Remembering Lolo
Tatler Philippines|September 2020
Remembering Lolo
Business tycoon Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco was a powerful figure in life; but to his granddaughter he is the gentle strength that helped her reach her dreams
Michelle Barrera Juban

Today was my grandfather’s 40th day in heaven. During the Mass celebrated for this occasion, the priest said that letting go is done in three parts. That helped, though it is only now that I am coming to my own understanding of each phase of letting go, even as I am still grieving.

GRATITUDE

Through the last 40 days, I have found myself grateful for being surrounded by family and friends. They have made the grieving process more bearable; and through shared stories, I have learnt more about my Lolo than I ever thought I knew. God works in mysterious ways and showing just how great a man my Lolo was one of them. To many he was “The Boss” who always looked after his employees, a tycoon with a heart for the less fortunate, a true friend till the end, and a farmer-turned-businessman who never forgot his roots or the persons he met along the way. It was most moving to meet so many persons whose lives he touched and listen to their stories. Many of the stories brought me to tears, realising just how great his heart was for his people.

To us, my grandfather was always simply our Lolo—or “Wowo” to my younger cousins. He was our friend and the supporter of our dreams. I see his face and warm smile every time Moon River plays, hearing him whistle over the instrumentals. I am so thankful he whistled often because this is how I carry him now in my everyday life.

REMEMBER

My earliest memories of my Lolo are of our Christmases spent together. Every year, we would have family photos after Santa came with gifts. I distinctly remember one Christmas when I thought Santa was upset with me because of a gift that I later treasured. I tried to hide, but Lolo sat me on his lap and gave me a hug. Even back then, he was not a man of many words; but I remember the love and security I felt in his arms and in his smile.

Later in childhood, Lolo became responsible for our love (and addiction) to horses. He took us to the farm where he asked one of the staff to “make sure [his] grandchildren like horses”. He wanted us to share his passion— but we took the “liking” a little too far. Before he knew it, he had four of his older grandchildren completely obsessed with riding. It was something that really made him happy, initially. You see, his plan was for us to learn enough to repurpose his former racehorses and turn them into competitive equestrian athletes, a plan that worked up to a certain level. Our dreams then took over and we needed more than just ex-racehorses.

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September 2020