Year 2!
Daisypath Ticker

Thursday, June 29, 2006
Wings of Love
As a little kid, I remember regularly attending our loud, colorful family gatherings held at whoever had the biggest house at the time. One thing our clan needed a lot of was space. There was no actual headcount to speak of at these parties and so woe to the host, whoever it was that volunteered or was appointed for a particular gathering. There were aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, brothers, sisters, grandparents galore. There was always someone's new girlfriend, boyfriend, wife, husband, or baby to get to know. And then there were the cousins. Ah, cousins, cousins, and more cousins! Not to mention the yayas. We never forgot the yayas and helpers who were most likely to have had already been around to change the previous generation's diapers, and so were considered family as well.

We'd have all-out costume parties and musical programs where an entire family would perform ala the Jackson 5, or the Osmonds. Haha. I remember a gigantic Christmas tree occupying a large corner of the main living area which looked nothing like a typical, triangular pine, and--even more astounding--was made, leaf by leaf, by hand by one of my brilliantly creative cousins.

Then there was the food. The Nuydas are insatiable omnivores--the operative word here being omni, of course. I sincerely can't think of anything a Nuyda won't eat. Haha.

And then there were the loud, boisterous voices, each one trying to top the other in rapid-fire Bicolano, the clan dialect. I may still not be able to speak a single coherent sentence in Bicolano, but I can sure listen in on a conversation and tell you what's being discussed.

Well, my dad's generation of Nuydas has all but gone (except for one brother, my Uncle Jeck, who stood as one of my ninongs at our wedding), and I deeply miss the old gatherings and hearing those reassuringly booming voices; the full-bodied, rough intonations you'll only hear from someone raised in Kamalig, Albay; older, more weathered faces reflected in the younger generations; the amazingly tight and warm hugs from aunts and uncles who were truly like second parents in their love and concern; the mahjong and poker games; the rare-butterfly swaps; the exclusively male fishing expeditions that brought the freshest lapu-lapus, barracudas, and yes, even baby sharks, to our tables; the roadtrips and mountain treks; and just the joyful sight of a family growing larger and larger with each passing year.

Yet, with every new happy arrival added to the clan, another sad passing or departure would threaten to change the old family dynamic. The cousins are now the parents, the aunts and uncles, and even the grandparents. They are the white-haired generation now, and many of the younger ones have left and settled abroad, making the prospect of a complete family reunion more and more remote.

And so it is with gratitude and pride that I make note here of my relatives in the States, who took precious time off in their busy lives to fly in from different parts of the country to gather in L.A. for a special 8-day reunion aptly themed "Wings of Love", and featuring the iridiscent-blue Morpho butterfly as the event's logo. My branch of the family couldn't attend for various reasons, but the American Nuydas kept us in the loop with their regular email threads and updates. Reading their letters and looking at the pictures, it feels like we were there, too. It gives me hope that we can all one day recapture the way it was three decades ago and have glorious reunions where everyone who has iridescent-blue Nuyda blood in them can be present.

Allow me to share my cousins' emails to the whole family after the historic 8-day festivities were over. This one is from Carlyn Nuyda-Calloway, my best friend growing up and who could out-perform Janet Jackson herself on any dancefloor, and who is now a happy wife and mom to 2 1/2 year old Eloise:

Hello all,

It has been a whirlwind of a week indeed! I am sure everyone is still recuperating from all the fun and festivities. (Weh!) We all definitely put a new meaning to the word "Party!"

There was a whole lot of family bonding going on. This experience was very valuable to me, Nate and Eloise. We will never forget all that went on...cousins getting to know each other, laughing, hugging, playing, and being silly. Eloise has not stopped re-telling stories about her best pals, cousin Sabrina and baby "Masantha" (meaning Samantha) & their adventures in Disneyland, her favorite guy in the world Kuya Niko, her pretty cousin Maria, funny guy Jonathan, and the fun she had with cousins Paul, Matthew, Francis, Katana and the rest of the little Nuyda crew. Add too, the teenage Nuydas whom Eloise enjoyed being with just as much: Ate Camille, Ate Nisha, Kuyas Peter, Chad, Pipo and DJ. All of whom were very sweet and patient to her very inquisitive and curious questions, and sometimes not-so fun antics. Thanks to all for giving her your love and attention. It was so wonderful to see Eloise with all of her cousins finally and although she is only 2 1/2 years old, she will certainly remember this experience with fondness in the months, even years to follow. I am putting together her very own "Nuyda scrapbook" with pictures and stories detailing all of the fun she had with her family.

Nate shared with me his thoughts: That we have a lovely family. Uncles Sean, Todd and Chip are "stand up guys" whom he would love to get together with again in the very near future. Aunts Debbie and Leanne are awesome ladies, Uncles Jazzy and Phillip are "superb" and cousin Paul left an indelible mark in his heart and mind. For a man of such young age, "he's got it together." We will never forget the VIP treatment we received from Paul at Disneyland, he really went out of his way.

And for the rest of our family, I say "what a great bunch of people you all are", each with a special gift to give, whether it's Tita Tess' great singing and cooking, Steve's golfing prowess, Uncle Jazzy's humor, Tita Merry's nurturing ways, Tita Mimsy's vigor and positive attitude, Tita Eileen's sweetness (especially with the kids), Tito Chito's great energy, Malinda's thoughtfulness and sense of organization and foresight (like bringing sunblock & juice and snacks for the kids on beach day), Marc's helpfulness and readiness to assist in any way, and on and on and on...I could go on forever really.

I would like to make special mention of Uncle Sean. Okay, I think we can all agree he is Uncle DJ all over again. We all agree he is the coolest Uncle, ever! After you left, we sat there in the living room talking about you for hours. There is a very nurturing way about you that reminds us so much of Uncle DJ. Thanks for touching our lives. Aunt Debbie, we love you very much too. You are sweet, kind, and ever so tolerant of our wacky ways!

Then there is Uncle Chippeh. Well, I don't think there is enough room to describe ALL the great things about you we have come to find out. Thank you so much for brightening up our lives with your sense of humor, your young-at-heart ways and your wit. The Petunia poster is still up by the way. I think Mom intends to keep it up for awhile, a sort of homage to you...(hehehehe!)

Uncle Todd, let's see. Good-looking, Mr. Superman and all-American great guy. Like Uncles Sean and Chip, you have touched our lives in a most special way with your sense of adventure, fun attitude and love for family togetherness. Aunt Leanne, we wish we had more time to spend with you. We enjoyed your company very much, and singing Karaoke with you was a ton of fun too!

Trig, Bobbit, Clinton, Christine, you know how I feel about you. And mom, we love you to no ends. You are the one that keeps it all together.

For the rest of the family, I want you guys to know how much we all enjoyed getting together with you again. Like Mom said, when all else fails, when times get tough, when things don't go as planned, all you have is each other and that is something to feel good about. At the same time, let us all not forget that in all of our craziness, fun and good times, we were all blessed by the grace of God, whose watchful eyes looked over us all, keeping us safe, well and happy as we celebrated, laughed and let go.

DJ and Nerissa's wedding is coming up soon. Between now and then, let's all keep in touch and keep it going--not just for us, but for generations to follow.

Much love,
Carlyn Nuyda-Calloway

Mixed Nuydas


The New Generation

Day 8: Mardi Gras Night

Chio, matriarch and reunion mastermind

And here's a blow-by-blow account of the 8-day event from my other cousin Jazzy, who used to be one of the "younger cousins" but is now set to be a father-of-the-groom-to-be in February! My, how time does fly...

Day 1: "The eagles have landed." Chip, Sean, Todd and family all came together and showed up in full force at my doorstep. As I opened the door, the excitement built up - greetings and introductions were made and before long, the stories began. For a moment there, we all forgot that we had to go to Carlyn's for dinner. The rest of the California Nuydas were waiting for us. So, off we went.

At Carlyn's, the reunion fever got hotter. Carlyn's home was filled with laughter and lots of stories. But let's not forget the delicious spaghetti with meatballs and Italian sausage, garlic bread and salad. Oh, the booze...there were lots of them. Beer - different kinds, wine - red and white, brandy, whiskey, and many more. The time flew unnoticed. We could have stayed longer but had to call it a night - the beach at Malibu was waiting for us the following day.

Day 2. We left at around 8:00am to be at Leo Carillo beach early and reserve a spot for the entire family. It was a cool and cloudy day - not really ideal for a day at the beach. But by midday, it got warm but still cloudy. We started securing the tables and the BBQ pits. Then, off we went to the ocean. The water was cold - around 60 degrees (this is actually warm considering that it usually is 50 degrees). The waves got strong and the boys went boogie boarding. They had so much fun.

The food was yummy and there was just too much. We had bbq on a stick, lamb chops, ribs and tri-tip. Eileen also baked delicious macaroni pasta. And of course, the Americanos went ga-ga over Tess' bicol express and laing.

We left at around 3:00 in order to get back to the valley for the 5:30 mass. Everyone proceeded to my house for a quick shower and change of clothes. The men and boys were at the backyard, hose in one hand and soap on the other. After mass, we all got back to my house for dinner - more bbq, laing and left-over food.

Day 3: Chio's clan went to Disneyland and they were treated by Paul. Everyone got in for free. Way to go, Paul! The East Coast Nuydas played golf in the morning and watched the Jay Leno show in the afternoon. I on the other hand had to go to work. The OC group (Mims, Merry, Philip & family) also had to go to work and could not join us for dinner. Tess and I hosted the Monday night dinner - pork rib sinigang, my famous baked salmon and pancit bihon. After dinner, the cousins bonded in the patio while the wives (Tess, LeAnne and Debbie) had karaoke night along with Triggy. Everything was going well until Chip and Todd joined the croaking, ooops, I meant singing. And of course, the singing will not be complete without Chip's robot dance.

Day 4: Golf day - Chip, Sean, Todd, Philip, Bobbit, Chad (Chip's son), Peter (Sean's son), Steve (Christine's hubby) and myself went to Rustic Canyon Golf Course for a 6am tee-time. It was foggy and we couldn't see the fairway on the first 5 holes. But we managed to shoot decent scores. Steve, a golf pro in Hawaii, gave us a live demo on how golf is supposed to be played. Even though he was still on Hawaii time (it was 3am), he still managed to scramble a 4-over par 76.

In the afternoon, the group proceeded to the "The Grove", a shopping center in Beverly Hills. According to Todd, they had a "snack" at the Farmer's market. When asked what kind of snack they had, he named at least 6 different kinds of food including steak from the Brazilian fast food. So, can you imagine what a real meal is?

Day 5: City Tour. The East Coast Nuydas went to Universal Studios accompanied by some West Coast Nuydas. The rest of the West Coast Nuydas went back to work. We met them for dinner at the Universal Buca di Beppo, an Italian restaurant known for its big servings. Even though everyone "pigged out", we still had so much left-over.

Day 6: The women were treated by Mimsie to a trip to Santa Barbara and Solvang, a Danish community. This freed up the men. So what do you expect them to do? GOLF! This time around, we played skins. Sean won 2 skins, Pipo 5, Peter 6 while I also won 5 skins. Chip, Todd and Chad donated the money along with a few sleeves of balls to mother nature (ha ha ha).

Dinner was hosted by Bobbit and Malinda. We had burgers, hotdogs and salad. We also had poker night. Peter wiped us all out! But in the end, he treated his cousins to the movie. Way to go, Peter! That was very generous of you. You just showed your cousins the true meaning of "family". Meanwhile, the girls, with Carlyn and Tess on the lead, sang to their hearts delight. It was a pleasure to listen to their melodic voices until, the boys including myself joined them. I must say, that Sean is an exception. He's the only guy who can carry a tune. The rest of us are wannabe's. The kids - Maria, Jonathan, Paul, Nico and Matthew also joined the singing. It was a fun night.

Day 7: The East Coast Nuydas had a city tour and got to taste L.A. traffic during rush hour while the West Coast Nuydas went back to work. We then met up at 6:30pm and proceeded to Hollywood Park to watch the Hall of Fame awards night. There were performances by a pianist who played a Rachmaninoff concerto, the Blue Man group and Santana. We brought lots of food - empanada, siopao, fried chicken, and lumpiang shanghai (eggrolls). Of course, it will not be complete without the booze - white and red wine.

Day 8: Mardi Gras Night. Chad (Chip's son) also had to go back home so Chip and I took him to the airport at 4:30am. Then we went back to sleep. Todd and LeAnne went to the Ronald Reagan library while Sean and Debbie went to Camarillo Shopping Outlet. We met up to watch Jonathan's basketball game. He was so nervous to play in front of all his uncles and cousins, but managed to show his skills. After a quick bite, the girls (Tess, Debbie and LeAnne) went to the Swap Meet for more shopping. We went to the 5:30 mass then, it was time for Mardi Gras.

Chio hosted the party and I must admit that it was THE PARTY! Her house was fully decorated with Mardi Gras motiff. She even provided each one with beads and masks. And the food - it was delicous to the nth degree. We started with Chef Clinton's appetizers - stuffed mushrooms (crab meat) and baked clams (tahong). We were like piranhas - the appetizers didn't last more than 1 minute. They were "to die for".

There was music - New Orleans Jazz! And lots of dancing....

Then it was time for the main course. We lined up for gumbo, courtesy of Carlyn, borrowing her mother-in-law's recipe. I was very fortunate to be the very first in line because it was the best gumbo I've ever tasted - loaded with crab legs, chicken and plenty of spices, over rice. As Renee Zelwigger said to Tom Cruise in the movie, "You had me at hello", similarly I said, "you had me at gumbo". We were all satisfied with the gumbo but that was just the beginning. The southern chicken (Auntie Billie's recipe) was awesome, along with the cajun shrimp and the green collards.

Did I mention that while eating, we were being graced by live music. Chio hired a pianist and a singer. The first song was my favorite - The Way You Look Tonight, followed by old time favorites. As Sean said, "this is classy." It set the mood that night.

Let the paaahty begin!!! The dance music started playing and the dance floor was filled - even the children were on the dance floor! Then it was showtime. First to present were the West Coast Nuydas. One by one, the pretty ladies modeled to the tune of the Beach Boys' California Girls. The fashion show culminated with the 2 most beautiful women in the family - Jasnine and Big Bertha!!! They grabbed Todd, the tall, dark and handsome muscleman from Dallas Texas, sat him on a chair and gave him a lap dance. It was a good thing that they were cousins because he almost divorced his lovely wife LeAnne in exchange for the "well-endowed" California girls. (ha ha ha) It so happened that they California girls were no other than myself and Bobbit, dressed in drag. Oh boy, I saw the picture and we were ugly!!!

The East Coast Nuydas came in well prepared. They were dressed in barong Tagalog with accompanying mustache. They were the Nuyda Quartet - Sean, Chip, Todd and Him (Peter). They wrote their own song, memorized the lyrics and sang in tune. When I watched the video, I noticed that Sean had the microphone to himself and didn't share it with Chip. Peter also was closer to the mike instead of Todd. Well, this explains why they were in tune. (Sorry guys....)

And the winner - of course, the East Coast Nuydas!!!! They were well prepared and very deserving! But then again, how can they lose? They mentioned Chio's name followed by a compliment at least 10 times in the song. ha ha ha

After the talent shows, Nisha rendered us a song. And just like Blossom, she was good! Clint also played his guitar and sang his own composition. Carlyn entertained us with her angelic voice. She was also very creative, making her own lyrics as she went along mentioning the names of the 1st generation Nuydas, from Auntie Eding to Auntie Goy in a song.

The clocked ticked and then we realized that it was past midnight. We had to call it a night. And as usual, it took us an hour to say goodbye starting at the backyard, in the living room, in the driveway, then finally in our cars. This was our last night together, so we wanted to extend it for as long as we could.

Day 9: Time to say farewell. The East Coast Nuydas came as a group but left one by one. First to go was Chip who had a 10:30 flight to Indiana, followed by Todd who caught a 12:00 flight to Dallas then by Sean who had an 11:30 flight to Milwaukee.

It was a sad day. Tears rolled down our eyes, we hugged and said goodbye. Matthew, my 6 year old son, grabbed Maria's legs and wouldn't let go. He cried and said that he will miss Maria. They just met and were together for 8 days but a strong bond already developed.

As they all left, Tess and I stood outside a moment longer reflecting on the week that just passed. Hosting a big group may have been very challenging but it was all worth it. It was a hectic week but we enjoyed every minute of it. This will surely be included in the memories that will be cherished. And more importantly, a bond developed amongst our children. At the end of the day, this is what "family" is about.

This reunion produced great results - love, bonding, unity and wonderful memories that we will share. Isn't this what Jesus is about? Praise the Lord for allowing this reunion to happen! Praise the Lord for planting this thought in Carlyn and Chio's hearts and minds! As Chi explained, it all started with a thought. Then it became a reality! Thank you, Chi for saying "yes" to Jesus and for spearheading this reunion.

Until the next reunion - DJ and Nerissa's wedding on February 24, 2007.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

posted by The White Rabbit at 10:48 AM | Permalink | 5 Speak Up!
Saturday, June 10, 2006
In honor of June 12: Philippine Independence Day. . .

No man, no madness
Though their sad power may prevail
Can possess, conquer, my country's heart
They rise to fail

She is eternal
Long before nations' lines were drawn
When no flags flew, when no armies stood
My land was born.

And you ask me why I love her
Through wars, death and despair.
She is the constant, we who don't care
And you wonder will I leave her -- but how?
I cross over borders but I'm still there now.

How can I leave her?
Where would I start?
Let man's petty nations tear themselves apart...
My land's only borders lie around my heart.

"Anthem" from the musical Chess
posted by The White Rabbit at 9:13 PM | Permalink | 3 Speak Up!