Being the granddaughter of the head of our branch of the family, I was fortunate enough to have lived in the “ancestral” home and my lola (grandma), having a 30 year age gap with my lolo (grandpa), being the only surviving first generation of our branch. Living in that house, because of my lola, we had many visitors mostly older relatives and during many festive lunches I was a witness to many family stories of which I only recently find out, cousins of my generations didn’t know about. Add to this in Manila I have also stayed with my aunt Josefing (who was almost the same age as my lola) and she too had many stories of my lolo, who I never got to meet and who died of old age while my father was still in the fifth grade.
Through my aunt I got to know a world so different from what I am familiar with. Imagine, being pioneers of an island of Masbate and scooping up buckets of crabs from the beach, ready for the picking. Or when my lolo won as Senator, waving to the crowds of well-wisher through the wide open window from his house in Tacloban – I got this firsthand account from my tita Sefing who must’ve been in her thirties around that time.
Little did I know that my memories of these stories would come in handy when I was assigned to make a poster about our lolo for our family Grand Reunion last year. This year, once again I am tasked to be a record keeper but this time to make a 5 minute movie of our branch.
My first thought when I learned of this was, “oh no, how can I squeeze this in into my huge mommy project?” But at the same time I was also excited to put this together. At least this would be something new and not redundant like what another poster would be. The more I got excited when the photos started pouring in. As I look at them, many of whom I don’t recognize, I would think – these people are related to me! We share the same lolo! Then I get photos of cousins I haven’t seen for awhile, and their kids I’ve only caught glimpse when they were toddlers who are now full-grown and goodlooking. Now I know, what my aunties reacted the way they did when they saw us when we were teen-agers – all excited and gushy “you’ve grown a lot!”, “you look like your mom!” because these were my reactions too while looking at the photos of my nephews and nieces.
Long time ago my mom told me that one of my aunts was writing a book of their family history and I had thought, wow, what a daunting task that must be. Little did I know that in my little way I will be unofficially designated as the family “historian” for our branch.