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  • Dacal Pung Salamat - Thank You.

    Three weeks ago, I received the news that my grandmother, Juana A. Cuenco, was in the hospital. At that time we weren't sure of her prognosis and my parents and I agreed that it would be best that I come home.  It was a good trip, albeit under worrisome circumstances.  I was able to see her everyday and ultimately it was my farewell.  I returned to Bangkok and I received the news of her passing after about a week, I was overcome with sadness and an overwhelming feeling of joy for a life well-lived.  My family buries her today, but we continue to feel so fortunate that she was with us for 98 years.  She had the kind of toughness that one can only get from working hard and passing down your faith, work ethic, and love to your children and future generations of Cuencos. I wish to have at least 1/10th of that true grit as seen in the photo above. Below are my "thank you notes" to her that I asked my siblings to read at her vigil.

    Dearest Apu,

    I’m sorry that I couldn’t be there when you were reunited with Ingkong, but I am so grateful I was able to see you one last time so I could tell you that I love you.  I couldn’t think of a full story or essay to write this time, but I think this series of “thank you notes” captures what I want people to know what me, Mom, Dad, my aunties, my uncles, my sisters and brother, cousins, nieces, and nephews have seen from you and Ingkong, our whole lives.


    Dearest Apu,

    Thank you for being firm.

    I didn’t always understand why when I was younger,

    But now I know the importance of sticking to your convictions

    And not letting anybody take that away from you.

    You knew, you ALWAYS knew.


    Dearest Apu --

    Thank you for insisting that McDonald’s wasn’t a real meal.

    For giving us that extra scoop of rice and savory main dish,

    even when we thought we were full.

    We grew up eating REAL food, now considered “posh and farm to table”.

    You knew, you ALWAYS knew.


    Dearest Apu –

    Thank you for teaching us an after-school system –

    homework, chores around your house,

    playing outside if the weather was okay – when it

    wasn’t Holy Week – and then dinner.

    Routines are important to help calm an otherwise unpredictable day.

    You knew, you ALWAYS knew.


    Dearest Apu --

    Thank you for asking me if I’d already eaten while

    talking on Skype or on the phone;

    It didn’t matter what time it was,

     it was always a comfort to know

    that no matter where I would be in the world,

    there was someone looking out for me.

    You knew, you ALWAYS knew.


    Dearest Apu –

    Thank you for teaching me how to cook.

    Every recipe and technique is committed to memory.

    I now know the sound fried chicken makes when it’s done cooking;

    Just the right moment to add vinegar to the garlic when making adobo;

    To not rely on measurements, but the senses – taste, sound, smell, and sight;

    The satisfaction of sharing your food with others.

    Cooking is not just a necessity for survival, but a way to bring

    people together and to pass down your legacy.

    You knew, you ALWAYS knew.


    Dearest Apu –

    Thank you for teaching me to be proud of who I am.

    Eh ku pu kakalingwan reng tiru yu kekami.

    Adyang maragul naku – biyasa ku pa mag Kapampangan ampung

    Antidyan ku pa reng kasalesayan kwentu yu pu kanitang malati ku pa.


    I won’t ever forget what you taught us.

    Even if I am an adult now – I still know how to speak Kapampangan and

    I still understand the stories you told me when I was younger

    Your language carries with it deeper meanings, power, and emotion.

    You knew, you ALWAYS knew.


    Dearest Apu –

    Thank you for taking care of ALL of us.

    You and Ingkong set an enduring example of how

    Hard work, sacrifice, and faith equals love

    From this,

    WE NOW KNOW how to take care of each other.

    You knew, you ALWAYS knew.

    Kaluguran da kayu.

    I love you.