A smorgasbord of blessings

AS 2018 is teetering, high-time to count the shower of blessings that enlivened the year as it fades away. Yes, count our blessings — days, weeks, months of contented living. Gush, it’s like eating in an “Eat All You Can” restaurant — a smorgasbord of colorful, attractively prepared dishes.

And a smorgasbord of happy living — in the famed ALCARIBA mansion in Barangay San Antonio, Oton, Iloilo. ALCARIBA—a composite of four families: Alonsozana, Carreon, Rivera, Balinghasay. In the veins of its descendants flow humility, concern, courage inherited from the patriarch Simplicio Carreon Sr. who had served as Oton’s Municipal Mayor, but was left too soon by our matriarch Cristeta Rivera, an embodiment of kindness we still have to equal. Medicine was no match to the cancer cells that engulfed our mother.

First and foremost of this year’s blessing was a voice from the other side of the world — Manang Lolita, my eldest sister replying to me over the home telephone about my safe arrival in Uncle Sam country — in Redding, California to be specific. I could just imagine dutiful Jhona and Love-love propping her up as she talked on the home telephone. I could hear, too, the voice of brother-in-law Augusto Alonsozana, the ALCARIBA goldmine. No nursing aide can match his precious “tlc” – tender loving care for Manang Lita.

I would be remiss if I fail to mention dear Marlon (sometimes also called the famous actor Marlon Brando or the politician Mar Roxas, take your pick). Mar has been the household standby for seventeen years — marketing, cooking, serving hot soup, fresh laswa, tasty chicken adobo, etc., etc. Like Mar, is May, another old-timer that I’m missing. She was very skillful in attending to Manang Lita’s needs. I could still feel the warmth of her hug when she came to visit from her romantic sojourn.

An important personage in my smorgasbord of blessings is Inday Bebita, my youngest sister, forming the Threes Marias trilogy. (Who do you think is in the middle of the trio? Tell me.) Inday Bebita — a fond nickname that evolved from our mother’s Cristeta — brings with her the vim and vigor of Toto Raul who is engrossed in the mahjong table. Bebita’s arrival signals the start of our afternoon prayers for the health and recovery of Manang Lita — prayers that do boost up her recovery, believe it or not.

What can be a more blessed life of a mother than having the care and concern of her very own son and daughters? In succession, Rose Penelope Lagoc-Yee takes care of my plane flights with the corresponding follow-ups. Her scholarship at AIM (Asian Institute of Management) is matched by the cum laude of her hubby Timothy Yee in UC Berkeley. Naning, for short, has a good hand in the kitchen, I don’t have to worry about meals. Roderick, the UPIC chess champion, (UPIC is UP Iloilo College, no UP Visayas then) can be over-careful in helping her mother that, somehow, he stifles my independence. His wife Ruby Pequierda is a Civil Engineer graduate of UP Diliman. Randy Raissa Lagoc-Dingus, awarded Best Physician by the Hilton Head Medical Center, found her IQ match in David Dingus who graduated magna cum laude in the West Virginia University. Pediatrician Raileen Rodelia Lagoc-Barnuevo found her perfect match in Info Tech Nixon Barnuevo in the management of their Pediatrics clinic in Redding, California. As for the honors and achievements of the third generation, I leave that to the next story-teller of the Carreon-Lagoc clan.

I reckon smiling up there in high heavens is my beloved Rodolfo Lagoc who grabbed the celestial cord in the race without anyone competing. A human rights lawyer, he was an alumnus of the Marcos stockade — his conviction and courage no dictator could destroy. His idealism is an heirloom to his fellow activists and activists yet to come.

Beyond family, I am blessed, too, with many relatives and friends, some of whom I’ve known only in the Internet. Two members of the Worldwide Filipino Alliance I look up to for viewpoints are Ricky Sobrevinas and Rene Saguisag. The former, an Ivy Leaguer, heads the Board of Editors of Marcos Martial Law NEVER AGAIN, a historic compendium authored by Raissa Robles, a UP magna cum laude. Lawyer Rene Saguisag, a stalwart in President Cory Aquino’s cabinet, wrote the brilliant Foreword.

Two PANAY NEWS Editors Rex Maestrecampo and Daryl Lasafin would print my Accents column, no questions asked — making me review my grammar. Rex, I recall meeting you briefly years ago.

After all is said and done, a prosperous 2019 to everyone! Let us continue to hope and pray for happier times and smoother paths in the oncoming year. ([email protected]/PN)

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