Here comes the sun
(The Philippine Star) - April 23, 2017 - 12:00am

Here Comes the Sun… I’ll Follow the Sun… Islands in the Sun. These are just three examples of popular songs about the sun.

Actually, I prefer it when it’s overcast. Less glare, less heat, less sweat, less stickiness, and less smell! Of course, the clouds can never keep us from UV rays… hence we invest in sunscreen, sun visors, hats, umbrellas. Yikes! And there’s the threat of skin cancer!

Fact is, the best source of vitamin D we can get is not from any pill or supplement, but from the sun. Whenever I think of the sun, over the last three decades I think about the exposure we had to it during protest rallies we used to organize and join. I think of the heat and the glare when I’m out on the beach or swimming pool, while hiking or motorcycling. I think of beautiful flowers and delicious fruits… and the great outdoors.

The sun has always figured in humanity’s history. The Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan and Chichen–Itza in Mexico; Machu-Pichu in Peru and other great structures were built as temples by sun-worshiping peoples.

In the Philippines and in the tropics, we mostly want the sun out of our homes — because our curtains, paintings and upholstery will fade. Besides, what are curtains and blinds for? We install blackout curtains and tinted windows to keep the sun out.

Outdoors, the precious shade gives us relief and that’s one cheap way of staying fair! Which seems to be an eternal obsession of many brown-skinned folks.

Gigi Padilla-Chua is truly a sun person who brings light and hope to all she encounters. At the same time, she has a serenity that is powerful, motivating and inspiring. And she has always loved the sun.

“I open the windows in my home every morning to let the sunshine in; it puts me in a cheerful mood to face the challenges of the day,” Gigi said. It was no wonder, then, that when she and her husband Gil built their family home, they did so in the Mediterranean style, replete with wide picture windows.

“We wanted a house that was bright and airy, where sunshine would permeate every nook and cranny,” Gigi said. They wanted a “sunny house” and true enough, they had a sun logo put on the grills of their windows and on the tiles of their pool; she even etched images of the sun into the windowpanes. Truly, as the song goes, she “let the sunshine in”!

Accumulating images personifying the sun comes naturally to Gigi. Her first acquisition was a candleholder bought on a trip to the US in 2001. Shopping for home décor became fun and easy as anything not showing a sun’s face was pretty much ignored. Whenever she sees a piece that catches her eye, she simply goes for it. There’s no thinking twice about it.

“Many pieces in my collection are from sunny countries such as Spain, Italy, Mexico and Portugal,” she adds. During her travels, finding the sun in various iterations of size and appearance have given her a sense of accomplishment. “I noticed that in colder countries like Japan, Russia and Canada, there were hardly any sun items,” she says. “Strangely enough, there are not many sun ornaments in the Philippines,” she continues. She found only a few wooden varnished ones which were mostly dark and certainly do not do justice to genuinely reflect the much-vaunted happy disposition of Filipinos.

Or perhaps, could it be that beneath this cheery veneer, there lies a more somber aspect of the Filipino psyche? Just asking.

Most of the pieces in her collection are made of ceramic. During her travels, the challenge for her is to pack them properly in her luggage so as not to break them. “I have never broken one on a trip. I guess I’ve just become and expert packer,” she proudly declares. Though she can remember where each piece was bought, she regrets not marking the year of purchase and the price on each piece. “That information would have added interest to the pieces,” she laments.

Well, it’s never too late to start.

One’s collection can also be sources of life’s lessons, as Gigi notes: “When we were in Peru, I bought a round ceramic flute, called an ‘arcana,’ in the shape of a sun and it was quite a unique piece. My son, then 14, generously offered to carry the flute for me. He was carrying other bags and when he tried to get something from one of them, he dropped the bag with the flute. My heart sank as I heard it break when it hit the floor. My son’s face changed and I could see how scared he was. I tried to hide my feelings and told him that I could easily glue the pieces back together. I still have this glued-together flute as a reminder that no matter how precious the pieces of my collection are to me, my loved ones are always more important.”

Gigi has over 65 pieces in her sun collection. Most show a sun with a face of which no two are alike. She also has jewelry boxes, tissue holders, candleholders, serving plates, table cloths, mobiles, flutes, ceramic pots, table cloth holders, curtain rods, mirrors, stamp pads, bookmarks that mimic the sun and — the most mundane — a refrigerator magnet. “Not all sun decor is worthy of being part of my collection,” she says; Gigi carefully examines the expression on the face of each sun and collects only those with happy and uplifting smiles.

Her friends and family have also contributed to her collection. “Every time they see anything with a sun design, they know it’s a perfect gift for me. Some years ago, I celebrated my birthday in Venice while on a cruise with the Padilla clan. Venice was full of sun décor items of varying shapes and sizes. I received so many interesting sun pieces from the family and I felt very grateful that they thought of me. I’m sure that choosing and buying the sun items reinforced our relationship, as well as added to the affection that we feel for each other. I am gratified by their thoughtfulness. When I see these gifts displayed in my home, I am reminded of the affection of the giver and it makes me appreciate their friendship more. When I see these gifts, I say a little prayer for these special people in my life,” she adds.

“When we have guests in the house, it doesn’t take long for them to notice the suns in the house. My daughter said that, once, her friends played a game to see who could spot the most suns. The sun décor easily becomes a topic of conversation among guests, leading to warmer relationships and stories about life. I have been asked weird questions like, ‘Do you have underwear suns?’ ‘Why don’t you collect moons?’ ‘Will you accept gifts that are not in the shape of a sun?’ All these questions are asked in the spirit of fun — the sun decorations have this effect on people.”

Gigi also takes care of pet birds that have the colors of the sun, called Sun Conures. Like her sun decorations, they keep the house lively and bright.

Collecting the sun objects has given Gigi much satisfaction for they also serve as remembrances and mementos of her travels. “I love my sun collection. These objects fill my house with sunshine and warmth. Everywhere you look, you will see a sunny smile.”

Friendship with Gigi and Gil also grows on you for they exude the selflessness, generosity and spirit of sharing. Truly in keeping with spreading the sunshine.

* * *

Email the author at nikkicoseteng2017@gmail.com or text her at +63997-433-7154.

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