This past Saturday, Dec. 9, Jay met members of my extended family (from Oriental Mindoro) at our yearly Christmas lunch, which my parents have been hosting for the past 5 years. For the second year in a row, it’s been held at the Bellevue Hotel in Filinvest/Alabang (my parents are definitely ‘south’ people). It was supposed to be at the Palms Country Club up until last week, when my mom realized that it would be much better in an indoor setting with a dance floor so people can (ballroom) dance. But of course there was ballroom dancing!
Coincidentally, Jay’s paternal side of the family is also from Mindoro, but from Occidental. I’ve been told that the difference was made between Occidental and Oriental for purely political reasons (more municipalities = more politicians), so they basically just cut through the locales surrounding the Halcon Mountain Ranges. Jay’s mom, however, is from Pangasinan (Lingayen), and my mom is from Lanao del Sur (Marawi City).
Jay was a trooper! He said hello to everyone, tried to remember everyone’s names and happily took pictures with his D50. We spent a greater part of our first hour looking through our family tree (starting from my great, great, great grandparents!) and when it came to my immediate family, Jay pointed and said, “Hey! You and I will be here next year.” 🙂 It makes me really happy to think about that.
The men in my family have been known to make ‘outsiders’ feel uncomfortable at first (and the women known to be Feisty with a capital F). But I guess because Jay and I are already engaged and because they know that he had asked for my parents’ blessings first, everyone warmed up to him instantly (what’s not to like, right?). My Tito George has already invited us to go to Puerto Gallera from Calapan with him, so I think we’ll take him up on that offer in late January. I think it’s his way of making sure that he really gets to ‘know’ Jay before we get married. Tito George is a gentle giant (he’s about 6 feet and 2 inches), never without a smile and is always game to hangout with the young ones.
Ena, Ariel and Alyssa missed the lunch cos Ariel’s lola’s 100th birthday (wow!!!) celebration was on the same day, and (Dette’s)Andrew had a work event. But we’re all getting together this Sunday for our own mini Christmas lunch/Ena’s birthday lunch. 🙂 Even if Christmastime is usually a logistical nightmare, I lovelovelove getting together with friends and family over yummy food and laughter. Sounds cheesy but it’s what being back in the Philippines is all about and was definitely something I missed while I was in the States. I know it’s going to be different with Jay by my side and if we were to move away from the Philippines I know that I won’t feel as lonely as I used to. But wherever we may end up – in the States, Europe, here in Southeast Asia… we’ll see what opportunities come up and where God guides us, but for now, we’re happily enjoying the strength and support of family.
Jay thinks it’s endearing how much my dad likes to make speeches (he hit the mic about 3x that day…), and before the party ended, he announced Dette and Andrew’s engagement, as well as Jay and I’s engagement. We stood up and waved to everyone like beauty pageant contestants – good thing Jay’s shirt was still tucked at that point.
L to R: Lolo Max, Lola Agring (my dad’s dad’s [Lolo Roding, RIP] sister and a favorite Lola of mine), Me, and Jay – you can’t tell here but Jay’s shirt was tucked and he was wearing a proper belt with a gold buckle! Cute.