Grandma Dominga Abaya Manog

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Grandpa looks over his true love.

After I found out my grandmother passed, of course I was sad. But, I was able to busy myself with work and the gym- my everyday life. Keep grinding, no time to think. It was a foolproof way to plug any emotions.

Sure, I prolonged the hurt. But, I also prolonged the healing. 

GM Funeral--130As the last-minute trip to the Philippines came nearer, I knew that I would break down once I saw her. I was right.

The wall I put up collapsed and I cried every day that I was in the Philippines. It happened multiple times a day and all types of crying: hushed whimpers that escalated into periodic waterfalls that drenched my shirt as well as the very ugly crying that leads to mucus rivers raging my nostrils. I really thought I would run out of tears but I guess the body doesn’t work that way.

See, I thought after returning to Hawaii after a week in the Philippines, I would be able to quickly get back to my daily grind. But it’s not that simple. It’s so hard to focus without feeling guilty.

Thoughts of “I should’ve visited her more, I should’ve stayed longer the last time I saw her, I should’ve studied more conversational-style Ilokano,” fill my head. And mixed with the thoughts of leaving my grandfather behind, mortality and identity questions– my mind is in shambles trying to process it all.

Hearing my grandmother’s life story amazed me.

This tiny, petite woman from the mountains of Ilocos Sur nearly broke her back while farming in sweltering heat in the Philippines, yet she never complained about her circumstances. Her optimistic spirit never faltered while she managed to care for all her grandchildren and her father in Hawaii while her husband worked abroad.

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The sun rises over Grandma’s backyard and farm in Banayoyo.

She read the bible every night before bed.

She also emphasized education to her grandchildren– even learning prayers in Hawaiian (with my preschool-age self) so she could recite them with me before we ate lunch.

Grandpa Maning said their goal as a couple was to work hard, make money and buy land for their family, especially their grandkids. And they did it.

Right now, I should be more motivated to achieve my life goals, but I’m so emotionally drained and mentally fried that I just want to press PAUSE. I’m not any less motivated than I was before all this happened, but I just want to stop and have a moment.

Over the weekend, I was partial to sleeping in, laying around, moping because I didn’t feel like doing much of anything.

As dumb as it sounds, I welcomed the addiction of PokemonGo and willingly let myself get lost in a virtual world where all that mattered was catching em all– no lingering thoughts and no tears.

But the lure of the game convinced me to join my fiance and our doggy babies to the beach on Sunday evening. At last, I finally had a moment I needed: sunset.


The swirling of colors from blue to orange, to cotton-candy pink and transitioning day to night took my breath away and put me at peace. That’s the crazy thing about sunsets. It’s just light and it was what I needed.

A reminder that sunsets happen every day.

Time waits for no one.

Although the beauty of the real world was no cure for my heartache, it’s enough to snap me out of this funk for a while and want to continue my goals.

I know I will always have those sudden moments where I’ll just stop and think about her. But time waits for no one, so as long as I keep pushing to move forward, I know that would make her proud. Her memory will live on through my cousins and I, all of our kids and so on.


IMG_2057The eulogy I wrote for her:

Dominga Manog was born on April 27, 1926 to Francisco Abaya and Ilyang Gregorio Abaya in Galimuyod, Ilocos Sur. She was the middle child with an older sister, Nora, and her late brother, Gregory.

From early on, she assumed the role of caretaker. While her father worked abroad in Hawaii, she also worked hard to care for her family, especially her mother.

This impressed Grandpa Maning.

“Nagaget isuna,” he says. That’s why he fell in love with her.

GM Funeral--18Grandma and Grandpa met at Candon High School and were married in 1947 at the Banayoyo Methodist Chapel. Then, they built their life together as farmers on rice and tobacco fields.

Their first two children, Fay and Peter, passed away too early. But they were later blessed with three children: Ben, Jean and Dominic.

On June 29, 1979, Grandma and Grandpa brought their two youngest children to Hawaii to live.

Later, their eldest son and his family joined them.

Although Grandma didn’t work in Hawaii, she was the number one babysitter, of all 10 grandchildren.

Grandma and Grandpa lived a very happy life together in Hawaii, but they wanted to return to their home and their life, here.

Iso nga, nagsublida ditoy, idi 2006.

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So, growing up, I was taught that Filipinos shared their love and affection with FOOD.

Whenever I went to someone’s house, they always ask, “Mabisinka? Umayka manganen!”

Filipino parents and grandparents want their children to be fed and nourished. Sometimes, that’s how they show they care.

Idi ubingak, my parents would bring me to grandma’s house, iti bigat ta nagtrabahoda.

Iti pangaldaw, we always ate the same thing– banana and rice. Every day.


Saba ken inapoy, kada aldaw.

GM Funeral--151That became my favorite food.

Uray no adda ti adobo wenno pinakbet, kaykayatko laeng ti saba ken inapoy.

And that’s my memory of Grandma.


Two years ago, immayak ditoy.

She hadn’t seen me in almost 10 years. I was afraid she wouldn’t know who I was.  But she surprised me when she looked right at me, smiled and said my name.

I was so happy.

Before I left, she kept saying to come back to visit her and “don’t forget me.”


GM Funeral--106Well, I’m here now Grandma.

I came back to see you. I’m always going to miss you.

Ay-ayatenka (I love you) and I promise…

Saanko malipatan. I’ll never forget you.

We (your grandchildren) are so lucky that we had you to take care of us.

It’s never goodbye. But for now, see you later.