One of the more delightful stories in Expanded Horizons #35. Have some excerpts:
I was left in the ostensible care of Lola Ging—but even she could only divide her attention in so many ways among so many tasks. More often than not, I found myself with ample time and opportunity to take otherwise unconscionable liberties, such as eating powdered milk straight out of the Klim can, with a spoon and the untrammeled glee of having successfully achieved the forbidden. (In our house, it was generally agreed that cookies came in ‘tins’, whereas all powdered substances, from milk to Tang, were in ‘cans’. Don’t ask me why.)
I was always careful to be very quiet when thus flagrantly flouting the laws of our land, though the reality was that I could probably have gotten away with a great deal more. Lola’s eyes would be glued to the televised hardcourt—her ears, presumably, were heeding the sonorous tones of the announcer while simultaneously engaged in spirited dialogue with God. As far as I could tell, their conversations were conducted in a polyglot admixture of English, Ibanag, a smattering of her faulty Tagalog, and robust Spanish cursing. “Diablo, diablo, diablo!” Lola would cry out suddenly, startling me; and for years I remained convinced that this Spanish word for ‘devil’ literally meant ‘Look, Lord, the ball has been stolen!’ since that was generally what was occurring onscreen at these times.
When the five of us kids had exams at school, we were forbidden to eat eggs in any form, as the Holy Spirit had pointed out to her that the oval shape of eggs, when taken into our bodies, would naturally result in a test score of zero across the board. She tyrannically decreed that our beds were never to be arranged pointing toward our bedroom doors, since this would provide a clear path that was certain to be followed by the insatiable Angel of Death, who apparently would have liked nothing better than to populate paradise with the pure souls of more-or-less innocent children. And she sternly compelled me to eat every last spoonful of rice on my plate, as neglecting a single grain would be a sinful excess that might just induce God to punish me by forcing me to endure my next life as a chicken—pathetically scratching at the ground for any stray bit of rice thoughtlessly discarded by wastrel girls like me.
That reincarnation was hardly a tenet of Roman Catholic doctrine bothered neither Lola nor me one iota. She was convinced that her peculiar blend of folk remedies, superstitious dread, and pseudo-Christian dogma was precisely what the Lord Jesus had intended when He set His omnipotent hand upon Saint Peter and declared him the rock of His Church. “We are Christ’s followers,” she often said. “He can walk on water just to show off; why should we not also exercise faith to make our lives better?”
“Lola,” I said to her, dragged unwillingly into the kitchen after a lifetime of being unable to so much as fry bacon, “this is the twentieth century, you know. If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, then he’s not the man for me.”
“To make perfect palitaw the way your mommy likes it,” she dictated, blithely ignoring me, “you must sink the pieces in boiling water for no longer than one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory Be. Then they will float to the surface, and you can take them out to roll in sugar and coconut. Then you are finished, and your soul is saved from Purgatory at the same time.”
I remember staring perplexedly at the stove, trying to determine how to convert this culinary catechism to the seconds or minutes commonly used by the other 98% of the global population. Ancient or not, Lola Ging could have been the world champion at Rapid Rosary Recitation, if they ever held the Olympics at the Vatican. It was almost dizzying, listening to her intone the mysteries at velocities approaching Mach 1: “Hail-Mary-fool-of-grace-the-Lord-is-weeth-you-blessed-are-you-among-weemen-and-blessed-is-the-fruit-of-your-womb-Jeessous…”