IN THE PHILIPPINES, you seldom hear English spoken with both a Filipino and American accent (and even rarer with a Cantonese accent), I don’t know exactly how to describe it, but the result is easy on the ears. To hear it spoken by a man who looked dashing in his 60s and 70s was a bonus, and that’s why it was usually a pleasure to hear my Uncle Val (who passed away 30th July late last week) speak in any of the three languages, because for one thing he was blessed with a rich baritone, and as I said his accent combination wasn’t common in the Islands.
It was also unusual to hear him talk more than 2 or 3 sentences, and that made the pleasure of hearing him even more unique. He would say things like “What goes around comes around,” “Less talk, less mistake” or “Think before you act.” Obviously, he took his own advice, because he was a man of deliberateness and considered speech and actions well before execution, the reverse of which I was often guilty.
Even in my earliest years I felt an instinctive (though unspoken) affinity for him, as he closely resembled my father, except for the fact that he was several inches taller. Because he had a beautiful wife, Tita (Aunt) Marilou, their union produced exceptionally handsome and pretty sons and daughters, Dennis, Ann Marie, Dr Marcia and Glenn.
As you might expect, he was not particularly showy in actions and emotions, giving away only the smallest of smiles whenever we met him in family reunions for the kiss and hug. But the warmth was there.
He would never forget to give small gifts during Christmas and Lunar New Year, when it was good luck to give money away. He was undoubtedly a dapper dresser, giving you the impression that there was more than a twinkle in his eye in his arsenal of charms, even on the north end of his late middle age.
But even if he was a stickler for appearance and maintained his good looks, he could not abandon tobacco, which in the end got the better of him. Like many of us, he probably equated good looks with health, to the detriment of the latter. In short, we may look our best, but ultimately we can only stick to our beloved habits for so long before they become our worst enemy.
He never made a show of it, but he was a concerned father, superdevoted husband, and had rapport with his grandchildren. Some things are better left unsaid, images are worth a thousand words, and all that, Tito Val in all the sum of his actions spoke volumes about what he was inside. And we loved him all the more for that.
Mr Valentin Bautista, for all of the things you’ve accomplished, you will forever be cherished for what you are : beloved family man, son, brother, husband, father and grandfather. A grateful Bautista clan fares you well.