Strength (noun) the quality or state of being strong; bodily or muscular power; vigor.

With the recent passing of my grandmother, this word has been ever-present in my life – from the lack of strength that I had when I first received the news to the strength that I need to move on. But most of all, it has been existent with the strength of my grandmother’s presence in my heart and mind that will live on forever.

My grandmother was a ball of strength all around. She gave birth to 8 children, brought and moved her family from the Philippines to the mean streets of downtown L.A., rocked a Versace scarf, and handled cash like no other. She put the “G” in “O.G.” - and everyone knew that. One of the many ongoing jokes within my family was that if you were next to her you would more than likely get punched on the arm. “See, I’m still strong,” she’d say. From throwing up the west side sign to drinking a Heineken out of the bottle with a straw, that was my lola (grandmother in Tagalog).

It is her strength, among many other traits, that I will always remember.

A friend of mine recently reassured me that grief has no time limit. And I needed to hear that. It’s been almost a month since her passing and it still hurts. My grandmother lived a long & full life and I feel a bit selfish for hating that she's gone. But it is with the kind words and encouragement of friends and family that I am finding the strength to carry on.

Thank you to everyone that has reached out to me, your words meant so much. And a special thank you to those who drank a Heineken with a straw in her memory, it put a much needed smile on my face.

This one’s for you, Lola.

May she rest in peace.


Presentacion Alfonso Macalinao

November 21st, 1928 – December 16th, 2014