Thursday, May 05, 2005


Ninong had a small gathering last night to remember Ninang. Part of her ashes have been brought to the Philippines to be interred into a family plot in her family's hometown. The evening of rememberance coincided with a mass for her there. And still now over 6 months later, we all learn yet something more about her, after someone read a couple of poems she had written.

I remember visiting Ninang one evening. Some friends from LA were in town. The wife, Ninang, and myself were discussing how does one to become called a writer, a poet, and artist. Ninang said that despite the poems she had written, she didn't consider herself a poet. The wife, said that though a journalist, who wrote a short story that will be published, she didn't consider herself a writer. After much discussion, we all came out reaffirming ourselves and in declaration that we were indeed, poets, writers, artists.

Afterwards, Ninong invited the women to peruse boxes of Ninang's jewelry and clothes. Something to remember her by. She had numerous gold half loop earrings, several fan shaped earrings by this one Hawaiian designer, a pin of Stalin, an exaggeratingly large "diamond" ring, still tied to it's cardboard packaging. Ninong removed his glasses to take a closer look and wondered why on earth she would ever have something like that. I suspect probably because it was funny and ridiculously austentatious. Ninang had a way of being austentatious, but not in the exaggeratingly large "diamond" ring sort of way. She got into animals, gecko pins, a pair of earrings with a small skeleton of a seahorse imbedded in them, which to me and "A" seemed a bit grotesque, but knowing Ninang, yeah, she would have liked that too. Many of the earrings are missing pairs, either that or they are lost in the jumble of the earring box as earrings are wont to do.

"A", a woman there, picked out a pair of earrings, large round capiz ones. She sat there turning the pair in her hands and said to me, "I don't know why I picked these. They don't seem like they're for me. Here you try them on." Being new to this whole earring world, I tried them on. "See," she said, "they're for you!"

To the side are bags of her clothing. Ninang was petite, none to fit me. But I took a few jackets for the Maguindanao troupe coming to town. It's cold here. They would need a few. Another bag was filled with her hats. Always these circular hats, round with a brim. Several whose brim curled to a lip. Oh so very Ninang!

I think about the lists that people post pondering about each and every thing they choose to bring into their lives. Now, going through boxes and bags of the things someone has left behind, the things that we are left with of them, you get a sense of who they were of the essence still present in the items, of the essence that attracted them to buying it in the first place.

My mother offered to take some of the jewelry back to the Philippines or give them to a Senior crafts program. I remember when we cleared out my grandmother's closet. My mom and her siblings picking out items to take with them. My uncle handed me a keychain from Hong Kong that he was going to give her, he said that I might as well have it. A letter found in my grandmother's closet asked that a birthstone ring be given to me, another piece of jewelry to the youngest of the cousins, whoever that was at the time. We shared the same birth month. It's not the most well made piece of jewelry and the synthetic stone has worn with no sheen, but that doesn't matter.

The rest of the clothing my mother packed for the Philippines to distribute among the aunties. This, would look good on her. This would fit her just right. I remember how on the following Sunday, many of them came to church wearing the new outfits, beaming with pride of the stylish suits. I smiled too. Looking back, I appreciate the new life that was given to all of her things to people who would appreciate it rather than have it linger stale in closets. That not only the memory of them survives but a physical piece of who they were continues on as well.

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