Ed. Note: In Spain, whipped cream (Nata in Spanish) is used to make a pile of strawberries look more delectable like Fresones con Nata (Strawberries and cream) or to make a bowl of mixed fruits taste creamier like Macedonia con Nata (Fruit salad and cream) or just to garnish a cup of café con leche.
Here in Ang Bagong Filipino, we have a correspondent named Nathaniel (he calls himself Nata) who has interviewed some of our kababayans and has written about their interesting life stories. Starting today, we’re dedicating a section for these interviews and we will call it Entrevista con Nata. In this section, our resident interviewer Nata will continue to share us his creamy and delectable stories, 100 % inspiring yet zero in fat.
THE HOUSE OF TRINING
by Nathaniel Sisma Villaluna
I take a swig of Coca-Cola as I listen intently to Tita Trinidad or Tita Trining for those who know her.
“May ikukwento ako sa iyo. Noong nasa Bahrain pa ako may nangyari sa akin. Nasa labas kami ng alaga ko nang biglang humiwalay sa akin at tumakbo sa kalye. Ang bilis ng pangyayari. May dumaang kotse at hindi nakita ng driver ang bata. Hindi na ako nakatakbo para kunin siya. Ang sunod ko na lang nakita ay ang kamay niya na nakalabas tabi ng gulong ng kotse. Ang katawan niya nasa ilalim nito. Hindi ko alam ang gagawin. Sobrang nerbyos ko noon. Dasal ako ng dasal habang papalapit ako. Diyos ko, tulungan ninyo po ako, ang sabi ko sa sarili ko. Dali kong kinuha ang bata sa ilalim ng kotse, kinarga ko. Akala ko mamamatay na siya pero ilang minuto lang dumilat at para bang nagdahilan lang at wala man lang sugat ni naramdamang masakit.”
Her calm and soft voice no longer reflect the intensity and tension of her story. It is because it happened almost two decades ago and whatever trauma she had from that episode had long been gone. Listening to her though makes me imagine the incident eighteen years ago. I can only shake my head in awe and disbelief. Miracles really do happen.
That was before she came to Barcelona. Tita Trining or Trinidad Rodeles worked first in Bahrain for a German family. In 1992, she came to Barcelona where her sister was already based. Seeing the better living and working conditions of Pinoys here, Tita Trining seized the opportunity of her visit and finally decided to stay. Her first months in the city saw her looking for jobs and trying to survive with her non-existent Spanish and at the same time battling homesickness.
“Isa, dalawang trabaho ko sa isang araw. Ang dami kong extra noon. Basta kaya ko, okay lang. Tiyaga lang at tiis.”
Left behind in Mabini, Batangas back then were her husband, their seven children and their small sari-sari store. Managing her store in the Philippines at least honed her entrepreneurial skills which she would later use in her pursuit to embark to not only one or two, but three businesses in Barcelona. After six years, her hardwork paid off. Together with a Spanish business partner, they put up a real-estate business helping Pinoy clients find affordable flats and apartments in the whole of Catalonia.
“Nakakilala ako ng isang Spanish na nag-alok sa akin na makisosyo sa negosyo. Inmobiliaria. Benta at renta ng apartment sa buong Catalonia. Sa simula, parang ayaw ko pa, pero napag-isip isip ko na pwede ko itong gawin. May naipon naman ako kahit papano. Kaya ginawa ko para sa mga anak ko. Bahala na ang Diyos sa akin, kako.”
Making the right decision: Casa Nostra
Catalan cuisine served at Casa Nostra Restaurant
So did she make the right decision? Yes, Tita Trining did. Judging from the array of neatly arranged cutleries on top of white clothed-covered tables in this quaint and classy restaurant somewhere in calle Parlament, Tita Trining is the owner of Casa Nostra. Casa Nostra, Latin for Our House, is one of those expensive restaurants in Barcelona. An online tourism guide of the city describes Casa Nostra as stylish. Dishes range from 20-40 euros. A Spanish blogger gave the restaurant three and a half stars out of five, describing the place as traditional, soothing and well-decorated.
“Traditional, Soothing and Well-decorated”
Not only the physical aspect of the restaurant exudes a unique appeal to its clientele but also the friendly and devoted staff that the place has. Spanish politicians sometimes hang out in this place to dine and wine. Pinoy celebrities too visit Casa Nostra every time they come to Barcelona. The restaurant has two levels. The food is mainly Spanish dishes and a wide range of wines to choose from.
“Hindi naman puro artista lang at pulitiko. Meron din tayong mga ordinaryong kababayan na nagdadaos ng birthday parties dito, kasal o binyag o kumpil.”
It is a family business altogether. Her children help out in the kitchen and wait on tables. Tita Trining considers Casa Nostra as one of the best gifts God has given her.
“Nakikita ko itong restaurant na ito palagi sa harap ng office namin. Kumakain din kami dito paminsan-minsan. Isang araw, inalok sa amin ng may-aring Espanyol kasi binebenta na daw niya. Hindi ko akalain na magiging amin pala ito balang araw.”
Her tough stance at taking risks is one of the reasons why Tita Trining’s three businesses are going strong. Her first venture, the real-estate business is still alive and kicking. In a span of twelve years, she has sold and rented out 300 apartments. Not bad for someone who came from scratch in a foreign land armed with only faith in God and hardwork.
Where does she get the courage and braveness in taking risks and deal with uncertainty in her business ventures?
“Siguro yung nangyari sa akin sa Bahrain nagbigay sa akin ng lakas ng loob. Mahal ako ng Diyos. Hindi niya ako pinababayaan. Alam niyang ginagawa ko ito para sa pamilya ko kaya tinutulungan niya ako kahit noon pa.”
The humble and simple Tita Trining, co-owner and manager of Casa Nostra Restaurant
She has also a grocery store selling Filipino and other Asian products in the heart of Barcelona. In the Philippines, one of her sons is also running a family business. But with all these successful business ventures that Tita Trining has, I can’t help but admire this lady for her humility and simplicity. She may now no longer active in the Filipino community yet she never fails to help whenever and however she can.
As I am about to end the interview, I glance at the simple yet elegant interior of the place. I imagine the Bahrain incident. I imagine Tita Trining in her first years in Barcelona doing those two to three odd jobs in order to send money home and save some for herself. Little did she know that soon she would be an owner of three successful establishments and enjoy the company of her children who are now settled here in Spain. Learning from Tita Trining’s experience, it somehow affirms the old adage that yes, life is full of mysteries and surprises. In just a snap, anything can happen that either makes you a better person or otherwise. The incident made Tita Trining become stronger and braver.
I prepare to stand and reach for Tita Trining’s cheeks to say goodbye. She gives me a shy smile and offers her cheeks. But not after telling me to finish my Coke first. PHOTOS BY FREDA CHANGAT