In this story Rio has two grandmothers, her father’s mother, Abuelita Socorro, and, Lola Narcisa Divino, her mother’s mother. Narciso Divino lives in the guest room in the back of the house. Narciso is different from the rest of her family. She is treated as invisible, called “eccentric”, and not invited to the dinner table to eat with everyone else. Rio’s father, Freddie, pays for Narciso’s doctor visits and even her husband’s hospital bills. I think Freddie is doing this to keep Narciso quiet and content in her own space. It seems like he feels guilty for the way she is treated like an outsider in her family’s house and that is why he is so generous to her.
Lola and Rio prefer to watch Tagalog movies and songs, like Love Letters, but the rest of the Gonzaga family refuses to watch them because they appeal to the “lowest common denominator” (Hagedorn 11). Rio and her grandmother don’t care about what is “corny”, all that matters to them is what they like. Many people in Manila are caught up in the glamour and appeal of Hollywood, they want to be rich and famous among other people in Manila, they want to be the Hollywood of Manila. Why does the family treat Abuelita Socorro differently than grandma Lola Narciso? Lola should be embraced more as a grandmother because she lives with them, but instead they call grandma Socorro Abuelita when she only comes to visit about once a year. Is it because Abuelita Socorro has money, or because she represents the dream to leave Manila for something more glamorous, or is it both? Both grandmas are Filipino, but they both represent something different.