Blah Blah Blogs: The Story Of Lola Pera

Lola is always game for wacky shots.
July is an unhealthy month for my family, my father FPJ Sr., died of a heart failure due to his complications on the day the Oakwood Mutiny started. We did not know about the events as we were morning for the loss of our Papa. Recently it also claimed the life of my maternal grandmother Felisa, who was born in 1931, in our province at La Union.

Deaths were also frequent this year with relatives like our Uncle Terry  who also died a few months ago. But for Lola's condition it came gradually and lasted months. We were hoping that she would reach her 100th birthday and claim the Centenarian prize of P100,000 because she was strong yet stubborn.

Speaking of stubborn, she was indeed the most stubborn person I know. Being a blogger I have mingled and met with different people in many industries, yet nobody came close to Lola's strong will and persistence. I even remembered the time I have to pick her up at the bus station because she was sleeping there. Not that she was abandoned or anything, she just wanted her papers to be processed being a widow of my veteran grandfather.

Lola's last birthday
Lola's father Tomas was the personal driver of Cardinal Santos but she never considered working for the church, instead she got immersed with military affairs because of Lolo. Unfortunately Lolo made his early retirement due to asthma. It was also probably his frustration that he did not have a son which might follow him as a soldier.

Because of this, my Lola would be the one who would provide for their family as a teacher and doing tutoring. While at home Lolo was running the house like a military camp. My mom and her sisters really felt the difference of their household with the others which led to breed their rebellion inside.

Despite his condition, Lolo would make violent tantrums when he is mad, though it would not be physical against lola and their daughters, there was a lot of flipping tables, broken plates, glass and other things. He eventually felt helpless when their house was demolished due to land dispute and relocated in the province.

Eventually they did, my mom and my Tita went away to live their lives as free women. The diligent middle-child Tita Irma persisted to finish her studies despite the poverty, she eventually landed a job at the Department of Budget and Management. With their daughters having their own lives and children, the couple felt they they have become grandparents. Lola eventually retired from teaching and became active in doing paper works for Lolo's pension.

Then came my generation, who only knew Lolo and Lola lived in the province. Lola continues with paperwork only to be trapped by loan-sharks which sipped the pension dry. This made things harder for the aging couple.

But my Lolo was also a recognized American Veteran as he served in the US Military in Japan. He was entitled to live and receive pension in America along with fellow Filipino-American veterans. It sounds good for them, but the catch is my Lola was not able to secure a passport and visa which gave second thoughts if he still pursue it.

Lolo lived in Sacramento while Lola lived in the province, and to give her company my eldest brother who just started his family moved in to provide a companion and helper for Lola. Lola still continued to deal with loan-sharks to pay off debts, and also to help with my brother's growing family. Lolo would keep in touch with all of us via mail.

But Lola was silently a jealous type, as she was frequent in Quiapo, she sought suggestion from a tarot card reader. The cards said that there could be an "other woman" with my Lolo in California. This along with their long distance relationship caused Lola to demand Lolo back to the Philippines.

Lolo came back to the province, now with Kuya's family who helps with the fields and livestock. Lola continues to go back to Manila for unending paperworks. Everything seems back to normal o so it seems.

We were woken with devastating news that Lolo committed suicide because of depression. A belt around his neck hanging from a beam was they discovered in the morning. Lola hurriedly went back to La Union upon hearing the news. Up to this day, I cannot forget the way Lola cried when Lolo was laid in his tomb.

Years has passed, Lola still continued the perpetual routine of paperworks which sound absurd to us since it was more of pambayad-utang than pension.  Lola even had an accident which left her unable to go to Manila for months but once she was back on her feet, the paperwork continues.

We wanted her to stop.

Pooling together Lola can live a simple life in the province with livestock and farming. But she still can't stop. This even led her to sleep in the bus terminal just to avoid us bring her back to the province. There was also a time I fetched her at the terminal and almost broke down as she  stood her ground. I offered her fare and some money to just go back home, It was very frustrating for me.

But the stubborn and persistent Lola felt her body is really getting weak since 2016, which somehow gave us relief that she has finally "retired" from the tedious routine. 

She loved to get money, but not just for her. Since her husband is gone, she wanted to provide them to my bother's family. She was called Lola Pera by my nephew because of all she would talk about is how to get money and the countless people we don't know involved.

She just celebrated her 86th birthday this May. In the pictures and photos, I felt her weakness, she could not talk as frequent. She used to sing and dance which I wanted to make her a Youtube star as the hip grandma, now slowly bound to her cane...then... wheelchair.

It was a slow heartbreak, I can feel her demise. She was repeatedly admitted to the hospital, now connected to an oxygen tank, the smell of death is near but I remained positive that she can overcome this like other things that she survived. My Tita who lives in the US wanted to see her, at least for her last living breaths, has booked a flight to Manila and would be arriving soon. But she will come home to a depressing wake.

She finally gave in to death last July 19. The family matriarch now left 3 daughters, 6 grandchildren, 8 great-grandchildren, and 2 great-great-grandchildren. 86 years was indeed a roller coaster ride for my Lola, many would see her life as boring but she proved otherwise.

We would not be here, without her. I would not be here without her. This also prove that how crazy your family is, family is family. We may choose money over many things, but in the end we always come home to the ones we love.

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