Last Monday, my oldest first cousin on my mother’s side, Carmen Marfori Avanceña, passed away. Although she has siblings and I have other first cousins, she was my favorite – and unashamedly I would like to claim that I was her favorite, too. She and her loving husband, my Kuya Tony, had so much influence in my life that I would not be where I am today without them.
My relationship with Nang Menchie started when I was made to deliver, on my bike, her laundry to and from our house in Pasonanca and to the Pasonanca Tree House where she was staying while on a holiday. She was “Miss Caltex” that year. This must have been around 1967 or 1968 when I was around 9-10 years old. I was filled with awe and at the same time shuddered at her imposing and statuesque presence. Nang Menchie must have been around 19 or 20 years old then.
For those of you who know Nang Menchie, you know you are either on her good, or bad side.
Maybe because I was a gawky 9-year old who would bike with one hand holding her laundry and the other one holding on to the bike, I must have fell on her good side on Day One.
Many years later I would meet her when I was in high school and by then she was married to Antonio “Tony” Avanceña. Nang Menchie and Kuya Tony were living in a beach house in Hijo Plantation with their two sons – Jigger and Jumbo. That was the life I saw for myself. So I followed the footsteps of Kuya Tony and took up Agribusiness in UPLB. The rest is history.
Nang Menchie was my counsel for affairs of the heart. And she was my spokesperson when I needed to have someone to talk to my parents. She was such a charming bully that she always got what she wanted from my parents. So when Joy and I got married, I got Kuya Tony as one of our three ninongs.
From there our relationship branched out to family entertainment – as stand up comedians to singing duets. Our favorite was “You and I” from the movie “Goodbye Mr. Chips.” While her signature song was “Cabaret,” only Nang Menchie could get away with the “langaw” and “kabaw” song, the lyrics of which may be banned here on Facebook.
While I will miss Nang Menchie, her voice, her jokes, her music will forever meander through the windmills of my mind. And for that, I will eternally be grateful to her. [Guido Alfredo A. Delgado is the Chairman of GAA Delgado Inc., a firm that provides advisory services in power and energy sectors and develops renewable energy products. As President of the National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR) from 1994 to 1998, he improved the power situation in the country by implementing various programs and projects. Born and raised in Mindanao, Guido also headed the Mindanao Development Bank for almost a decade.]