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Keeping the shine at 39

Twinkling with Ninfa R. Leonardia

“Goodbye, my beloved”. Did she really say that? That was quoted by one of London’s top dailies, “The Mirror” and I am sure it was  quoted in media all over the world. Who would not feel tearful to read that when it was attributed to the wife of the deceased, who happens to be the Queen of England? Indeed, many people, even those not from England, felt very sad because it confirmed to all that the marriage of then Princess Elizabeth, and now Queen of England, was a real love match, and not one of those arranged unions between royal families.

***

Prince Philip died at age 99, that I take to mean that theirs was, indeed, a happy union. And Philip was so handsome and so correct in his behavior that he seemed truly fit to be the escort of the queen, even if tradition could not give him another title but only that of “Prince”. His must have been a difficult role, imagine, being the husband and the supposed man of the house, but he could only rank next to her because the title was hers by virtue of birth and parentage. That he lived to the age of 99, could mean that theirs was a happy union, indeed.

***

Well, theirs must have been a happy marriage, despite the rigors that constant observance of royal protocols, especially in such a conservative country. I wonder, however, why there didn’t seem to be much coverage of the demise,  nor of the interment, or did I just miss them? I had often thought of Philip with sympathy, imagining how difficult it must be to be married to a queen in a country that is also so conservative and abides by strict protocols. Did he have to call her “Your Majesty” in public? They were both always  so formal and “correct” in their actions. I wonder if Britons had ever seen them behave informally in public?

***

We should, perhaps, be glad our parents were ordinary citizens and we could enjoy more freedom from the time we were children until our adulthood. Not that you, the reader, and I had never imagined ourselves in their places. I think the British people are really condoling with their queen, who must now rule without the advice and support of her constant escort. By the way, we have not been hearing much about their family, have we? They have really managed to maintain their personal privacy, despite the title and position of the Queen.

***

Imagine, they had been married for 73 years, but the way they have managed to maintain both their positions and personal privacy was truly admirable. Such admiration and respect have they earned that several countries also had their flags at half-mast to indicate their condolences. But the Royal family had expressed their desire that no flowers be sent, as there will be no lying-in-state and no state funeral. Perhaps the marker on his grave will only underscore that he was born in, 1922 and died in 2021.

***

There will be no sentimental quotations, I think, since the family seems to favor simplicity. Unlike a lot of us, Pinoys, the blue-blood had their own, er, “protocols” as they grieve. I am not trivializing the sorrow of the royal household, nor that of their subjects, but I had a cousin who was very good at cracking jokes, and did not spare even the dead when she found something to make a joke about. Once, during All Souls Day, we were at the Memorial Park and, after the usual prayers, we children went around, reading the inscriptions on the graves, and trying to interpret them.

***

My cousin (actually she was an aunt because she was a cousin of my mother, but we were of similar ages and were playmates as well as neighbors) wondered aloud what the inscriptions of “D.O.M.” meant. Nobody  could explain until a mischievous uncle popped up and said “D.O.M.”? That means “DURO OTANG MO” (You have many debts). And what about “R.I.P”? we asked, noting that that was what in the grave nearby. “That’s easy,” said my mother’s cousin. It means “REMEMBER I PAID”.  That happened on a solemn day, and we were all scolded later by our elders for being disrespectful to the dead.

***

Meanwhile, I am trying to find funny things to write about but this is a very sentimental day for me and for the rest (I hope) of the founders of the DAILY STAR. It was on an April 12, 1982, when a group of us local media people contributed P5,000 each to start a daily newspaper in Bacolod with hearts full of enthusiasm and pockets virtually empty. Ah, it was a trying journey, especially when some of “founders” lost interest and abandoned us, but payers and determination kept us on, and even during the most trying days of the COVID, we missed only 10 days, when virtually we had no more staff left. But the Good Lord must have been watching over us and through my cousins and nephews, gave us another chance to reach our 40th, when we hope and pray we can afford a “BONGGA” anniversary!*

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