Friday, October 6, 2017


That was how a young Japanese soldier called my late grandmother during their WWII occupation of Davao. Hana means "flower," and because my grandma was around ten years old that time, the soldier probably meant that she was in her flowering age. Her real name was Beatriz.

Lola Beatriz with Mamerto
Lola Beatriz (girl) with Mamerto (left)
and Mama Tibay (bride)
My lola, whose father was Chinese, was raised by her grandparents. When she was still very young, her father, a tailor, took her elder brother back to China (remember that the Chinese prefer sons). I guess they never heard from them again. Then her mother, Manuela, married another man and had other kids.

Lola used to help man a sari-sari store her grandparents owned in Panacan. That was where she met the friendly Japanese soldier, who along with other soldiers assigned around the area, were frequent customers. She said he often brought her sweet manju, something she really liked. She also learned Japanese words and songs during that time, one of which she would gladly sing when we requested. Then one day the Japanese soldiers were sent away and she never saw her friend again.

Lola also liked talking about a grandpa who was very fond of her. She calls him Mamerto Osorio (I think he is her great grandpa. This bit got me confused when I asked about her ancestors because the last names didn't match.) He liked bringing her when he walked about town. Then she would talk about dulce (she meant candies). There were always candies aplenty in her pockets.

Lola BeatrizAlthough she descended from some of the oldest families in Davao, she grew up poor. In fact she only had elementary education. Nevertheless, she became a cook and a seamstress.

With seven children you would think a woman of her stature would find it hard to be successful, but she sent them all to college. Not only that, she even had the grace to accept into her home some relatives and friends who needed a place to stay. Though they were living in one of the poorest areas in the city, her neighbors considered her rich, thrifty, and enterprising (must be the Chinese blood in her).

Eventually she and my grandfather (who also didn't finish school) were able to save money and buy a property in Buhangin. Just thinking about all they have gone through makes me proud.

I had tough and strong grandparents. Both my grandfathers I consider warriors: one was a soldier feared even by his superiors; the other was the quietest, most intense man I have ever met. But lola Beatriz outlasted them all. Happy birthday Lola! May you be in the arms of our Lord forever!


  1. Naa diay moy kaliwat insik, Jul?

    Kami, we look insik lang but we don't know really if naa sa among kaliwat nga insik.

    I think your Lola is about the same as my Mamang.

    Happy birthday to your Lola.

    1. Thank you te Lili! Sa mga anak sa akong lola, si mama lang ang dili nawong ug intsik. Di na pod mi mailhan kay mga lagom na hehehe