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I don’t think it is by mere coincidence that both my late grandmothers practically share the same birthday. Although born a few years apart, their birthdays are only 2 days apart. Lola Meding, my father’s mother, was born on April 24, while Lola Caling, mama’s mama, was born on April 26.
Both of them were made of the same stuff. Strong-willed women who, although seemingly stern and strict, love to laugh and loved to live. They may have had different histories and backgrounds, but they both raised their children to be headstrong, independent and cultured. My cousins (both sides), sibling and I are proof of that lifelong effort from both women. We may belong to the iPhone generation, but we can still (though we’d probably choose not to) live under the stars in the pale moonlight.
If anything made them very much alike, it was their love for music. Lola Meding played the piano with the passion of a professional, tickling the ivory as if she knew no words but notes on the staff. Lola Caling, as Ive never seen her play the piano (though she probably did because she had one in her house in Vito Cruz), I remember more for her voice. It was Lola Caling that gave me my oldest surviving guitar (not my first, but it’s the oldest one I still have) and I would sometimes jam to some old songs with Lola Meding. Though both of them have left this world, they will be forever in my (and everyone else’s) hearts, and brought alive through the songs that remind me of them.
Let me just share with you a few of the songs that bring them back when I play them. First, there’s Lola Meding’s signature piano piece, Frank Mills’ “Music Box Dancer”. Whenever she would play this, we knew the day would be great, no matter the circumstance.
Then, Lola Caling had her musical mark in “Mi Ciudad de Zamboanga”. I’m not sure if she actually wrote or co-wrote the song, but she will forever be remembered for this. As far as I know, she even had a recording of it (produced and distributed in cassette).
Lola Caling, however, I personally will always remember for “Zamboanga Hermosa”. Other people may remember her for “Mi Ciudad…” but I still think of her everytime the latter is played. To me, SHE was Zamboanga. Many people may live in, occupy and even abuse Zamboanga, but to this day, I see her as the embodiment of the city. The beautiful beaches, colorful smiles of the people and the wonderful flora and fauna all show you a glimpse of Lola Caling.
And then, there’s the (apparently) world famous Cebuano Folk Song “Rosas Pandan” that Lola Meding used to play a lot. I did a recording of her playing about a dozen songs, but this one really caught my attention. Im not sure if it was the musicality of the lyrics or just the way Lola Meding used to play it. Here’s one of an american choir singing it. They even translate it for you.
Remembering you on your birthday(s) Lolas! Thank you for everything you gave to us.