for her

It felt like The Amazing Race. Only there were no cameras, and the two men in a hurry did not have six-pack abs like Mark and Rovilson. My brother Bong and I slammed the car doors and brisk-walked (we’re both too out of shape for running) across Davao’s Ilustre Street toward Gaisano South Mall. We needed to complete our mission before 6:30PM, and according to my watch we had less than half-an-hour.

“I think it’s not there anymore,” Kuya Bong said, catching his breath. He’s asthmatic, and he was right: the shop we had hoped would be at the mall had been replaced by a bank! “Wait, I think there’s one at Davao Doctors’ Hospital!” I offered. We scurried a block to the hospital and found the shop there all right—unlit and closed! It was a Sunday after all.

Time was running out.

“Why don’t we get something else?” came the bro’s suggestion. I wasn’t ready for Plan B just yet, so I grabbed my phone to call Irene, high school friend and a walking Google for all things Davao.

“Hey, Irene! Where else can we find a flower shop in Davao at this hour?” Without a moment’s pause, she gave us the next best spot to try. We hurried back to the car with renewed hope.

I held my breath as we descended the escalator to the place where the flower shop was supposed to be. And there it was! They had on display and ready to be picked up two bouquets, both beautifully arranged. We chose the bigger and more expensive arrangement–an assortment of red roses, mums, some orchid-looking pink flower. Only the best for the best lady.

We got to church in time for the last few songs before the sermon. Before delivering the message, the pastor, who is my brother Arnel, asked all the mothers to line up in front to be honored and receive a token from the church. Moms of all ages, shapes, and sizes went forward. Taking our cue from the associate pastors who saw us with the bouquet of flowers, Kuya Bong and I marched to the front with the bouquet. My sister Liza looked relieved to see us (her assignment was to make sure Mama didn’t suspect we were out to surprise her.)

Seeing her children approaching with a bouquet, Mama started crying and stomping her feet, her hands over her mouth. In jest I whispered to my brother, “Assuming naman si Mama… malay n’ya sa iba natin ‘to ibigay! Hehe.” But she was right to assume. She sobbed as we gave her the bouquet and hugged her tight. My sister followed suit with the token from the church. “Happy Mothers’ Day, Inay.”

Mama looked radiant in her pink blouse and her bouquet of flowers. After the service we drove to Jack’s Ridge to have dinner overlooking the city lights. Holding her bouquet like a beauty queen, Mama quipped, “Feeling ko naman si Ruffa Gutierrez ako sa The Buzz!” To which Kuya Arnel retorted, “Hindi ah. Ikaw si Annabelle Rama!”