Self is dizzy. She is leaving tonight at midnight, and she has just spent the whole morning and the bulk of the afternoon in the presence of Dearest Mum. Self made a reservation for a tour of the National Museum with the Director, John Silva, at 10 a.m. Unfortunately, Dearest Mum decided to have breakfast at 9:30 a.m.
(The reason for the late breakfast is a long long story: Self was getting ready to have breakfast at 7:30 a.m. Then Dearest Mum burst in, just as self was about to put a piece of boiled saba banana — drenched in condensed milk — into her mouth and announced, “We’re going to mass in Santuario.” So self had to put down the piece of banana and rush off. Mass was followed by a novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Then to a side chapel of Santuario to utter further prayers. Then to the house of one of Dearest Mum’s friends. Then to a place called “Market Market” in the Fort. Then, finally, at 9:20 a.m., home.)
When self reminded Dearest Mum of the time, Dearest Mum scoffed and said: “It only takes 15 minutes to get to the National Museum from here.” Which self knew WAS A TOTAL LIE. But it wasn’t as if she could do anything about it!
Anyhoo, Dearest Mum and self left the house at 9:40 a.m. and arrived at the National Museum at 10:30 a.m. and then had to play catch-up. Self, exceedingly frustrated, cast glowering glances at Dearest Mum’s back and muttered sarcastically, loud enough (she hoped) for Dearest Mum to hear: It only takes fifteen minutes to get to the National Museum! But did that faze Dearest Mum? No, not one bit! In fact, she was having a ball! She gawked at all the paintings and engaged John Silva in very lively conversation! So self had to cut out the glowering act, and try to focus instead on what was directly in front of her, which was for the most part pretty compelling: she means, how can anyone help but gawp at the magnificence of Juan Luna’s “Spoliarium,” which by the way is a huge painting, bigger even than Picasso’s “Guernica?” How can one help but get teary-eyed while gazing at paintings like Fernando Amorsolo’s “Burning of Santo Domingo Church, 1942” or Diosdado Lorenzo’s “Rape and Massacre in Ermita,” painted 1947?
After the tour (which was splendid), Dearest Mum and self had lunch in fab restaurant in an old house behind Malacañang Palace. Here the food was of such deliciousness that Dearest Mum and self had no less than three desserts! Afterwards, self asked to be introduced to the chef, who was a very young woman by the name of Suzette Legarda Montinola. Self gushed and told her that she liked her desserts even better than the ones at Citizen Cake!
It was after the lunch, however, when Dearest Mum’s tirelessness and single-mindedness truly came to the fore. For at the shop in the National Museum, self had spied some heavy tomes, history books written by an American scholar, and self did not have the cash (The Museum Store could not accept anything but cash, which in self’s opinion is a sad situation that the Museum Director must take immediate steps to correct, because most of the items in the store were at least 500 pesos, and who walks around Manila carrying wads and wads of cash?) Anyhoo, Dearest Mum insisted we must find an ATM machine in the vicinity, for self would never be back that way, and she was already leaving tonight.
In vain did self protest that she had absolutely no more room in her two maletas, not even for one more pastillas. Dearest Mum ordered the driver to begin the search for an ATM machine, and it just so happened to be a very hot, muggy afternoon, and Dearest Mum’s car airconditioner was broken. So the driver took us in and out of the winding streets of Intramuros, and self got to see that the venerable San Agustin Church had been re-painted a horrible, tacky shade of orange, as if it were a wedding cake, and she also got to catch many glimpses of street vendors, and restaurants and stores, all passing swiftly by as in a slide-show, and finally we got to a bank and Dearest Mum withdrew cash and we rushed back to the National Museum, and Dearest Mum proudly bore off five heavy hard-back history books for self to lug home (in a suitcase already bursting with heavy hard-back books, self prays dear hubby doesn’t curse at her for throwing his back out when he has to lift the suitcases into the car), and then we were stuck in traffic for the longest time, next to a stinky estero, and self couldn’t keep the window open even though it was stifling in the car, and by the time we reached Makati, self’s hair was plastered to her skull, and her clothes were drenched as if she had just flung herself into a swimming pool, and self just wanted to close her eyes and sleep.
But Dearest Mum was not finished just yet, oh no. Now she began to parade outfit after outfit in front of self’s bleary eyes, insisting self must upgrade her California wardrobe with much-needed infusions of silk shantung. Then, when self complained that she was tired, Dearest Mum insisted on dialing up a masahista. And self still hasn’t finished packing. And she hasn’t even had time to bid farewell to her mother-in-law. And there are things she was hoping to do before she left, that now she will never get to do. And, well, this is what happens when you have a Dearest Mum.
Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.