Thursday, 13 December 2012

A CHRISTMAS TREAT: The life and love of Ernanei Aganapolous


Ulo ng Apo Monument - Olongapo City. - Photo courtesy of pueblophilippines


I ALMOST deleted an email received some two weeks ago from a certain Ernanei Aganapolous.

With such Mediterranean name, how would anyone, including me, have the slightest clue that she's a Filipina and a native of Mambulao?

Born out of wedlock to a Greek father and unknown Filipino mother, she said in her email she was raised by her adopted Lola Goring who then resided at sitio Patyaw, Mambulao, CamNorte till the age of eight.

This is her life story:

WHEN she was growing up in a place no bigger than 8' x 8' downstairs- rented room at sitio Patyaw, which overlooked the facade of the JP church, her Lola Goring never lied a thing about her and was told straight that she was abandoned by her unknown mother one past midnight on March 15, 1950.

A widow, Lola Goring told her that a young petite lady about 17 or 18 years old knocked on the door of the house she had shared before with her late husband and asked her to kindly take care of her baby.

“Kasalanan ko po itong malaki sa Diyos at sa aking anak … patawad po, wala na akong maisip na pansamantalang paraan at ni kamag-anak ko sa baryo ay ayaw akong tanggapin ... puwede po ba? humihingi po ako ng awa at tulong sa inyo po!!! Babalikan ko po siya sa isang linggo at ito po ang para sa gatas, singkuwenta pesos para sa kanyang pangngangailangan at ito nga po pala (isang kapirasong papel) ang pangalan niya at kapanganakan: Ernanei Aganapolous, Marso 9, 1950 (It's my fault, I've sin to God and to my child, please forgive me, I can't find  any urgent solution to this mess and not even my relatives in the village would want to recognize me now … I beg of you, please!!!.  I am asking for your mercy and help!!! I will be coming back in a wee’s time and here's her milk and fifty pesos (P50) for her needs and also (in a small piece of paper) her name and birth date written: Ernanei Aganapolous , March 9, 1950.”)  

These were the words her mother told Lolang Goring.

“It really hurts me every time I remember that word babalikan," Ernanei would say with sadness. 

"For in my case, it simply reminds me of my mother's disregard for spiritual and moral obligation and values most specially to her very own child.

“At that time, I even remembered saying: Papaano niya akong natiis nang ganuon? (how could she simply have forgotten me?). My mother did'nt come back and my lola never heard from her since.

“Lola Goring did her best raising me as her own child and with a meager income from making kakanin such as puto, bibingka, sinukmani, sapin-sapin, tikoy and many others, we were fully blessed with food on the table and we were happy.

“I was barely two weeks in Grade 1 at Jose Panganiban Elementary School in June of 1957 when, during our recess time, my teacher called me inside the classroom, embraced me so tight, weeping,  and told me that my Lola Goring had a heart attack and passed away a few hours after dropping me off the school.

Left alone and afraid, insecure and completely without a relative of her own, Ernanei, with help and support from their kapit-bahay and her lola's suki, laid Lola Goring to rest after two days of vigil.

The grief was outpouring and  three of their neighbors offered her to stay with them and told her: "Wag kang mag-alala Eneng (her nickname) ituturing ka naming  tunay na anak at kapamilya at kami na ang magpapaaral sa iyo (don't you worry Eneng (her nickname ) we will consider you as part of the family and  will take care of your education).

Graciously, Eneng turned down the offers. With some one hundred twenty pesos (P120) in abuloy left, Eneng settled  the unpaid room rental of twenty five pesos (P25) and told her landlord that she was leaving Mambulao  for good and heading for Daet.

Her Lola Goring's best friend "Nana Clara" told Eneng during the wake that there's always a place to work in Daet being the Kapitolyo (provincial capital and trade center) and she could find job for her and at the same time she (Eneng) could continue her schooling.

True to what her Nana Clara said before, she landed a job as stay-in (free food and small room shared with three others female waitresses) as dishwasher/floor- and-bathroom cleaner at a Chinese restaurant along Salcedo St.
But the job was so taxing that she could not find time to enroll at school. Time dragged on for the next five years and in August of 1963, Eneng, then 13, together with a new-found friend – a lady manicurist named Yolanda -- quit her job and traveled to Olongapo, Zambales.

Pooling their little savings together, Yolanda (she's 17) and Eneng put up a small pedicure/manicure and beauty shop along  Magsaysay Avenue.

Eneng, after three months "on-the-Job" orientation and training from Yolanda's years of experience, gained such efficiency and confidence and was able to assist her best friend increase their business, thanks to lady bar entertainers, Pinoy mucisians, American visitors and most of all servicemen from the US Navy.

Eneng was a typical Filipina with Greek features and olive-skin complexion, and at 5’-6” she was a striking beauty. Growing up in 1967, she drew countless suitors, both Filipinos and Americans.  

She had almost everything any woman of her age could ever ask for and except for Yolanda, no one knew that she did not know how to read and write!!!

Until she met Andrew, an American US navy lieutenant junior (LTJG) officer, 24 years old  from Houston, Texas at their beauty shop, who made her so "fearful and absolutely anxious " over her deficiencies.

Though Eneng liked Andrew when he said and whispered "nothing is so beautiful and colorful as you are ... and ... and I think  I 'm in love with you" every time he dropped by for a manicure session, Eneng knew it will be her biggest obstacle: hindi ko alam ang pinagsasabi niya pero sa totoo lang, masarap pakinggan (I did not understand what he had been saying but it seemed so sweet to my ears).

Yolanda was more than a friend to Eneng and couldn't stand the pain of her friend.

So one day, she told Andrew that Eneng love him too but being "illiterate" made their worlds apart.

“Please consider my offer: I would like to help her for I do love and care for her … an American friend of mine married to a Filipina teacher living off the base would be able to help her with ease, slow pace basic, immediate and complex education.”

That was all history by now.

Enanei Aganapolous became Mrs Andrew Mccarthy (not his real name for private reasons) and they settled for good in San Diego, CA where her husband retired in the navy with a rank of Rear Admiral (RDML , NATO code-OF6 ).

They have two children -- Andrew Jr, 41, and kimberlyn, 37 -- now both married and have families of their own.

Enanei or Eneng changed her name to Glenda in honor of her known mother Lola Goring when she became a US citizen in 1976.

She and Andrew got married in a military wedding ceremony in Olongapo, Zambales in February of 1969. 

Currently, Eneng or Glenda works at a US naval base hospital as a ICU nurse. She studied and finished her high school with high grade in Norfolk, Virginia and earned her degree in nursing at University of San Diego.
Glenda, who has four more years to retirement, said: Isang araw uuwi po ako sa bayan kong kinagisnan  … ang Mambulao at ipagsasama ko si Andrew at ituturo ko sa kanya ang lugar na naging bahagi ng aking kabataan at hahanapin namin ang puntod ni Lola Goring.

(I tried asking for pictures and more details about Eneng and her family, but she did not respond. However, she emailed back, saying: “Pakiusap po, Mr Percy pakisama ninyo naman ang estorya ng naging buhay ko bago ako nakarating dito sa America. Makakaluwag po ng dibdib kung mababasa ko ito sa inyong Mambulaoans Worldwide Buzz at seguro, magandang pang NINGAS ito ng kalooban doon sa mga nagpababaya sa pag-aaral. Sana maging aral po sa mga kababayan nating hindi na-iintindihan ang kahalagahan ng edukasyon sa buhay ng isang tao. Maraming pong salamat at huwag na po ninyo akong hanapin … Maligayang Pasko po sa inyong lahat.  – Eneng/Patyaw, Mambulao, Camarines Norte”)

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  1. Napaiyak ako sa kwentong ito, she was able to rise above considering her situation. Very courageous and determined to make a life for herself. What a compelling life story. Congratulations to you Ernanie for turning your life around. Salamat din po kay Mr Percy Ostonal for posting her story.

  2. ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ,16 December 2012 19:07

    hi gracie.... this is one of mwbuzz missions: to bring to light stories of our kababayans that have been suppressed for ages... but mwbuzz has to be read first before it could do the job of telling the story ... thanks for being one of this edition's 4,000 plus readers so far. cheers

  3. Thank you Mr Hernandez for creating mwbuzz. I added 2 kababayan's from my childhood community in Motherlode in our FB page. They worked overseas but families lives in Santa Rosa Sur and Motherlode. They have a lot of friends from Motherlode who now lives/migrated in different countries. I recommended mwbuzz, nakaka-alis ng lungkot especially for them na malayo sa family. My family relocated to Daet year 1972, i was then 12 yrs old, my childhood days was spent in Motherlode and Centro (that's how we called it) in my Grandmother's house- Damiana Bamba, now its called Vinzon's Ave. I had happy memories in JPanganiban and was so elated when we reconnected here in California- then we formed MINA -- Mambulenos In North America year 2000 with Ed Alvero (RIP). Maraming Salamat uli. Wish you all the Best in Life.

  4. Hi Gracie thanks a lot for endorsing mwbuzz to your friends... we admit that we lack a lot when it comes to producing the twice-a-month edition considering that i am based here in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea while Percy A Ostonal is in Michigan .. we are doing our best to reconnect all mambulaoans by giving them stories that we thought would be of interest as a native of the place... my parents migrated to Parang, JP in 1950 from Paracale. i followed the next year because i was still enrolled at a caton/cartilla reading program under a Spanish teacher and can't just quit. so i stayed on in Paracale with my grandmom till i finished the course six months later. we relOcated in Pasig in the 70s when all of my siblings were already in the university. but maintained our ancestral home in parang for our vacation house every year. thanks a lot ... and pls keep on readinG and enjoy the stories specially selected for Mambulaoans.. MERRY XMAS TO YOUR FAMILY