Photo by Samanta Helou
I have spent more than two decades living next door to my 80-year-old Cuban American neighbor, Aurora, and her mother, Abuelita. But it was when I became a parent in 2010 that my relationship with Aurora started to deepen, and even more so in the last two years over an unexpected shared interest: our mutual love of Asian dramas. Sweet Abuelita, who is featured in the essay, passed away at the age of 102, just two days after this was published. We miss her so.
Tagumpay Mendoza De Leon is a master teacher and performer of rondalla, a traditional Spanish-influenced form of music from the Philippines. De Leon, a 2021 NEA National Heritage Fellow, has spent his decades-long career promoting and preserving Philippine culture through the tradition of rondalla.