Reunion serves as a storehouse of colorful family memories ……. a depository of significant family updates, warm pleasantries, light moments, hopeful wishes and fruitful meetings. Happy thoughts of many family members are made and kept inside it. It is therefore essential that the affair is made meaningful, memorable and full of fun……..a truly wonderful experience for all the members, young and old. Quite luckily, the annual Villanueva Christmas Reunion has always been like that and has maintained that standard over the years.
This year’s family get-together, as sponsored by the Villanueva-Dimaandal clan was no exemption. In fact, it successfully lived to the implied objective that the affair should equal or be better each passing year. Not really as a contest, but as a joint family commitment to live to the ideals of continuous development and further improvement in our lives. So that the family will continue to grow, enrich its legacy and effectively serve as an inspiration to the young members to aspire harder, become better persons and eventually acquire the ability to contribute to the family heritage.
All throughout the day, every moment was filled with fun and excitement; from simple chatting, to sumptuous dining, to thrilling games, to raffling of prices and to truly surprising presentations (both well-prepared and impromptu). With funny family members around …… tickling each other’s bones, mocking and frolicking, there was really no dull moments. Whilst the hilarious tandem of Ate Kim and Ate Ethel sure kept the life of the party going, the riotous participation of Tiya Auring was deeply missed. The triumvirate is no doubt an icon of fun and entertainment in every family affair or celebration.
“The familiar game “Trip to Jerusalem” was always a hit for the kids…..”
“……..and yes, mommies too……”
“Pinoy Henyo” is another popular game everyone was expecting….and we were not disappointed. Some members convincingly showed that the brainpower of a Villanueva is a force to reckon with. And when the answer proved to be quite tough, Tiyo Afen will always be there, ready and willing to whisper the correct words to the participants …….. probably, in his hope to shorten the agony. :-)
“Maya and Baby aimed the award for cracking the answer the longest time….”
“The Blue Team tried to maintain its lead but failed to identify the place where their Tiyo Dodo lives…….”
“In a highly contested round, the orange team with a combined 75+ years of life experiences (Ate Kim sharing the most - peace) prevailed……” :-)
The game “Bring Me” was also a hit. Lots of gift prizes were given. Cousin GR and some other members sponsored lots of cash prizes for successfully bringing items or answering questions ranging from peculiar to hysterical to historical. Everybody had a blast.
Of course, the game “Group Yourself Into” was also played. Beyond prizes, this exercise somehow taught members of different groups……. that sometimes the road to winning ………is by successfully joining another competitor.
A few will probably realize that winners in this game were actually no match to the real expert in grouping…….. the “boys” (led by Kuya Medel) who could stealthy group themselves through whisper and eyeball-talking, find a strategic refuge where a vital liquid is flowing (c/o Capitan Omet) and start the short glass rolling. :-) As I said in Part 1 though, sorry for photos could not be shown here.
The Villanueva’s are natural performers……… artists in their own right. Who can forget the beauty and grandeur of Tiya Lola? ……… the enduring kindness of Tiya Luding, typical of a soap opera lead role…… and the unmatched poetry reciting ability of Tiyo Tony. To discover the talents of the new generations of Villanueva, one by one each family showcased some of these performing abilities through special numbers or presentations. Hours filled with dancing and singing ensued.
First in line was the tandem of Tin-Tin and Sam from the Balahadia-Villanueva family who gave a back-to-back dance numbers. Two younger kids were so charmed with the routine that they decided to join in and move along to the “Waka Waka” beat of Shakira.
Next is the Villanueva-Recto family who delighted us with a choir-like song number performed by the young members of the team.
Just as we thought it’s over, the popular beat of the Masta Plann suddenly filled the air and soon everybody was asking to “bring that booty…..over here”. The all-male rappers led by Eddieboy from the yellow team surely made an awesome rap and dance performance. Way to go guys! :-)
Of course, the magnificent voice of cousin Rico from the Tapanga-Villanueva clan is a must in every family occasion. It was pure talent that could easily please a crowd …… families or not.
Select members of the Katigbak-Villanueva family provided their teenage version of the “Waka Waka” dance. With so much finesse and grace, the performance was exotically ecstatic……whatever that means. A dance crew to watch in next year’s reunion. :-)
Cute young Sam of the Balahadia-Villanueva group also proved that while she can dance, she can also sing. It was truly a relief knowing that she came from the family of my dad, Tiyo Dodo. Hope really abounds. :-)
The Villanueva-De Jesus family asserted their firm holds in the field of singing with a rendition of a beautiful song from a beautiful singer Kathlene. Proud to say, she is really a beauty title holder (1st runner up) in Padre Garcia and a cum laude. :-)
The demand for singers cannot be terminated without Kuya Magda rendering his favorite novelty songs. What could be more delighting than seeing Kuya Nestor and Tiyo Afen dancing to the cha-cha beat of “Bikining Itim”. Dad or Tiyo Dodo was also pulled in but when her partner Ate Lyd wasn’t looking, he did a Houdini maneuver and escaped away. :-)
There were some other impressive performances that somehow evaded my lens like the young singer from the Villanueva-Gozos family. I’ll make up next time.
As usual, there were drawings of raffle tickets. Lots of exciting prizes were given to lucky members whose names were drawn. Drawings were done from time to time throughout the duration of the affair. The winners joyfully accepted the surprised prizes provided mostly by the host family and some by other families.
Even after the big lunch, the strenuous activities that went on until the afternoon drained much of the strength and energy of all members and re-loading with “merienda” or snack was necessary. Tiya Lota has anticipated it and another line of snacks complemented with continuously flowing drinks were served. And there was tranquility again. Yum! Yum!
“Another set of traditional “kakanin” sustained the much needed carbo-load for the sweet-tooth members……”
“There was native “suman”, a type of rice cake steamed in banana leaves…..”
“Then there was “pancit bihon” or fried or sautéed thin rice noodles……a top family favorite….”
“A tasty “pancit malabon” or thick rice noodles with creamy-savory sauce was also offered….”
For some children, the reunion is also the perfect time for meeting (or capturing) their “Ninong” and “Ninang” within the family. Primarily for the customary hand-kissing or showing of respect to their regarded second parents and of course for the traditional gift-giving that usually follows.
It is also a quality time for everyone. A chance for bonding …… especially during this era of computers and widespread social networking where even kids have accounts in Facebook and love and affection could be expressed in electronic signals.
It is also a time for friendly competition ……… where unlikely rivals will be forced to deeply pray to out-luck each other………… over a prized gift.
Most significantly, it is a golden opportunity for sharing. As initiated by the ever-helping Kuya Nestor, the raising of a “papasko” or cash gift for Tiyo Crispin who is currently suffering an illness was just awe-inspiring. Giving some for a family member who’s in dire need has never been so satisfying.
His appeal to “give until it hurts” drew a sizeable amount from family members who, by nature, are always willing to extend assistance. The family of Tiya Lota personally delivered the “papasko” to the family of Tiyo Crispin Alminanza and Tiya Auring or Aurora C. Villanueva. While the Villanueva-Alminanza family was in attendance the previous year, they failed to come in this year’s reunion due to the medical condition of Tiyo Crispin. We are hoping to see them next year.
“Tiyo Crispin and family in last year’s Christmas reunion….”
Sharing and gift-giving was soon the main activity of the entire family and it totally stirred the function hall. It was the moment long awaited not only by children but by everyone. In the family, even grown-ups and especially Tita and Tito are provided with gifts.
The kids received crisp cash from Ate Ethel, Ate Tess and Dimples of the host family and Ate Kim of the Villanueva-De Jesus family. All kids also received gifts from the Carreon-Villanueva and Balahadia-Villanueva families.
All grown-ups were provided with gifts by the Balahadia-Villanueva group. Special as they are, all Titas and Titos also received special gifts from Ate Kim as well as from the Balahadia-Villanueva family.
Father Donald distributed a gorgeous souvenir cake to all families. Too beautiful to eat….but then Yummy!
Everyone was in jubilation. The atmosphere was filled with the spirit of giving. This may only involve a modest gift or token or a small amount of money but the real essence of sharing is what counts in such a time. Above all of this still, is the far greater thing that the entire family is sharing ………. the love and affection to one another! I could only imagine the happiness being felt by “Nanay Conching” and “Mamay Ano” along with his siblings as we continue to practice this tradition. :-)
The drawing of the lucky top prize winner for the cell phone provided by Kuya Chito, the family’s prime mover and biggest benefactor, was the highlight of the event. After several drawings and elimination the luck was left between Eddieboy of the yellow team and Tin-Tin of the pink delegation. At that moment, everyone was afflicted with excitement. With a fine phone at stake who would not be?
After the hullabaloo, Tin-Tin emerged as the lucky winner…… and since she is too young for such a phone, his father Ton-Ton was just the happiest man.
The Villanueva Christmas Reunion 2010 was a total success. Thanks to the splendid hosting and sponsorship of Tiya Lota and family. The time, efforts, innovation, labor and resources dedicated to the event were immeasurable. We know that the whole Villanueva family is one in extending its heart-felt appreciation for the wonderful food, golden moments, grand time and happy memories. Thank you…. thank you…. thank you!
As announced by Kuya Nestor, the next reunion will be hosted by the Villanueva-De Jesus Family. We hope to see everyone there to continuously show our unity, love and cooperation ……… for a stronger Villanueva Clan.
Hope you’ll enjoy this second and final part of the reunion coverage. God Bless!c“,)