JJ Casas

San Francisco-based portrait & commercial photographer & 

creative director. 

Sharing my thoughts as a photographer, cinematographer, marketer, and copywriter.

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30 December 2022

My Grandmother’s Reflection

What she chose to see everyday.

My Lola (grandmother) Mercedes Camara in her bedroom in Fairview, Quezon City, Philippines on October 21, 2011.

My grandmother passed away on December 10, 2013 and left behind her greatest achievement: her family. That’s 10 children, 23 grand children and 33 great grand children.

I came across my 2011 pictures in a hard drive and immediately remembered Lola Cedes (what we all called her) and of course all the sweet things she’d do for us. Like all grand/mothers, she cooked really well (my favorite was her homemade beef patties!).

But what stuck to me the most was the mirror on her dresser.

My grandmother's reflection


My grandmother saw more of her children than herself.

And I absolutely love how she chose to see this reflection everyday. And if I’m going to try and be philosophical, she surely saw herself in her children.

But if I had to think more of her intentions, it was because she put her family and others before herself.

Here’s an excerpt from my mom’s eulogy:

She was a loving and generous grandma to all of them [grandchildren]. She just didn’t give advice but material things as well. Basta kaya niya, binibigay niya.

The last line in Tagalog translates to “If she can, she will give.”

My mom noted on how she was also the family’s banker/financer:

Her wallet was open to those who were financially in need. She would forego her personal needs (like buying her medicines) just so she could give to her children or grandchildren or relatives or friends in need.

And on giving, my mom said:

Nobody can beat or surpassed her generosity. She gave so much to the point she does not think of herself anymore ( like missing her medicines) just so she could give money to those in need. Even the gifts or goodies we sent to them, she gave away.

I’m reminded easily how much of a selfless person Lola Cedes was and how much more I can be more like her.

Miss you Lola. You’ll always be remembered for your kindness and love you had for all of us.


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