Remembering: Only bright red lipstick for my Nanay

Missing my courageous travel partner

By Vicky Perez

My mother, who died this day two years ago, was my best travel partner. She was inquisitive, knowledgeable of history, courageous when it came to new experiences. She was the one who trekked into jungles to find wild growing papaya, hiked through valleys to find the elder in a village to learn their history, hiked across terrain to find semi-precious stones, or had a taxi drive us through a politically tense area prone to violence to find the restaurant that had epic crab. She was an adventurer, a woman of the world, and loved gatherings of people to discuss ideas, art, history, projects all over a nice tea. I made tea cakes in her memory today.  

Social media has turned us into spontaneous storytellers. Our new feature called “Remembering: Pinoy. Powerful. Personal” is a collection of short essays of memories pushed aside by time and making themselves apparent in the writer’s present. Some of the essays are contributed; others culled from social media posts. To send your essays, email

Only bright red lipstick for my Nanay

By Muloy Luib

My Nanay, former public school teacher Lolita Tabayo Luib, 73, died in her home on February 21, 2021.  I forgot to remind my relatives to make sure the mortuary makeup artist applied on my mother’s lips her preferred shade of red. My Nanay didn’t have in her vocabulary of lip colors what women these days call ‘nude.’

A few days before she passed away, she gave instructions on the dress she wanted to wear for her wake and burial. She joked about wearing that same dress on a vacation she’d take to another country, I was told. That was typical Nanay.

Raising all four of us siblings as a single mother, she’d sometimes complain that she could no longer buy herself new underwear. But I suspected she always managed to put away some cash for her lipstick. She had it bright quite often, in different shades of red. Nanay applied lipstick as if to signal she was ready to go to school and face her students. She was passionate about her career as an educator at the elementary school of what was then named East Visayan School of Arts and Trade in Dumaguete City.

If anyone of you viewing her remains spots the wrong lip color, blame the mortuary makeup artist for not asking family members. Nanay fought hard and we wish to remember her in her cheerful years. I, for one, wish to look back to those years when she had the energy and enthusiasm to paint her lips red.

Forever Business Owner: Nieva Quezon Burdick

(C) The FilAm 2021

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: