A Simple Celebration…
By Apolinario Villalobos
When I visited the children of my elder sister who passed away followed by her husband, one of them remarked about the wedding anniversary of their parents on that day. Right then and there I decided to help them commemorate the occasion with a very simple celebration. I purchased a 3-kilo chicken to be cooked as adobo, two kilos each of mudfish and catfish to be broiled; turnip (singkamas), pineapple and radish for salad to be garnished with sweet onion and sprinkled with palm oil vinegar; and, sweet potato to be boiled as snacks in the afternoon to be downed with a cocktails of melon, avocado and papaya.
Being Sunday (21 May), the family of Joy, with husband, Junjun, and children, Marianne, Brianne and Zian Josh came for a visit from Polomolok (South Cotabato). Joy is the eldest daughter of my niece, Mary Anne who works in Canada in the company of her other daughter, Micah. Completing the family were Jonathan, and Nonoy and his wife, Bingbing.
On that Sunday morning, everybody had something to do. Junjun took charge of the broiling. Jongjong, the husband of my niece, Neneng, cooked the adobo, the no-frills way that he knows best as a retired soldier – only soy sauce and vinegar as flavors. The rest of the children, Nicole, Kate, Kris and Joy prepared the salad. My deaf and mute elder sister, Nida, took care of Joy’s youngest child, Zian Josh. The rest of the children, Chubs and Johnhon were on standby for errands.
The highlight of the celebration was the visit to the grave by the children at the Shangri-La Memorial Park as a gesture of respect and love, complete with the lighting of a candle and a gift that consisted of a bouquet of orchid from the family garden. My sister loved to raise orchids and other rare plants when she was still alive.
What we had was a kind of celebration that I would like to implant in the mind of my sister’s children – no taint of unnecessary luxury, but simple honesty of affordability….none of ice cream, barbecue, fried chicken, sandwiches, cakes, or pancit, the usual simple fare. I would like to make them understand that a celebration does not necessarily mean sumptuous food.
IN MY MIND, WHAT COUNTS MOST IN COMMEMORATING THE DEATH OF A LOVED ONE, IS THE MEMORY MADE ALIVE FOR AT LEAST A DAY AND PRAYERS THAT GO WITH IT…NOTHING ELSE.