‘Torete’ about my grandnephew and grandson
Five weeks of vacation in December-January was intentionally packed with travels to far provinces, mainly to visit relatives, but also to tour lovely sights and enjoy nature’s gifts. In my previous blog, I mentioned the highlights of my vacation. But here, I want to give special mention to my niece’s newly born son, Zi. Meeting Zi was the crème de la crème of my vacation.

When I look at Zi’s photo, I sing my favorite Filipino song I learned when I was in the Philippines – “Torete ako sa iyo” (I’m cray about you – or nuts over you). I belted out this line to Zi when I was with him in hopes of keeping him awake so I could play with him. But every time, his eyelids would droop, and he’d fall peacefully asleep on my rousing tone – my funky crooning mustn’t have been as crazy and energizing as I thought it was. A strange and quirky lullabye. Anyway, Zi — “Torete ako sa iyo!”

Zi (Photo by Nikki)

I’m very “torete” about my grandson, too, now 10 years old, who at the moment of this writing, is enjoying Tahoe with his parents. I just watched a video of my grandson skiing and zigzagging the long and spectacular California trail. The activity looked invigorating. Funny, I felt invigorated … I wasn’t even there.

One of the highlights of my week that I so look forward to is facetiming late Sunday afternoons and watching him practice and rehearse pieces on the piano. Always a lovely treat! He is a wonderful delight that I thank God for.


The Sausalito treat
Last weekend was perfect for a drive to Sausalito north of San Francisco. A spontaneous and lavish treat from a nephew, his wife and daughter on a spring-like day.

Sausalito (Photos by Edwin)

The strange thing was, Siri (or whatever her name is) of my nephew’s brand-new car kept directing us to hilly streets of San Francisco. Not a direct route from the peninsula to the Golden Bridge at all. The surprise bonus was we got to see the lovely and big homes in the residential areas we passed, short perhaps of being taken to the crookedest road, a tourist favorite. That reminded me of “Streets of San Francisco”, a popular series with Michael Douglas as the protagonist/hero (Does this date me?). And then finally, we reached the Golden Gate Bridge – standing tall against the sky; no clouds or fog to hide the bridge’s top. The scenery was grandiose.

And then Sausalito! We couldn’t have chosen a better day. The weather was comfortable. Felt like glorious spring. Rows of boats and yachts were moored on the harbor, lazily swaying with the very gentle waves. Spinnaker, the restaurant surrounded with glass walls, offered breath-taking view of the bay. White sailboats glided on calm waters as few motor boats rippled waves as they sped by. Now and then, I spotted big passenger boats packed with tourists. I thought I heard excited chatter from the passengers, or I imagined it as I sat behind the glass walls and saw happy faces on the boats. I was content seated in Spinnaker stationed over the bay shore. For some brief moment – I couldn’t decide which was more palatable: the scenery or the food in front of me. Nonetheless, I was perfectly happy with my red clam chowder and fish n’ chips.

Most delightful was our saunter to the ice cream shop in downtown Sausalito and our trek back on the promenade by the bay. It felt so nice to see families seated around picnic tables, or children tumbling, skipping and running on the grassy stretch. Or romantic pairs huddled on benches or concrete steps fronting the shore. Amazing and strange, I felt vibrantly young! It must have been the titillating sea breeze.

Thanks to my nephew and his family for the grand treat that weekend – and thanks to the Siri-like voice in my nephew’s spiffy German car (for the tour of SF) – I shall give her a German name … like, Francois for San Francisco (no, that’s French) – or, Helga. What about Frau Helga?

Fabulous and rare chess sets
I’m waiting for my daughter’s visit in Palo Alto, so I can give her an exquisitely wooden carved tournament-regulated chess set which I purchased during my vacation in the Philippines. The board and figures are shaped out of rare native wood called narra. My favorite is the figure of the King, dressed in Filipino Barong Tagalog (native attire for male) and on his head is a native hat called salokot. The queen’s attire, however, isn’t so native looking. But it is enough that the quality of the wood and workmanship show distinctively and impressively in the finished product.

I bought my son and grandson a similar tournament-regulated chess set. The difference is, the characters in their set are patterned the regular way, with no ethnic touch but for the excellent wood material. I look forward to playing this mind game with my grandson, a very talented chess player.

Are folksongs nostalgia for old times – what about a revival?
As I’m finishing up with this blog, I’m listening to a recorded folksinging gig on a PBS station. It’s a hootenanny, featuring all the folksongs I remember and love. This brings me back to my youth as an exchange student in Pennsylvania. Hootenanny parties were the fad. I had attended dozens of them, and everyone was an exhilarating gathering of young people mouthing the lyrics with full gusto, and the crowd always seemed to produce delightful harmonies of voices. The singing was either a robust chorus or a soothing, peaceful euphony. I remember sitting on many living room floors with friends in Pennsylvania, enjoying the casual group lilting to melodies from performing groups from the high school or college in the community. I don’t believe everyone in the crowd was a professed singer, but everyone in the crowd sang. Singing was the bond that drew more and more to hootenannies.

Since my childhood and to my baby boomer years, I’ve always loved to sing. I appreciate music which, to me, inspires a spiritual experience, one especially enhanced by group participation, as in hootenannies. I sure hope hootenannies would come back – the young learning the folksongs that the older generations grew up with and so enjoyed. Perhaps, some brave music lover (a baby boomer?) would take the helm on reviving the fad again. Wouldn’t it be fabulous to see the young singing with the young once? I can imagine rooms full of folks swaying to the tune of “Five hundred miles”, “Michael row the boat ashore”, “If I had a hammer”, “Lemon tree” or “Puff the magic dragon” –- long-beloved melodies crossing generations – that would be a dream.

Can anyone out there – boomer or nor, take the challenge?

Unexpected pre-Valentine gift
My first Valentine greeting I received this month was unexpected and sheer delight. I was speaking on the phone with my nephew the day before Valentine, and who should I hear on the background repeating a message I first ignored. On top of my nephew’s voice was that of his daughter, a loving and lovable young lady with down syndrome, sweet and pure in disposition. I heard, “Mahal kita” refrained a few times, until I finally recognized the message – and I beamed in utter joy. “Mahal kita” means I love you. Most enthusiastically, I replied back – “Mahal din kita” (I love you, too). I couldn’t have received a more delightful pre-Valentine gift, the quintessence of something so genuine.

I will tell you a secret – someday, at the right timing, I would like to work on my third “Something Curious” book, all about Shanele, and try very hard to capture the precious essence of her lovely and delicate persona. There is much this smart and delightful down syndrome young lady can teach us – and much we can learn from her, from her infectious joy of life.

I’ll try … I’ll try.

Linda P. Jacob

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