Love and Family: The Yamzon-Olmedo-Arabit-Bautista Reunion

It is Valentine's Day today. Happy Valentine's Day! Since it is the day of hearts, it is but fitting that we talk about family as it is with our families that we initially learn about loving and being loved.

We had a reunion last January 27, 2007 at the Riverbend Ballroom of Riverbend Hotel and Conference Center at the Riverbanks Complex in Marikina, Philippines. The affair started at 3pm and brought together members of the Yamzon, Olmedo, Arabit, and Bautista clans. The clans all traced their roots to Anastacio Maglague-Yamzon and Teodora Sandoval-Toribio.

Family members came in their designated colors: the Yamzons in yellow; the Olmedos in green; the Arabits in red; and the Bautistas in blue. A total of 147 members came together, with the Bautista clan having the highest attendance at 45 members, including young children.

The theme of the whole celebration was "Embracing the Roots of Our Being." The event started with a Eucharistic celebration led by Fr. Pat Falguera, a Jesuit and parish priest of Barangka, Marikina. In his homily, Fr. Falguera stressed that we were all there because of "love" and that we are all called to continue living lives filled with love.

The whole mass brought together individuals from the different clans serving as readers, offerors, lay ministers, and choir members. The Lighting of the Genealogy Candle was led by Aurelio Bautista (my dad), the oldest direct descendant of the clan who was present during the reunion. Offerings of candles, flowers, balut, the family tree (so patiently traced and prepared by Sister Florence Bautista, RGS), bread (unleavened bread), and wine were made during the offertory. The entire mass was meaningful and unique -- as expected from a family that has produced a nun in each branch of the family. Sister Florence Bautista, Sister Mari Ramos (who sang the responsorial psalm), and Sister Charito Olmedo were all present during the reunion. Helping out with the music and singing during the mass were Sisters Madeleine and Sister Franz (both from the Religious of the Good Shepherd), Ace (daughter of Tommy Ancheta) and Sherwin (son of Ping Gomez).

Dinner was served buffet style by Makati Skyline. Before, during, and after dinner, there was a program hosted by Jaybee Ancheta (from the Yamzon clan). There were games like human bingo which allowed us to learn bits and pieces about certain members of the family (e.g. Who is the family member who plays the violin in the White House?). The family tree was presented by Jaybee and Sister Florence and members of the different clans followed up with an introduction of their respective families. I had never seen so many relatives whom I didn't know in my entire life! Some had prepared formal presentations on Powerpoint -- like the Olmedo family who showed everybody very nice and old photos. =) The Yamzon family showed a chart of the whole clan while the family of Florencio Bautista showed photos of their family and the Bautista clan, including Lolo Flaviano Bautista, my grandfather.

Members of the different families likewise showcased their talents: Jaycielen or Jaycie Gomez (daughter of Ping Gomez) and Linda Bautista Madrid (mother of Regino Madrid who plays the violin at the White House -- talent runs in the family) played the keyboard and Gabriel Kho, from the Olmedo family, played the saxophone.

The night concluded with photo opportunities at about 9pm or thereabouts and with talk of organizing yet another reunion: a grander one (to include family members from all over the globe)! To all the family members who took the time to come, it was nice seeing and meeting you all. To Sister Florence (who held everything and everyone together in my view) and to all the cousins and relatives who were part of the organizing group, thanks for all your efforts.

We end with a quote from the introduction during the Eucharistic Celebration:

"Our theme calls us to be aware and acknowledge, accept and appreciate our origins and attend to the field of love we live in. So today is a collective honoring of who we are, where we come from, and what we can still make of ourselves.

To embrace our roots is a gesture of love to humbly claim our human heritage, the incredible intertwining of mutual streams of ancestry, memory, shadow, and light. Also and more so, we claim our divine heritage as children of God, the Source, core and primal root of our being...We embrace all the blessings flowing and running over through time, from our great-great-grandparents to the youngest grandchild of at least eight generations."

Kamag-anak ko ang sumulat niyan. =)

Today is Valentine's Day. Happy Valentine's Day to all the families out there. May your lives always be filled with love, happiness, and harmonious relationships. God bless.

[By Angelica Viloria | Wednesday, February 14, 2007]

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