February 9, 2023

It’s the eighth time around that I am welcoming new year without my father.

He died in 2014 due to liver cirrhosis. A lot has supervened since then – family dynamics problem, financial woes, relatives showing their devil colors, inheritance issues, residence ejectment, among others. I still vividly recall his final moments in the intensive care unit. I was the one who signed the intubation form, but I regret seeing him in excruciating pain for the said procedure (even the thought of replaying the cardio-pulmonary resuscitation on my mind still makes me cry). We lost him in few hours – thankfully – as we will no longer see him suffer physically and psychologically.

When January 1st hit the clock, my lights are out. I was in deep sleep and was just awakened by the joyful shouts of celebrating neighbors. Much as I want to rejoice for another year, I just spent the first few minutes talking to my father on my mind, as if he were beside me.

I told him how his death changed my life; how his death seemed to be a blessing in disguise. His death revealed who are truly loving family that are willing to stay with us in our darkest moments, and who is just faking around. His death forced my mother to learn how to cook and drive (as it was my father who really prepares our meals, and who drives us to downtown and Tarlac vacations). His death forced my brother to strive and get out of his shell. His death taught me to be strong amidst uncertainties and multiple adversities.

I told him that I wish he is watching up above witnessing how I dared the Bar exam (for first and last take), how I solemnly took my oath in front of the Supreme Court en banc; how I proudly signed the Roll of Attorneys in Padre Faura. I told him that I am now a corporate law guy (taking care of legal concerns of two reputable corporations), and that I also appear in courts mostly as private prosecutor and/or defense counsel. I told him that I enjoy teaching in the university, sharing my knowledge and shaping the minds of my students. I told him that I co-anchor a segment on radio, and I frequently guest in other radio stations and on national TV, as resource person. I told him that I will fight for my mother, and my brother. I told him I will make bad relatives pay for their actions and omissions. Finally, I told him to not worry about us for I will hold the cudgels for my family.

I wiped my tears, and I did not notice that I fell asleep. While my 2023 salubong was not festive, I am grateful to have spent the same talking to my father. I have not talked to him this deeply for as far as I can remember 

Cheers in heaven, Cesar. Love, your lawyer here on Earth (or hell, if I may say), your buridek.