December 1, 2023

I knew that the New Year is just around the corner, but the lolo I speak of here is not the slambang grandfather of firecrackers, but myself.
Hooray! I officially became a lolo on my 78th birthday, when my daughter-in-law Pamela Mae Santos San Pedro (only the Chief Gatekeeper of the heavens and all his saints can make my Melpether toe the line) gave birth to a long-limbed, bouncing baby girl last Christmas Eve, or on the 24th of December, also the day of my birth.

I was keen on going down to Manila when Melpether called to say that Pam had gone into labor, but because I was coughing a bit, I first dropped by the Cabato clinic for what I thought would be a routine check-up. It turned out I was suffering from early-stage pneumonia, as the X-rays revealed.
Thankfully, the medicines prescribed by Dr. Alcantara seem to be working, but far from taking a bed rest, I still went about my usual activities.

Anyway, after seeing the first photo of my very first grandchild, I felt a pinch in my heart. She has my Minda’s forehead and thick black hair, and her well chiseled nose that she loved to show off to pudgy-nosed friends and neighbors.
I guess her eyes too, but my balae, Pam’s mom, also has dancing eyes, and like my Minda, has unblemished white skin.
Incidentally, my balae is an active member of the “Daughters of Mary,” a religious organization deeply involved in charity work. “Santos-San Pedro nga po ang apilyedo.”
At the moment, she is with our apo, doubling as yaya and housekeeper, to allow time off for Mel and Pam after spending sleepless nights at the Cardinal Santos Hospital, more so after being told that hospital rates increase in full on holidays.
Maligayang Pasko po!

Not since your births, I tell my two boys, have I seen such a beautiful baby.
I can only pray that she has the smarts of the Baltazars, and Torralbas, the piety of the Santoses, the business acumen of the San Pedros, and the goodness of heart of my dear old dad Pete, even if she only has a sprinkling of Ibaloy blood running through her veins.

Hope springs eternal from the Filipino heart, particularly true every New Year.
Not really because the old year was ugly, it’s just that Pinoys believe every New Year is always better than the old one.
I see it in a casino habitué, down to his last chip after losing a bundle, hoping he still can recoup his losses, even singing it while peeking at his cards – “Habang may buhay, habang may buhay.”
I see it on the worried face of a mother, whose only daughter has moved from one partner to another, hoping that the right man will still come along.
And truly it does. A retired U.S. Air Force colonel decides to settle here. Boy and girl meet, followed by the ringing of wedding bells.
Happily ever after.

Every losing politician nurtures the hope that the next political exercise will return him to office.
Even the village drunk dreams of becoming the next barangay kapitan.
So too the dumbbell who thinks he will graduate at the top of his class.
But more than anything, Filipinos cling to the hope that there is a just God, one who will punish the wicked and reward the good. A forgiving God as well.
Indeed, if there is no God, where does hope go?

So Sen. Bato dela Rosa has been banned from entering the United States, allegedly because of the many human rights atrocities committed by his troops when he was PNP chief.
I am reminded of a similar incident that happened many years back.
Norberto “Berting” de Guzman was mayor of Baguio at the time, and one night, while playing one of the slot machines at the old Halfway House located inside Camp John Hay, he accidentally caused the machine to fall on the floor.
The Base Commander, who was there then, arrogantly told Mayor de Guzman, that he was permanently banned from the base, a U.S. territory, for his disorderly behavior.

Look Commander, Mayor de Guzman tries to placate him, why don’t we go sit somewhere and talk about over a bottle of beer. The Base Commander was adamant signaling security personnel to escort the mayor out.
“OK Commander,” the mayor said, “if that’s the way you feel about it, but would you grant me the liberty of seeing myself out.”

The next day, the mayor gathered all the city policemen together who were then under his office – no PNP yet – and instructed them to escort every American walking the city streets back to the base.
After a week, the Base Commander called up Mayor de Guzman, if they could please talk about it.
“Commander, that was what I was telling you the last time we were together.”
“Let’s have coffee at the Star Café, maybe we can work something out.”

Will Duterte have the guts to do the same?
For some strange reason, Americans have always been arrogant when it comes to Filipinos.
Anyway, we kicked them out before, let’s do it for keeps this time.
No more military exercises, no more trade deals.
But first, let’s kick out all the Chinese – except my friends.
Happy New Year!