My family and I have huge, deep-set eyes. They were a gift from my forebears from my father’s side — them of the amazing mix of Spanish-Malay blood.
In spite the huge eyes and the absence of any Oriental blood in our family, our interest (especially us kids) lies on the Orient. It is not a secret that I am madly in love with Japanese culture while my sister, the Queen, is fascinated by anything Chinese or Korean in origin.
My parents brought us up respectful and fascinated on the culture of other nationalities. They encouraged us to believe not only our own traditions, but also traditions that mean something to us. So it didn’t came as a surprise when I woke up Sunday morning after two days of fighting with fever and sore throat and saw my mom fixing a wreath made of “kiat-kiats” on our doorstep. “Kiat-kiat” are these tiny orange-like fruit that is the star of every Chinese New Year celebration. Aside from being fixtures on the fruit basket, they are also made into wreaths and used as decoration to signify prayers for abundance.
Dad cooked beef and pork dishes, while in the evening, he served noodles to signify wishes for a long life. Of course, batches of the omnipresent “tikoy” (glutinous rice cake) were fried and served as dessert. Age-old belief dictates that a glutinous or sticky dessert will ensure that a family will always stick together, no matter how far the distance maybe.
We really didn’t go all the way in celebrating the Chinese New Year, we didn’t wear red and I didn’t have red undies on when the clock hit 12 midnight. Thankfully, my mom no longer wore anything polka dot (the polka dot was a symbol for coins, hence it’s one’s wishes for wealth) and she no longer placed bowls of rice mixed with coins in strategic areas around the house.(In a hindsight, she already did all of these during the traditional New Year celebrations). We didn’t get any angpao (red envelope with cash inside) from our elders like what our lucky Filipino-Chinese friends do. But I guess, what is important is that we continue to have each other and that we remain blessed both with our health and with opportunities. Our parents–with the blessings of the Lord–remained healthy, sharp and strong and continued to be the pillars of our family.