“When things get tough, breathing is what we go back to. It is the very foundation that we have to strengthen the most in this practice. But don’t worry, it should come naturally as it is something we learn to do first when we were born and the last thing that we do as we pass away.”

What an impact this reminder by Max Marshall in this morning’s QiYo practice had made! It reminded me of my Lola (Grandma) Puring (my father’s side) whose birthday falls on the 27th of July.


You see, when I was young, my family spent most of our summer holiday in Romblon where my father was from. I look forward to this every year because the province holds so much freedom in terms of play, rest, and time in general. I learned and loved The Carpenters because my auntie had a collection and there was not really much that the antenna from there could grasp. So, zero TV, one album of The Carpenters. You get the picture.

During the day, there’s not much to do while my grandmother is at her store of threads, buttons and textiles. So, my sisters and cousins would spend the whole day playing. And we played a lot.

Occasionally, we get tired of playing. So, to ease boredom, we would go to the beach. It’s just three blocks away anyway. I remember, there was one summer when our uncle brought home the family computer from overseas. That surely kept us indoors.

But whatever we came up spending our days with while we’re there, we shall never stay outdoors beyond six pm. And this is because of our strict Lola Puring. She stands 4 feet and 11 inches. But guess what! I shiver when she’s angry.

top (L-R): me, Daryl, my auntie and my godmother, Daisy Lynn and her husband, Daryl
bottom (L-R): Kaith, my elder sister, my grandmother, Lola Puring and Ally – my elder sister’s daughter. So, in this picture, there are 4 generations.

One day, we got carried away with playing volleyball outside. We didn’t notice that it was way past six pm already. When our ball rolled around the corner from where our ancestral house stood, there I was running after it, eyes on the ball when a foot stopped it from rolling. As I looked up, her eyes met mine and I understood what was coming. I ran into the house and my sisters and cousins already knew so they followed hurriedly. I will not go into detail on how we got punished, but, we certainly learned our lesson that time.

One of those punishments was to sit down and try our best to beat her in Scrabble. We never did, but it paid off as I teach English now – I guess.

As we grew up, she would get hold of our achievements and she always ended up very proud to say, “You are my favourite amongst all.” She says this to each and every one of us. And we all know this. That’s why we love our Lola Puring in a very special way. Not to mention, when she comes to Manila, it usually is the best of times, I must say.

She loves sarcasm, this woman. But she only speaks this language to those who could keep up with such wits and who has the guts to sit with her the longest.

My most favourite part about being with my Lola was how she and my grandfather held on to each other, for better or for worse. They hold a very tight relationship that their goals for their children were their biggest why. I remember how my grandfather showed his affection to my grandmother and all that resonates in my mind right now as I try to remember are happy thoughts whenever they’re both around. I never saw or heard them fight.

One of the stories my grandmother had on ‘loop’ was how conforming my grandfather was to her most of the time.

Most especially when it comes to how they planned out that each child would be born around the same time. They had four children.

She told me that they were very poor at that time. So, they made sure, that they will be born sharing the same date. My father and godmother in the picture, holding a baby, have the same birthday, October 14. My other auntie, her birthday fell nearly to the date, October 9 – almost. But she has this “oops” baby. My auntie who is second to the youngest was born May 30.

There was a time that I stayed in the hospital for quite a while. Nobody was free to take care of me, except Lola Puring. My grandmother is a pious, woman. For the longest time at the hospital, she had been reading to me about God, that I swear, at that age being repulsive, reckless and stubborn, I was annoyed. She did it anyway. And I listened anyway too.


Today, July 27 is supposed to be her 91st birthday. She passed away in March of this year without any known ailment except for she had just started not eating on top of lack of rest. With her age, it was hard to recover already and so, she drifted. But this day remains special to me as I chose to give birth to my second daughter, Saofetalai Trinity Dalino Toomalatai during this day. Yes, you caught it right. “Chose”.

You see, I gave birth to Trinity via C-section. I had the liberty to choose the day. And I’m glad I went for this day of breathing exercises and meditation practice that made me tap into how great having Lola Puring as a grandparent  once again. Because, that’s what happens, when a person passes away, eventually, you will be forgotten. I would never want to forget Lola Puring. Nor I certainly don’t want to be forgotten.

And so, July 27, is now shared by these two beautiful people. Trinity and Lola Puring. Every time this day eould come, it will always remind me of my grandma. That includes the legacy she pushes all of us, her grandchildren, to always strive to achieve. I owe her my life, for without giving my dad one, my sisters and I will not be here.

And to that, this cutie, who turned two today, July 27, may have not delighted my world. Happy happy birthday ‘nak, and to my Lola Puring in heaven. I love you both very very much!

Trinity at 2


I have a deep regard for your time. It's when I write and cook that time becomes non-existent. I love learning and while you think I am the kind of lady who has a lot of things to say, just take it that I was sharing what I had learned with full impact over a cup of Joe.

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