Grandma’s Boy

by Gianne Rensen Antonio

by Gianne Rensen Antonio

I am not very sure if everyone in this assembly is familiar with the 1950’s song by Petula Clark, “Downtown.” So please allow me to sing a line or two of the song for you to recall this American musical classic and to realize that this fellow should not audition for the Voice of the Philippines. So here it goes:

 “When you’re alone and life is making you lonely, you can always go…downtown. When you’ve got worries — all the noise and the hurries — seem to help I know, downtown.”

This song has actually been used by the very recent television advertisement of McDonalds. The first time I saw it on TV, it did not only bring good memories of gastronomic delight but also transported me to me to my childhood years when everything seems perfect in the world under the bosom of my grandmother. As you can remember, the advertisement depicted the happy relationship between a child and her grandmother. I thought it was precisely the same with what I had with my grandmother.

I was raised by my grandparents and I am proud to say that I am grandma’s boy. Whoever or whatever I have become now, I could say, is because of my grandma. Hence, tonight, let me share a piece of my life story, by narrating some significant moments and explaining their meanings using the name of my grandmother ROSALIA as acronym.

R stands for reality. Mama Rosie, as what we fondly call her, opened my eyes and allowed me to see the world as it is. She taught me at an early age that there are things in the world that you cannot change and you just have to simply accept them as they are. Even though we know that reality really hurts, she inculcated to me a very powerful dictum that I live by every day and always attempt to share with people every time I had an opportunity. My grandma says: do not get affected by the things that you cannot control.

O is obedience. People always think that those who were raised by their grannies are the cousins of the spoiled brat. Perhaps, I could say they are only my distant relatives. But no matter how pampered I was and how convenient life was when I was a kid, I never shunned obedience. I never whined about household chores and never thought of domestic slavery every time I do the laundry: an activity that I greatly despise due to its ability to dehydrate and devastate my hands. Mama Rosie, however, made sure that I understand the difference between obedience due to fear and obedience due to love.

S is Sacrifice. This one is something I found difficult to understand because when I was a kid, I could get anything I wanted. But I realized that there were things that my grandparents would not readily give such as chocolates and sweetened drinks during midnight, late night TV watching, and expensive toys. Why did they not submit to my whimsical desires? The answer is simple: there are things in this world that should be given to us at the right time, at the right amount and at the right manner. Because we could not have it yet, then we need to sacrifice. Sacrifice, then, is to wait for that right time, to be satisfied with that right amount, and to gain delight with that right manner. And if there are things that may not come to us in this entire lifetime, well, to accept that is an ultimate sacrifice.

A is Art. At a young age, I already had an appreciation for the arts. And yes, appreciation is not equal to ability. I love art, but it does not mean that I am an artist myself. Yet I strive to be one and I realized it is always an eternal quest to become an artist. Grandma would always encourage me to join dance troupes and singing chorus, of which the latter I found really difficult to pull off, as you’ve witnessed earlier. But now, as a teacher, I see myself as an artist. Pedagogy or the art of Teaching is not only a skill to master but also an endeavor that ignites from the heart.

L is Love — a many splendored thing, they say. There are so many things to speak about love. But the thing I learned from my grandmother about this great emotion derived from the hypothalamus, is very simple: love begets love. Whatever you throw to the universe will always come back to you. It is biblical, you reap what you sow, and it is precisely about love.

I is Individuality. My family never questioned my gender. In fact, I cannot remember a time when we discussed matters related to it. What is unforgettable is when my grandmother used to ask me: Nganu dili man na puwa imong aping? I think she actually loved it when I put on something on my cheek that makes it radiate like the sun. The individual is always unique and my grandmother always encourage the family to nurture the uniqueness of the individual.

A is Ambition. If some people say, aim high and hit the mark… well, I used to hear from grandma the line: shoot for the stars because if you cannot reach them, you will land in the moon. Mama Rosie would always tell us never to be afraid of failures and never be discouraged by criticisms as they are the powerful engines of success. It can only be said that there can never be a success without an ambition.

Ladies and gentlemen, my fellow Toastmatasters, I am a grandma’s boy and I am so proud of it. From my lola Rosalia I obtained Reality, Obedience, Sacrifice, Art, Love, Individuality and Ambition. What else do I need when my most beloved woman has given me such wonderful things that prepared me for life?

My lola and I are separated by distance. She is there living with my grandfather and the rest of the family and I am living alone here in the city, trying to realize an ambition. And whenever I miss them, especially my beloved lola, I just sing my heart out with a favorite song, and you already know what it is… So can I ask everyone to sing with me?

Competent Communication: Ice Breaker
Basic Speech 01 by Gianne Rensen Antonio | 29 October 2013
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