Monday, November 10, 2008

Re-Connecting with Relatives

Al and I have relatives all over North America. Some are in the west coast, some in the east coast and some in-between. So when we go on a trip, we take that opportunity to visit family as well.

Since we were showing the east coast to my in-laws, it was time to visit the east coast relatives. For this post, the Ordillas-Pantaleon side will be covered. (The Manigsaca side will be covered in another post.)

The Pantaleons
We spent time with my Pantaleon cousins in New Jersey and their families. Of course, except from Manong Bong, they do carry their married names now - Gigi Aquino, Gladys Do and Girlie Ann Acosta.

I have met Manong Bong, Manang Gigi and Girlie Ann in the past but it was my first time to meet Gladys, Gemma (in DC) and Lyrome. Apparently they lived a not-surprisingly soap-opera life with the Pantaleon clan :) and that is why we did not know them very well when we were growing up. It was real good to reconnect...

Our time with them was a lot of eating, story telling, catching up, giggling and deep down, belly-laughing that we forgot to have a big group picture! Here's one where most of them are in, anyway...

But we definitely had photos of the feast that Girlie Ann prepared and non-stop, big-mouthed guffaws. (Click on the link to see all the pictures!)

My stomach is growling as I recall all the food - inihaw na tilapia, pork barbeque on sticks, sinigang na isda, pinakbet, pancit palabok, puto and dinuguan - all home made!!! Ang sarap-sarap, grabe! Specially the puto and dinuguan - I have not eaten that in a long time but since Girlie Ann cooked it, I felt safe eating it. And I am so glad I tasted it! Thank you, Girlie Ann!

It was fun to learn that the families of these 6 siblings have been going to annual summer vacations for 11 years now! They go to different states each year, rent a big house, have events and programs scheduled. Each family has a day assigned to do the meals! AND everyday, they set time to gather and have each person - adults and children - say one thing to be thankful about. What a great way to build relationships!

It was also inspiring to learn that they call themselves ADPRAC - an acronym for their last names. But what was more important is that it also the name of their foundation whose mission is to support their maternal grandparents' village in the Philippines as a way of giving back to their heritage. They've "built a health center and rebuilt the library and school". Wow!

Meanwhile, the in-laws had time to take photos outside Manong Bong's house….

… while we were patiently waiting (for more than an hour!) for a safer car from Enterprise. (The car they were giving us had balding tires which I did not feel safe on since we were driving the freeway from NJ to DC. We ended up with a Mazda SUV for the price of a Toyota Corolla rental of $30!)

Upon return of the car rental, we rode with Manong Bong and swung by the cemetery where Auntie Lydia and her parents are interred.

And could the visit be complete without photos of the 2 adorable she-dogs - Kimba, the gentle Husky and Miki, the corky one (forgot the breed).

The Rossonis
While in the DC area, we were able to swing by one of the Pantaleon siblings. Well technically, Gemma is a Rossoni :). And she was recently featured as a Mom of the Month (March 2008) in the FamilyFun magazine. Woo hoo!!! I have a famous cousin!!!

We had a tea party with her with the prettiest tea bags and modern accessories I have seen. The Tea Forte company is owned by her sister-in-law and the tea is purportedly an Oprah favorite.

We got to know Leo and Gio(gio) who helped their mom entertain "long-lost" family - that was great! We missed Peter and their daughter Danielle. Perhaps next time in the east coast... Or maybe if Danielle changes her mind about not going to Texas A&M for college even without the synchronized swimming program. :) Would synchronized bull riding do??? :)

Carl and Liza Beltran
It has been a long time since I visited - about 1993-ish. So that was 15 years ago! (The good thing is that I serendipitously saw Ate Liza and Nica in the NAIA Philippine airport in 2000-ish. She was going back to the US from her mother's funeral while I was going to the US in one of my business trips, so we sat together.)

Anyhow, it was good to see them all again - it was my first time to see most of the kids. Mik was home for the weekend from his school in Boston, too! Uncle Juaning was with them so I sang (I tried!) Naraniag A Bulan. He asked me "Sino ti tatang mo?" and later forgot again. Apparently he has long term memory while he cannot retain memory on the short term.

We had the additional "bonus" of seeing Manang Marilyn and Manong Bob's house makeover. Then we had more food, more stories, more laughing! (Click on the link to see all the pictures!)

Who we missed seeing
Auntie Sesay and Uncle Gracing Pablo… I called Ate Lyndia in Miami to ask about their telephone number. She mentioned that they no longer live in the 31 street apartment and gave me Liza Pablo's telephone number instead. The number though was for an office… So I just sent them a DC postcard. Maybe next time…


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