It’s a “Family Affair”

It’s my family reunion!

Umali Family Tree

I’m excited, tired, and nervous at the same time. The excited part is self-explanatory. I’m tired from cleaning the house for a family luncheon this Friday. My nerves are getting the best of me because my mother requested that I do the “welcome” speech at our family reunion dinner tonight.

Public speaking? Ugh!!!

I don’t have any cool ideas for my speech. I haven’t met half of my relatives. What am I going to say to them? “Nice to meet you! So how are we related?” Next comes the small talk.

Have I mentioned that I don’t like public speaking. I’d rather scribble my thoughts on paper, or typing my words on a smart phone, tablet, or laptop is even better. Anything but a speech. I get stage fright. As soon as I see strange and/or familiar faces staring back at me, my mind freezes. The sound of my voice is embarrassing, and I’ll start to stutter.

public speaking fear

Besides the obvious fear of public speaking, the mere thought of it prevents me from doing a welcome speech for my family. It’s hard because I want to speak on something other than a family tree or ancestry. My relatives will be reintroducing/introducing themselves to one another anyway. I’m certain that everybody will have fun during the dinner. Telling everyone to enjoy the night is kind of “blah-blah.”

Then I was watching my kids swimming and playing with each other. I’m thinking…it would’ve been nice if they had met my grandparents. Their great-grandparents passed away a very long time ago. My memories of them and my great-aunts are vague, especially of my grandfather. He is the eldest of the Umali Family. But I do remember the funny moments vividly.

Memories! I’ll use that as a theme for my speech. I know the topic isn’t original, but my memories are the only way I can relate to all of my relatives. It’s also a chance to relay the point of my speech: getting to know the ancestors I haven’t met.

If my mother was a public speaker she’d be the one to welcome all of you. Since she’s not, the job has been left to me. I won’t be able to look at everyone because I suffer from stage fright. So if you don’t mind, I’m going to keep my eyes down for now.

What can I say about the Umali Family? I’ve had the pleasure of knowing three of them. Lola (grandma) Coring was the first one I met, then Lola Nene, and finally my Lolo (grandpa) Celo. I never got a chance to meet the other two brothers, but I’m sure they’re just as wonderful as their older brother, and their sisters.

When my mother asked me to do the welcome speech, my first thought was “OMG! I hate public speaking.” Then my second thought was worse. I didn’t know what to say for my speech. I didn’t have enough time to get to know my Lolas, and I didn’t have a lot of time with my Lolo either.

All that I remember was Lola Coring showing me how to make stinky Ginisang Ampalaya (Filipino vegetable recipe). “If it isn’t stinky, it won’t be good.”

Lola Nene showed me how to make curls in my hair with a bunch of bobby pins. “Your hair won’t be curly if you don’t leave it in while you sleep.” It actually works if you don’t have long hair.

Lolo Celo tried to convince me that his farts smelled good, just like food. “I’m telling you, it smells like Chicken Adobo!” (Filipino recipe)

Then I realized my memories are a great way to say something about this remarkable family. Just look towards one another and share a favorite memory of your parents, Lolo, and Lola. Get to know your family through the eyes of the person who’s sharing his or her story.

So now I’m going to look out to all of you just to say welcome Umali, Salvacion, and Ondoy Families. Laugh a lot with each other, enjoy your moments together, make more amazing memories. That way, your children can pass on a fond memory of you.


My speech is short and simple. I know it’s not mind-blowing or creative, but when I speak, I’ll be uniting everybody in the Umali Clan for one special night. That’s a good reason for me to face my fear, by standing in front of a bunch of people, and say into the mic: It’s a family affair…welcome!


About Lisa Malabanan

I am a graduate of Rutgers College of Nursing and work as a Professional Registered Nurse in the field of Perinatology. I currently live in the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania with my husband and two children. At the age of six, I discovered piano and classical music. A variety of music genres influenced my life through the years, and I’m passing on a love of the arts to my daughter and son. Reading fiction is my escape from the chaos and stress of a demanding yet rewarding profession. For me, writing transcends the diversion of a good book. The experience is like commuting on a New York City subway; diverse people enter and exit the scene, sometimes delays and derailment occur during creativity, and a train of thought is missed or passed over on occasion. In the end, an arrival at my destination is what I hope to accomplish, and I invite readers to take that ride with me. View all posts by Lisa Malabanan

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