I Remember Lola

*Note: If Filipino words are used, they are translated below

1. Playing cards

Lola used to play solitaire because she wanted to keep her mind active. It is the only solo card game she knows. If it looks like she will not win the game, she will cheat by turning over certain cards even if that move isn’t allowed. When I was younger, we used to play tong its together using mentos or stork as bets. Lola likes the red cards to be really red because if it isn’t, it looks violet to her, and she’ll confuse it with the black cards.

2. Queensland Butter

This is lola’s favorite butter. This is the best butter that I have ever tasted.

3. Rocking chair

Lola likes sitting on a rocking chair.

4. Wet wipes

Lola always has wet wipes in her bag. She doesn’t like wasting them, so if it is only used once, she will put it in a small plastic bag, and use it again.

5. Water added to liquid products

Whenever the shampoo, dishwashing soap, condensada, etc are almost finished, she adds water to them. She says, “Para masimot ung [insert name of liquid product here].”

6. Kaldereta

Lola is a great cook. I love her kaldereta especially if it’s kalderetang kambing. She knows how to cook the goat so that it will be soft and tender and that it won’t be maanghit. An adequate amount of wine also makes the kaldereta taste really good.

7. Hot Chocolate

Whenever my cousins and I stayed up late talking in the veranda of our rest house in Batangas, lola makes us hot chocolate. Boiling the chocolate balls in a pot of water, she adds peanut butter, lets it melt into the chocolate, and beats the mixture with a wooden beater until it is thick and creamy.

8. Somewhere Out There

Lola is a great singer. This is one of her favorite songs. My mom says she sings this whenever she misses her kids who migrated to the U.S. and Austria.

9. Nobody But You Ringtone

This is lola’s cellphone ringtone, and this song is one of the favorite songs of her apo sa tuhod.

10. Canned Goods

Lola is a hoarder of canned goods. Her pantry is filled with tons and tons of canned goods. She keeps buying more, and she forgets what she already bought. When tita found lots of expired canned goods, lola didn’t want to get rid of them, so tita pretended that she wanted to have them, but really she just threw them away.

11. Grocery

I love going to the grocery with lola. Once we are there, I ask her to buy cornflakes, jam, or anything else I wanted. In the grocery, I am in charge of taking the plastic bag from the bunch of plastic bags tacked to a wooden column inside the store, open the plastic bag so that it will be ready to be filled with a kind of fruit or vegetable that lola selected. After one bag is filled, I would tie it, then place it on the side of the cashier check out table. I’ll get another plastic bag, and I’ll repeat this again and again until lola moves on to buy fish or other products like patis, suka, toyo, or bagoong.

12. Candies

When there’s a balikbayan box, lola keeps the candies inside her cabinet. Throughout the year, she gives them out to guests and family members.

13. Tap Water

Lola desn’t understand why it is important to switch to drinking mineral or filtered water. She argues that her long years of drinking tap water has made her naturally develop anti-bodies to protect her against anything that is in tap water.

14. Watches

Lola always pesters me about wearing a watch. I told her that I didn’t need a watch because I checked the time through my cellphone, but this explanation didn’t satisfy her. Lola loves giving away watches especially to the maids. Even when she was sick, she still wore a watch.

15. Baygon

Lola likes spraying her room with baygon to kill the insects. After spraying, she’ll just stay inside her room. We told her that this isn’t good for her because the fumes were toxic. She didn’t believe us. She developed fibrosis in the lungs. Inhaling toxic chemicals is one of the main causes of fibrosis.

16. Dark brown hair color

Lola doesn’t like black hair color because she says that this makes her hair “black na black,” and that it looked unnatural for an old lady to have hair that’s “black na black.”

17. Folded table napkins

Lola always cuts and folds napkins. I’ll use them up, and the next day, she has cut and folded new ones.

18. Radio

Lola loves listening to the radio. She watches TV, but not too much because she says it strains her eyes. When listening to the radio, she keeps it close to her ear because she says she’s bingi.

19. Giga

Lola loves Giga because it helps her with her aches and pains.

20. Dolls

Lola always has dolls in her room. Her children say that this is because she married young, and so she didn’t have enough time to enjoy playing with dolls.

21. Ensaymada

Whenever her apos or children visit her, they’ll bring her favorite dessert.

22. White flowers

Lola believes that when someone gives her white flowers, then that means good luck. When I was a kid, I’d pick sampaguitas in our rest house in Batangas, and I’d give them to her. I’d do this everyday, and she’d still act surprised and delighted whenever I’d give her flowers.


[1] Lola = grandmother

[2] Tong its = a card game

[3] Para masimot ung = So that we can use up the remaining contents

[4] Kaldereta = a Filipino dish

[5] Apo sa tuhod = great-grandchild

[6] Tita = aunt

[7] Patis = fish sauce

[8] Toyo = soy sauce

[9] Suka = vinegar

[10] Bagoong = shrimp or fish paste

[11] Balikbayan Box = a box of items sent by a Filipino who works in a foreign country

[12] black na black = overly black

[13] bingi = deaf

[14] apos = grandchildren

[15] sampaguitas = small white flowers, is the national flower of the Philippines

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