brothers & sisters, photographs & memories


believe it or not, these sibling grandparents all have teenaged grandkids!  The lady they are with in white is the smartly dressed Tita Dely Imperial.

believe it or not, these sibling grandparents all have nearly-teenaged grandkids! The lovely lady they are with in white is the smartly dressed Tita Dely Imperial. Mom is on the extreme right, and the fellow who looks like John Lennon is my Tito PD. Tita Beth and Tita Amy are their younger sisters.

[ Thanks Tita Dely Imperial and Tita Rose Lizo for use of the pic! ]

WHETHER THEY love or hate each other (or somewhere in between), cherish or annoy each other to bits (or somewhere in between), avoid each other or play practical jokes all the time (or somewhere in between), brothers and sisters share more than blood and childhood memories.  They are bound by a psychic connection that will not be severed by time or space, and when they reconnect after a long while apart, let’s just say the emotional whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

***         ***         ***

My mom and her three siblings more than deserve to give each other a pat on the back.  After all, they’ve endured a hard childhood, worked through school, successfully raised families and are now enjoying their grandchildren, all in the span of 70 years give or take. But every now and then they like to reminisce about the happy days they spent in their island hometown in Masbate, where the air was pure and nature was free.  Because they had no other choice, they learned to depend on each other, where in the game of Life, family and their brood was the only team that mattered.  Challenges and adversity have come and gone, but Linda, PD, Amy and Beth have remained, and have come through with flying colors for their children, grandchildren and almost surely given their impeccable health (knock-knock) great-grandchildren to admire, now and forever.

***         ***         ***

a rarity : the last time I've seen them in the same frame was definitely more than an eternity ago, and now they're all adults!

a rarity : the last time I’ve seen them in the same frame was definitely more than an eternity ago, and now they’re all adults!

They’re not exactly the closest of siblings, but the last time they met,  with (ahem) their father looking on, you could’ve sworn they might actually have missed each other.

The last few months have been a whirlwind for Panganay, Ganda and Bunso.  New milieus, new school, new jobs, even new loves, everything has been a new taste and new sensation for the trio.  So much so that they haven’t had time to compare notes and look back on their remarkable journeys from Cainta Rizal all the way to Windy Wellington.

I wouldn’t say the experience has brought them closer, but it has afforded them a new perspective with which to view and appreciate each other, if not as immediate family, then as members of individuals who’ve gone through toddlerhood and teenhood with shared eyes ears and feelings.

Almost throughout the dinner, which Mahal and I ate with them after a visit to recuperating Panganay (who was recovering from a sports injury), they were constantly wary of each other.  But only because so much had changed, around the constant reality that they would always be brothers and sister.

Take away the novelty, and what remains on the picture is the simple happiness on their faces.  At least, that hasn’t changed.

***         ***         ***

By many standards I’m an old man, and yet whenever I think of my four brothers, especially about being with them, I feel young.  Why?  Maybe because I grew up with them, and you’re only as old (young) as you feel.  And because we’re all in the same generation, I only need to be with them, physically or otherwise, to be a kid again.

I’ll bet you feel the same with your own brothers and / or sisters!

Thanks for reading!

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the first job for the rest of your life


don’t forget to dream!

[ Note : it’s been slow days and even slower nights for Bunso, whose sleepy eyes above are indicative of what for him must be an interminable wait to find a job.  With his permission, I’m posting below a letter I wrote him, hopefully to cheer him up.  Write to him some encouragement if you’ve some time as well, will you?  Thanks in advance and thanks for reading! ]

Dear Bunso :

YOU MUST have been on the front row when God was handing out smarts and wit because hands down, you’re one of the smartest kids I’ve ever encountered, among a group that includes your siblings, your contemporaries and many children I know.  You’re not the Mensa polymath type, but ever since you learned to string two coherent thoughts together, your head has been chockfull not just of facts and figures but of ideas bursting out of their megawatt bulbs just waiting for you to explain them to the rest of us.

It takes a lot to get you bored, as you can always get lost in your own world while deeply immersed in the many books you read.  I swell with pride to say this, but you are at ease with the spoken as well as the written word, a facility that is as rare as it is special.

Unfortunately, not all the intellect, articulateness and value-addedness of a young migrant like you will be an assurance of being hired despite all the verve, earnestness and energy you’ve put into your job search.

You’ve tried every approach : distributed your CV, knocked on cold doors, tried all the want ads looking for qualifed hopefuls in any industry that seeks entry-level people who make up for their  green horns with the zest to learn and the dedication to go the extra mile.  So far you’ve not reaped results, but the day is young.

I probably won’t gain any additional respect by telling you, but it took me an excruciatingly long time to find a job in New Zealand, after my first job overseas fell to pieces in the recession.  Just to keep body and soul together, I became a nameless cipher in the underground economy, earned half the minimum wage from an Asian grocer (he knew I needed the job and made me work for every cent), whispered salamat to a Pinoy video store owner who gave me parttime work, all the while hoping against hope that I would find a real job before my visa ran out.

And I don’t need to remind you that it took Kuya nearly a year, fits of depression, and mind-numbing boredom before he landed his first job.  You might also want to take heart with Ganda’s efforts at networking, schmoozing and all-out marketing herself before she got hired.  Before too long, you will become a bundy-clock slave too.  Savor your idle moments for now.

Job referrals can come from the oddest places, but almost always, coming when you least expect it, a bit of information from a kabayan, being at the right place at the right time, and a nugget of good fortune coming from a prayer, can yet bring you the first job of your life.

It might not mean anything, but introductions and meaningless conversations with people you met from other Pinoys, friends of friends and acquaintances might suddenly open doors, lead to informal interviews that end up in situations that finish with, well would you be interested to work with us?  Unlikely, I know, but nothing to lose right?

Meantime, smell the crisp spring air, keep your ear close to the ground, and above all, enjoy yourself.  There are worse things than being 17, fit as a fiddle, and cute as you are.

I love you always

Papa

before boy meets (First) world / a sleepover at Papa’s cave


not nearly grown-up, but ready to go :)

I can’t cuddle him anymore, but I can still pose with him…

[ Note : I think I’ve exceeded my quota for senti (sentimental) blogs.  Hope you’ve got patience for one more, thanks again to all who wished Your Loyal kabayan a happy birthday! ]

SOONER OR later, we all surrender to the conceit that our children are miniatures, replicas, or worse, clones of ourselves.  With due respect, this is not true.  To an uncanny extent, they may resemble us, but each child we help bring into this world is the sum of unique features, feelings and experiences that the world has never seen before and will surely never see again.  The sooner we disabuse ourselves of this sometimes restricting belief, the better. 

Having said that, I still gawked, beholding him, at how Bunso reminded me of a three-dimensional photograph of myself 30 years ago.  Even his height was nearly identical with mine, and his voice, strangely, was even deeper than my own.  I kept telling myself as he and Ganda prepared for an almost-surreal sleepover with me and esposa hermosa that I hadn’t seen him for more than two years, during which the features that would define him for the rest of his life, were carved into his youthful countenance.  But in between jokes and woohoos, I had to do a double- and triple- take just to make sure it was really him.

At least on the surface, he never lost the warmth and engaging manner that so won me over when I raised him with his mother.  Even in all his baby and toddler pictures you would almost never see him frown or cry, he was bubbly, bouncing, grinning, all the things you identify with an ideal infant.  Perhaps he had the comparative advantage of having his bro and sis to always make him laugh, and I like to delude myself witht the thought that all the perceived mistakes his mom and I committed with his kuya and ate, were at least noted and undertaken not to be repeated, with Bunso.

[ Before I say anything else, I thank and acknowledge his mom (who I hope will come across this one day) who not only was and is an exemplary mother to him and his siblings but also moved heaven and earth (with her husband’s invaluable help and support) to bring them to NZ asap as soon as she was apprised of impending complications in the migration and documentation process. Kudos! ]

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

But maybe I wasn’t being realistic. He didn’t ask the hard questions I expected, like why didn’t you and Mom work harder at staying together, if only for our sakes (I actually thought he would ask this unanswerable question sometime during the weekend); why did I see so little of you the last five years (understandable because I was away, but I knew that he was thinking of video chat and later Skype), and why did it have to be Mom to bring us here (she had the permanent resident status, and if it helps any, I would always be there for backup and support). He asked none of these questions and the hypothetical answers remained hypothetical.

But he did have pointed queries on how much of an impact I was prepared to make on his immediate future. He left behind an unfinished freshman year at the Blue Eagle school (made possible by generous relatives), would not for the interim be able to prove his aptitude for converting academic prowess into real-world smarts, and for that there would always be a modicum of regret. Left unsaid in that discussion was the overridiing consideration of obtaining residence in New Zealand, a gigantic and unquantifiable asset in their lives for decades to come. All that he needed to know was whether I would be there to continue extending to him the assist and support he would need to improve his lot in life in a helpful adopted country. How could I refuse him?

Because of all the catching up we did (and with Ganda and Panganay as well), the sentences we completed for each other, and the memories we couldn’t help but revive (mostly on their toddlerhoods but a little of mine as well, courtesy of stories shared by their Nana), Saturday and Sunday zoomed past like a blur.

I do owe you some highlights : he ran around the suburb with me both mornings he was here, patiently answered the back story questions as we watched Avengers (he had seen it in the Philippines), and lo and behold, asked to borrow, if I had any, books on political histories and biographies to stem the growing tide of his boredom. Both genres, after S.King and J.Grisham, were among my favorites. How could I not like this young man?

Without my telling him, he shared my reading interests, he was unfailingly polite, and he was prepared to forgive me for my many shortcomings. And assuming we would have him again, he expressed a great interest in coming back to our humble home, with his unflappable sister.

Not a bad first sleepover with Bunso, don’t you think?  And a great way to welcome him to Middle Earth, Pinoy-style!

Thanks for reading !

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

The Next Day of The Rest of Your Life


[ NOte from NOel : Though we were thousands of kilometers away on his graduation day yesterday, our heart was with Bunso, who was accompanied by his proud grandparents and sister. We share with you below our letter of congratulations to him, greetings as well to all graduates this March! Please spare a few moments today to whisper a prayer for our compatriots awaiting a stay of execution in Shenzhen and Xiamen, the People’s Republic of China. Thanks in advance for reading the longish letter ! ]

Dear Bunso :

I am so happy that you are nearly at the end of your high school journey. Wasn’t it only yesterday that I was wishing you well on what was undoubtedly going to be a most remarkable valedictory of your passage into young adulthood, your transition from big fish in a small pond into the ocean of the much larger world outside? I know in my heart that the fleeting time did not diminish, in fact it heightened the sweetness of your high school memories.

I wish I could say that you are entering a world better than the one I joined when I left high school myself, but I will not even try, as I’m sure you will not permit such a delusion. Nature has continued her cyclic rampages, despots contine to claim the divine right of kings while trampling their citizens underfoot, our OFWs continue to be exploited, wrongfully imprisoned, and even executed abroad, and everywhere, people who need the help most urgently continue to be deprived by governments who should be doing the most to help them. Indeed, the more things change, the more they remain the same.

Of course, I’m proud that you passed the admission exams of both the Green Archers and the Blue Eagles, especially since those schools were your first two choices. Despite what your uncles, classmates, and comrades tell you, ultimately it is your choice that counts, for after all it is you and not anyone else who will be attending school. So there.

** ** **

I wish I could impart to you the wisdom of the ages as you embark on a new phase in your academic career, but I cannot. For me, college was just one party after another, half-hearted attempts at erudition, chivalry or achievement, most ending in vain. Among the few truths that I learned then and which stayed with me to this day, if I may, was that pleasure, fair-weather companions, and the eye candy purchased by wealth and privilege are all ephemeral and will immediately desert you in hard times. Only the fruits of education and hard work stay true and loyal to you, even in your darkest times.

Just a few observations that I hope will serve you well in your college adventure. Now and then you will called by your peers to join the effort to agitate for change, redress grievances and challenge injustices especially against government , big business and the prevailing social order. Use your own good judgment, follow your conscience and I only hope that at the crucial time, you will be on the right side of history :

Never underestimate the power of peaceful protest. Our February Revolution of 1986 (two years before Kuya was born), the democracy movement in Tiananmen Square at the end of the last century, the current Arab Spring and probably most of the uprisings yet to happen in your lifetime are linked by peaceful protest that grew and grew until social change was inevitable. The symbol of one man standing against armies, tanks and the Establishment is a potent one, raising goosebumps, inspiring revolutions and summoning the groundswell of historic reform. The youth component of peaceful protest is often a crucial one, and before you reach your 20s you will probably join a handful of these causes. Choose your battles carefully, and lend your talents and energies to those that you think will provide meaningful change.

Don’t forget the playground rules that applied in high school are still applicable in university : Some notables are (1) you scratch my back, I scratch yours; (2) In any kind of group work, 20% of the team does 80% of the work ( so choose your groupmates well ) and (3) there are no permanent friends, only permanent interests. Not set-in-stone rules, but worthwhile to remember.

Lastly, this piece of advice hardly needs to be said, but just in case, make friends from all over and enjoy yourself in college. You will naturally and inevitably be drawn to those who share your likes and interests, but try to diversify the mix of your acquaintances, then choose those whom you will be most comfy with. In particular, try to reach out to those of humbler backgrounds, from remote hometowns, and those who won’t readily gravitate to the popular cliques. It might sound unlikely now, but these fellows are the most interesting ones and will enrich your life and experiences.

Beyond all these, you are in for a wonderful adventure, where you will undoubtedly shape your career and make friends and memories that will last you a lifetime. I envy you because of your youth and opportunity, but I’m so happy for you for the very same reasons. Your life as a collegian awaits!

Congratulations again anak, I love you always, kaawaan ka lagi ng Diyos.

Papa

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Sample Doses of Love & Other Drugs


[ NOte from NOel : Just sharing something sent to the anakis a little more than a week ago, thus the Feb theme.  Newswise and electronically we stand no closer to them than other compatriots back home, but in spirit we are kapitbisig with the fallen OFW heroes of the 22nd February Christchurch earthquake,  you will not be forgotten.  Thanks for the kind feedback to fondly remembered kabatch Cathy Gruba-Tanso and Fidel Esteban, which we forgot to acknowledge earlier, and belated happy birthday to kabayan Didith Tayawa -Figuracion, many happy returns! ]
 
Dear Ganda and Bunso :
 
So sorry for the late emails, your FB profile pics are proof that you are growing into young adults at a frightening light-speed pace; by the time we meet, you will be full-grown already.  Please try to tuck a little of your babyhood away so I can still cuddle you next time I come home, if only for a while longer.
 
I know it’s late, but in some time zones the Love Month is barely done, so I’d like to give you golden nuggets of advice about love and relationships.  Odds are, you are thinking that I’m probably not the best person to dispense pearls of wisdom when it comes to this area, but this STILL being Feb (albeit nearly the end) and me being in a nugget-and-pearl dispensing mood, please indulge your old man : 
 
[ by the way, I didn’t include Kuya in the salutation, no cause for worry as (1) he can read this anyway; (2) either he doesn’t need this anymore; or (3) he is too far gone to benefit from this 🙂 ]
 
Males overwhelmingly warm up to romance and relationships to appease their physical nature, and I say this not only for you Ganda ( for heightened wariness ) but also for Bunso ( for heightened self-awareness ). It’s famously said that Men think not with their brains but with a more notorious part of their bodies.  It is in our DNA, so ingrained in us that we do it instinctively without seeing the social consequences of such myopia.  Where girls go out for an innocent jog, their male companions see an opportunity to see legs and low cut tank tops.  An occasion for socializing for girls is a chance for their male counterparts to investigate how far they can go or “get lucky.”  It’s not so much a criticism of guys as a realistic view of hormones gone haywire for y- chromosomers.
 
When they say they’re in Love, half the time it’s just their hormones talking, nothing personal Bunso, you know whereof I speak.  It’s just how we are wired, in a way it’s in our hardware.  The important thing is that you are aware of these realities, and don’t fall so easily for the sweet romantic talk that has been the downfall of so many before you.
 
That out of the millions and millions of people in this world, there is only one for you and vice-versa.  This is also known as the soulmate theory, so eloquently enunciated by David Pomeranz in Born for You.  I understand that your idea of a perfect someone is one just waiting for you out there, but it’s like eliminating everyone else as incompatible with you !  It’s quite similar to the equally unlikely proposition that in God’s Universe of billions and billions of planets, stars and galaxies, only our Earth can support intelligent life.  Romantic, but how naive does that sound? 
 
Stated another way, assuming that there is someone who is uniquely compatible with you, what are the chances that, among gazillions of other individuals in the tambiolo, the two of you will meet in a chance encounter and gel?  Call me a cynic, but the odds just aren’t feasible.
 
Lastly, I’m not an anti-romantic but the pragmatist in me ( not to mention the realist ) insists that if you figure out that your Chosen One starts to look iffy or is emerging as a “none of the above” selection in multiple choice, there is no shame in considering other potential mates.
 
Avoid getting married for all the right reasons, but get married for only one reason.  You’ve probably learned this gradually, in twists and in turns, until it sounds like a redundancy, but I had to say it for the record.  Career, pahinog ( maturation ), opportunity are all very good and are certainly worthy reasons to put off a lifetime commitment.  Self-denial and postponement of gratification are effective tools towards the attainment of happiness but ultimately, they’re just that, TOOLS.  In themselves you won’t be happy.  On the other hand, marry for one reason, and for one reason only.  Not that he has a shiny new SUV, or that she has a perfect body.  Devote your life to him/her because he/she makes you laugh, makes you happy, will think 10 times before doing anything that might hurt you, will put you first before anyone else, and will NEVER hold back one ounce of love for you.  Now, is that so hard? 🙂
 
No matter how many times you fall, the first time you fall in love is always the sweetest, and so savor it while it lasts.  Of all the myths about love, this is probably the one that holds the seed of truth in it.  It’s like the first time you learn to swim, ride a bike, and drive a car.  You never forget the first experience, only with falling in love the feel-good memories last a lifetime, till your dying day.  Colors seem brighter, every emotion is magnified ( the positive and the negative, unfortunately ), highs are meteoric, and lows are abysmal.  And I say this not without a note of caution, precisely because unless you have the luck of the ages, you will never end up with your first love.  Something will inevitably go wrong, your beloved will nearly always fall short of expectations, and even when everything goes well, the odds of enjoying a long-term relationship are roughly equal to that of Two and A Half Men returning for a 10th season.
 
Trust me, I know.
 
Still, there’s no harm in hoping, as long as it’s about love.  Not coincidentally, they’re the pair of  things we absolutely can’t live without.
 
I love you and miss you always, kaawaan kayo lagi ng Diyos.
 
Papa

Feel-Good Wetworks in Early Nov


Hey there mga anakis :

No matter what you do, and no matter how much you love what you do, don’t take a job requiring regular night shift, OK? It will age you beyond your years.  😦

First of all I’m gladder than glad that you were able to swap goodbyes with Kuya before he left home. I know you didn’t enjoy the best relationship with him and things got quite sticky in the end, but the fact that he took the initiative to bid fond farewell, sibling – to – sibling, means he regretted all the negative vibes.

After all is said and done, he is after all your brother. He is on the verge of something big, and everyday is a new adventure for him. As you try to set aside your differences, I ( as well as your mother, I’m sure ) will forget his kakulitan and past immaturities, and together let’s support and give him encouragement in his moment.

I’m likewise happy that you went with Nana and Lolo to the cemetery to visit my own grandparents, you didn’t have to and no one asked you to, kudos for that. I’m just not sure if you went with them to the Chinese Cemetery (for Lolo’s folks) or to Manila Memorial (with Nana’s parents). If you went to both venues, that’s double kudos; you both deserve a medal.

I’m sure I told you more than once that Lolo was part of a large brood, and being one of the youngest, he was a bit distant from his dad. I do remember him telling us that he was quite close to his mother, sadly they both died before I was born.

I think you were both very young when Nana’s mother passed away, she was quite a character with her loud voice and colorful Bicolano dialect. Nana loved her very much for her quiet strength, something that was passed on to her.

** ** ** ** **

Inasmuch as I’m on the subject of notables who’ve passed on, one of my batchmate’s moms passed on early this year. According to her (my classmate), they weren’t very close, and they argued over all sorts of things. (sounds familiar ba?) To her credit, my classmate did not let this diminish her admiration for her, which fully dawned on her after her mother died. In her own words :

My mother was a picture of greatness, in all that she has done for me and my brothers. Her strength and power to uphold her dignity and carry a torch, that to this day is burning still in my heart – she was so much unappreciated and acknowledged. Today, I tell you, as I also pass forward this message to my own beloved son: a mother’s love, indeed, is the greatest love of all… regarding this woman that I thought I didn’t love for a moment in time, but actually adore.

These words could melt the coldest heart, as it rightly did mine when I read them. Wish you could see my classmate one day.

** ** ** ** **

A grade school classmate of mine lost a precious sister, and needless to say they were probably as close as bro and sis as you two are. Know how siblings realize how each other meant after tragedy? They didn’t need that, as my kabatch and his diche loved each other across the miles and through the years. Here’s what he told me shortly after she passed on:

I was very close to Big Sis 2. She’s always been there for me ever since I was a kid… She was my yaya & tutor. Its kind of hard to lose Big Sis 2 (and) she will be missed.

Now, can any brother and sister be as bonded as they were? In the way he lives his life, loves his family and regards the women he encounters, he honors the memory of his sister.

Relatedly, I’m happy the two of you appreciate each other even before you are fully adults. By the way, he’s another classmate I hope you meet someday.

Finally, I also have occasion to remember one of the coolest dads, who also happens to be a dad of a friend from elementary, HS and college. He recently passed away too, sorry to say, but he left a legacy of memories and coolness to all his kids. He was hands-on, but was never nit-picking or overbearing; he let his kids discover the important things for themselves.

I only saw him (their dad) once, almost three decades ago, but he left such a first-class impression that it resonates with me to this day. If you’ll remember me with just half the fondness, I’ll consider myself lucky.

Almost done here, and I’m hoping as regards schoolwork: Ganda, I hope that you don’t get any grades below 2.75, and Bunso, that you at least maintain your class standing. (It’ll look great for any scholarships, grants or stuff like that.)

Anything else for me is a bonus.

I love and miss you always, kaawan kayo lagi ng Diyos.

Papa

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