Yeyeng, that was my Mother’s nickname. For me, it gives a calming sound specially if it is pronounced as “YEE-yeng”. Derived from Claring from her full-name Clarita, her younger sister, Auntie Fely tried as she might to say Claring came out as that, Yeyeng.
Being the eldest and started in her late teens, she helped her parents toil their farm. She rode the carabao with ease compared to boys her age. Wielding a scythe? No mean feat, be it grass or rice stalks. Field fire? She could outrun anybody while making sure she had a load of wet sacks for dousing the burning crops.
Green thumb runs in the family and she could revive a withering Orchid by talking to it or persuade vegetables with the likes of “upo, patola and ampalaya” to grow longer and rounder, by hanging round bottles and long logs of woods alongside the emerging vegetables.
Hardworking was her middle-name. Next to her mother, Inang Pina, she was the hardest working woman I know. Up before sunrise, she would open all windows and ask the Lord to let His “grace” be upon all of us and our household. And we all had to get up by then, of course!
But, her parents, Inang Pina and Amang Islaw, both called her “Kalaring”. Nanay, as we called her, and Inang Pina used to run a snack eatery and it drew crowds. Simple yet honest-to-goodness foods that make you want for more. Later, when my siblings and I were of school-age, she and our father also had a snack eatery that specialized in “Puto-Bumbong” which not only drew crowds but lines, as well! She made her own version of ” suman with latik” and would get hundreds of orders specially on holidays and even brought as “pasalubong” for Filipinos abroad.
And she even progressed to catering birthdays, weddings, parties, wakes etc. Was also consigned and had her own snack section in a famous high-end restaurant in a well-heeled shopping area. How she loved to drop names of famous celebrities who knew her by name!
Nanay’s education stopped in primary school but she was good in Math. English? She understood and she did speak it. And with wit and humor, too! (Please bear in mind that I am doing it for love and in memory of her).
In the latter part of her life, she went to church everyday and the first mass at that. Belonging to a women’s church group, the night before she would prepare her uniform, underwear and so on. If she could not find something, she would ask me or my sister Nina like , “Where is my happy slip?”
A hearty laugh would now echo through the whole house. We had corrected her so many times that the right term is “half-slip” but we think that she was really intentionally doing it just to make us all laugh. Or she would say, “I think the new hair condition that you bought is giving me dandruff!” Nanay, it’s “hair conditioner!” And she would laugh even harder than us!
There are still so many anecdotes about Nanay. This is just a peek into her meaningful and well-lived life. There are still so many facets on her attributes and talents. She amazed me with her simplicity, strength, native intelligence, cleanliness and preparedness. No matter what, her children’s needs came first.
Her quiet beauty ushered many suitors. She chose well. It was the witty and good looking guy with two moles on his left cheek, our Tatay.
Our father knew and admitted how lucky he was. And how lucky for us, her children to have her as Our Mother.
We love and miss you so much, Nanay. Please keep those windows open for us, your children and grandchildren. Your happy slip is on the left side of the closet. A blessed happy birthday!