June 20, 2024

I was born on the last month of the year, in December, on Christmas Eve, 15 minutes before midnight, seven decades and eight years before.
It was in Kapangan, Benguet where I first saw the light of day, but with no electricity and only dimly lighted candles to mark my arrival on Earth, I was doomed to live a relatively average yet hopefully a full life – you know, by fathering a son, planting a tree, and writing a book.
I am blessed with two good looking boys who adore their dad for all his shortcomings; a full grown narra tree the seeds of which I planted on my Diliman freshman year, and I write a column for a fair, free, and fearless weekly.
Close, but not quite. Half a life, I dare say.

Unlike many of my friends born under a lucky star on a clear night, I can only curse the darkness, something, alas, that day old babies cannot do.
Like many more of the same later in life, my mom, acting as my spokesperson, did the cursing for me.
It was a position that she refused to relinquish even if I had made it clear to her that I had already designated my Minda as my chief-of-staff.
I loved my mom, but there are realities in life that mothers must learn to accept – that you are no longer her baby and little boy, and although moms play a great part in the molding of their kids, there comes a time when another woman comes into your life, one who would later become a mother herself.
I console myself that days before she died, my mom called for me and said, “You were always my favorite child,” but I guess she said that to all her brood in their private moments with her.
It was also in December when I tied the knot with a smart and beautiful girl named Minda Flores Baltazar, then a Psychology instructor at Saint Louis University.
Our marriage was solemnized by the late Father Alipio, a dear friend and relative, a first cousin of another old friend Ching Aspillaga, nephews both of my deceased uncles fiscal Albert and Johnny Caoile, debonairs during their time.

On the 8th of December, 1973, my Minda and I said “I do” to each other, following six years of dating as lovebirds.
The reception was held at the old Rosebowl Restaurant, along Harrison Road, where proprietors Art and Lulu Nang served a lauriat of eight courses, the bill didn’t exactly make my eyes pop, but I paid only half of it – P7,000, all in all.
Years later, our Melpether would bail me out of the remaining half and other incurred debts.
Working for Solar before moving over to Fox Sports as executive producer, Melpether featured on live T.V. Rosebowl and its fine Chinese cuisine during breaks in PBA games.
Thrilled no end by the publicity and the congratulatory calls of friends, Lulu put all my signed chits and an uncashed check in an envelope, had it delivered in person by a waiter cum courier – “pabor con pabor” between friends, but nothing at all like the quid pro quo of Trump promising crime military and in exchange for dirt on the Bidens.
Trump must have Filipino blood running through his veins, a master of dirty politics, “Hey Russia, are you listening?”
Poor Hillary, it was a painful lesson for her, made even more painful that a braggart, cheat, and liar put one over her.

Anyway, Lulu would be ninang to Melpether’s wedding to Patricia Mae “Pam” San Pedro.
Pam will give birth to my very first granddaughter Amanda, you guess it, in late December.
Finally, after 78 years, magiging lolo na rin ako. The hitch to my unbounded joy is that my Minda is not with me to savor the moment, but I like to think she is with us in spirit.
Hey ma, have you and Minda patch things up in heaven?
I miss you both, but I won’t tell which one I miss more.
But, it’s the 8th of December, and when it’s times eight, it’s a draw.

Following is Engr. Bernie Vergara’s proposed parking plan which we should all support.
Ideal parking facility within the business community area
Burnham Park
Melvin Jones area may be developed as a three-story underground parking facility.
Excavate the desired area without disposing away the excavated materials and putting it aside in the meantime. Construct the concrete structure from the bottom upwards up to the level of the football ground of Melvin Jones area.
Upon completion of the whole three-story parking facility, back fill the earth on top of the football ground and plant more flowering plants at the sides thereof.
No trees to be cut and no buildings to be demolished.
The parking facility is hidden underground. This is cheaper than a 10-story parking building.
Public market area
Similarly, underground parking may be constructed. Two-story underground and another two floors may be constructed at the 4th floor and 5th floor.
These two parking facilities will have a 5,000-parking car capacity and help solve our problem for parking in the city. More to follow on our traffic problem, and my suggestions on how to solve it, even if only in part.
Merry Christmas to one and all!