Mrs. Macaria (Kayang) Cruz Peralta of Mount Druitt in western Sydney has the knack of setting records throughout her life! Nanay Kayang got married at the age of 17 years to Mr. Conrado Trajano Peralta, gave birth to 11 children and has 27 grandchildren and 20 great grandchildren. On October 9, 2020, she topped these achievements by reaching the milestone of 100 years.
Due to the COVID 19 restrictions there was only a small celebration of few of the family in Sydney with the rest joining in through online group greeting.
Originally from Limay, Bataan this matriarch has experienced the extremes in life surviving the horrors of WW2 especially the last defense of Bataan. She evacuated to different places together with the whole family. Her two younger sisters died on the rice fields where they were buried as they fled during the intense bombardment of Bataan.
Nanay Kayang's husband, Tatay Conrado was a soldier during World War 2 and was the longest serving Chief of Police of Bataan province and loved by his constituents.
At the age of 100 years, she demonstrated her mind is still very sharp by recalling her experiences during an interview by Radio Tagumpay on Triple H 100.1FM on Oct 19. Her eldest son, Danilo [Danny] Peralta who is well known to the community in his position of Knight Grand Officer of Rizal (second highest rank in the Knights of Rizal organisation), the founding President of the Tagalog Association of Australia and veteran Balagtasan poet, petitioned Nanay Kayang and Tatay Conrado in 1985. With Danny's help we are glad to also share with the readers of The Australian Filipina some of her recollection of moments in her life.
What do you remember about your childhood?
I started my grade school at the convent run by the Parish Priest in Limay, Bataan. When the Government Central School opened, I moved to study there until fourth grade. My childhood was marked with constant hardship as I lost my father at my early age but also of happiness as I have friends who I could play anywhere we wanted.
I had to wash clothes for others so I could earn some centavos to pay for my pandesal (bread) because during that time the only work available was to be a fisherman or farmer. “Mahirap mabuhay noong panahon namin”. It was very hard to earn a living during our time; no factory work, only tending the land as this was the only thing I could do. We had a gang of friends or barkadahan during my time so we entertained ourselves by swimming in the river which was an excuse also to wash clothes so I could earn some penny.
Although I only reached the fourth grade in school, it did not deter me to work hard as I know it would improve my life. I was equally determined that by working hard I could achieve my dream of helping my siblings and the family.
What would you consider fondly to be your achievements in life?
My great accomplishment in life was when I met my partner in life, my husband Conrado who was a very good husband and who supported me and all the siblings. He impressed upon us to be polite, respectful, humble and truthful to themselves and others so we could be respected as well. These are the legacies that we have imparted to our children and have been passed on to their own children.
I could see in my 27 grandchildren their politeness and respect to their parents and elders which we have instilled in them when they were growing. My husband passed away in 1997 but if he is still alive, he would be very happy to see our grandchildren how they behave and respect to each other. This accomplishment that I and my husband have shared is our achievements.
What is your recollection of meeting and marrying Tatay Conrado ?
We both lived in Limay Bataan although in different Barangays. We were already seeing each other as he courted me when I was a young teenager. He was a very responsible person with good family background, and 5 years older than me. It was my great grandmother who actually told me that if ever I get married, she wanted that man (Conrado my boyfriend at that time) to be my husband.
It was a simple wedding ceremony when we got married on the 1st January 1939. One year after our marriage, World War 2 broke out and my husband was assigned to the last defense of Bataan so we were separated until the war finished.
I wish he is still around to witness and see his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren and the whole family together and happy as a family. In the years of our marriage we did not have a single quarrel and I miss him so much.
What advice would you give parents in raising children and the young people on how they should behave towards their elders?
"Matuto kayong magmahalan sa isat isa" [Learn to love each other]. That is what I always advised my children. Show respect to your parents and elders. Be polite, humble and honest in all the things you do.
It's better to be rich in “ Pakikisama” [getting along] as their father always telling our children rather than always thinking of material things. Material things you accumulate can perish but your good relationship to each other and showing respect to each other will be forever.
Regarding the present time, what is your awareness of the situation re COVID 19 /pandemic and its effects to how you live?
It’s hard as you cannot attend anymore your church service and also once in a while expecting visits from my children and grandchildren is now restricted.
I can only do walking inside the house and seat and catch the sun outside. Sometimes I call my children to help us to buy my medicine, consult my GP and once in a while we order take away food as most of the restaurants now are closed.
We don’t have a choice. We really should follow the regulations imposed by the NSW government to stay home if necessary and only go out on important things like; consulting your doctor, buying medicine and groceries.
What is your definition of 'success'?
The success I know is that when you see all your children, and their children's children are happy helping each other and showing the respect to their parents and elders that we have instilled in them. That is already success to us. As long as they become good people, have fear in God, are honest and truthful, I and my husband would be very happy.
Maraming Salamat Po. [Thank you].
We at The Australian Filipina can say that Nanay Kayang can be truly happy as she and Tatay Conrado had succeeded in instilling the love and values to their family. The prose paying tribute to her as written by Danny's daughter Jeng Erzenjak, says it all. In closing, we are glad to share Jeng's prose below with our readers.
We congratulate Nanay Kayang on her milestone and wish her continued good health and joy with her loved ones.
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Prose by Jeng Erzenjak, one of Nanay Kayang's grandchildren
Where do I begin to tell you what an incredible gift my Nan is to us all. 100 today!
We honour and celebrate you in every way in every moment. You radiate such unconditional love, warmth, humor, light, strength, kindness, presence, integrity courage, cheekiness, dedication, commitment wisdom, truth, integrity for all to receive. I mean this list could go on and on although she would never claim any of it. Ha ha but she will certainly dish the truth out no matter how bruised your ego may get.
She sees and knows far beyond your small window until you are ready to see it for yourself. Your love is so far reaching extending way beyond your own family, friends community. Just being in your presence lights us up. You teach us to stay true, humble, grateful within our hearts and minds through life's challenges and blessings with trust and acceptance compassion and presence.
You are the embodiment of love and life itself. An inspiration to walk the path. A rare and precious gem. Our lives are certainly richer for the experience of one other. We now spin a cocoon of love around you and embrace you just like you held each and every one of us in your arms when we were born and watched over all of us as we grew up. This picture was taken 2 years ago after receiving shiatsu on tap when you weren't feeling well.
I love how close you are to everyone's soul and spirit. This year we will miss throwing you a party with our rowdy crazy huge family in Sydney. Like your 90th where we sang to you danced for you, shared stories of your life. I am not sure I can capture in words what you mean to me and us all but I hope to transmit this love somehow so you can receive here as we do no matter where you are. Perhaps you have someone in your life that touches your depths and reminds you what life is.
Despite not being with you I know you are here in my heart in spirit for there is no distance with loves gifts. She will reach you just as she touches us. This is the lineage I am born from. Born from the bloodline of a fierce gentle courageous kind hearted powerful pioneering woman. How fortunate we are to have you grace our lives. We love you Lola.