Celebramus Leonila — A Tribute To My Mother

Leonila. Her name suggests “for others.” She lived not for herself, but for those around her. Us.

She’s the one I raise my cup to — the one who gave me life here on earth. She would have turned 94 today. In eternity order, she’s NOW age old. My faith tells me she’s still “mothering” us with her loving prayers and intercessions before God, face-to-face.

She was a gentle soul whose words were ever kind and pure. Never loud. Never excessive. She lived the simplest of life. She wore no jewelry around her neck or long bling-blings dangling her ears. Her gadgets were electronic gas stove clicker and transistor radio. Her idea of spa was cooking asado and raking leaves in our yard. She sacrificed much, loved much.

I was probably 6. Maybe 7. I was sick, running a fever or something that I remember little details about. There were details I still recall: my dear Inang and I on a sleeping mat in the living room of our old house that turns into a bedroom at night. Bedroom isn’t quite the word for it because we had no beds, only banig -a handwoven mat made of buri to sleep on inside a mosquito net. She asked me how I was holding up. I told her I was feeling like heaps of dirt being poured down on me. Like I was being buried. I don’t remember how she reacted but it probably gave her a shock.

I shocked her more as I started growing mustache.

It shocked her when I told that my board exams test papers were stolen to favor another.

It shocked her one day, when in 1983, I told her I was going abroad for work.

It shocked her to learn that the poultry business I put up was buried in volcanic ash.

I must have made life difficult for you,Inang. We wanted college but you and Tatang couldn’t afford it. So you had to move heaven, earth and everything in between to make ends collide. You didn’t mind the pain but pain you endured much. I didn’t know it then — perhaps this was the way you wanted it. Ohh.

Now I imagine you chatting no longer with just a few friends and neighbors but with legions of saints and blowing not just candles but stars and galaxies. A billion-piece orchestra playing in joyful celebration of you.

Dear Inang, before angels andheavenly beings, raise your glorious cup to God with your perfect smile and tell Him, “This one’s for my son and for all those he loves. I love him dearly.” I know if you did, God’s favor is on me. And my heart will keep beating hope.

Have the happiest heavenly blast, ‘Nang. You are always here -point to my temple, and here -point to my sternum.

I remember. I smile. I love.

You, because.


Leave a Comment