Pomposa ‘Lola Posing’ de Veyra Musca: Celebrating 100 years of family bliss

Community News & Features Oct 13, 2017 at 4:14 pm

Lives and Memories-MAGOur eldest son Norman and I had the good fortune of attending the centennial birthday celebration of my dear aunt, Pomposa de Veyra Musca, who turned exactly 100 years old last September 19, 2017, at our hometown in Tanauan, Leyte.

Smiling Pomposa de Veyra Musca on her 100th birthday

Smiling Pomposa de Veyra Musca on her 100th birthday

It was a memorable affair like no other I had experienced, not only because of the fiesta-like dinner party prepared for the occasion by my aunt’s nine children and their families, but it was a grand reunion of sorts of relatives who came from far and wide, to celebrate the big day.

You see, my late mother’s sister, Mama Posing, whom we fondly call Bimbiyam (a monicker invented by our eldest first cousin, the late Mana Leysa, when as a toddler she could not pronounce ‘Mama Posing’) has been our clan’s matriarch for many years now, having outlived all her six brothers and sisters (Vicentico de Veyra, Jesus de Veyra, Pacita de Veyra Balagapo, Prima de Veyra Astorga, Lucrecia de Veyra Querubin, and Salvadora de Veyra Enage), children of the late Vicente de Veyra and Apolonia Akang of Tanauan, Leyte.

(The De Veyras of Leyte are a huge family composed of many clans like ours that have either stayed in Tanauan, or have migrated to various towns and cities throughout the Philippines .The clan I speak of is the five generations of De Veyra relatives starting from the union of Apoy Cinte and Apoy Onyang – my grandparents and the families that emerged from them.)

So everyone wanted to make Bimbiyam’s birthday as special as possible, with the attendance of as many members of our clan. Relatives from Los Angeles, California, Toronto, Manila, Cebu, Tacloban, and various other towns in Leyte like Burauen, Ormoc and Alang-Alang, trooped to Tanauan for the special event.

Four generations of the De Veyra clan

Four generations of the De Veyra clan

Flying from Manila to Leyte, my son and I were joined by my sister Suzette, whose eldest son Ryan and wife Karen, arrived on a later flight .We were the proud and happy representatives of my mother’s De Veyra-Astorga family branch of the clan. We met up with all the other arrivals at the ancestral home in Tanauan – a town about 20 km from Tacloban City — to pay our respects to Bimbiyam.

Bimbiyam deserves this kind of love and attention. She is a gentle and loving woman, yet strong and firm, and has ably served as a unifying influence to keep our tradition of close family relationships alive – a legacy passed on to us by our grandparents and parents. This tradition means sharing with family whatever much or little we have and making sure nobody is without basic things like food and shelter especially during difficult times; and caring for each other’s well-being.

Together with another cousin from Manila, Mano Wayne, we stayed in the family duplex built by my parents and the parents of Mana Amie, the eldest in our generation of originally 36 first cousins – the collective result of the procreation by Bimbiyam, her siblings and spouses. Our home was one of the several family houses wrecked four years ago by Typhoon Haiyan, but has now been lovingly rebuilt by Mana Amie to its original, if not better, state.

Preparations for the party were in full swing in the ancestral home at the time we arrived. For two days, we experienced a flurry of activities, dizzying for us who had not recovered yet from the jet lag of the Toronto-Manila flight. There were the visits to various relatives’ homes, mostly located in Barangay Buntay, where Bimbiyam’s eldest son, cousin Reynaldo, whom we fondly call Mano Nalding, is the respected Barangay Captain; meetings with event planners and caterers; pick-up of food orders and the 100 fresh white roses; baking and cake decorating; spontaneous rehearsals for surprise performances during the event’s program; family updates and chitchats with cousins, nieces and nephews that lasted for hours; and endless meals and snacks of glorious food — all Leyte native delicacies we could only crave for in Toronto.

Children Reynaldo, Raul, Rolando, Rodolfo, Loreta, Lilia, Leah, Asuncion and Lourdes

Children Reynaldo, Raul, Rolando, Rodolfo, Loreta, Lilia, Leah, Asuncion and Lourdes

Even the great grandkids, overwhelmed by the presence of so many people, remained wide-eyed way past their bedtime, playing and prancing around for attention. All around was a pleasant mix of laughter, cha-cha music, singing, and people loudly conversing, against a background of noisy cars and tri-cycles passing by. Outside, cousins, nephews and nieces drank ‘tuba’ – a native coconut-based wine — with plates of ‘pulutan’ set up on tables by the side of the partially uprooted but still thriving acacia trees that survived the big typhoon.

Through all the commotion, Bimbiyam was cheerful, just seeing everyone having a good time. At her age, she still remains alert, her memory –although at times slow in recognizing faces – relatively intact, capable of remembering details, and her sparkling sense of humor very much alive.

She would sit up in her wheelchair with a dignified air of contentment, especially when surrounded by family. When tired, she would simply slouch and slightly tilt her head, signaling her need to rest in bed. Most of the time, however, she prefers to be in the spacious sala to join whatever everyone is doing – watching television, singing or telling stories. Home is her happiest place to be, especially when shared with the younger generation.

One cannot help but be amazed at such a frail bodied but strong willed and resilient woman who has graciously survived the ravages of World War 2, martial law, Typhoon Haiyan and many other natural calamities; and on a personal level, the passing on of six siblings and their spouses, her beloved husband Papa Sendo, and earlier in their marriage, the death of their first born son Oscar. With Papa Sendo, she raised and nurtured nine children into decent individuals, accomplished in their chosen careers that include public service (Reynaldo, Lourdes, and Lilia), education (Rolando), nursing (Leah), business (Raul and Rodolfo), administration (Loreta) and home-making (Asuncion).

Although her family comprised mostly of school teachers – her husband, three sisters, two sisters-in-law, and one brother in-law — Bimbiyam chose to be a Librarian, and held on to that profession for many years right in our hometown.

Great grandchildren, Nigel, Avrille, Rheign, Mardi, Maeve, Sabrine, Lexa, Louise, Ayeisha

Great grandchildren, Nigel, Avrille, Rheign, Mardi, Maeve, Sabrine, Lexa, Louise, Ayeisha

A religious woman, she is the epitome of courage and unyielding faith whenever crisis would beset family. Granddaughter Regie clearly remembers that during the height of Typhoon Haiyan, when the roof and walls of the ancestral home were being blown off by merciless gusts of wind, and the storm surge floodwaters were threatening to drown them as they all rushed up to the second floor, they thought they would all perish. It was Bimbiyam, who had calmly assured them they will survive if they keep on praying to Our Lady of the Assumption. (Read “How our family miraculously survived Typhoon Haiyan” by Regie Musca, The Philippine Reporter, Dec. 6, 2013).

The big day finally arrived. At three in the afternoon of Sept. 19, the family converged at the ancestral home for a pictorial. The huge family was a pleasant sight to behold, with almost everyone dressed in silver or gray, the color motif for the centennial birthday chosen by the family. The celebrant, radiant in her red and silver top, and red skirt, gamely posed for photographs, which included the portrait of four generations in front of the ancestral home. Noticeably missed was cousin Alma, who could not travel from the States to attend the celebration.

The official program started with a family mass in honor of Bimbiyam , officiated by four priests at the nearby parish, Our Lady of the Assumption Church.

After mass, guests trekked into the well-lighted and decorated amphitheater of the town plaza, seated themselves at elegantly set tables under huge umbrellas. I was told 300 invitations were sent out, but food was prepared by two catering services for 450 people. There were seven lechons and numerous cakes and sweets, prepared by the Muscas themselves, well-known for making the best Leyte-style lechon, and baking the most delicious tortas, pastries and elaborately decorated cakes – a business they have built with pride. More food and a huge lechon arrived with the largest delegation of 17 from the Burauen branch of the family.

Big-group-picWhile people lined up to partake in the festive spread of native dishes and sweets, two live bands played, singers crooned , and skillful dancers performed waltzes and salsa dance numbers.

The surprise Chili Chacha dance number we cousins had rehearsed the previous two nights, apparently turned out well, judging from the riotous cheers of the most discriminating in the audience – the family’s ‘bagets’ or young ones – the grandchildren. The great-grandkids were not to be upstaged at all by the boomers, as they performed a vigorous and lively pop dance that simply broke the house down.

Then it was time for the traditional hundred roses ceremony, but Bimbiyam was already resting at the house., too tired to come out, especially in the rain that poured all of a sudden in the midst of the festivities.

Bimbiyam with eldest son, Reynaldo, wife Lina, granddaughter Regie and great-granddaughter Rheign

Bimbiyam with eldest son, Reynaldo, wife Lina, granddaughter Regie and great-granddaughter Rheign

I was asked by a daughter if I could proxy for Bimbiyam to receive the hundred roses in her honor. I had graciously obliged, thinking all I had to do was sit down and receive each rose from the long line-up of well-wishers. It turned out I had to waltz a few steps with each one. However, I found the experience fun and heartwarming especially that I had the chance to greet some participating relatives I had not seen in a long time.

A video presentation featuring birthday greetings from family in Manila, Los Angeles, Toronto and Dubai followed. It included poignant video images of 3 year old great grandniece Blair singing Happy Birthday from Manila; 12-year old great grandnephew Domenic – our grandson –playing the birthday song on his base clarinet from Toronto, later joining Mom Lala, Tito Lawrence, Santiago, Serena and Lolo Hermie in greeting happy birthday; grand niece Charmaine in Dubai, and still another grandniece Marianne with family sending best wishes from Dubai; grandniece Karina from L.A. and Raffy Granda and family from Manila sending their love.

The party turned even livelier when public dancing started, more fireworks were lighted, and more food and drinks were served. As with all parties, even this special one had to end, but leaving us with precious memories to last a lifetime.

Back in Toronto, as I write this story, I m happily informed by my cousins, nephews and nieces through social media posts that their Centennial Birthday experience with Bimbiyam and relatives was fulfilling and gratifying. They express in their own way the joy of having been blessed with a long-living, life-loving family matriarch who inspires all of us to keep the legacy of family love alive. As for Bimbiyam, we now see her on Facebook posts singing the Visayan song we had performed for her, an astonishing feat, I must say.

I am told by a daughter that Bimbiyam’s constant prayer these days is for all her children, nephews and nieces to remain close with each other, and never to squabble over petty differences that may destroy family harmony. Bimbiyam once told us she wants to live until 120, happily with family. She says she has no secrets to long life. She simply enjoys the love and care of her family, as it is her joy to love and care for them. She says family is paramount to everything. And happiness is being surrounded by family at home.

Altogether, we were over a hundred family members who gathered at home for her 100th birthday. It was the least we could do for a kind loving aunt who deserves all the happiness we could ever give her on her special day.

 

Bimbiyam's "wacky" family

Bimbiyam’s “wacky” family

Children of the late Jesus de Veyra and Guillerma Flores de Veyra: Purita, Nelia, Marietta, Milo, Felito, Edwin, Milabeth and Imelda, not in photo, Susan

Children of the late Jesus de Veyra and Guillerma Flores de Veyra: Purita, Nelia, Marietta, Milo, Felito, Edwin, Milabeth and Imelda, not in photo, Susan

Son Raul and wife Judith, children, Argie and wife Ligaya; Kathy and husband Joseph and grandkids Shean, Sofia & Jairus

Son Raul and wife Judith, children, Argie and wife Ligaya; Kathy and husband Joseph and grandkids Shean, Sofia & Jairus

Family of Pacita de Veyra and Eugenio Balagapo; and Prima de Veyra and Basiliso Astorga: Amie Balagapo; Suzette, Mila, Norman, Ryan and Karen

Family of Pacita de Veyra and Eugenio Balagapo; and Prima de Veyra and Basiliso Astorga: Amie Balagapo; Suzette, Mila, Norman, Ryan and Karen

Family of the late Vicentico de Veyra and Felicidad Monge: with children Lourdes, Nida, Rufino, Denden, in-laws, children and grandchildren

Family of the late Vicentico de Veyra and Felicidad Monge: with children Lourdes, Nida, Rufino, Denden, in-laws, children and grandchildren

Lourdes and husband Luisito de Leon; children Louie; Melissa and Dards, Lindsey, Larry (Malou and Lawrence not in photo) and grandchildren

Lourdes and husband Luisito de Leon; children Louie; Melissa and Dards, Lindsey, Larry (Malou and Lawrence not in photo) and grandchildren

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DE VEYRA CLAN women first cousins (3rd generation): From left back: Mila, Siony, Lorette, Mariette, Lollie; from left front: Nida, Amie, Denden, Lourdes, Melda, Milabeth, Lilia, Puritte, Nelia, Suzette and Leah. (Regrets from the US: Alma and Susan; sadly missed, the late Asuncion and Athelia)

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BIMBIYAM’ first born son Nalding Musca (left) & THE FIRST BORN children of her 6 siblings, from 2nd from left: Felito de Veyra; Wayne Enage; Lourdes de Veyra Come; Mila V. Astorga-Garcia; Amie V. Balagapo. Not in photo: Alma V. Querubin Acu.

With son Rodolfo

With son Rodolfo

Binbiyam with Mila and Norman

Binbiyam with Mila and Norman

With niece Suzetter (right), Ryan and Karen

With niece Suzette (right), Ryan and Karen

With Suzette and Mila, Norman, Ryan and Karen

With Suzette and Mila, Norman, Ryan and Karen

With Kathy, Joseph and Jairus

With Kathy, Joseph and Jairus

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Daughter Loreta Musca Cumpio, children Katreena, Khristian, grandson Nigel

Daughter Loreta Musca Cumpio, children Katreena, Khristian, grandson Nigel

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Binbiyam with James, Wattad, Kevin and Tony

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BIMBIYAM’s DAUGHTER Siony and granddaughter Eena.

Son Rolando, wife Glenda Joyce and children Kirstin and Francis

Son Rolando, wife Glenda Joyce and children Kirstine and Francis

Nephew Wayne de Veyra Enage (right) with the family of Tito Enage (from left) Nikko, Myx, Mhelz and Del

Nephew Wayne de Veyra Enage (right) with the family of Tito Enage (from left) Nikko, Myx, Mhelz and Del

Children, nephews and nieces singing “It’s A Wonderful World” and the Visayan song “Pahayhay”

Children, nephews and nieces singing “It’s A Wonderful World” and the Visayan song “Pahayhay”

 

Tanauan Mayor Tecson announcing the P50,000 cheque for the birthday celebrant

Tanauan Mayor Pelagio Tecson, Jr. Tecson announcing the P50,000 cheque for the birthday celebrant

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CHILI CHACHA number of the first cousins

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Great grandkids performing their surprise dance number for Lola Posing

Great grandkids performing their surprise dance number for Lola Posing

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Mayor Pelagio Tecson Jr. (2nd from left); wife Penelope; Nol and Lilia

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Two boomers aunts (naligaw) with the gorgeous De Veyra ‘bagets’

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The De-Veyra Astorga and De Veyra-Enage branches of the family.

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The third generation first Cousins, with the eldest of the fourth generation cousins, Norman (left).

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100 roses

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With nephew, Ryan

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With cousin Leah.

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With Mano Nalding with wife Lina (seated right), and Ryan, Karen, and Norman.

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From left: Dards, Lexa, Melissa, Khristian, Katreena, Sheray and Ayeisha.

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Argie and Ligaya Musca, with children Shean and Sophia.

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Barangay Captain Reynaldo Musca (Mano Nalidng) with Board member Gina Merilo and guests.

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Nikko Enage performing a song with band.

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With TANAUAN, LEYTE MAYOR TECSON, board member Gina Merilo and Dr. Edith Verzosa Gobenciong.

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The dancers

The dancers

Public dancing

Public dancing

Grandkids dancing

Grandkids dancing

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RB with the cakes

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The day before: Bimbiyam and cousins taking a break from the Chili Chacha rehearsals.

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Cousins serenading Bimbiyam on her birthday with a traditional Mananita.

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