quick thoughts on dad on Father’s day


Bruh  Mom n Dad

Mom and Dad on one of many happy occasions spent together. Here they are with Fifth Brother, who cuts a dashing figure himself ūüėČ Photo courtesy of the Facebook photo library of Ms Dely Imperial. Happy Father’s day everyone!

IF MOTHERHOOD is nurturing, fatherhood must by extension certainly be building, building up or developing. If the most dramatic (although not comprehensive) part of the mother narrative is bringing the child from conception to newborn, then the most critical part of being a dad, in my humble opinion (IMHO as they now say on abbreviated social media) is guiding the inchoate or formative years of the toddler, through pre-teen awkwardness, and into young adulthood.

Both are challenging, and motherhood is certainly the more thankless, and therefore nobler task. ¬†But fatherhood is equally demanding, and may require more of the latter parent’s time and commitment in later years.

I emphasize the building or building up nature of dadhood because you cannot start in the middle, or worse, the later part of fatherhood. Each step along the way requires you to build on previous work. The work of days, weeks, months and years. There is no other way.

I know this because I hold my father in the highest esteem. He was born during the Second World War, to my knowledge had no access (or had to desire to have access) to fatherhood self-help books, disdained the psychobabble and psychoanalysis made famous during the seventies and eighties, but was there for me as a provider, disciplinarian, mentor, adviser, and everything else I could possibly want as a child and young man growing up in the Philippines decades ago.

I also know this because I was not always there for my children, and therefore enjoy a healthy relationship with them despite and not because of the father that I was. I do not always enjoy their full trust and confidence, and it will take the rest of my years to develop a better relationship with them.

There is no such thing as perfect fatherhood because along the way, we learn as we go. Our being dads will be marked by our failures just as much as our successes, but I am willing to bet my last fifty pesos that we will be loved just as much, regardless of our failings.

Thank you for being my dad, I love you very much. Happy Father’s day to all!

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admiring Dad on fathers’ day


selfie with mom dad and george

The man of the hour, flanked by 4th Brother (standing), Mom on Dad’s right, me on his left, and Mahal shooting the selfie. ¬†Happy Fathers’ Day to all fathers and father figures!

COMPARED TO the¬†mother’s¬†biological tasks related to babymaking, the father’s involvement is a breeze. ¬†Literally, we only need to work (if you can call it work) for a few minutes if at all. ¬†The rest of the job, lasting at least 36 weeks and 9 months max, belongs to our noble mothers.

But that doesn’t make our responsibilities any less when it comes to our offspring. ¬†Almost universally across all cultures, fathers provide, nurture, inspire, educate, and act as our first role models. ¬†Plus, we should be ready to wash the dishes and be ready for carpooling to school and PTA meetings when the primary parent (Mom) is unavailable.

*****           *****          *****

My father stayed with the script, and more. ¬†He was always ready to spend time and just have fun with us, if not after school, then on rest days and weekends. ¬†He wasn’t an all-star playing coach for pickup basketball, but had more than enough time for us for Saturday trips to Chinatown and Sunday fun runs astride Manila Bay.

*****          *****          *****

Dad has slowed down now, but his mind is as clear as the day his firstborn arrived.  He no longer takes his long walks but tight skirts and long legs still bring a twinkle to his eye.

He enjoys being pampered  by his wife, albeit with the inevitable scolding if ever he indulges in his minor vices.  But the thing he enjoys most is that anytime he summons his sons scattered across the seven seas, they will show up (via Skype or FaceTime), and that every now and then the latter still seek his timeless counsel and wisdom.

Including of course, how to catch the eye of those leggy mini-skirts (just kidding, Mom!).

Thanks for everything Dad. ¬†Happy Father’s Day, and mabuhay to all fathers!

 

 

to look like dad & all its benefits : happy father’s day!


this is not the first time I'm using this pic but it's the best I have..  Mahal, me, my Tita Lily who recently passed away and Dad, dashing as ever!

this is not the first time I’m using this pic but it’s the best I have.. Mahal, me, my Tita Lily who recently passed away and Dad, dashing as ever! Thanks once again to brother Jude Bautista and http://judebautista.wordpress.com/ !

[ Note : ¬†In the Philippines, I’ve always celebrated my birthday near mother’s day, so there are two happy things to remember around then. ¬†Now because of the happy accident of working in NZ, dad’s birthday and New Zealand’s Father’s day are about two weeks apart. Happy father’s day to everyone not just in NZ, but everywhere else! ]

IT’S UNIVERSAL that parents like to claim authorship of anything that resembles success in their kids, and more than a passing resemblance with the same, especially whenever the latter are beautiful, intelligent, gorgeous and otherwise pleasing to the mind and eye.

Among my siblings, Eldest Brother (we are five brothers, no sisters) is unsurprisingly blessed with the most leadership skills and probably the best communicator.  Second Brother is undoubtedly the smartest and the easiest to get along with.  Fourth Brother is the most athletic and attuned to business, while Fifth Brother is the most creative.

Pure luck of the draw and genetics gave me a different gift : I like to think, and more than a few people and rellys agree with me, that I was honored to be the son who resembled (resembles) our father the most. ¬†And because my father (naturally) considered himself not a bad-looking man and a good standard with which to compare his progeny, he almost surely (neither I nor my brothers ever thought to ask him) thought that I was the luckiest one because of the way we received our inheritance in the looks department. ¬†LOLs and smileys all around after that one. ūüôā

Seriously, my father has been honorable in executing his fatherly duties in every which way possible.  He was the solid rock of stability around which the rest of the family was built, guided and counseled all of us through our maturity, and to this day serves as an inspiration for his middle-aged sons as they strive to measure up to the greatness that is their father.

But I have enjoyed as good a relationship with my father as anyone could wish for, though I don’t ¬†claim to know enough to say it has been as good as or even better than his relationship with his other sons, my brothers. ¬†Perhaps viewed through the prism of self-regard and self-interest, one always thinks his appearance, his abilities, and his relationships are the best, without the benefit of comparison with a superior standard.

Should you therefore ask me how I have the audacity to write the previous paragraph, I will answer with a contrast I’ve seen with him when it comes to me.

He is probably the most opinionated person I know, holding specific, and perhaps jingoist and xenophobic opinions on everything under the sun.  He is like that, and will not aggressively attack your worldview, but his Old World eloquence and quiet conviction will assure you that you will have hours and hours of debate before you get any  meeting of the minds.

With me, whenever I talk to him about my view of things, his response has almost invariably been, for him, atypical.  He will nod his head, smile knowingly, and listen to all the points I elucidate.  He will usually say ganun pala or I never knew that.

Deep down I know he is only holding his tongue and patronizing me, but because he is my dad it is approval enough for me to shut up and acknowledge his smile.  And I know he is agreeing only because it is me.

He is also, as you might expect, very old school.  In almost everything, from popular culture, religion and customs, the roles of men and women in society, and anything else you might think of.  With many people of his generation, produced by expansionist tyranny and the Last Great War, adherence to traditional values then and now are the bedrock of his core.  (Hard to fault him for that, for in the midst of uncertainty and destruction it was all they could hold on to.)  And that is what he will be to the day he dies.

And yet in my few conversations with him about the tumultuous change overcoming our world,  about explaining to him how and why I have been the only son of his to marry twice, and how when he meets his grandkids again when they return next decade from New Zealand, he will probably not approve of their ways and their appearances, he curiously declines to challenge my points.

In so many words, he pooh-poohs my alarms, soothes my concerns,  and allays my fears.  In a nutshell he tells me :  I am not at all concerned with all that, Noel. Because I trust you to do the right thing.  Not only does he go against form and welcome change, he uncharacteristically reposes a lot of trust in me.

This, to the one who is (no false modesty here) his least successful, least accomplished, least athletic and least creative son. ¬†Truly, to inherit my father’s appearance has also given me a side benefit : to earn the most benefit of the doubt. ¬†The luck of the draw has helped me once again.

***            ***            ***

Lest you think I’m writing this for my dad to see, he will probably not even know about it. ¬†Father’s day in the Philippines is celebrated earlier, and even if they were on the same day, my dad doesn’t care for such things. ¬†That’s one of the greatest things about him ; he is great without even knowing it.

My dad is very much alive today, in I hope the best health of his life, a bit slower now but fit and fighting trim nevertheless.  The only sad part is we are separated by thousands of miles of land and sea.

But if we weren’t, and he were right in front of me now on Father’s Day, I don’t know if I should bow deeply to him the way the ancient Chinese did (he is half Chinese), if I should render a snappy salute for the enormous respect I have him, or just hug and kiss him, as I owe him my life, and everything I am today. ¬†The first, second or third?

I don’t know. ¬†Maybe a combination of them, but most definitely I will hug and kiss him, because it benefits us both.

Happy Father’s Day Dad! ¬†I love you always!

(and to the rest of you as well!)

my paradigm-shifting dad on father’s day


with grateful thanks to Jude Bautista for the pic, from left: esposa, me Tita Lily (Yang) and Dad.

[ Note : Despite NZ Father’s Day and Philippine Father’s Day celebrated on different dates, I will use any excuse to remember my dad, who is very much alive and quite healthy by the way,¬†and besides his birthday is less than three weeks away.¬† Happy dad’s day to everyone! ]

MY DAD, whether or not he realizes it, is a product of at least two aspects of his generation.¬† First, that of the reality that Asian fathers are more or less emotionally inaccessible to their offspring, and possibly even to their spouses.¬† Second, he grew up in a traumatic war period where to utter or make any gesture considered disrespectful to our Japanese invaders often resulted in dire, sometimes fatal results.¬† The result is many fathers coming from his generation consider it not only normal but also practical to be distant from most members of their family, to both survive and to carry on “normally” as many Asian families do.¬† Leave the feel-good and mushy stuff to Moms and female members of the family, I could almost hear this generation say.

That’s why it took a sea change for my own father when his turn came to be a dad.¬† He wasn’t touchy-feely and the type who announced a “group hug” all the time, but he never spared any efforts to show how much he cared for all of his sons.¬† He never hesitated to give (or for that matter, ask) for a hug and kiss from me whenever he got home from work.¬† Asians are famous for being “inscrutable” and circumspect, and in that respect Dad was/is traditional, because he had a countenance that was perfectly neutral in front of new acquaintances and strangers.¬† But before friends and loved ones, he always chose to engage rather than resist exposing his feelings and emotions.

He never ignored the template though.  He expected and received unconditional respect from all of his sons, and in return he gave them his unconditional love.  He made all the final decisions that concerned the family, but most of us knew that Mom was just letting him say out loud what made her happy.  Appearances and saving face, after all, still counted in the traditional Pinoy family.

At the end of the day, when I think of all the good¬†things my dad did to me, did for me and did despite me, nothing trumps just being there and being both a towering and nurturing presence in our lives.¬† In his child’s eyes, a father cannot help but¬†come to his life¬†great and awesome, it is his life’s challenge to humanize himself, bring himself down to his/her level, and hold his child’s hand forever.

This you did with flying colors Dad, and I will never stop being grateful for that.¬† I love you so much, advance happy¬†birthday, and for the second time this year, happy Father’s day!

a Pinoy appreciates Dad on father’s day


Dad is the handsome guy in red next to Ganda. Behind them are Tito George (Apostol), his wife Tita Amy, forever pretty Tita Dely (Imperial), Renato (Jhun) Montenegro Jr carrying daughter, his mom Ernani B Montenegro, Tita Beth (Javier) and Bunso.

[ Note : Please indulge a blog we wrote a few years ago on our high school Yahoo!group, condolences to the family of the late Asuncion C Sy – Ang, mom of our dear kabatch and friend Ms Pilar Ang – Si.¬† Happy father’s day to all ! ]

MY EARLIEST recollections about Dad are quite ancient.¬† Very early in the morning, hardly out of diapers, he would bring me to the Luneta (Manila‘s biggest public park)¬†to enjoy the sea air from Manila Bay.¬† I was particularly enthusiastic about these trips as I would be bundled up together with my walker, and toughen up my toddler’s gait under his benevolent eye. This was probably 1965 or 1966.

Years later, on rapidly microwaving Sunday dawns just before the 1980s, Dad and I would be in the same venue, jogging around the block right in front of the Luneta Grandstand (measured by him to be 1.2 kms in circumference) but not before I went through the drill of being woken up by marathon crazy Dad, peeling off me my bedcover, pillow and blanket and sprinkling water till I had no choice but to get up.

Still a few years later, on sunny weekday afternoons, to the same Luneta breakwaters, Dad would bring little Panganay, only his second grandchild, for kiddie boat rides, viewing nearby Cultural Center and Corregidor Island in the distance.

For a pre-postmodern dad such as mine, there was no such thing as quality time.¬† He had nothing BUT time, when it came to me, and probably the same thing was true with my other siblings.¬† You just didn’t realize it till you were all grown up, and your kids think nothing of asking the same of you.

As fathers, though our bond with our kids may not be as strong as the mother-child relationship, it is equally emotional and nearly as dramatic.

We are there initally to lend mothers a helping  hand in the raising and nurturing, but in equal parts we educate, inspire and guide our children into becoming the human beings the world expects them to be.

Without a doubt we take a back seat to moms in the development of our young, but by being the best that we can be, we stand tall as models when the next generation looks for people to emulate.

By being the first people they are exposed to, we can do no less. I can only think of a few examples.

The picture of the affable, authoritative yet approachable¬†(not authoritarian) dad belongs to my high school classmate and now Dr Evelyn V’s dad, who I addressed as Mr Lee. Bumming rides with them , I would often see him in the car ride home from school. I would hear him crack jokes with his kids, ask them about school, and sometimes ask me about my own¬†dad, who he got acquainted with in the 1950s. Mr Lee no longer fit the remote, stern profile most Chinese Filipino dads of the 60s and 70s assumed, and could easily bond with his kids.¬† I liked him for that.

I had less encounters with another high school contemporary Dennis (Sy)’s dad, and will probably not do him justice.¬† If memory serves, he was a soccer enthusiast, and supported his two sons’ many interests, which probably inspired them to pursue varied sports and music.

The chummiest Dad I can remember though is bosom buddy Raymond (Ong)’s, who would often pause from his work to strike up a conversation with me whenever I chanced to visit their Ermita store, as if I were a long-lost customer. He exuded a warmth that would disarm the gruffest exterior, and it would be a legacy to all his sons.

Almost gods in our eyes, we later discover, sometimes sadly, that they are as human as we are, prone to the same failings and temptations.

We can only strive to do as well as they did, and hope that in their eyes we do not fail too miserably.

Thanks for everything Dad, and Happy Father’s Day !

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If Inner Beauty Exudes Feel-Good, Why Does Ugly Feel So Awful?



[ Note from Noel :¬†Miss you so much Ganda and Bunso, thanks for the belated Fathers Day greeting to Wilma “Mimi” Chua of Newmarket, Auckland, and belated and advance birthday greetings to Archie Mallari (15th Sept), JB Baylon (25th) and Ms Pilar Ang-Si, Mr Amado Cobankiat and Mr Jose Evangelista, all on the lucky 26th of September ! Last but not the least, kudos to kabatch Mr Dennis Sy on copping the Outstanding Artist Award from the Filipino-American National Historical Society (FANHS) Metro New York Chapter! Proud to be SJCS Batch 82!¬†]

PART OF THE REALITY of an accidental migrant is reducing your intake of news from home to Yahoo! Philippines and informal updates from friends and relatives.  Sidebars to interesting news-of-the-day sometimes evolve into urban legends and take on lives of their own.

Which was why we accepted as gospel of truth, beholding the magic and Cinderalla ride of Shamcey Supsup to the 2011 Ms Universe Finals, the following : (1) that kabayan judge Ms Lea Salonga, she of Ms Saigon and Tony Awards fame, didn’t give the same Ms Supsup her due owing to reverse favoritism; (2) that Oprah Winfrey, the richest African-American woman in history, felt that if the title should’ve gone to the finalist who aced the interview portion, then interpreters and unintended precious extra time to answers aside, Ms Supsup rightfully deserved to win the Ms U tiara, and finally (3) our bet herself let go a sigh of frustration-cum-regret (rather than accept whatever decision the judges arrived at) the split-second after her 3rd-runner-up finish was announced.

To this day we haven’t confirmed to ourselves if any of these are true, only that Lea couldn’t have influenced the results even if she wanted to (that we realized was from common sense), and that the Oprah item is highly unlikely, as none of her official communications channels (her website, for one, and her spokesperson, for another) confirmed said urban legend. ¬†And we invite any of our esteemed readers to find sources to confirm the third.

Almost forgotten amid the brouhaha regarding our predictable outrage whenever we perceive one of our own is  robbed of international fame and glory, and by osmosis robbing us of said reflected glory, was the common-sense question : Who could say with unassailable authority that our bet indeed deserved the title any better than Ms Angola, or for that matter, Ms Ukraine, Ms China, or Ms Brazil?

In other words, how can anyone in a room full of beauties from all over the world say who is fairest, not-so-fair, less than fair and plain-Jane-homely (with apologies to anyone named Jane) ?

The answer is : with growing accuracy and ruthlessness.

By a lightning-strike stroke of luck, I came across a recent article while having merienda (morning tea to my workmates) last week, and while there are quite a lot of revelations the article provides, the most important (to me) are below :

First, that a surprisingly solid majority of people agree as to what is pretty, and moreover define almost homogenously what is superlatively pretty, moderately pretty and pasang-awa pretty.  This is of course contrary to the politically correct view that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

The unspoken truth here, based on the article’s findings, is that most people are in agreement as to what is ugly, or homely. ¬†I don’t mean to make any judgments here, just stating what the story says.

Second, that as you and I have probably known since childhood, those perceived prettier and handsomer in any social, professional, community or other group, are more successful, get chosen first for promotions / advancement and obtain higher rewards than anyone else (which are of course, the less handsome, less pretty or not handsome and/or not pretty at all).

I wish to qualify here that in case you don’t click on to the link above, that the article’s writer doesn’t conjure any opinions out of thin air or the deep recesses of his mind and memories, he cites at least two scientific / academic studies that have collated data over a period of years, if not decades.

Third, and probably the most interestingly of all, that businesses, employers and evaluators of all sorts have incorporated the idea of “pogi points” and “ganda points”, for lack of a better term, into how they assess candidates for hiring, promotion, advancement and yes, wage increases.

I hate to admit it, but a lot of what the writer sez, I’ve known intuitively at the back of my mind, like something that I should’ve digested hours ago but my ego couldn’t completely swallow as edible.

I’ve harbored secret and not-so-secret crushes since I stopped wetting my pants (and even shortly thereafter), and abandoned them moments afterwards when colleagues and kababata told me matter-of-factly “off limits na sya Emmanuel. ¬†dami nang nauna sa yo kay Classmate X ! ” ¬†Deep sigh.

Yup, as much as half the male population in class saw themselves as Prince Charming for the same Princess-in-Distress. ¬†What a crowded throne that would’ve made. ¬†Funny thing was, as soon as my bee flitted off to another flower, there they were, the same hive of bees that I left trying to pollenate the previous blossom.

Later in my mediocre elementary and high school career, whether it was recitation, team leadership for projects, extra credit for helping the teacher, or whatever extra feathers in the cap that didn’t depend on pure merit and performance, it was more often than not the fairest in the land (or classroom) that found favor in the Almighty’s eyes (which at the time were eyes that belonged to the teacher). ¬†Would you blame the teacher if among a class population of 50, his/her eyes usually rested on the faces that were the nearest thing to eye candy?

At work, and I’ve worked across two countries in diverse industries, if it boiled down to the boss choosing between Brad Pitt and Rob Schneider for a job opening, both Brad and Rob equally proficient as explained by their CVs and references, who do you think would get the job?

Even for promotions and selecting the acting team leaders in sales-related jobs, there would be lots of ways to justify selecting the fairer aspirant. ¬†This would be especially true if peers were there to influence the decision, and of course we all know that there are always “x factors” that come into play in situations like these. ¬†Well now we know. ¬†X factors are usually the higher cheekbones, the double eyelids, the narrower nose, and no flared nostrils please.

As I implied earlier, I’m not accusing anyone in my past of subjective astigmatism. ¬†Actually, I’m stating it as an obvious truth for the future, the way employers blatantly choose better-looking and sexually engaging prospects for employment. ¬†By sexually engaging, I don’t mean promiscuous or lascivious individuals, rather those who have no qualms about using their sexuality or sexual attractiveness, overtly or covertly, as aids to better chances for employment.

Which brings me back to Ms Supsup, the jilted finalist who will however find no dearth of consolers back home.  I would bet my bottom OFW peso if upon returning home she will not find at least 50 offers of employment on her desk, at least half of which providing for remuneration at least 10 times her expected salary as an Architect, the trade she will undoubtedly excel at but which she will never need to practice the rest of her life.

All because she came within three pretty faces short of becoming, arguably, the Most Beautiful Single Woman In The World.

Thanks for reading !

Is That Dad In The Mirror ?


Senti Fathers' Day moment : Luke and Dad, revelation time !

[ I know Dad’s birthday was just around the corner, because I’d been dreaming of him. ¬†Here’s a report below. ]

AT FIRST, I thought I was Dad’s favorite because I resembled him, but through the years, I realized that almost all of us ¬†5 brothers reminded people of different parts of his physical and non-physical whole. ¬†Then I thought it might be because I was the most charming, sociable or personable, positive traits that he liked to think he owned. ¬†After a while again, I realized my 4 siblings and I more or less possessed the same interpersonal qualities. ¬†Finally I guessed that, like him, I showed great potential to be smart, successful or attractive, which time and again was proven to be plain wishful thinking given the sharper minds, successful careers and solid relationships, in perspective, that my brothers have enjoyed.

No, I concluded. ¬†A more accurate self-revelation I think, a veritable epiphany I’ve had regarding why Dad and I have bonded so well, is that I have always been enraptured by his every word and deed, and that he has always owned alpha-male status to me. ¬†Not that my other bros haven’t admired him, but in many ways he has always seemed larger than life to me, and many times I didn’t bother to hide such admiration.

One of the defining values of Dad that I came to fully appreciate only recently (that of giving priority to fitness) came in the form of a dream,  which I thought was due anyway since his birthday was less than two weeks away.  A few nights ago, I dreamt he was trying to wake me by alternately sprinkling fistfuls of water in my face, and tickling the soles of my smelly feet.  He was doing so, expectedly, because he wanted me to go jogging with him Sunday morning.

A backgrounder if I may. ¬†During the fitness craze of the 1980s that was spiked by Dustin Hoffman‘s Marathon Man and the blossoming of various fun runs and half-marathons year-round (no seasonal constraints in humid Manila), jogging to Roxas Blvd from our house in Paco began as a family affair.

Before long though, both First and Second Brothers got preoccupied by university, Mom progressed to aerobics, and only the last three sons were Dad’s faithful seconds from Grandstand to Cultural Center. ¬†Finally, there was Dad by his solitary self, hoping even one of his medium-sized brood would jog with him on bright Sunday mornings.

Atypically, he never gave up on indolent me, long after every one of us had given up on the regular weekend seaside route.  It became an almost weekly routine for us, his waking at half-past five on Sunday, and spending at least 30 minutes trying to rouse me, before I myself surrendered and donned shorts and sneakers to jog behind his confident gait, if not astride him sometimes, from sunrise until it was too hot to run.

So along with jogging, these days I find myself more and more enjoying things my Dad did, and appreciating his passion.  Just three of them, besides the Sunday jog, are never going through the hour before bedtime without a good book, starting the day with breakfast porridge, and seeking conversation (virtual or otherwise) with at least one of his children daily.  As we age, we truly become our parents.

***         ***         ***         ***         ***

But back to the dream. ¬†Dad was as usual waking me up, unmindful of the fact that I was bone-tired from either work or traveling home ( as far as I could remember, I just came from overseas diba? ), and insisting that I join him on one of his interminable runs. ¬†No amount of lame excuses, whining and sleep-pretending (which I thought I was good at) would dissuade him from appropriating my company on this trek. ¬†Sighing, I acceded to his request, asking only that in exchange, he answer a simple question from me : Dad, how do I age as gracefully as you have (he’s a juvenile 79 going on 39, the age of Youngest Brother) ?

“OK, but get your Nikes ready Son Numba Three. ¬†Predawn run is not a good time for question-and-answer.”

I dutifully complied.

“The answer to your question is divided into three parts :

“First, you can’t eat the way you ate 25 years ago. ¬†You are now as old as I was when I started to watch what I ate. ¬†There is no way around that. ¬†Ignore this at your own peril. ¬†You know what’s good, and what’s bad for you. ¬†Moreover, you should know what your limits are as to the quantity of your food intake. ¬†Just do that, and you can’t go wrong.”

Wow, great advice. ¬†Watch what and how much you eat. ¬†That is so enlightening. ¬†What’s next?

“Don’t rush me. ¬†Sleep is underrated, but is key to great health. ¬†Get the right amount of sleep, and sleep at the right time : just when the cricket chirps, and greet the rising sun. ¬†DON”T sleep when the midmorning sun is everywhere, and DON’T sleep when you could be running, like now.”

I smirk at that segue, and concede that his pearls of wisdom come from experience. ¬†But what’s the last tip, Dad?

“The last is the most important, Numba Three : Stop harassing your wife for sex all the time, OK? ¬†Sex is as important as food and exercise, but too much of anything, even a good thing, can be counterproductive. ¬†And don’t ask how I know, because I know.”

I look at Dad incredulously, and again he reads my mind.

“Yes Noel, I know it’s a dream, but the advice is good. ¬†Take it, if you want to live.”

***               ***               ***               ***               ***

Happy birthday Dad, love you always !

Noel

3 Nevers of Dad and 3 Evers of Bunso


Plaza Lorenzo Ruiz in Binondo, Manila, with th...

Image via Wikipedia

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 :
(1) Dad 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 :
(1)  Bunso 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 ūüôā
(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.
Happy Father’s Day and happy birthday to two guys I will NEVER get tired bonding with and EVER love and admire : ¬†Dad and Bunso .
Thanks for reading !
NOel