Grandparents are the footsteps to the future generations – author unknown.
We celebrate Grandparents Day annually, a day when we’re supposed to honor our grandparents.
Honoring our grandparents and the elderly is a valued tradition in the Philippines even before a Grandparents Day was ‘invented’ or proclaimed. Our grandparents live with their families. Even at present, there are few homes for the elderly in the Philippines which are resorted to when there are no better options for home care.
I grew up at a time when almost all the homes in our neighborhood had grandparents or a grandparent living with them. I am the youngest in the family and my father was also the youngest so I didn’t see my grandparents on his side. My mother was a middle child and I was lucky to experience living with my grandmother on her side albeit for a few years only. In our ancestral house we lived with my maternal grandmother who we called Lola (grandmother) and for other relatives Lola Bandang to distinguish her from the other elderly women we all called Lola.
Across us were our relatives, my lola’s friends and contemporaries Lolo Panio and Lola Tosiang. Lola Bandang and Lola Tosiang used to visit each other in their old age, until their 80s which to me was so old at that time. I see 80-year old grandmas today who are still very active. There was also Lola Justì across us beside the house of Lola Tosiang but she only visited and stayed once in a while so her memories are not as vivid as the two. There was also Lolo Jose , a couple of houses back Lola Justì’s, who lived with his daughter and her family. On the other side of Lola Tosiang’s house was another Lolo Jose or Lolo Utì who lived with his son and his family. In another house was Lolo Julian who lived with his second wife and sons from his first wife and their respective families. They structured the house such that Lolo Julian lived in the second floor while his son lived on the ground floor. Two houses farther across Lolo Julian’s house was Lola Insì who lived with her daughter and her family. In other parts of town I remember Lola Agrì, Lola Inta and Lola Tayang who we got to visit during Christmas.
Probably, our lolos and lolas looked so old to me because I was so young. Also they dressed in our traditional dresses which set them apart. After their generation the lolas slowly adopted the modern design of clothes. Nowadays, the traditional dresses are still worn but for formal or special occasions only and modernized along with the passage of time. Our lolas wore them for their daily wear ( with simpler designs and cotton materials) and for special occasions (with the elegant sheer material very much like the Maria Clara worn by the Bulaqueña in the painting of one of our national heroes Juan Luna) . Our lolos wore ordinary shirts or kamiseta for daily wear and the Barong for formal wear. And that is one value of grandparents, the handing down of culture and traditions to the following generations. We learned about the generations before us simply by living with them and seeing the way they lived.
Another, which is perhaps more important, is the imparting of values. They taught us respect for elders. We always say po and opo or ho and oho when talking with older persons as a sign of respect. We always inform our families when we’re leaving the house. We put our forehead on the hands or knuckles of our elders or nagmamano when we greet them upon coming home or when visiting them. This is still being practiced but slowly being replaced by kissing on the cheeks of the grandparents.
By their actions, grandparents strengthened our concept of love as we felt their love for us and saw their continuing love for our parents.
We would have learned a bit of history first hand had we asked, but we were concerned with growing up.