On March 11, 2017, my beloved grandmother, Lydia Bayan Salas, peacefully joined our Creator at the age of 93. A feisty and strong-willed woman, “Mamay,” as we fondly called her, raised me as her eldest grandson, nurtured me and loved me unconditionally. It has been a year since then and while we continue to celebrate the long and fruitful life that she lived, we also continue to grieve at her physical loss because her presence will now only be forever etched in our hearts. Life goes on as they say and life has indeed gone on without Mamay but life is not the same without Mamay. I know Mamay is looking after me and is guiding me as I go through my own personal journey in life. It’s not goodbye Mamay, only goodnight.
EULOGY FOR MAMAY
Delivered by Sergio “Vip” Salas on March 12, 2017 at the 10:00 AM mass at Arlington Chapel.
Good morning. I am Sergio “Vip” Salas. I am the eldest grandson of Mrs. Lydia Bayan Salas. Frankly I dreaded this day when I would be asked to speak and eulogize my grandmother. I dreaded the thought but as they say in life “things are inevitable.”
To you, she is “Tita Liddy” or “Lyds” but to us, she is just “Mamay.” Why was she called “Mamay?” I think it started with one of her nephews, my Ninong Sonny (de los Reyes) who she breastfed and who started calling her Mamay. After that, Ninong Sonny’s younger siblings started calling her Mamay and, we, her grandchildren also started calling her Mamay. It has stuck and Mamay has been called Mamay in the family for so long.
My grandmother had three elder sisters – Tita Paying (Zamora), Tita Nena (de los Reyes) and Tita Awa (Bayan). Her two elder sisters, Tita Paying and Tita Nena, were more gentle, laidback and composed while TIta Awa and Mamay were the more feisty ones.
Mamay was a feisty and strong-willed woman. She was stubborn, she was determined and she never backed out of an argument. We had our own fights when I was growing up but what I will remember about her is that she gave me unconditional love. When everyone else was against me, she was the only one who gave me that unconditional love and I will forever be grateful to her for that.
My grandmother loved to sew, she loved to bake. My favorites were her tuna lasagna, floating island and her butterscotch tarts. She also loved Aling Ineng’s barbecue at Market! Market! We used to go there all the time. She bonded with my mom Victoria (Salas) and they used to go to Naima’s for their favorite accessories. My mom was her best friend during the last years of her life and I will forever be thankful to my mom for giving her the friendship because almost all of my lola’s contemporaries are gone.
As you can see in this room, there is no one contemporary of hers existing because they have all passed on. Her three elder sisters have gone ahead. She outlived her three sons. She raised three sons and she helped raise five grandsons. She was a collector of prayers. She made rosaries herself. She was a member of the Mother Butler Mission Guilds and a member of the Franciscan order.
Today we celebrate the life of my grandmother. She lived 93 years. When she died, people were asking me how old she was. I would say “she was 93” and they would reply “ahhhh…93” because for them that was a bonus and my Uber driver even said “naku, quota na yan” (she has reached her life quota) so 93 is indeed a long life lived. I said I’ll be happy to go beyond 60 years old but she lived until 93. Her sisters also lived long lives. I think it runs in the family because during that time, their generation, life was more simple, the air was more clean, the environment was less contaminated.
When my grandmother was 16 she got a commendation for character education. She was in a bus with her 2 classmates – she was a Philippine Women’s University sophomore in Home Economics – and she offered a seat to an elderly lady. She was given a commendation by the elderly lady for giving up her seat when most of the men didn’t want to. She was always proud of that article which was published in the newspaper at a time when social media was unheard of – no Facebook, no Twitter. She had that framed and we have the article over there.
Years ago, I had a project which you can see in this room full of photos. I borrowed my lola’s old photos which were very small and dilapidated and had them cleaned, restored, enlarged and framed. You can see her life through these photos from her childhood until her middle age. This was her favorite photo – a collage she made which I had enlarged and framed. She said she wanted it displayed at her wake.
I would like to thank all of you for spending your Sunday with us. It’s not easy to get out of your homes on a Sunday which is a rest day for all of us. Thank you for sharing our moment of grief but I think this is really more of a celebration – celebrating the long and fruitful life of my grandmother. When you get to the age of my grandmother, you face the situation where you have outlived your loved ones and we would tease her that she would outlive even her grandsons. It’s good to be remembered the way some of you have chosen to keep her in your hearts.
I’d like to make special mention: my Tito Ronny and Tita Mimi Zamora, Tito Manny Zamora, Tita Dodie Zamora, Tito Mading and Ate Paz Bayan, Cecille Paulino, Bebeng & Myrene who were her caregivers, my brother Jay Salas who also took care of her and my cousin Tuffy Salas who was able to be with my grandmother and say goodbye before she died but who could not be physically here today.
My grandmother was a lover of quotes and she loved this quote : “May you live as long as you love, May you love as long as you live, And may the measure of your love, Be to love without measure.” In death I hope she will live in you through this beautiful and so very treasured quote.
I’d like to end by saying that we loved our grandmother, we loved Mamay, and I will say it is not goodbye, only goodnight. Thank you all for being here.
EULOGY FOR MAMAY (40TH DAY)
Delivered by Sergio “Vip” Salas on April 19, 2017 at the 11:00 AM mass at Garden of the Divine Word Chapel.
Special thanks to my auntie, Purita Calasanz-Salas, for providing me with all the information she knew about Mamay.
My beloved grandmother was born on June 22, 1923 in Sorsogon, Sorsogon, where her father, a government engineer, had been assigned to build roads into the Bicol peninsula. She considered Sorsogon her hometown where she had the fondest childhood memories playing by the sea, gorging on mountains of shrimp and eating glazed pili nuts made by her mother.
She was the youngest daughter of Sergio Sunga Bayan and Felisa Borja Bayan who were both from Calumpit, Bulacan. She had 3 elder sisters – Amparo Bayan Zamora, Cristina “Nena” Bayan de los Reyes Ponce and Dr. Flora B. Bayan. As the youngest of four sisters, she was left with her mother and sister Flora, while eldest sisters Amparo and Cristina went on to St. Agnes Academy, the school run by the German Benedictines from Tutzing, and where the best families of Bicol sent their daughters.
When she was 7, her Papa was reassigned to Lucena, Quezon, to build and improve the roads there. Mamay and Lola Awa went along to Lucena. So while Paying and Nena dutifully learned proper convent schoolgirl behavior and to play musical instruments at St.Agnes, Liddy and Flora used to escape their piano teacher in Lucena by climbing up and hiding behind the windows. This explains why Lolas Paying and Nena were so refined while Lola Awa and Mamay were the more outgoing type.
When Paying, Nena, and Flora were old enough for college, they were sent to Philippine Women’s University (PWU). Liddy was sent along with her older sisters. PWU was founded and run by the Benitezes, family friends of Papa Sergio. It was at this time in Women’s that she made her lifelong friends–her BFF Nena Kalaw-Ilusorio, Stella Lozada of the swimming champion family who became a career diplomat, Isabel “Bils” Santos, the much-awarded costume designer of the Bayanihan Dance Company (daughter of Gen.Paulino Santos after whom GenSan City is named), and Amy Ramos-Austria. Another good friend was Emma Benitez.
In 1939, Papa Sergio was appointed Mayor of Baguio. That is how Mamay got to live in Baguio. At a party out of town, Nena Kalaw-Ilusorio introduced Liddy to her chaperone, cousin Emilio Villanueva Salas. Emil and Liddy got married during the war, on Nov.8, 1942, at the Archbishop’s Palace in Manila. Their first conjugal home was in a house of Tia Pura Villanueva Kalaw in Malate, shared with Emil’s first cousin Teddy Kalaw and his wife Eva. Papa Sergio was put in charge of the evacuation of government personnel to Baguio, and as the war raged, there the Bayan sisters and their families stayed, hiding in a cave until it was safe enough to get out. She vowed then that if she got out of the war alive, she would eat all the chocolates and read glossy American magazines she could get her hands on. Lolo Emil and Mamay had 3 sons Sergio (Laddie), Emilio (Pinko) and Perfecto (TG).
During her lifetime, Mamay always kept herself busy. She was not only a homemaker who knew how to do things expected from her like sew, cook and bake for her family, she was also a very creative person who made the most of her time and liked to learn many new things. She made beautiful ladies handbags for friends and I recall her work area was in a corner of my Uncle TG’s room. She also made costumes including my ati-atihan costume for a school activity when I was in grade 4. I remember those intricately woven straws in the ati-atihan costume which she did herself. I still keep that costume in the attic.
When she visited Medjugorje with her sisters back in the 80s, she asked the help of a little boy there to pick up stones from the holy land and transformed them into a huge rosary which now hangs in our living room. She also dabbled in other creative hobbies like macrame, cross stitch and papier mache. In her Kanlaon home, you can see plenty of her papier mache creations displayed – our dining room and living room lamps, jewelry boxes in her room. She also had a sense of humor. Once while introducing her sister Flora to a fellow guest at a dinner, she said “This is my sister Flora. But she is more of fauna.” Ironically, my grandmother was very conservative but she could be earthy at times with her thoughts and expressions.
Mamay was a feisty and strong-willed woman who would always speak her mind and opinion over issues. She always encouraged us to know at least one song and since she loved to dance the tango with my lolo Emil, she encouraged us to learn how to dance even planning to hire a dance instructor to teach us. Her specialties were butterscotch tarts, floating island, tuna lasagna and bangus sardines. Once I invited some close friends and it was Mamay who cooked the food for us. During our parties held in Kanlaon, Mamay would be in charge of the food – cooking and baking most of the food at that time when catering was unheard of. When we were growing up, we always had hamburger patties in the ref which were neatly layered in a baking pan on cut wrap paper so we could instantly cook anytime.
I remember with so much fondness our summer vacations with Lolo Emil and Mamay with my brothers and our family friends the Molo family. We used to go to Matabungkay and stay at the beach house of my Tita Adela Salas Gatlin, We also went to Baguio, Montemar in Bataan with our Tito Raul Roque and family, La Sirena beach resort in Zambales and in Calauan. Laguna. Those summer vacations were all so unforgettable and memorable and will always be a great part of our childhood.
My grandmother’s favorite song was Yours and she had a cassette copy of all the versions. She also loved the movies and, in fact, my very first movie experience was when I tagged along with her to see Funny Girl at Nation Theater in Cubao. I also recall watching 2 Oscar-winning films with her One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Dog Day Afternoon at Maxim and Miramar theaters along Recto Ave. When the Betamax first came out in the 1980s, we told her we wanted to buy one so we could watch movies and then one day we came home and, lo and behold, we had a brand new Sony Betamax! It was so big and heavy.
I clearly and vividly recall that I rented a copy of the movie “Falling in Love” on beta format., My grandmother loved that movie so much because it was a love story set during the Christmas rush and the actors were two of her favorites – Robert de Niro who somewhat reminded her of Lolo Emil and the great Mery Streep who shares the same birthday, June 22, with Mamay. Over the years, the movie format changed from Betamax to VHS, to DVD to Laserdisc and than finally Blu-ray. Until her last days we continued bonding with my lola watching movies on blu-ray in the family living room where she had a favorite lazy boy seat. One of her favorite movies was Pretty Woman starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. She liked the rich boy-poor girl angle and the chemistry of the lead stars.
When someone dies, people usually say, move on. I think that’s easier said than done. People don’t really know the influence and impact Mamay had on our lives and I speak for us, her grandchildren. As the days go on, there is that painful realization that she is physically gone and we will never see her again while we are here on Earth. We look at her favorite chair in the dining room, we look at her empty room, we look around her house and she is not there anymore. It is very hard to accept that we her grandchildren will be living the rest of our lives without her physical presence. We only take comfort in the fact that she is at peace and that she lived a long and fruitful life learning lessons from her along the way. We know she is with us in spirit and that she will be there to guide us as we journey through life.
When she was alive, I am glad I used to say “I love you” to my grandmother in the same way that I also say “I love you” to my mother. I am never ashamed to express myself. My brothers and I hug each other whenever we see or say goodbye to each other. I also remember a certain time in her life when my grandmother used to call me in the office just to say “hello” or tell me something. I would take time to listen to her even if I was busy doing something. Now I won’t be getting any of her phone calls anymore.
Mamay joined our Creator on March 11, 2017 at the age of 93. Today, we mark her 40th day. According to tradition this signals the end of a period of mourning and we mark the occasion with this special 40th day mass as our send off to our beloved grandmother. Mamay, we love you and we will forever miss you. From the bottom of our grieving hearts, thank you for everything.
I would also like to make special mention that together with my grandmother, we are inurning today our Uncle TG who was Mamay’s youngest son and Aling Metring who was Uncle TG’s nanny and our longest serving and most loyal househelp who we considered family too.
I also prepared a video which shows Mamay’s life in photos and compressed her 93 years in 3 minutes. I hope you all enjoy this tribute to my beloved grandmother.
Here are various photos of Mamay and I through the years: