I've been a lola's girl all my life. I loved my lolas on both sides. What's amazing is, they were such good friends. They played mahjongg together and went on trips. They were both religious and prayed all the time, went to mass everyday when they were healthy.
That's how I learned to pray the rosary. They described Lourdes with such excitement that I had to go there myself and I loved it.
My Filipino grandma was called Lola (L) and my German-American lola was called Mama (R).
Yes my Mama had red hair and blue eyes. You may be wondering what features I got from her? Tons of freckles.
Both lived up to the age of 90.
Now that they're gone, I still look for that lola company, to be with old souls full of wisdom, that lived in the olden days and experienced the war.
When my schedule allows I sew with a group of lolas on Wednesdays. They are lovely women with stories to tell. One is a cancer survivor and one married the love of her life at a young age and had seven children.
And then there's Gilda.
Gilda Cordero Fernando was an author we studied in Philippine Literature, so now I'm in awe that now I get to hang out with her.
At 77, she is truly one of the loveliest, most chica, fasyon women I have ever known. She would always be on my best dressed list. And she was the one who reached out to me.
First she attended my fashion show in 1997 (wow, that was ten years ago) and then she invited me to one of her crazy dinners at home.
I would go to her book signings and little gatherings where she would treat a bunch of us girls. She was always so generous.
And then she wrote this book that touched me. I texted her about it and we met up at CPK for merienda and talked about Life.
Life with a capital L.
I now look back at that talk as a life-changing experience, for she answered questions I'd be asking all my life.
For that I will love her forever.
Last week, Jeroen and I were at Brothers Burger getting a snack when I received a text message from Jessica Zafra saying Gilda had suffered a minor heart attack.
In an instant, tears rolled down my cheeks.
I forked pieces of hamburger into my mouth but the tears wouldn't stop falling. They fell faster than I could wipe them away.
I called Myrza Sison.
"Is it true?"
Yes it's true, Myrza confirmed it from Manny Chavez, Gilda's BFF. Myrza promised to update me.
A couple of days later I got the message that Gilda had an angioplasty with two stents and was out of danger.
And then a text from Gilda inviting us to visit her.
On Sunday, Jeroen, my friend Jude and I went to her house to see her.
That's Gilda in her bedroom, with her maids painted on the cupboards. That's how unique she is.
We sat around a table where Gilda served homemade champorado with tuyo.
Those of us gathered came from all walks of life, from ages 33 to 77.
There were photographers, chefs, writers, a book designer, fashion designers, stylists, and a lawyer—all who had come to let Gilda know we love her.
I cannot tell you how glad I was not to go to a wake, but to see her alive and just hug her.
Thank You Lord, for Gilda!
All the news that's hip to print
- Life, with a capital L