Archive for ‘Family’

30 March 2019

Blessings Be upon You

by misslampa

Papa has always been more old-school about the Filipino tradition of pagmamano. Right after my siblings and I would tell him we’re about to leave. he’d offer us a free hand which we’d meet with an outstretched palm. We would then bow slowly until his knuckles lightly touch our forehead while listening to him say, “God bless.” And then we’d be on our way. That’s the classic way, which is also how I’ve done it with older relatives, my parents’ friends, and the parents of my friends.

But my Mama, she bestows her blessing upon us in a slightly different way.


This was way back when both my parents were still taller than my siblings and me. :-)

Mama used to have to bow down a bit to find our foreheads, where she lightly traced a small cross with her thumb while the rest of her fingers lay on top of our heads—much like how the priest does it when baptizing babies—before she sent us out the door. While doing so, she’d say a quick prayer and ask the Lord to bless her children and keep them safe from harm. Then she’d smile with her kind eyes and say “Ingat, anak!” (“Take care, my child!”) before letting us leave for school.

Our late teens saw my siblings and I all growing taller than my mother, and so we had to outgrow the bowing bit of this routine. Since then, she’d just raise her hand in front of her face and find our foreheads there, still waiting for her touch and blessing. She’d then hug us tightly then say “I love you” and “Ingat ka” and mean it like only a mother who’s dedicated most of her life to her children could.

What I don’t tell them is that every morning, I still look back at my reflection in the mirror, lightly knock my knuckles against my forehead, and trace a cross on it with my thumb so I’d still feel like I’m getting their blessing.

Taking part in this parent-child dance is still one of my favorite things about coming home. At 74, Papa still knows the moves like the back of his hand and now adds a quick kiss or hug sometimes, to my sappy heart’s delight! Mama’s 70 and has been extra forgetful since she had a stroke three years ago, but when she happens to be up before I leave and I come into her room to ask for her blessing, she still remembers every step, down to hugging me with all her might and wishing me well like only a mother who’s dedicated most of her life to her children could.

I hug her back but now, I trace a cross on her forehead as well, partly to make her laugh (my sister and I kid our parents about how they’re now the babies in the family) but mostly to beg God to please please give her peace of mind, a happy heart, and a good night’s sleep—things that haven’t been coming to her as easily. I do the same with Papa and I’m glad he also lets me, especially because I know I only have the rest of either their lives or mine to keep doing it.

I know tradition dictates that it always has to be younger one receiving the blessing. But because I’m my mother’s daughter, I’d like to think I’m also allowed to do things a bit differently.

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13 January 2019

A Pet Name for Me

by misslampa

My nephew Coco now has a pet name for me.

He’s been calling my Mama “Lola” (grandma), my Papa “Lolo” (grandpa), and my older sister “Ninang” (godmother), but for the longest time, he didn’t have a term for me. The few times we interacted via Skype, he danced with delight while I sang “Baby Shark” and learned how to stick his tongue out by mimicking me, but he never got around to calling me anything. He probably thought he was just watching another YouTube video.


You’ll really end up second-guessing yourself when even face-tracking filter apps refuse to acknowledge you.

I got to play with him a lot when I went home last Christmas, though, so I guess something finally stuck after hearing everyone repeatedly refer to me as “Auntie” in the hope that he’d say it, too.

He found me washing dishes in the kitchen one Sunday afternoon and wanted to play tag, I think, so he stood a couple of feet away from me, said “Auntie-ya” loud and clear, and held my gaze for three seconds before running back into the living room giggling, fully expecting me to run after him.

I did just as expected and rushed to where he was, of course. I shouted “Coco” repeatedly and captured him in a big bear-hug, like I had every other time we played this game.

But my heart knew that that time was unlike all those other times, too, because it was when my darling little Coco finally decided to pluck me from anonymity.

Later on, while appreciating how the name is actually an amalgamation of “auntie” and “tiya,” I realize that he uses the same term to refer to black ants, too. “Oh no, oh no! Ant-ya!” he quips while pointing at them with his forefinger.

But no matter. I’m still going to mark this Christmas as the Christmas an angel settled on a nickname for me.

16 January 2013

The Middle-Child Syndrome

by misslampa

Why, Mama dear? Why?!?
Joke lang po! ILoveYou!!!Ü

Earlier this week, someone wanted to know if I sometimes feel that my parents love me less compared to my siblings. It was already a tough question in and of itself, but what made it even tougher this time around was the fact that the one who wanted it answered was my mother.

I mean, why would any parent ask her middle child that of all questions? Hasn’t she heard of the middle-child syndrome? Did she want me to give her a reason to be sad? Haha!Ü

In the end, because she brought me up to be honest, I said yes, growing up, I have at several instances felt that my parents were playing favorites. To illustrate, I told her I remember them taking my sister on a shopping spree just before they sent her off to college in UP Los Baños, and that I remembered it vividly because we were forced to tag along. Clothes, school supplies, stuff she was going to need in the dorm, the works. But then when it was my turn to go, I got nothing. Not a new blouse or a bag or a wallet, even.

(Oh wait, I think they gave me money to get myself a pair of maroon shorts because I needed them for PE. Lucky me!)

I was quick to reassure her, though, that I can be mature about it now – that I have been mature about it for quite some time, actually. Like all that’s happening around me but not really to me, I’ve chosen to look at what they did for her as something that had nothing to do with me. My sister Diane was the first to leave the home, so perhaps that was their way of loving her, perhaps they wanted to prove themselves to the world, perhaps that was how they coped with her leaving.

Plus, in all honesty, there have been many instances too when I felt like I was the favored one so in the end, it’s bound to even out. Which is why my mindset for years now has been that whatever isn’t about me shouldn’t affect me so immensely. Makes sense, right?

As it turns out, not necessarily.


I recall this memorable conversation on birth order and personalities which I had with a fellow traveler several months back.

Somewhere during the week we happened to Sydney, the brilliant Rodz told me about this TED video where a journalist (I did a quick search and found out much later that he was referring to Jeffrey Kluger, and that it was, in fact, a TEDx video) talks about how, like animals, we do everything in our power to get our parents’ attention from the moment we are born. And that, as middle children, we’re at a natural disadvantage simply because we didn’t get to be the favored eldest or the favorite youngest. Now as much as I wanted to disagree with him, I couldn’t. I mean, never in my whole life did I hear my parents go, “Let her have it. She’s the middle child, for crying out loud!”

This, however, doesn’t deter middle children from fighting harder to get recognition in the home. According to Kluger, we do this by being different – and by working hard to be very good at that different whatever that we choose to do.


In true middle-child fashion, Rodz wore work clothes while on holiday. Who does that, seriously?Ü

So aboard one of Sydney’s trains, Rodz and I took turns talking about how we are indeed so different from our siblings, especially the first-borns. I told him I was the only artsy one in my family, he said he was the only tech wiz in his – differences we both seemed keen on keeping and making even more pronounced. What amused me the most was discovering that even our favorite chicken portion – the thigh part – was heavily influenced by siblings who loved chicken legs, haha! I got tired of competing with my siblings for them, he wanted to be different from his brother. Crazy. And cute, too.Ü

This preference for what’s different doesn’t stop here, though. Outside of the home, I often go for what’s eclectic or eccentric or asymmetric – options which usually appeal to the least number of people. Moreover, when something I really like starts gaining popularity, I find myself losing interest. Unless we’re talking about John Lloyd Cruz or Derek Ramsay. Oh, but I digress. :))

All this, he said, can be traced back to our supposed natural longing to be the favored one back when we were young, a longing that some middle kids never outgrow, sadly.

So there I was thinking, have I been wrong all this time to think that anything that was between my parents and my siblings shouldn’t affect me?

Probably. But should I allow myself to feel any less loved because of it?

Nah. Not necessarily.



When I’m hit with a new idea, I tend to get consumed by it for a while. It’s just me.

I didn’t talk to Rodz for a good eight minutes the moment we got off the train, so much so that he had to ask if I was okay – because if you’ve traveled with me, you’d know I’m one to keep a good conversation going. The meanie was delighted and amused that I seemed perturbed.

And I was, for I was having a hard time getting my head around the thought that Kluger could be right – that like most middle children, I’m different from my siblings not because I’m unique and independent and couldn’t care less about what the world thinks, but because I wanted to give my parents a good reason to sit up and take notice.

Which means I’m not that different after all, right?

Maybe, probably, most likely.

But once again, as with most things, I’m choosing to go with no, not necessarily.

I’m a middle child, after all. I should feed this tendency to be too cool for anything most likely. :))

This one’s for Mama dear and Papa dear, who are immensely, completely and absobloominutely loved. My siblings and I are a pretty awesome bunch because of you! <3