Note: This is a continuation of The Art of Letting Go 31.
“Ricky!” boomed Donya Esmeralda’s voice as she and her husband made their way out of the airport and saw Richard waiting for them outside.
“Ricky hijo! I missed you so much!” said Donya Esmeralda as she engulfed the former in a warm hug.
“I missed you too mama!” he said as he returned the hug. As he was released, he turned to Don Roberto, “Pa!” he greeted and gave him a hug as well.
“How are you my son?” he asked.
“I’m ok pa. So how’s your flight?”
“It was ok. Nothing noteworthy,” answered Esmeralda. “By the way hijo, where’s Stephanie?”
“Esmerlada!” reprimanded Don Roberto.
Richard gave them a bewildered look. “Stephanie Ma?” he asked.
Though taken aback, Esmeralda immediately thought of an excuse. “Ah don’t mind me hijo. Kung anu-ano lang ang naiisip ko.”
“You two must be tired. Come, let’s go home. Manang Fe prepared food for you. Not to mention, Papa’s favorite adobo,” said Richard.
“Hmm. Appetizing. Tamang tama, I’m already hungry,” said Roberto.
Richard ushered his parents to his car and drove them back to his mansion. As they got inside the mansion, Manang Fe, together with Doris and Sabel greeted them.
“Welcome back po Don Roberto, Donya Esmeralda,” greeted Manang Fe.
“Fe! Kumusta ka na?” greeted back Donya Esmeralda as she gave the former a hug.
“Mabuti naman po ako mam. Kumusta naman po ang biyahe niyo?”
“Mabuti din naman Fe. Maayos naman.”
“Mabuti naman po mam kung ganon. Halina po kayo sa loob at ng makakain na po kayo,” invited Manang Fe.
“Fe, I heard you prepared my favorite adobo?” asked Don Roberto.
“Opo sir. Ito pong si Sabel ang nagluto,” replied Manang Fe.
With that, they all went inside and proceeded to the dining table to have their lunch. Richard and his parents did a lot of catching ups, filling each one with the things that happened over the past few years. Esmeralda is thoroughly amused with the changes she’s seeing in his son. If she hadn’t experienced his pain firsthand, she would never have thought he had been through a lot. Truly, she is now seeing a totally different Richard.
“What can I say Fe? The adobo is really delicious! I enjoyed it a lot. Kindly tell Sabel that she did a splendid job with it,” complimented Don Roberto.
“Sige po sir. Sasabihin ko po kay Sabel,” smiled Manang Fe.
“So Ma, Pa, you may want to take your rest first? I’m pretty sure the flight had been long and tiring,” said Richard.
“Tama ka hijo. Ang hirap din ng tumatanda. Madaling mapagod,” chuckled Donya Esmeralda. “But isn’t there anything you wanted to discuss with us hijo?”
Richard simply gave them a bewildered look.
“I’m pretty sure you didn’t ask us to go all the way here and request us to have a vacation if nothing important came up. I know you fairly well hijo,” explained Donya Esmeralda.
“Hindi ba pwedeng na-miss ko lang kayo ng sobra ni Papa?” teased Richard.
Donya Esmeralda could only raise a brow which made Richard laugh.
“Ok. There is something that I wanted to discuss with you guys but I guess it could wait for now. It’s better if you take a rest first and once you’re already rested, then we’ll discuss about it,” smiled Richard.
“Ok then hijo. If that is what you want. Sige at pupunta na muna kami sa kwarto ng papa mo at ng makapagpahinga na.”
With that, Don Roberto and Donya Esmeralda turned their heels and went to the guest room to have their much needed rest. Richard on the other hand, went to his home office to check on his emails.
“Roberto, do you think what Richard wanted to discuss with us has something to do with his relationship with Stephanie?” asked Donya Esmeralda.
“Possibly. When Stephanie phoned us last Saturday, she seemed too eager to know when we’ll be coming back to the Philippines. Perhaps our Ricky decided to formally introduce her to us as his girlfriend. If that’s the case, he may really be serious about her.”
“Pero nagtataka lang ako darling.”
“About what Esme?” asked Roberto.
“I’m just wondering how come Ricky never mentioned anything about entering a relationship with Stephanie? Remember when I set him up on a date with her before? After the date, he plainly pointed it out to me that she doesn’t like Stephanie. He even mentioned na ayaw niya dito dahil may pagka spoiled brat daw ito,” explained Donya Esmeralda.
“Well everyone’s entitled for a change of heart darling. Who knows, Ricky might’ve given Stephanie a chance and got to know her better. And at the same time, Ricky might have waited for the right time or he must’ve tried to make sure of his feelings for her kaya hindi niya sinabi sa atin agad ang tungkol sa relasyon nila,” said Don Roberto.
“But knowing Ricky, I know he’d want to have a proper introduction. I’m sure napag-usapan nila ang tungkol dun ni Stephanie.”
“Kaya nga di ba? Kabilin bilinan sa atin ni Stephanie na wag nating sasabihin kay Ricky na alam na natin ang tungkol sa relasyon nila? Perhaps Stephanie just got too excited and happy about the whole thing kaya hindi na niya napigilan ang sarili niya at tumawag na siya sa atin to inform us. Ikaw muntik mo pa siyang ipahamak sa airport kanina,” said Roberto as he shakes his head.
“I’m sorry darling. I was actually expecting na kasama niya si Stephanie kanina kaya naitanong ko agad.”
“Anyway, let’s have a nap for the mean time. Mamaya, we’ll discuss these things with Ricky.”
Meanwhile, Richard simply sent a text message to Maya informing her that his parents had already arrived and are having their rest. Maya is currently on a flight so Richard was not expecting a reply anytime soon.
Thoughts of his parents and Maya meeting soon gave him an incredible amount of excitement. He knew in his heart that this is a step closer to fulfilling his dream of being with Maya for the rest of their lives. These thoughts brought smile to his face.
“Ricardo?” called out Manang Fe as she brought Richard a cup of coffee.
“Thanks Manang,” smiled Richard. He noticed Manang Fe staring and smiling at him. “Bakit po Manang?” he asked.
“Wala naman Ricardo. Masaya lang ako para sa iyo. Masayang masaya.”
“Salamat po Manang,” said Richard as he smiled back at her. “You know what Manang, I can’t wait for Mama and Papa to finally meet Maya. I’m pretty sure they’ll like her as well.”
“Nakatitiyak din akong magugustuhan sila ng Mama at Papa mo. Napakabuti at napakabait na bata niyang si Maya. Hindi mahirap mahalin. Alam kong matutuwa din sila para sa iyo,” said Manang Fe.
“Perhaps I’ll just arrange a dinner and invite Maya over so they’ll finally meet her. What do you think Manang?”
“Ikaw ang bahala hijo. Basta abisuhan mo lang kami agad para makapaghanda kami.”
As he was talking to Manang Fe, Richard’s phone rang. “Hello Liza? Ok I’ll be there….. Alright, bye,” said Richard then hung up the phone. Turning back to Manang Fe, “Ah Manang, I need to drive back to the office. Something came up. Paki inform nalang sila Papa at Mama when they get up.”
“O sige hijo. Ako na ang bahala dito. Mag-iingat ka sa pag-drive.”
“Salamat po manang.”
“Hello Stephanie! Napatawag ka hija?……. Yes, kaninang mga around lunch time lang kami nakarating…… Dinner? Oh I’m sorry hija. I don’t think I’m available tonight. But I have a better idea. Why don’t you just come over and have dinner with us?…….. I’m pretty sure Ricky wouldn’t mind. Baka nga mas matuwa pa yun when he see you. And sama mo narin ang Papa at Mama mo. It’s been a while since I last saw them, we all have a lot of catching up to do……. Ok hija. So we will see you tonight? Very well then, bye.”
“Was that Stephanie?” asked Don Roberto.
“Yes, she was asking if we already arrived. She was inviting us for dinner but I invited them over instead,” replied Donya Esmeralda.
“Esmeralda, do you think that is a good idea? Don’t you think we should’ve asked Ricky about it first?” asked Don Roberto anxiously.
“Don’t be silly darling. I know Ricky won’t mind. Besides, I’m pretty sure mas matutuwa pa yun pag nakita niya si Stephanie mamaya pag-uwi niya.”
“I’m still not sure about it Esmeralda. Hindi ba parang inuunahan natin si Ricky about this matter?”
“Don’t be too pessimistic Roberto. O siya. I’ll just go to the kitchen para makapag-handa for the dinner later,” said Esmeralda and went out to the kitchen to help prepare for the evening’s dinner event.
It was already 9PM when Richard got back home. As he entered his mansion’s premises, he noticed a car parked in front of his house. As he got out of his car, he was welcomed by Manang Fe who’s waiting outside for him.
“Kanino po yung sasakyan sa labas Manang?” he asked.
“Sa kaibigan ng Papa at Mama mo. Halika na sa loob at mukhang kanina ka pa nila inaantay.”
As Richard entered his house, he easily heard the casual chatters and laughter coming from the dining area. As he went there, he was immediately engulfed by Stephanie.
“Sweetie! Finally you’re home!” said Stephanie as she half-ran to Richard, giving him an embrace and kissing him on his lips which took the latter in total surprise.
As he regained composure, he held Stephanie’s arms and pushed her gently away from him. “What are you doing here?” he asked.
“Mama Esme invited me over. Aren’t you happy to see me sweetie?” she asked but Richard simply answered her with a frown.
“Ricky, hijo. Kanina ka pa namin inaantay. Come join us for dinner. Your Tito Marcus & Tita Sophia are here as well,” invited Donya Esme.
Richard saw Stephanie’s parents seated at the dining table looking expectantly at him. Though uneasy about the whole thing, Richard decided to pay his respects to them. As he was about to move towards Stephanie’s parents, Stephanie suddenly wrapped her arms around Richard’s arm.
Richard gave her an incredulous look but Stephanie remained unfazed and continued to cling on himl. Not wanting to create any unnecessary scene in front of his and her parents, Richard tried to be casual and went to Stephanie’s parents and exchanged pleasantries with them.
Shortly after, he assumed his place at the dining table with Stephanie sitting on his right side. Unmindful of their parents, Stephanie once again openly flirted with Richard.
“Stephanie!” reprimanded Richard.
“Naku hijo. Pagpasensyahan mo na ang anak ko. Stephanie just seemed to be so fond of you,” said Marcus. “Stephanie, sweetheart, I think Richard’s already getting uncomfortable with your PDA.”
“Oh don’t worry Pa. He may just be stressed sa work. Right sweetie?” said Stephanie.
No longer able to contain the situation and not having the appetite to have dinner, Richard tried to excuse himself from the group. “Ah excuse me. I’ll just go to my room and rest. I’m really not feeling very well.”
“Are you okay Ricky? May sakit ka ba?” asked Esmeralda worriedly.
“Don’t worry Ma. This may just be a headache. I’ll just go to my room and have some rest.” With that, Richard excused himself and went straight to his room.
As he got to his room, he went straight to the bathroom for a quick shower. As he came out from the shower wearing only a towel around his waist, he immediately saw Stephanie lying comfortably across his bed. He immediately got himself a robe and put it on.
“Stephanie! What the hell are you doing here in my room??” shouted Richard, no longer able to control his temper.
Stephanie ignored his anger. She got out of bed, went straight to Richard and started playing with the tussles of his robe. Running her hands across his chest in a teasing manner, “Sweetie, I’m just worried about you. I know you’re pretty much stressed out. I’m here to alleviate your stress.”
Stephanie moved closer to Richard and whispered in a soft alluring tone, “I know the perfect way to have you de-stressed,” she said as her hand travels down from his chest moving downward. As her hand reached his abs, Richard immediately got hold of it before it got even lower.
“Stop it Stephanie!” scowled Richard. “Look, I’m not sure what you are doing here, but I don’t need your help to get me relaxed.”
“But sweetie –“
“Don’t call me sweetie!” snapped Richard. “I’m not your sweetie!”
Richard moved away from Stephanie and went to his walk in closet to wear some clothes. As he got out, he saw Stephanie sitting on his bed.
“Stephanie I think you should leave.”
“What if I don’t want to leave?” said Stephanie seductively.
Exasperated about the whole thing, Richard walked out of his room and went downstairs only to find his parents and Stephanie’s parents at the living room.
“Ricky hijo, kala ko magpapahinga ka na?” asked Esmeralda as soon as she saw him come down from the stairs.
“I forgot to check some emails ma. I’ll just go to my office,” explained Richard then proceeded to his office.
“Napka-workaholic din naman ng unico hijo mo Esme. Manang mana sa Papa niya,” chuckled Sophia.
“Naku mare, sinabi mo pa!” quipped Esme.
“O eto na pala si Stephanie. Stephanie darling saan ka ba nanggaling? Kanina ka pa namin inaantay ng papa mo,” said Sophia.
“I’m so sorry Mom. I just checked on Richard to see if he’s really okay. Looks like kinulang lang naman siya ng lambing,” winked Stephanie, giggling softly.
“Naku Esme! Pag pasensyahan mo na itong anak ko ha. Alam mo naman ang henerasyon ngayon,” said Sophia apologetically.
“Don’t worry about it Sophie. Malalaki na ang mga anak natin and I’m sure alam na nila ang ginagawa nila,” assured Donya Esmeralda.
“Well I think we better leave. It’s already late and I still have office tomorrow,” said Marcus.
“Ok sige kumpadre. I guess we’ll see each other next time?” replied Don Roberto.
As Stephanie and her parents bid their goodbyes, “Hija, hindi ka ba muna magpapaalam kay Ricky,” suggested Donya Esmeralda.
“Ayoko ng maabala pa siya Ma. Perhaps I’ll just give him a call later,” smiled Stephanie.
“Ikaw ang bahala hija,” replied Donya Esmeralda.
As soon as Stephanie and her parents had already left the vicinity, Richard caught up with his parents and ushered them to the veranda to talk.
“Are you sure you’re ok hijo? Baka naman kailangan mo ng magpahinga?” asked Donya Esmeralda worriedly. “Can’t this wait until tomorrow?” she asked further.
“I don’t think this can still wait ma. First, I just want to ask what Stephanie and her parents are doing here earlier? It felt like it’s more than just a courtesy visit,” said Richard.
Donya Esmeralda looked worriedly at Don Roberto before answering her son. “Well hijo, please don’t get mad. Truth is, Stephanie already told us about everything.”
“What do you mean she already told you everything?” replied Richard a tone higher.
“Son, Stephanie called us last Saturday and informed us about your relationship,” said Don Roberto.
“What???” said an utterly shocked Richard.
“Ricky, please don’t get mad at her. I’m pretty sure na-excite lang si Stephanie about the whole idea kaya hindi na niya naitago pa. She got too excited when she learned that we are having a vacation here. She even called earlier to ask us for dinner but I declined and thought it would be better if I invite them over. Matagal tagal narin kasi kaming hindi nagkikita kita nila Sophia and Marcus. I’m sorry Ricky but please don’t get mad with Stephanie. I’m pretty sure it is in her best intentions to spill the beans right away. Ikaw naman kasi hijo. Kung hindi pa magsabi sa amin si Stephanie, hindi pa namin malalaman na may girlfriend ka na,” explained Donya Esmeralda.
Richard simply gave his parents an exasperated look. He never saw this coming nor even thought that Stephanie would weave such story. He knew Stephanie was a spoiled brat but he never knew that she’s a deranged lunatic as well.
“Ok Ma, I’m sorry if I was not able to inform you right away that I’m in a relationship right now. It’s something that I wanted to disclose to you personally at the same time, I wanted to introduce her to you properly, in person that is. Kaya minabuti kong pauwiin kayo ni Papa para mapakilala ko siya ng personal sa inyo,” explained Richard.
“But son, we already know Stephanie. You could’ve spared the formalities. We’ve known their family for the longest time and besides, she’s our goddaughter,” said Don Roberto.
“But Pa, Stephanie has got nothing to do with this in the first place,” said Richard irritatingly.
With a confused look on his face, “What do you mean she’s got nothing to do with this?” asked Don Roberto.
“She’s not my girlfriend Pa. She never has been or will ever be!”
“What??” asked by a surprised Donya Esmeralda. “But how did that happen? She told us she was your girlfriend? Even your Tito Marcus and Tita Sophia thought the same.”
Richard composed himself and patiently narrated everything about Maya, how they came to be and how he bumped into Stephanie while they were in Baguio. After hearing his story, Don Roberto and Donya Esmeralda were not immediately able to respond right away.
Breaking the apparent silence, “Ma, Pa, I know you liked Stephanie very much. I know how much you’d want her for me. But I don’t love her. Not even for a bit. I don’t think I’d even come to like her after what she did and the lies she weaved. I hope you’ll give me a chance for you to know Maya better. She’s a very good person. I know you’ll like her as well. Just give her a chance for you to get to know her better,” pleaded Richard.
After a moment of silence, Donya Esmeralda finally spoke, “I don’t know what to say Ricky. All along I really thought Stephanie was your girlfriend. Who would have thought that she’s been weaving these twisted lies!” Holding Richard’s hand, “Ricky, I’m sorry hijo for everything that happened this evening.”
Giving an assuring smile, “It’s ok Ma. It’s not your fault. I’m at fault as well. I should have told you beforehand about Maya. I just wanted everything to be perfect kaya I waited for you to finally come here and introduce her formally to you,” explained Richard.
“Oh hijo!” exclaimed Donya Esmeralda as she stood up and went to where Richard was seated and gave her a hug. “I’m so happy to finally see you happy. I’m so happy for you Ricky. You just don’t know how long I’ve waited to finally see you happy,” said an already teary-eyed Donya Esmeralda.
Richard simply held the arms that’s wrapped around his shoulders. “Thank you Ma.”
“You know what, I can no longer wait to finally meet Maya. It seems like she’s an incredible woman,” complimented Donya Esmeralda.
“She is Ma. She’s simply one of a kind,” added Richard.
“So tell me Ricky, when we’ll we finally meet this special lady?” asked Don Roberto.
“I actually plan on arranging a dinner tomorrow here sa bahay. I would’ve loved to have done it today if not for her flight,” explained Richard.
“Tomorrow would be perfect for me. What do you think darling?” asked Don Roberto.
“Tomorrow’s perfect! The sooner the better! I can no longer wait to finally meet her!” said Donya Esmeralda.
Richard could no longer be any happier. His evening may have been terrible earlier but it was immediately replaced with overflowing joy seeing his parents’ acceptance and anticipation of finally meeting Maya. He was so thrilled that he can no longer wait to share the news with Maya.
By 11:30, Richard got out of the house once again to fetch Maya from the airport. As soon as she saw her coming out, he immediately went out to her, hugged her tight and kissed her full on her lips.
As he broke off the kiss, “Honey! Ano ka ba! Ang daming tao! Nakakahiya!” said Maya as her cheeks turned scarlet.
Richard simply smiled at her. “I’m just so happy my angel.”
Maya simply gave her a confused look. “Why? Dahil sa pagdating ng parents mo?”
“Partly that, yes. I’m happy to see them once again. But more than that, do you know that they can no longer wait to see you?”
Maya became suddenly anxious. “Talaga? Eh. Anong sabi nila? Alam na nila ang tungkol sa atin? Hindi ba sila nagalit o nagtanong ng kung ano man? Ok lang ba talaga sa kanila na ako ang girlfriend mo?”
Richard simply laughed at Maya’s barrage of questions.
“Honey naman eh! Tawanan pa talaga ako! Ano na nga?”
“Angel, as I’ve said, they can no longer wait to finally meet you. They’re so excited to meet the girl who caught my heart and helped me move on.” Richard held her face and gazed intently in her eyes, “You don’t have to worry about them. Ngayon palang, sinasabi ko na sa iyo, they love you already.”
Seeing the sincerity in his eyes,” Talaga?” she asked.
Richard simply nodded in response. He then gathered her in his arms and hugged her tight. “I already told them everything. How we met and how we came to be. They’re just too happy for me. Tomorrow, we’ve arranged a dinner sa bahay for you to finally meet them. If only you saw their faces kanina. They’re too excited to meet you already.”
A sense of relief washed all over Maya’s being. She’s been nervous and anxious about finally meeting Richard’s parents. A lot of thoughts had been running in her head lately and meeting Stephanie in Baguio just made things worse. But hearing this news from Richard is more than she had expected to hear.
The next day, Maya decided to give Nanay Teresita a call and seek her advice. Though Richard had already given her more than enough assurance to face his parents, she still needs some words of wisdom to boost her morale. And no one can give it better than her Nanay Teresita.
“Hello Nay! Kumusta na po kayo?”
“Maya nak! Mabuti naman kami! Ikaw kamusta ka na jan anak? Kamusta ang trabaho?”
“Mabuti naman po ako nay. Maayos naman po ang trabaho ko. Ganun parin po. Nakakapagod pero masaya naman po. Nasaan nga po pala sila Kute at Mamang?”
“Nasa baba sila nak. Si Kute nagbabantay sa chibugan. Si Mamang naman nagluluto. O eh kumusta naman ba kayo ni Richard nak? Maayos naman ba kayo? Hindi ba kayo nag-aaway o nagkakaroon ng samaan ng loob?”
Maya chuckled on the other end of the line. “Maayos naman po kami ni Richard nay. Hindi naman po kami nag-aaway. Nagkakatampuhan po minsan pero naaayos naman po agad.”
“Eh mabuti naman kung ganon anak. Mahirap kasi yung pag nagkatampuhan kayo ay hindi naaayos agad. Dapat talaga ay pinag-uusapan niyo at ng hindi na lalala pa. O nga pala anak. Bakit ka nga pala napatawag? May kailangan ka ba?”
“Eh kasi nay, umuwi po kahapon dito sa Pilipinas yung magulang ni Richard. Gusto po niyang ipakilala ako sa kanila.”
Nanay Teresita was simply overjoyed to hear this news from Maya. If there is one thing that she could ever wish for, that is to make sure that her daughter would find the right person for her. Someone who would treat her right and treat her with utmost respect. She clearly sees it now in Richard. She knows her daughter is in good and trusted hands.
“Nay? Nanjan ka pa ba nay?” called Maya.
“Oo nak. Nandito pa ako. Sobrang natutuwa lang ako para sa’yo nak. Nakikita kong seryoso sa’yo si Richard anak. Natutuwa lang akong makitang nasa mabuti kang kamay.”
“Salamat nay. Sobrang bait ni Richard nay. At napakabuti niyang boyfriend. Wala na nga po akong mahihiling pa eh.”
“Mabuti yan. Nakikita kong mahal na mahal ka niyang talaga. Teka, eh kailan ka daw ba niya ipapakilala sa mga magulang niya?”
“Eh mamayang gabi na po nay. Maghahanda daw po sila ng dinner mamaya sa bahay nila. Kinakabahan po ako nay eh. Kahit ilang beses ng nasabi sa akin ni Richard na hindi ako dapat kabahan, na excited na ang magulang niya na makita at makilala ako, na mabubuti silang mga tao at tatanggapin nila ako, hindi ko parin po maiwasang kabahan. Paano po kung magkamali ako? Paano po kung may masabi akong hindi maganda? Paano po kung hindi po pala ang isang tulad ko ang inaasahan nilang magiging girlfriend ng anak nila?”
Nanay Teresita could only smile in amusement at her daughter’s baseless apprehensions. “Maya nak, making ka sa akin. Alam mo nak, normal lang na makaramdam ka ng kaba. Siyempre hindi mo sila kilala at ngayon mo pa lang sila makikita at makikilala ng personal. Alam kong gusto mo na maging maayos ang lahat, na maging perpekto ang lahat. Pero nak, hindi tamang mag-isip tayo ng hindi maganda laban sa kanila.”
“Eh alam ko naman po yun nay. Kaso po, hindi ko parin po maalis sa isip ko ang mga posibilidad. Yung mga pwede pong mangyari.”
“Maya nak, wag yung mga negatibong posibilidad ang isipin mo. Ang pagtuunan mo ng pansin ay yung mga positibong mangyayari. Di ba si Richard na mismo ang nagsabi na excited na silang makilala ka at na mabubuti silang tao? Nak, magtiwala ka lang kay Richard. Kung sinasabi niyang magiging maayos ang lahat at sinasabi niyang tanggap ka ng magulang niya, pagtiwalaan mo lang siya. Sa pagkakakilala ko sa kanya nak, hindi naman siya yung tao na magbibitiw ng salita na kahit hindi totoo, sasabihin niya parin sayo para mapagaan ang loob mo. Nagtitiwala ako anak na kung sinasabi ni Richard na tanggap ka ng mga magulang niya, tanggap ka ngang talaga nila at wala kang dapat ipangamba.”
“Eh pero nay, natatakot po kasi akong magkamali. Paano po pag nagkamali ako at ma-turn off sila sa akin?”
“Nak, tao ka lang, gaya nila na mga tao lang din. Lahat tayo nagkakamali. Walang taong hindi nagkakamali. Walang perpekto sa mundo nak. Kung magkamali ka man sa harap nila, aminin mo ang pagkakamali mo. Humingi ka ng tawag. Ganun lang kasimple nak. Wag mong susubukan kalian man na piliting ibahin kung ano ka o pilitin na maging perpekto sa harap nila. Ikaw lang ang mahihirapan pag nagkataon anak. Basta ang ipakita mo sa kanila ay kung sino ka. Yung totoong ikaw. Magpakatotoo ka lang sa sarili mo nak. Alam kong higit sa lahat, ang gusto nilang makita ay yung taong minahal ng anak nila. Yun ang gusto nilang makilala anak.”
“Sa tingin niyo po talaga nay, magugustuhan nila ako?”
“Mabuti kang tao nak. Wala kang dapat na ikatakot o ipangamba. Maaaring hindi tayo kasing yaman nila pero hindi naman yaman o pera ang sukatan sa lahat ng bagay eh. Wala kang dapat na alalahanin nak. Mabuti kang tao, lumaki ng maayos at marangal. Wag kang mangamba o mag-alinlangan na harapin sila ng buong tapang at taas noo. Isa pa, alam ko naming hinding hindi ka pababayaan ni Richard. Maya nak, magtiwala ka lang sa pagmamahal sa’yo ni Richard.”
“Tama ka nga nay,” chuckled Maya. “Nay, ganito ka rin ba noon nung ipinakilala ka ni Tatay kila lolo at lola?”
Nanay Teresita laughed on the other end of the line. “Hay naku nak. Ganyang ganyan din ako noon! Nanggigigil na nga sa akin ang Mamang mo dahil ang tigas daw ng ulo ko at puro negatibo pa daw ang iniisip ko. Sa huli, pinahirapan ko lang pala ang sarili ko sa pangangamba at walang basehang takot dahil tinanggap nila ako ng buong buo. Tuwang tuwa pa nga sila dahil nakita nilang masaya ang anak nila. Kaya Maya nak, alam kong matutuwa silang makita ka dahil alam kong labis din ang kagalakan nilang makitang masaya muli si Richard.”
After a few more exchanges, Maya bid her goodbye and hung up the phone. Her conversation with her Nanay Teresiita gave her the much needed boost that she needed. The assurance that could only come from someone who had been through a similar situation before.
By 6pm, Maya is already prepped up for the evening’s event. Following Nanay Teresita’s advise, she opted to be herself and wore a simple blouse, pants, and sandals. She only wore simple make up that made her look fresh but stunningly beautiful still. 5 minutes later, Richard arrived at the condo.
“Ready?” he asked.
Maya simply nodded. “Ok lang ba itong suot ko?” she asked.
Richard smiled at her and said, “You look lovely.” He then bent down and planted a kiss on her forehead.
Maya got the basket of fruits she bought from the supermarket earlier that day so she could give his parents something for her visit and they made their way out to proceed to his car.
Once inside the car, “Nervous?” he asked.
“Medyo. Pero ok na ako,” she smiled reassuringly at him.
As they finally reached Richard’s mansion, they were welcomed by his parents and Manang Fe who are all waiting for them outside the door.
“Hello Ricky!” greeted Donya Esmeralda as she air-kissed his cheeks.
“Hello Ma! Pa!” greeted back Richard. “By the way Ma, Pa, this is Maya, my girlfriend,” turning to Maya, “Angel, these are my parents.”
“Good evening po sir, mam,” greeted Maya with a smile.
“Oh none sense hija! Don’t call us sir and mam! It’s too formal! Besides, girlfriend ka ng anak ko which in a way, parang anak ka narin namin. Call me Mama. I would get mad if you don’t,” warned Donya Esmeralda which made everyone laugh.
“Ok po, Mama,” obliged Maya.
“There! Much better,” said Donya Esmeralda then engulfed Maya in a warm hug.
Turning to Don Roberto, “Good evening po –“
“Papa hija, call me papa. Hindi naman ako makakapayag na si Esmeralda lang ang tatawagin mo however she wished to be addressed. I want to be addressed Papa at magagalit din ako pag hindi,” warned Don Roberto teasingly.
“Ok po Papa,” smiled Maya. Don Roberto collected Maya in his arms as well and gave her a welcoming hug. Shortly after, they all went inside and proceeded to the dining table.
The dinner went smoothly. Don Roberto and Donya Esmeralda asked questions to Maya about her family, hometown, and how she came to know Richard.
“So Rafi set you up on a blind date?” clarified Donya Esmeralda.
“Opo. Hindi po sinabi ni Rafi na ise-set pala niya kami on a blind date. All along, iniisip ko po na mag di-dinner lang kami with her friend at hindi rin po niya nabanggit na lalaki pala ang bestfriend niya,” explained Maya.
“Oh! Is that so? Ricky, have you already thanked Rafi enough to have you landed to such a fine young lady here?” asked Donya Esmeralda.
Richard smirked in response. “Yes Ma. I’ve already thanked her for it.” Turning his gaze to Maya, “I can never thank her enough for introducing me to my angel,” he continued. He then got Maya’s hand and planted a kiss on it making Maya blush.
“Aww. That’s so sweet of you hijo,” exclaimed Donya Esmeralda while Don Roberto couldn’t help but smile seeing his son happy and truly in love.
As they were happily chatting with one another, filling each other with their stories, the door bell rang. Manang Fe immediately got out and checked who the visitor was. As she went back in to the dining table, “Sir, Mam, may bisita po kayo.”
Then coming from behind her, Stephanie stepped in with a box of cake at hand. “Hello Ma, Pa!” she greeted then turning her attention to Richard, “Hello sweetie!” She then bent down to give Richard a kiss but the latter was fast enough to evade.
“Stephanie!” warned Richard.
“What’s the matter sweetie?” she asked then she noticed Maya seated next to Richard. “Oh! Maya right? We meet again,” said Stephanie giving Maya a smug look.
“Stephanie hija, why don’t you join us for dinner?” invited Donya Esmeralda.
“Sure Mama. I would love to. By the way Ma, I brought you your favorite cake,” said Stephanie as she handed over the cake.
“Thank you hija. That’s so sweet of you. Fe, paki lagay nalang muna ito sa ref,” said Donya Esmeralda as she handed over the cake to Manang Fe.
Maya felt uneasy in Stephanie’s presence. Feeling the awkwardness and enveloping tension, Richard held her hand and gave her a warm smile.
“So Stephanie hija, it seems like you’ve already met Maya here, my future daughter-in-law?” said Donya Esmeralda.
Stephanie was rendered speechless for a while. “Future daughter-in-law Ma?” she repeated.
Feigning a confused look, “Oh why darling? Were you not informed that Maya here is my son’s fiancée?” Turning to Don Roberto, “Roberto, were we not able to inform her about it?”
Don Roberto played along with his wife and simply shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t think we did Esmeralda. Son, you weren’t able to inform them as well?”
“When we were in Baguio, I did tell her that Maya is my girlfriend. I guess I missed the part wherein Maya & I are already engaged,” explained Richard nonchalantly.
Maya, though taken aback by the sudden turn of events, remained silent still but can’t help feel amused about everything.
Stephanie on the other hand had been burning with anger. She had never seen this forthcoming. All along, she thought she already had the perfect plan of getting Richard. Besides, she always gets what she wants. There never came a time in her life wherein she missed getting something that she badly wanted.
Saving herself from further humiliation, she thought of an excuse. Trying to compose herself and look unaffected, “Oh by the way Mama, I forgot. I have dinner appointment with my friends. I’m so sorry but I have to let this pass?”
“Are you sure about it hija?” asked Donya Esmeralda.
“Yes Mama. I’ll just make it up to you some other time. Enjoy the rest of your evening. Excuse me,” said Stephanie.
“Ok. Be careful hija,” replied Donya Esmeralda.
When Stephanie was no longer in sight, Donya Esmeralda let out the laugh that she tried so hard to suppress. “Oh you should’ve seen that look on her face!”
“You’re so mean Esmeralda. You shouldn’t have humiliated her like that. She’s our goddaughter still, remember?” reminded Don Roberto.
“Oh none sense Roberto! You know I don’t tolerate liars! It’s one thing that I hated the most. That should teach her a lesson,” replied Donya Esmeralda.
Shaking his head, “Maya hija, I apologize for dragging you into that charade. Pagpasensyahan mo na ang mama mo. Kung anu-ano lang talaga ang pumapasok na kalokohan sa kanya paminsan minsan,” explained Don Roberto which earned him a slap on his arm. “Aray! Esmeralda!”
“Anong kalokohan? Hindi kalokohan yun! She lied to us Roberto! She pretended to be Ricky’s girlfriend eh hindi naman pala totoo! What does she want, bilugin ang ulo natin? Ugh! The nerve of that woman!” said Donya Esmeralda irritatingly.
“Ma, Pa, let’s not ruin the evening because of her. I’m pretty sure sa ginawa ni Mama, magtatanda na siya. I don’t think she’d still have the courage to face us,” said Richard.
“Tama ka hijo. Let’s not spoil this evening shall we. So Maya hija, tell me more about the adventures that you’ve had with Ricky when you were in San Nicholas.”