Sunday, June 15, 2008

a man named nonong

All parents damage their children. It cannot be helped. Youth, like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers. Some parents smudge, others crack, a few shatter childhoods completely into jagged little pieces, beyond repair.

I grew up with my dad since my mom left when I was barely 6. She left because she wanted to give my big bro and me a bright future and a comfortable life. And during the time when we were about to go to school, times were really hard for us. So, I was left in the care of my dad who did a superb job in raising me and my brother. He was a mom and dad in one. He was present in all my piano and voice recitals. He made my grass skirt when we were asked to perform the Polynesian dance in grade school. He was always an officer in all the PTAs that he attended. He talks to my teachers when there are issues in school that my young self could not settle. He brings me to school every day for years and picks me up without fail. I remember days when it would rain so hard in our province and I had to ride the tricycle going home, he would wait for me in the "kanto" of our subdivison with a very big umbrella (you know the ones vendors use to sell their goods -- the colorful parasols?). He won't eat without me. He tucks me to bed up until the time I was in fourth grade. He was there in every milestone of my young life -- recitals, proms, high school graduation..

When I entered college, he was still there. Although he let me be during our registration, he was still constantly checking on me. You wouldn't believe but during the first three weeks as a college freshman, he (together with my mom this time) would wait for me for hours at McDonalds, Philcoa because I didn't know how to commute going home to my grandparent's house in Makati. So, we would all wake up at 6, travel (via bus along EDSA) to Diliman to catch my first GE class at 8:30 AM.. they would let me ride the jeep going inside the campus while they spend the day reading the newspaper, books or just talking to each other. My class would finish at 4PM. That was 4 times a week. And he did that sacrifice (with my mom) for three long weeks, until I got used to the commute back and forth.

Two months after school started, I was afflicted with High Fever. Without second thoughts, he left my mom and brother in the province and flew to Manila to watch over me. He stayed for another month. Cooked. Prepared my things. Made sure that the area I was living in was clean and safe (I was already renting a space near the campus then). My bed was a pull put bed and he would sleep on the lower bunk with the thinner foam. The night he left for the province, I felt as if my heart was breaking into pieces. I wanted my dad to stay a little longer here but he had to go home to attend the "Traslacion" as he was a staunch devotee of our Lady of Penafrancia.

I grew my wings and explored here in the big city. But when problems beset, I'd go back to my dad. Always. College grad. Work. Years have passed. My dad was growing old. And so was I. When I got a new apartment, my mom asked my dad to come over again so he can fix my place. Since the place was breand new, he did everything all by himself -- from putting on tiles, to installing the blinds, the wall paper, installing the aircon unit, buying the bed and cabinets, installing planks for my books, painting my door, installing double locks for my safety. Once again, he stayed with me for another month until he was confident that I can live on my own The night he left for the province, I felt as if my heart was breaking into pieces. Again.

When I got pregnant, he was the very first person we shared the good news to. The night before my wedding day, he wrote a note and left it on the night table of my hotel. I was able to read it when I woke up on the morning of my wedding day (they were already out to fix last minute stuff). The note said: "You will forever be my baby girl. I love you Nene. Daddy"

The day when he left for the US for good was the darkest day of my life. I was 7 months pregnant with Lizzie at that time. Fat, heavy and ugly. I had a hard time travelling all the way to the airport in Paranaque but i insisted because it was my dad who was leaving. And the tears that I shed as soon as he checked in on that afternoon in July 2005 was worth a year of tears I would say. My husband was worried because my crying will be bad for my already delicate condition. I was only pacified when my dad called me up during his stop over in China. I felt a little bit okay.

My dad was a great person. He had the kindest soul and the nicest heart. He was always welcoming to my friends. He was very soft spoken. He played the drums, guitars, bongos. He sings really well. He paints, draws, sketches. He cross stitches. He was a mechanic, an electrician, a plumber. He was jack of all trades (not too mention very gorgeous). He may have his flaws but he is almost perfect to me. I wished for my husband to be like my father.

Now after all these years, I would say that a father's life is a life of sacrifice. HIs life may be gone in the future, but his love will stay. It has passed on to me so I can pass it on to my children. A faher's love is never lost.

To you dad, thanks for being the greatest teacher. And the best father in the world. I am grateful for mom for the comfortable life she gave me and Raman and for us, she is superwoman. But I am also grateful to you -- for your presence in my life. Yesterday, Today and Always.

Happy Father's Day!!!

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