June 17, 2024

Valentine’s Day held little significance for me in the past, not due to a lack of romantic involvement or infatuation, but simply because it didn’t resonate with me naturally. During my school years, it was a major event, marked by prom preparations, love-themed activities, and the freedom to indulge in romantic gestures without reprimand.
While my peers reveled in the excitement, I found myself more interested in escaping schoolwork by participating in the preparations. Reflecting on those times, I regret not fully embracing the camaraderie and festivity with my classmates.
In my late 20’s, amidst building my career, Valentine’s Day became a day of receiving affectionate tokens from my students, a brief respite from the routine. Ironically, I even formed a “club” with single colleagues, humorously dining out to jest at our romantic status. Yet, despite my own romantic encounters, I viewed Valentine’s Day as a commercialized affair, characterized by inflated prices for roses and sickly-sweet treats, ripping and exploiting men with exorbitantly priced chocolates with their hard-earned money.
As the years passed, Valentine’s Day remained unremarkable until the tragic loss of my father on that very day. His year-long battle detected at a late stage, took a toll on our family both emotionally and financially. Despite our efforts, including pooling resources among his eleven children, we struggled to afford his care. Witnessing his suffering alongside my dear mother, I couldn’t help but feel the injustice of his plight. He had worked tirelessly to provide for us, instilling the value of education as our pathway to a better future.
His passing occurred amidst the festivities of Valentine’s Day, the street bustled with red balloons adorning the corner, flowers gracing the sidewalks, and restaurant windows adorned with heart-shaped cardboard decorations. It was a cruel irony, shattering my world and reshaping my perspective on the holiday. Nine years on, the memory of my father still brings tears to my eyes. Though I may not have been his favorite, I know I held a special place in his heart. Now, Valentine’s Day holds deeper significance for me, a time to honor my Tatay’s love and the invaluable lessons he imparted. My understanding of the day has evolved, transforming it into an extended Father’s Day, a poignant reminder of his enduring influence on my life.