Manang Sol, our Manang Soling : Soledad Celino, Soledad Casana Celino Manang Sol was a childhood aunt (Lolo Iñieng being Mommy’s uncle) who spent summers with us then in our house two blocks from the parish church and two kilometers from Cubao, playing netless badminton with us on the wide, windy road where we grew up, in front of our garage-turned-soda-store where we sold candies, biscuits, halo-halo (icy milky shakes with fruits) in the morning for our allowance and in the afternoons chased each other in our scrubby rubber slippers in games of patintero, taguan (hide-and-seek), tumbang-preso. Manang Sol was a tall, athletic 5’7” looker who hid her charm behind thick-rimmed glasses in her quiet, self-effacing smiles.
Manang Sol, Manang Wilma, and Manang Mildred migrated to the U.S. a decade after and settled down in San Diego, California. When my siblings went abroad to practise their profession and learn new and advanced techniques in progressive hospitals, Manang Sol, Manang Wilma, and Manang Mildred, Manong Renato, took care of them, helped my brother familiarize himself with the new environment. Years later, they would dote on my nieces and nephews in their sports trainings and on regular tours of San Diego, a few hours from Los Angeles. Manang Sol, Manang Wilma, and Manang Mildred are constant companions of Mommy in family reunions before the pandemic. When I visited in 2017, they invited me to their lovely home nestled behind a wide, green lawn. Inside, there was a wide array of sea food laid out on three big tables with all sorts of native rice cakes, and I think it was one of the kids’ birthday, this couldn’t be all for me or for us, as all the relatives in the West Coast of the United States arrived, family after family, with stories of the children’s martial arts training and football training, Manang Sol even said I had grown pleasant-looking — she said it better and in more endearing terms — and I never thought I needed validation, but I did, when she said it I needed it. Manang Sol, Manang Wilma, and Manang Mildred monitored, watched, recorded, shared and re-posted every television interview i had, and repeated every news quote, every ad lib, every statement, on Facebook, in every family gathering, church reunion, over dinners, early suppers, I was told, and for all the hecticness of the life I had chosen I probably do not deserve such aunties.
Manang Sol, of a life well-lived taking care of all the people around her, validating everyone, making everyone feel their best, passed away due to natural causes on October 21, 2020, Los Angeles time, in the company of family members and friends. She was our beautiful, statuesque, warm-hearted Manang Soling.