Below is the tribute delivered by my uncle, Leonardo C. Eduave, for my Lola Ning. This was on March 5, 2012 at around 9 in the morning.
A pleasant morning to everyone!
Will you please bear with me for a while and take time to answer this multiple choice question? Here it is:
Which of the following 3-word bio-pic titles on the life of Mrs. Hortencia Cudal Asuncion would be the most appropriate or fitting of all?
- A. Against All Odds
- B. Follow Your Bliss
- C. Woman of Courage
- D. Love Conquers All
So, just make a mental note of your best answer from any of those 4 choices because I’ll be giving you a total of 5 points if you get the right one (to be awarded in heaven when you’re there).
Out of the many possible vignettes that I could relate about Auntie ‘Ning’s life as her eldest male nephew, may I just highlight a few significant lessons from her life’s textbook—because it was a life that was so meaningfully lived!
There’s no doubt that my other cousins may have their own perceptions that Auntie ‘Ning was a stern or even strict aunt, and I would concur with that impression, only to some extent, because underneath that seemingly tough exterior shell, she was in my estimation, one of the most caring and passionate aunties that I have been privileged to know…
I must state up front that Auntie ‘Ning’s foremost passion was that of her relationship with… her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! That was very evident in the parade of tributes given by her children and grandchildren here last night. Truly, that deep and abiding faith in God has served and will continue to encourage us to emulate her example.
I also know for a fact that she had a passion for cooking and baking. Just think of “Sunflower” as an institution of wonderful gustatory delight. It could not have been started or sustained as an enterprise without her inspiration and blessing.
She was also passionate about crocheting and sewing! And I just hope that some of her handcrafted treasures could be preserved and perhaps eventually be handed down as heirlooms to the coming generations, because those items are now becoming rapidly vanishing art forms in the age of mass manufacturing by machines.
Auntie ‘Ning was also passionate about cleanliness and neatness. When you talk about a caring household management system even long before HRM became acceptable, well—she lived it and breathed it! I can’t remember any instant when I dropped by her house to find it messy or topsy-turvy—this is regardless of how many grandchildren & other toddlers were around.
I can still recall that there was a time she did not use any ordinary “Perla” bar soap for laundering here clothes. Instead, she used only the one that would float on water. And that brand was Ivory, you guessed it right! She was that quality minded.
A very reliable source has told me that Auntie ‘Ning had many suitors. Implication: she was a beautiful lady. My aunts & uncles are a beautiful and handsome group of people! (Para dili mo magmahay sa ako) That long list of admirers included one very lucky gentlemanly co-teacher at Sumpong Barrio School none other than… (drum roll please) Uncle Ben! Their May-December romance proved the skeptics wrong because their love affair has already stood the test of time. They were quite a twosome, being the first hand-holding couple I can remember who did not hide their affection from each other.
And, as if to belabor the obvious, I think that the love stories of Ruthie & Tito Bong, of Leslie & Clyde will serve to echo the romantic journey which Auntie ‘Ning & Uncle Ben had courageously taken. That trending pattern of loving relationships is definitely one of the hallmarks of the Asuncion family. I call it “Uniquely Asuncionic!”
So , if Uncle Esme was (to quote Dr. Allan Melicor at the cremation ceremony) “A Fighter To The Core,” then I would also consider my Auntie ‘Ning to be “A Fighter to the Core” for daring to defy the prevailing concepts of “age-gap” romances by following only the dictates of her heart. Besides it isn’t easy to weather and survive 10 years of widowhood unless you are emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually fit as a warrior!
So, based on what you’ve just learned, what’s your answer to the hypothetical question when I started?
If you answered A, give yourself 1 point. Those of you who chose B, that’s 2 points, C is worth 3 points and D is 4 points. Actually, the best answer that’s worth a full 5 points is E. All of the above!
Auntie ‘Ning, I know that you are now in the blissful & blessed presence of Jesus Christ and you are joyfully basking in reunion with Grandpa Santos, Grandma ‘Cela,
Auntie Ma, Uncle Esme, Auntie La, Auntie Ne, Uncle Mine, Auntie Lila, and of course, with the love of your life—Uncle Ben!
Thank you very much for being a great blessing to me and be assured that for as long as I live I will always treasure your memory very, very deeply within my heart!