Thursday, September 3, 2009


I just attended the debut of an apo (granddaughter) with my two daughters in Manila. Kamae is the oldest apo in the Castro Clan and of course the first apo debutante. The last debut celebrated by our kindred was that of Ginalyn's, our youngest niece and therefore our last niece debutante.

How time flies! Kamae's turning to 18 tells me and my 8 other siblings that we have grown older and sickly, too. Kamae's Lola Edith (our eldest sister), was advised by her heart physician to forgo her trip from the USA to the Philippines because of her recent heart condition. She was devastated of course. Her Lolo Raphy, Ate's husband, made it though despite his arthritis. Lolo Cesar from Cavite didn't make it, too. He and wife Lola Salit just couldn't have fun while Zaldy, a son recently diagnosed with cancer, would be left behind even for a while. And besides, he has grown tired and weary due to this problem. Lolo Carlito, who is based in Canada with his family, seldom comes home. Lolo Ben couldn't travel from Pangasinan to Manila because he just had his dialysis(3x a week). Lola Rose, Kuya's wife, has more concerns because Kuya is being prepared for kidney transplant in a month or so from now.

That leaves 5 of us siblings (I, Mario, Nela, Lina and Edna) expected to attend the family gathering by Mon (Kamae's father) and Cherrie (Kamae's mother). Since we live apart from one another, we burned the lines in updates on what to wear (formal European attire) and what gifts to bring for an 18-year-old. (We simply couldn't remember the items our own daughters received on their debuts). We also worried about where the venue was and how to go there. As the event drew near, we realized we were preparing for a big family event that never before happened. We were to wear European attire! The problem was, how does a middle class Filipino don such garment?

On the d-day, August 29, we, 4 sisters, agreed to meet at Sis Nela's house in Quezon City after lunch as our take-off point and for car pooling purposes, too. I brought with me a long gray sparkle gown with plunging neckline taken out from my "baul". To make up for the missing ruffles, my two daughters bought me netted gray blazer. They too rummaged for fitting costumes. They ended up with hemline be-ruffled black lacy dresses. Solved!

Finally at Nela's house, the 4 of us, Nela, Lina, Edna and I, were like little girls fitting dresses for each other's approval. I only needed accessories, so Nela lent me her pearl necklace and bracelet, fine. Nela showed as her bed full of formal dresses and long gowns. After a long disagreement, we finally ended with a sleek black dress with dainty sparkles and off-shoulder sleeves with a matching shawl to conceal a little of her exposed back. She was fittingly garbed in formal black gown, a 39-day- old widow, who is caught between mourning and merriment, at least for a night. The following day would be 40th day of his husband William's death. And the whole of the clan would be attending this occasion, for family prayer and dinner.

Edna, our youngest sister, donned a black lacy layered European skirt minus the petticoat. She tried several blouses, too. Until the last minute before taking off, she changed her flaming fuchsia blouse into a demure glossy ecru halter. She looked stunning! Well, she is our youngest and still years away from retirement age. Lina, looked slimmer in her off-shoulder checkered sleek old gold formal blouse with matching pants. She lamented though for not bringing along her other gowns and formal dresses for a wider choice like what the other two sisters did. She regretted donning pants because she was limping from sciatica, nerve damage condition, from her right waist down her limbs. That was signal from me to justify why I wore my gown of floor length. I, too, limp from diabetic neuropathy and healing shingles. I would have worn my rubber shoes in it but a borrowed step-in did the works.

Our male kindred, from the youngest Malcolm, barely two years old(Jojo's son) with Mommy Mitch, to the oldest Lolo Raph were garbed in dark suits with vests underneath, so westernized in looks. Mitch, tall, slim and fresh beauty may soon join hubby Jojo(a US Navy) with Malcolm. The youngest female, Mau' s and Reggie's natural-curled hair Rain was Malcolm's partner. The other scene- stealers as far as costumes are concerned were Nela's Aaron ( dabbed Gu Jun Pyo, the Korean telenovela hero), Lina's and Ging's Ginalyn in flaming red-black attire complete with corset, a hat and elevated shoes and wearing a face of one whose inclination is towards the arts. The trendy beauty of Gin is an opposite of her Kuya David's natural handsome reserve. Edna's JP, a grade 4 schooler, sweated it out in his Mama's vest over long sleeves. He was saved from pulling it off when he learned that he was to substitute for Lina's Jon as one of the offerers of 18 roses. Jun couldn't leave important school activities until 11:30 pm. Nela's Hannah was a flawless white complexioned stunner showing off long legs in her short short hem-gartered lavender dress. Tet's only girl Alou, was herself a stunner at age 13. Her Kuya Gian, like David, was devastatingly handsome and youngest Edrick the most sought out face in the crowd. My Pot and Kit? What do you expect? They were devastatingly prim and proper in their black mini garbs.

We were the first to arrive at the venue, Sofitel Philippine Plaza, Sunset Pavilion before the designated time of 6:30 pm. While waiting for the debut entourage who checked in earlier at the hotel we savored the beauty of the world famous sunset at Manila Bay, just outside the pavilion, taking snapshots. For a while, all our worries and concerns in our own families took the backseat.

As usual, exchange of notes regarding our own families ensued without end. We took turns complaining about our health conditions- high BP, nerve pains, high cholesterol, diabetes , heart by-pass and angioplasty, and other age-related ailments- more than about the high cost of living and our children's education nowadays. Ha! Ha!

Family gatherings are always looked forward to by us. Congratulations, praises, goodwill- we lavish each other who deserve them, without any hint of pride nor jealousy. We, the elder siblings, give admonitions where scoldings- cum- advise are needed, but with love and understanding. This is the time for us to show our care for each other- in remembrance of our beloved Tatay and Nanay. See ya at Kamae's birthday bash details!

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