‘Straight from the Heart’

This week’s post will be a bit more personal. I’m going to relate the story of my peerless Ninang, Auntie Oye. I first met her when I was three. Ninang and my late uncle stayed with us as they were vacationing in Oz. My first impression as a kid was that she was very kind and caring. She always beamed and she fussed about our dad, her youngest brother. Furthermore, she handed two 24-carat, Chinese gold bracelets to our Dad, one for her godson and one for her niece. Looking back, my parents had great foresight in picking her as one of my godmothers during my baptism. She was born in November and is a self-made multimillionaire. As I wrote in my memoir, ‘She’s the gold standard of our clan’s success, inspiring others to follow’. While already affluent, she is also deeply devout. She always attends Mass, says her prayers, and she never forgets to give back to the needy.

Gift giver

As I grew up overseas, she readily gave me gifts whenever I saw her. One time, I was shopping for Christmas presents and I bumped into her.

‘Hello Chris. For whom are those gifts?’

‘For Mum and Dad,’ I answered.

‘Do you always give them Christmas presents?’

‘Of course. They’re my favourite parents in the world.’

We both chuckled.

My Dad is very close to her. When he was a boy, a bully almost hit him. Eagle eyed auntie got between them, and trouble was averted.

Factory Maker

She owns a factory in Manila. The eighties and nineties were the boom time for her business. Aside from her manufacturing venture, she also created a Hogwarts of sort. My cousins had to subsist in single parent households as our uncles died prematurely. Auntie gladly took them in. On weekends, they helped in the factory. Though they studied during the week, they were encouraged to strengthen their Catholic faith. As a result of this life experience, most of said cousins are happily married and have kids of their own. Some have continued their journeys elsewhere. The lessons they gleaned from their stay with auntie will always resonate with them.

I was still a kid when my family returned to the Philippines. She invited us to lunch in her abode. She offered that we stay in her condominium. We stuck around as we endeavoured to get our documents right. I mentioned this stay in my memoir. Like my father, she studied in a Chinese school. Her kids, like most of us, did likewise. She effectively adopted my older cousin, ate Elgie, when she was five. The latter lived in the condo. I later learned that she enticed us to remain in Manila, albeit in a different place. I’ve always wondered how that change would’ve turned out.


I’ve included some of Auntie’s best charitable works in my first nonfiction book. I remembered to thank her for all the good that she has done. I haven’t seen her in a long time. Though she’s far apart, doing good remains her calling. Recently, she sent me five books via courier. This included 8 Secrets of the Truly Rich by Bo Sanchez. She also added a St. Benedict medal to protect me. I could see her viewpoint. As a Catholic, keeping the faith is paramount. I’ve stayed in her house a few times. She’s our go-to when we want to layover in Manila during summer break. My Ninang is a gracious host; she made us feel very much at ease in their home.

She was the ‘hermana’ of the local Church. This means that, for one year, she sponsored all the undertakings and costs. As I wrote in my book, she has travelled the world. She has been to Japan and the Holy Land. She took Europe by storm and visited her in laws in France. She was at the World Trade Centre the weekend prior to 9/11.

Sister par excellence

She’s always game for inspirational films. She brought us to behold the original Spider-Man in the cinema. She also accompanied us to a Nativity Story showing.

In spite of her immense achievements, Auntie remains grounded. Each year, almost without fail, she goes back to our hometown during Easter, fiesta, and All Soul’s Day. She likewise celebrates her birthday there. She regularly donates food to the needy. Every day, she prays the rosary. As they say, ‘Whoever does not honour their past, shall never reach the peak of their success.’

She encourages everyone to embrace the Marian beads. Before, she would give away a whole sack of rosaries. When I vacationed with them after my freshman year, I noticed that she gave away food every Sunday after Mass. That’s one surefire way to go to heaven.

As I posted on Facebook, what’s the point of doing good later when you can give back now? That’s why I’m not a fan of money making machines who could be doing more TODAY.

I told my Dad that she’s a good sister to him. ‘Not just good,’ he said. ‘She’s the paragon of big sisters.’

Aside from travelling internationally, she also visits many Catholic shrines across our country. Lately, my Dad has been accompanying her.

A note on the title

In case you’re wondering, this post’s title is a nod to the eponymous book that she recently sent me. My Dad had given us two copies and she gifted us two more. Both, like my Dad’s earlier gifts, were brand new. The prayer companion is very useful. Instead of scouring the net, Heart has everything you need and more. Many years ago, I trooped to Myer during Boxing Day. We bought three branded, Aussie towels and we gave her one of them. We always remember to bring her pasalubong (gifts) when we can. We make sure that her fam has the best and tastiest items as she has been exceedingly generous over the years.

As per Brian Tracy, ‘Excellence is not a destination; it’s a continuous journey that never ends’.

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