The reactions I get whenever I would mention Yaya Pen are sometimes interesting. They’re mostly along the lines of ‘May yaya ka pa?!’. Honestly, I can’t even summon a hypothetical dream sequence wherein Yaya Pen is not in our family; it’s just unthinkable.
If you google ‘yaya‘ and ‘Pinoy culture’, you’ll probably get a lot of essays like this that elaborates on how big the role is of a ‘yaya‘ to the Pinoy home. Our nation has been sacked, humiliated and pillaged — but if you really want to see hordes of bawling Filipinos, take away their yaya‘s.
In sitcoms, they’re stereotyped as either the wise-cracking sidekick with the funny accent, or the nurturing companion that always doles out the right advice at the right time (along with that glass of water, of course). Yaya Pen has been our trusted housekeeper ever since I was born. To tell you the truth, there are times when I can’t understand if she’s my playmate, my wise aunt or my niece’s playmate that I have to sometimes reprimand, too.
One thing’s for sure — Yaya Pen is one of my heroes (joining the elite ranks of Leonardo da Vinci and MacGyver), and on her birthday, I’m honoring her by sharing the lifelong lessons she has taught a very grateful alaga like me:
- You earn the right to play when you’re done with homework.
- There’s always a better way to do things (she used to lift my sister and I over the wall to our neighbor’s yard — literally over-the-bakod — so that we don’t have to go the long way round to come out and play).
- There’s no shame in being goofy.
- Pay no heed to haters. Scream at scary movies if you want to.
- Inside every lass, there’s a Bb. Pilipinas within.
- Put heart into what you do, whatever it is.
- Be the happiest person you know.