Maya and Richard arrived at a beautiful Spanish-era house at the San Nicolas town proper, early afternoon. It has a well-tended garden, fenced with different varieties of bougainvillea. Like most big houses built during the Spanish colonial times in the Philippines, the living area of this one is on the second floor, and the ground floor is being used as a cafe and a display area of Teresita Dela Rosa’s potteries. Richard looked at the house in amazement. It is a truly beautiful house. He didn’t pay much attention to where he was the last time he was here. Before Maya can press the bell, someone came running from the side of the house.
“Maya, anak, good to see you! Bakit hindi ka man lang tumawag na ngayon ang uwi mo. Kung hindi pa nag-text si Simon kani-kanina at sinabing nakita ka sa airport, hindi ko pa malalaman na nandito ka na! Hindi ka tuloy nasundo ni Tatay Lem!” The lady opened the gate hurriedly and hugged Maya tight. “I missed you so much, Maya ‘nak. Hindi talaga enough para sa akin iyang Skype at Facetime na iyan!”
“Mom, pasensya na po kayo, I wanted to suprise you all, eh. Saka di ba ilang beses nang na-postpone ang pag-uwi ko kaya siniguro ko na. Then, iniayos ko na muna ang mga dapat kong ayusin sa Maynila, para diretso ang bakasyon ko dito sa atin bago ako magtrabaho ulit!” Maya kissed her mom’s hand. She really missed her, Kute and Mamang so much.
Mommy Tessie then noticed that Maya is not alone. She looked closely at the good-looking, chinito guy holding Maya’s bag and staying in the background while she have her reunion with her daughter. He walked forward when he saw that she is looking at him. He does look familiar. Then as he approached, it dawned on her that it was the guy who came looking for Maya two years ago!
“Magandang hapon po, Mrs. Dela Rosa, Richard Lim po, we have met before!” Richard politely introduced himself to his future mother-in-law. Yes, he has plans of asking for her permission to marry Maya. Maya doesn’t know it yet, but he is going to propose to her at the place she always raved about, and hope she will say yes!
“Good afternoon din, welcome to our house, Richard. Of course, I remember you from last time.” Mommy Tessie was a bit puzzled why Richard is with Maya, but she has a very good inkling why. “Pasok na nga tayo sa loob. Bakit ba rito pa tayo sa gate nagkukumustahan.”
“Mom, nasaan si Kute? Si Mamang? Si Manang Fe?” Maya asked as she climbed the intricately-designed stairs with steps made of hardwood, leading to their sala. The fact that Richard was assisting Maya solicitously while going up didn’t escape Mommy Tessie’s eyes. Hmmm, parang may boyfriend na nga talaga itong anak ko ah, she thought.
“Si Kute, bumili ng supplies for the cafe. We need to replenish our supplies eh, medyo maraming tourists dahil bakasyon. Then ang Mamang mo, hayun, kasama ang mga amiga niya, nagma-madjong kina Tita Sylvia mo. Si Manang Fe naman, umalis kanina, dinalaw iyong pamangkin niyang si Fely sa Batangas, nanganak kasi.” Mommy Tessie told Maya and Richard to make themselves comfortable and called on Doris, another long time kasambahay to serve them her special pandan juice and carrot cake.
Maya excused herself to go to the restroom and to help Doris get the food from the cafe, leaving her mom and Richard alone. Richard took it as an opportunity to talk to Maya’s mom about his intention. He is very much aware that they just arrived, but he may not get the opportunity to be alone with Maya’s mom again.
“Mrs. Dela Rosa, may I speak with you?” He asked Maya’s mother politely. “May gusto lang po sana akong sabihin sa inyo, if you will allow me?”
“Of course, Richard, and please call me Tita Tessie! Ano ba iyon hijo?” Mommy Tessie asked as she settled comfortably on the seat facing Richard.
“Maya and I are in a relationship.” He said straightforward.”Alam ko po na parang ang bilis naman ng mga pangyayari considering that Maya just got back and probably she hasn’t mentioned me at all, and I think wala rin po siya nababanggit na boyfriend in your phone conversations? Added to that, our strange first meeting here in San Nicolas two years ago. I love your daughter very much, and it will be my goal in life to make her happy for the rest of our lives!”
“‘For the rest of your lives’, you mean……?” Mommy Tessie asked with raised eyebrows, surprised that things have progressed this far, at the same time, very happy that Maya found a guy who truly love her. She sensed this in Richard the first time she met him. The way he appealed to them to let him know where Maya was, saying he loved her very much and would like to patch things up. The problem was her hands were tied then, as she didn’t know really where Maya went, the one and only time she let her as she sensed her daughter needed that at that time. Her Maya is sensible and she trusted her to know what is right and wrong. Ganito niya pinalaki ang mga anak niya. Maya, also, didn’t mention Richard at all to them! But she believed her daughter was broken hearted at that time, and with Richard coming after her, she had put two and two together. Maya is like a Dela Rosa when comes to love, falling hard and loving intensely, completely. Mommy Tessie was brought out of her thoughts with Richard’s reply.
“Opo, I would like to propose to her while we are here, I want to marry her soon, kung mamarapatin niyo, and if she would have me!” Richard has decided on this as soon as he and Maya became ‘official’. “Maya and I have waited long enough na po to be with each other. Okay lang po, Tita Tessie?”
“Hijo, of course, basta ba sasagutin ka ng ‘yes’ ng anak ko, wala akong tutol. Kasi, pagdating doon, hindi ko na saklaw iyon.” Mommy Tessie said lightly Richard because he looked too tense and too serious.”Basta Richard, anak, hindi ko man alam ang lahat ng detalye ng nangyari sa inyo ng bunso ko two years ago, huwag na lang sana siyang masaktan ulit. Masakit for a mom like me na makita siyang nasasaktan at sobrang lungkot ko ng lumayo siya para lang makalimot!”
“Pangako po, Tita Tessie, hinding-hindi na po mauulit iyon. Maya is my life now and not everyone gets a second chance like this, hinding-hindi ko po sasayangin ang lahat!” Richard’s assurance and sincerity assured Maya’s mom that her daughter will be with a man who would love and take care of her, and she is very happy for her bunso.
“Tita Tessie, request ko lang po sana na huwag niyong banggitin muna kay Maya itong conversation natin. I want to surprise her.”
“Oo naman, huwag kang mag-aalala. Welcome to our family, Richard! Kung kailangan mo ng help to set it up, sabihin mo lang.” Maya’s mom graciously offered Richard.
“Maraming-maraming salamat po sa pagtanggap, and also for the offer of help. Naiayos ko na po lahat, of course, depende pa rin po iyon sa paalam ko sa inyo.” Richard said grinning, seemingly relieved that everything is going smoothly when it comes to his plan to have his lady with him, always.
When Maya returned to the sala, with Doris, she saw her mom and Richard seemingly engaged in a serious discussion and then her mom smiled at Richard and hugged him.
“O Mom, mukhang seryoso ang pinag-uusapan niyo ni Ricky ah.” She commented as she sat beside Richard. Ricky held her hand tightly.
Mommy Tessie looked at Maya meaningfully, stood up, hugged her and kissed her on the forehead. “I love you anak. I am glad you are back. Be happy!”
Whatever Maya wanted to ask her mom was interrupted by Doris bringing in snacks. Mommy Tessie, Maya and Richard thanked her. While eating, the three chatted, with Maya telling her memorable experiences abroad. Mommy Teresita then asked Maya and Richard how they met and it started a whole round of kwentuhan.
“Ito pong anak niyo, ginayuma yata ako sa kape kasi mula ng makilala ko, hindi na ako makatulog ng maayos!” Richard said in jest as he looked at Maya lovingly.
“Cheesyyyy, Ricky! Sus, ikaw nga, pang-hearthrob kaya ang smile mo sa akin, eh para nagtatanong lang ako kung bakante ang seat sa tabi mo!” Maya retorted while lovingly pinching Richard on the side.
Mommy Tessie happily looked at her daughter and her future son-in-law as they bantered, teased each other a lot, and gazed lovingly at each other. Sa palagay niya, these two, lost in their own world without intending to, forgot she is with them. She doesn’t mind as she also knew how it felt to be in love. She remembered hers and Arturo’s moments like this. Arturo, she silently mused, wherever you are, I know you will be happy too with our daughter’s choice. She found herself a good man like you.