Day 13: The Celebration

Maria Coronacion “Nanay” Villacorta Talusan Samaniego was born on October 13, 1910 to Alejo and Paula Talusan in the small town of San Ildefonso, Bulacan, Philippines.  She was the youngest of five, preceded by four overprotective brothers.  At the age of 16, she married Gonzalo “Tatay” Samaniego, and gave him fourteen children over the next thirty years (one of whom tragically died in infancy).  Last night in Manila, nearly 150 relatives– some of whom came over from the United States and Australia– threw an advanced celebration of the centennial anniversary of her birth.

It was a fantastic event!  I played master of ceremonies, and several of Nanay’s grandchildren (and great grandchildren!) performed songs and dances in her honor.  She was very present, had immediate recognition of nearly everybody, and was very gracious as some (re)introduced themselves to her.  She teared up as she was presented with a multilayer cake, while the crowd of nearly 150 joyously sang a familiar birthday tune, and was all smiles as her remaining male offspring shared her in a dance.  The six-hour party could’ve lasted forever, and no one would’ve minded one bit.  Not the least of whom, Nanay.

Nanay tears up as she is presented her birthday cake.

For me, last night’s party was the perfect culmination to my inaugural return trip home.  It was my raison d’etre and it couldn’t have happened more gleefully than it did.  Over forty of my 56 first cousins were there– and it was just like old times!  I can’t believe I waited this long to come back to the place where it all started.  And, now that I’m hours from heading to the airport to return to the U.S., I simply cannot wait until my next Philippine trip.

There truly is no place like home.

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