Today, April 15, is the birth anniversary of my dear mother, Dolores Lombos Valentino, who died of ovarian cancer in 1978 at the age of 55. May I ask you to join me in saying a prayer for her? I remember her very fondly - she was very hardworking (she ran a handicraft business with my dad), always very cheerful, and sacrificed a lot for us. I remember many hot summer nights as a child - before we could afford an electric fan - she would use an anahaw leaf fan to help us bear the heat and go to sleep. She was also a good dressmaker - and I would watch her sew my clothes using a Singer sewing machine (that I much later learned was bought with a loan from Harvey Jewell, the man after whom I was named). I would watch and wait until she finished, because it was an excuse to stay up late. Because we were poor, new dresses then were only for special occasions or when needed in school, so to watch a new dress being made was exciting. Until I was in college, she was sewing clothes for me.
Oh, college! In my final year in college, I stayed in an apartment outside of the U.P. Diliman university campus with three American room-mates. One night, they had a party with some fraternity guys, and the apartment was a mess in the morning - the floor was littered with empty beer, scotch or gin bottles. That was the day, the only day, when my mother came unannounced to bring me extra food - and although I didn't drink, I didn't know how to explain the mess to her. To my relief, she didn't ask.
I also remember that in 1966, she worried about my traveling to Baguio and Banaue with some friends. For some reason, she was always worried about my safety, but after the trip was done, and I was back home, I would hear her proudly tell others about my adventurous trips to places she herself had not seen.
One of the regrets of my life was not attending my university graduation ceremony. It was optional in 1969 when I earned my degree in political science, and I was young and at that time, still rebelling against traditions and conventions. I was the only one among my siblings to finish college, and yet, I denied my parents that proud moment of seeing me march to receive my diploma. I am sorry, Nanay and Tatay, I wish I could turn back the clock to undo one of the biggest mistakes of my life.
Thank you for loving me, Nanay. I love you, too, and miss you very much. I wish you were still here to see my own daughters, and now, my apo. It would have been fun to celebrate your 90th birthday here, but celebrating in heaven is, I am sure, far better. Happy birthday, Nanay. <3