I guess most Filipinos will agree with me that some of their fondest memories from childhood are with their cousins. I am blessed to come from two very close-knit families. I still remember endless summer days lazing around with my cousins, riding our skateboards, eating halo-halo, playing jack stones and recording our singing on a tape recorder. Unforgettable too are the surprise parties, we would organize for our Lola Pacing (our Grandmother). How about those summers where my male cousins as young boys would camp in our home in Sta. Mesa, Manila after that very delicate 'surgery'? ( My parents are both doctors, er.. surgeons.) In one of those summers I believe the theme song was the Fita biscuit jingle. I think I sang it with the boys a ga-zillion times. How about talks with my other female cousins about boys and crushes that last till the wee hours of the morning? I sure miss jeepney rides to go watch Tagalog movies in Cubao. There were trips to Bicol, Baguio, and La Union. Remember when Poro Point was so in?

As I got a bit older, I had younger, baby cousins this time from my Mom's side of the family. I loved taking care of them; carrying them and taking them everywhere I go, even to prayer meetings. I guess part of my training as a mother, I learned from my younger cousins. I would read them bed time stories, wipe their spaghetti sauce riddled faces, take them with me to my college barkada outing against their parents' will. I will forever miss Sunday lunches at my grandparents' house (which is now being rented by a Little Quiapo restaurant) Those Sundays seems to last for ages. We would eat lunch twice, sleep in between. Yes, we were such pigs. Now my baby cousins are all grown up too and are taking care of my own kids. AAh, the circle of life, a most wondrous loving circle.

Now that we are older, we attend each other's weddings, become godparents to their children or vice versa. We cheer each other on about job promotions, new babies or whatever each is going through.

Today each meeting is a riotous medley of senseless gags and a sense of humor that only we can understand. I look forward to potlucks, Christmas, group trips and even All Souls Day when we visit our beloved dead or just our usual Sunday lunches.. Every occasion is a picnic.

When it comes to my cousins, I cannot complain. Sure we have our 'tampuhans' (disagreements), differences, even pangs of competitive edges here and there but when someone is in need, you can be sure we are there for each other. Through good times, bad times and everything else in between, they are there.

I will never forget when my son Blue was down with pneumonia as a baby and confined in the hospital. As a parent, it was one of my lowest time. My cousins each paid us visits (at least one from each family). They played with my son, talked to us and laughed with us. I would not have gone through that time had it not been for those visits and of course the support of my family.

Another add-on to this wonderful gift from God are the cousins-in-law. Sometimes I end up being closer to them than my cousins themselves. They add a different flavor, humor and love to our crazy family.

If I would be asked to list some of my favorite words, cousins would be there. Oops, let me correct that - MY cousins!

So if any of you, cousins of mine happen to bump into this blog, now you know how truly thankful I am to be blessed with such cool cousins. I hope in some little way, I have brought some love in your lives too.

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