A thin woman, dark skinned but, with a bit of lipstick, one could see the beauty she hid behind toothless cackling smiles. She had always been with GYNichols as far back as I could remember househelp, Estella our labandera.
Mom spent a fortune every few years getting Estella Custodio y Campos, pustisos, and each time after a few uses, she would conveniently hide the beautifully expensive bridges and lose them complaining they were painful. So she was toothless most of the time. Estella had a hard life. Her baby Danny was only a few months old, she lost her husband in a drunken knife fight somewhere. But memorable is that during the funeral, as people were crying and were hovering around her, she felt claustrophobic with all the mourners trying to comfort her, and she also couldn't cry, she was one of those who laughed at a time of crisis. So she leaned on a tombstone cross and of course fell into the newly dug grave. All the while laughing instead of crying, she laughed harder as people were reaching in for her begging her not to follow suit...it made for many a laughing moment whenever we would recall this incident. Bony, skinny, black beauty trying to follow her dead husband to the grave, NOT!
And who does she hook up with? One of mom's bread bakers, the complete opposite of black, he came from a mestizo (as in white) family. He must've loved her, bones and all, because they had beautiful children, I cannot remember the count as I know only 4 of them, and happily, or sadly, I have just hooked up with two of them, Linda, always the caring one, meant to watch over the whole brood, and Apple, of her father's eyes, as we used to tease. I thought Estella was pregnant every year..so i know I am missing kids other than Danny and Bobot.
But she was always there, come rain, shine or flood. Doing the laundry, chatting every body up. She also had a nervous tension when we bought our first washing machine, she thought it would take away her job, hahahaha.Once she got the hang of it, did she enjoy it! If she ever found out that here in the esta-te I wore underwear that weren't ironed, she would flip. Towels, dresses, undies and all were washed and pressed every day! She would freak out to know that I hang my clothes instead of doing laundry on them till the chocolate stains were visible and then needed washing. Or that I tried washing and bleached out the kids' clothes, which made the older kids run for the basement to do laundry whenever I said I would do laundry....She would have loved that story.
Estella was always with mom, she held court inviting everyone to our New Year's Day party for the kids in her neighborhood. She loved Fernando Poe Jr and Joseph Estrada, the two main stars of Philippine politics at one time or another. But I am happy to note, that her daughters and sons all were touched by mom's baking empire. Each of them passed through the walls of Rolling Pin learning a trade. Which kept everyone working long after we were gone from Manila. And which kept them in relative comfort so they could take care of Estella. Years of smoking and drinking (was that why she was always happy?) took its toll on her and she developed cirrhosis of the liver. I already warned each daughter to be prepared.
So Estella was waiting for GYN's cremains to come home. But we were not able to do that this year, so the day after GYN's 92nd birthday, I guess, Estella decided to follow mom and report to work, just like old times at 527 Mariano Marcos (159 Ortega). This is my tribute to someone who was a major part of my life, with her funny personality, her trials and travails, and friendship, Manang Estella.
- wife, mother of 5, lola(grandma)of 5,joined facebook and still wonder why friend, cook, baker, decorator,daughter,sister, Mrs.A'sCupcakes&Cookies Virgo Year of the Snake St. John's Academy 1970 University of the Philippines BSHRA I'm afraid to admit this, but oh well, Jack of all Trades, master of some. Football fan. Totally. Mrs. A's Cupcakes & Cookies, my latest venture.