It was my grandmother’s birthday last week (June 19). I meant to publish this post that day, but because of work and a lot of other things I wasn’t able to. I feel bad that I wasn’t able to send this out on time, but better late than never, I guess. I’m sure wherever she is, she will appreciate this late greeting.
As some of you may know, I am a lola’s girl. I was very close to my grandmother growing up. Everywhere she went, I went. During this time my parents both worked, so I spent all my free time with my grandmother, especially after school. We all lived in our ancestral home that time, which was pretty much a compound that housed my grandparents, my parents, and uncles with their respective families. It was a lot of fun to live with my relatives, because I could go from house to house and see what everyone was up to.
We had two botikas or drugstores back then. My lola, or Mommy to everyone that knew her, was a pharmacist which explains why that was our business. I remember going with Mommy to the botikas after school to check up on the stores, or sometimes that was where she helped me with my difficult homework. It felt just like home when I was over there. I watched Mommy work and saw how the businesses were run. I thought it was the coolest thing in the world.
A lot of people looked up to Mommy, because she helped unconditionally. Practically the entire clan of our mayor doma lived and worked with us, and the children, she sent them all to school. She was very active with the Ladies of Charity, where she was president for more than a decade. She was soft-spoken but firm, eloquent and mild mannered. I remember her to be always elegantly dressed–her style choices were clean and flattering.
I think a lot of the qualities and values I have come to believe in can be attributed to Mommy, with the way she lived and the lessons she taught us. Though she may not be around anymore to read this, I know that she knows how I feel about her. I guess I am writing this so people don’t forget about her. She was such a wonderful person, and deserves all the recognition. Also, it was her birthday (she was supposed to turn 90 this year)!
These are the lessons I learned from my lola, ROSALINA GALVEZ:
1. Live simply. This was one lesson Mommy taught us by example. Though she achieved a lot during her lifetime, she was never arrogant or flashy. She never compared herself with anyone else, nor our families. She could’ve lived in luxury, but she didn’t. I mean, of course, we lived comfortably, but she was never one to live in excess. She always valued the things she had and taught us to do the same.
2. Be a loyal friend. If there was one person you could count on, it was her. She really went above and beyond to help, especially if she was your friend. She helped out a lot of people, probably more than we know because she never bragged or told people about it. We just found out from the people she had helped.
3. Value family. There is nothing more important than family (I guess its obvious she was the matriarch of our family). She was the glue that held everyone together, and kept order in the family. No one was allowed to pull one over the other when she was around, and when there were fights she was there to hear out all sides until everyone got along.
4. Aim high, and achieve your dreams. Mommy graduated B.S. Pharmacy at the University of the Philippines with honors, she ran two drugstores successfully and took care of everyone in the family. She was hands on with everything but still found time to teach me Math and Science. She never retired, and worked on the business until she couldn’t anymore. She was still active with her Ladies of Charity until the end.
5. Work hard, and you’ll see results. This was another thing she taught by example. There really isn’t anyone like her. She put time and effort on everything she did, and did I mention the drugstores were open 24 hours? According to her, there are no shortcuts to success and that’s the only way I know how to do it now. I credit my patience and hard work to her, and I think of her when I feel tired or when I want to give up.
6. Material things are nice, but they’re not everything. Wealth didn’t impress her, especially ostentatious people. She didn’t like people who were maingay with showing off their things, as well as wasteful people. We were spoiled by her, definitely, but not to the point where we didn’t value the things we got. I think we got what was necessary–we didn’t feel kawawa or deprived because we got enough. It was a good balance, I think. She was spiritual and religious, yes, but also practical and smart.
7. Be generous. Whatever extra she got, she shared. From her family, to her children’s children to the household help and their children, she gave what she could. She wasn’t one to reject or send away anyone. I remember during the Christmas season, she saw so many families (from far relatives to friends and acquaintances) and always welcomed them to eat with us. She even gave food for them to take home and gifts for their children. And of course, I already mentioned Ladies of Charity, the organization she was part of. This group always gave to the poor and helped educate them. Every Saturday morning she was with them, planning projects to help the community and visiting depressed areas.
I can only aspire to be like her. She is my personal hero and inspiration! Happy birthday, Mommy! I know you are happy and at peace wherever you are!