and understand my Mama, Tita Moni, Tito Pito and my aunties and uncles and even cousins who are now ageing gracefully.
My mom and Tita Moni (3rd and 4th from left) with my dear aunties Sis. Zenaida Cinches and Sis. Diosdada Loquellano at St Joseph's Home
Sa Aking Pagtanda
Rev. Fr. Ariel F. Robles
Sa aking pagtanda, unawain mo sana ako at pagpasensiyahan.
Kapag dala ng kalabuan ng mata ay nakabasag ako ng pinggan o nakatapon ng sabaw sa hapag kainan, huwag mo sana akong kagagalitan.
Maramdamin ang isang matanda. Nagse-self-pity ako sa tuwing sisigawan mo ako.
Kapag mahina na ang tainga ko at hindi ko maintindihan ang sinasabi mo, huwag mo naman sana akong sabihan ng “bingi!” Paki-ulit nalang ang sinabi mo o pakisulat na lang.
Pasensiya ka na, anak, matanda na talaga ako.
Kapag mahina na ang tuhod ko, pagtiyagaan mo sana akong tulungang tumayo, katulad nang pag-aalalay ko sa iyo noong nag-aaral ka pa lamang lumakad.
Pagpasensiyahan mo sana ako kung ako man ay nagiging makulit at paulit-ulit na parang sirang plaka. Basta pakinggan mo na lang ako. Huwag mo sana akong pagtatawanan o pagsasawaang pakinggan.
Natatandaan mo pa ba anak noong bata ka pa? Kapag gusto mo ng lobo, paulit-ulit mo ‘yong sasabihin, maghapon kang nangungulit hangga’t hindi mo nakukuha ang gusto mo. Pinagtiyagaan ko ang kakulitan mo.
Pagpasensiyahan mo na rin sana ang aking amoy. Amoy matanda, amoy lupa. Huwag mo sana akong piliting maligo. Mahina na ang katawan ko. Madaling magkasakit kapag nalamigan, huwag mo sana akong pandirihan.
Natatandaan mo pa ba noong bata ka pa? Pinagtiyagaan kitang habulin sa ilalim ng kama kapag ayaw mong maligo.
Pagpasensyahan mo sana kung madalas ako’y masungit, dala na marahil ito ng katandaan. Pagtanda mo, maiintindihan mo rin.
Kapag may konti kang panahon, magkuwentuhan naman tayo, kahit sandali lang. Inip na ako sa bahay, maghapong nag-iisa. Walang kausap. Alam kong busy ka sa trabaho, subalit nais kong malaman mo na sabik na sabik na akong makakuwentuhan ka, kahit alam kong hindi ka interesado sa mga kuwento ko.
Natatandaan mo ba anak noong bata ka pa, pinagtiyagaan kong pakinggan at intindihin ang pautal-utal mong kuwento tungkol sa iyong teddy bear.
At kapag dumating ang sandali na ako’y magkakasakit at maratay sa banig ng karamdaman, huwag mo sana akong pagsawaang alagaan.
Pagpasensiyahan mo na sana kung ako man ay maihi o madumi sa higaan, pagtiyagaan mo sana akong alagaan sa mga huling sandali ng aking buhay. Tutal hindi na naman ako magtatagal.
Kapag dumating ang sandali ng aking pagpanaw, hawakan mo sana ang aking kamay at bigyan mo ako ng lakas ng loob na harapin ang kamatayan.
At huwag kang mag-alala, kapag kaharap ko na ang Diyos na lumikha, ibubulong ko sa kaniya na pagapalain ka sana … dahil naging mapagmahal ka sa iyong ama’t ina…