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I HAVE SO many good memories of my dad, and the best thing about it is that every time I come home to visit, there will be more. Some of the highlights are his bringing me to Manila Bay shoreline at Luneta before I learned to walk, a practice he continued with my own kids; bringing me to his favorite Binondo watering holes, soccer games and the occasional Cantonese movie; jogging on Roxas Blvd which I originally disliked, having to wake up so early to avoid the blazing Sunday heat, but later realized it was one of the best things we did together; and sharing with me his opinions on why our country would continue suffering age-old problems no matter who was president or which party controlled Congress.
He has rightly counted two among his many blessings as giving him the greatest satisfaction : that he (knock knock) continues to enjoy good health in his advanced age, and that he has seen many of his grandchildren grow up to adulthood, admittedly something not all of his contemporaries have enjoyed.
Which brings me to one of his grandchildren, Bunso
, who incidentally celebrates his birthday today. He likewise has much to be thankful for, not the least of which is an auspicious start to his college life
last week, the love of his family and friends, and above average intelligence which will serve him well the rest of his life
Below are three “nevers” and three “evers” that remind me most of them, and hope that (1) they will agree and (2) you can relate :
NEVER missed a day of work, always treated his employees like family, and lived the conviction that work justified a man and validated his existence. Like many children of the Great War
, he valued every peso he earned, and knew that the pesos kept coming in only because of the hours he put in at the desk. By trade he was a numbers cruncher / bean counter
but he loved the printed word, ran a printing press
to prove it, and encouraged all of us to read and express ourselves through the pen, and in his aura I discerned a poet, calligrapher and artist, trades he might have learned had the war and destiny not intervened.
(2) Dad NEVER used corporal punishment as general policy or behaved less than gentlemanly with Mom
. I didn’t say he never punished us, because there were a few times he actually smacked me for some forgotten reason, but because it was such a rare event, I remember it all the more. Most of the time he used sound reasoning
and logic to tell us why we messed up royally, rarely used sarcasm and only resorted to the dreaded belt and slipper when we committed heinous crimes against the rules of the household. In all my years with my folks, I’ve only seen them argue ONCE, and this was when I was 5 or 6 years old. Otherwise, he’s always allowed Mom to have the last word, never raised his voice at her, and has exhibited perfect patience with his wife 24/7. That’s Dad for you.
(3) Dad NEVER played favorites, and never compared one son to another. Well, maybe he never expressed his thoughts out loud, and believe me, he would have had plenty of occasions and reasons to do so, having five sons of diverse and disparate strengths and abilities flung far and wide. He never raised one up at the expense of the other, always appraised and assessed each one of us on our respective merits, and seldom asked any son who happened to be underachieving (wink, wink) why he wasn’t more like the rest. Come to think of it, he could be tactless in other areas but never when it came to praise, or lack of it. That’s how I remembered, and continue to remember him.
Now comes Bunso, and on his birthday I can’t help but reminisce the following :
was EVER the smiling baby, and out of dozens and dozens of baby pictures I have seen only one (1!) picture of him crying, for some reason it reflects perfectly the recollection that he was a happy and good-natured infant
, probably because he was the youngest and had his siblings as well as parents around to humor him. This good naturedness has carried over into puberty and young adulthood, where Bunso
is (so far) emotionally well-rounded, easy-going, has certainly avoided the crests and troughs of the emotional tsunami that marked many adolescent years, mine included ;
(2) Bunso was EVER the dancer and actor, which he almost certainly got from either his mother or his grandfather, both of whom were or are good dancers. At first I just thought he had too many extra-curricular duties on his plate, dancing for this or that event, then I realized for him to be picked and rostered for so many shindigs evidenced only two things : either he had the talent or the goods to do so, or he really loved dancing and related arts. The truth is probably a combination of both, and while I’m proud of him, I confess it’s not easy to relate, as I have two left feet and a voice only a mother could love 🙂
(3) Bunso was EVER the responsible student, and only his para-academic activities, org commitments and his precious down-time from hyperactive school schedule prevented him from an honorific graduation, and to his credit, his insistence on a well-balanced high school experience has given him the best of both worlds : respectable grades and development in things he loves to do. If I sound like a proud dad, it’s because I truly am.
Thanks for reading !