Wednesday, December 30

This is Gregoria Legaspina-Narvasa.

She was born in a small barrio 98 years ago; a place where the sea and the mountains meet. It must be where she learned to appreciate beauty in different things - beauty in her environment, in the people around her, and in her faith. She found herself making a living out of beauty. She found herself highlighting what makes other people beautiful, by fixing their hair and their make-up. 

And then she found beauty in love. She met a war veteran, and just like the sea and the mountains of her childhood, they became inseparable. They got married and settled in the town's poblacion, to start a new life together. The veteran traded his guns for a new weapon. He learned using a camera, a weapon not to protect the country but to safeguard the future of his family. He created one of the first studios in their quaint town. Beside it, she opened a beauty salon. She learned to live far from the sea and the mountains. 

She is 98 years old. 

She has lived long enough to see love teams on their heyday - Guy and Pip, Vilma and Bobot, Claudine and Rico, Juday and Wowie, Roxanne and Joross, Bea and John Lloyd, and now, Nadine and James.

She has lived long enough to see how her town and the country has changed. She watched regimes changed, and  how promises remained unfulfilled after one president after the other.

She has lived long enough to know pain in different forms, and to still find beauty in it. 

She has lost a son during infancy. He had the veteran's namesake.  It was tough for her, but she never fail to remind her children to keep him alive in their hearts and their prayers. To this day, she still remembers him. To this day, she still loves him the way she did on the day he was born. 

She has watched her children come and go. As a mother, it was painful for her to part with them. She parted with them for a few days as they studied University in a city further north. Days turned to months and years, as her children chose to work in the city and overseas. Months into years, as they started to move out of the house to create families of their own. It pained her, but she must let them go - to let them discovery what beauty life has to offer them.

It was hard to be far from the place where the sea and the mountains met. Being far from the beauty she once admired. But she found the same beauty in love. She became the sea, and the veteran the mountain. Their union became stronger as they face tides of problems together, and as the smiles and triumphs of their children shine as the sun. At the center of it all, it is the Lord that allowed them to be as inseparable as the sea and the mountains.

She loves him as much as the small barrio where she was born 98 years ago. And like her home, it was painful to part with him. As she turns a century old soon, it will also be two decades without him by her side. It will be two decades since he joined their son home. Nothing has changed, she still loves him. She still marvels at how she found beauty through him.

She has lived long enough to tell these stories filled with wonder in her eyes, and not with pain. She remembers well - every intricate detail. She remembers the small barrio where the sea and the mountains meet, the veteran, her seven children and their families, and everything in between. 

This is Gregoria Legaspina-Narvasa. 

To us, she is our nana Oyang - whom we call bae even before the term 'bae' became popular. She is the matriarch of our family. Our constant thirst for life come from her admiration for the beauty. But finding and marveling at beauty is not her secret. As she always tell us, it is the love that we pour into our lives that make things and circumstances in life beautiful. The Lord shapes us to discover this love - just as the sea meets the mountain.