The father in me
Today is Father’s Day and like everyone else, we pay tribute to all fathers of the universe, mine includes my late papa Art or King to many who has been no less than super outstanding in his role as padre de pamilya to us all. That said, I would like to take advantage of the special day to pay tribute not to myself as a father but to the children who made me a father of a good family or rather a good father of the family.
I start with the eldest John Paul or JP. Born in ‘83 when the country was in a tumultuous revolt against the late Ferdinand Marcos, he started out in the world as a restless, rebellious, naughty hoodlum-like kid. Growing up, he had many brushes with the school authorities and once in a while, the law. In 1995, he was exiled in New York where he learned the hard way how lucky he was in his homeland. He lived in Queens with Uncle Estoki, Auntie Zeny, and Erwin, took the A-train to his work at Dunkin Donuts in the Bronx while waiting for the school term in the Community College. In Baguio when there was fighting among the boys, he was a frontliner, nangunguna but out there when a group of “brothers” went at each other’s throats. While he was on duty, he hid in the mop room as his skinny frame was no match for the big Shaquille O’Neal types who ruled the area. So he stayed on in Elmhurst until John Tristan was born and came back, a little changed man especially with the arrival of another son Lorenzo Rafael. He finished his UC Business course and worked on his skills in computers, music, and public relations and now works and focuses on selling fighter planes and submarines to the government.
Charmaine Marie or Menggay was born three years after JP and grew up like his brother-wild spirited and carefree. She had big collection of Barbie dolls and Spice Girls music CDs and turned into a DJ while arguing that “quality education” took time. She grew older and wiser, from a chubby little baby to a street-smart lady. At age eight, when she first set foot in Los Angeles, her greatest adventure was being chased by a “pantomime” in Hollywood and was so scared that she screamed her lungs out. She remains as makulit as any child can be and is so bossy that you would think that listening to children is a rule, not the exception. Now she has her own baby Betchay and because of the pandemic, took out her mom’s decade old recipe for lasagna and marketed the same in social media, turning out to be a big hit with orders coming in for the next three weeks or so.
Then the scholars and serious ones arrived. Anton Luis was a good boy all the way, from an altar boy at the St. Vincent Church at Campo Filipino which made me think that he would fulfill my ambition to become a priest but alas, like me “He was called, but he was not chosen.” He was a model student and was into music at his young tender age. At the Science class of Saint Louis Boys High, he balanced academics with his classical music lessons at Musar. In the interregnum, he represented the Cordillera in the NAMCYA competition at the Cultural Center and while he lost the championship, won the heart of Steph, an upcoming soprano from the Baguio City High School-SPA whom he wed in January. He went on to the Ateneo de Manila for his BS Math major in Applied Mathematics in Finance, inheriting his Math prowess from me. His love for music did not stop there as he sang with the Ateneo Glee Club and travelled to Europe with the group, nearly missing out units for graduation. He made up by becoming a recipient of the Loyola Schools Award for the Arts conferred by the Ateneo de Manila University School of Humanities. He went on to work with Thomson Reuters in Makati but obviously bored or tired, went back to his first love and went back to school, this time at the University of the Philippines College of Music where he studied guitar under the world famous Demetillo. Last summer, he took up lessons in New York, courtesy of his uncle, Dr. Ronald with another master whose name I cannot pronounce or remember or both. Then out of the blue, he decided to take up Law where he focused with gigs as an ensemble musician and accompanist to Steph in elitist music concert but maintained his dean’s List standing. When the results of the 2019 Bar Examinations was announced on April 29, he was number eight and will take his oath as a full pledged lawyer on Thursday, June 25, via Zoom/PTV 4 before the Chief Justice and the Supreme Court en banc.
Ysabelle Therese was born 11 so years after Ton and was the exact opposite of her older sister – conservative, demure, scholarly. She is silent water that runs deep like Ton and was consistently on top of her class at the Saint Louis University Laboratory School. A mix of academics and extra-curricular activities has molded Ysa to be scholarly in her approach to life balanced by her acquired leadership skills with a lesson that education must not be confined to the four walls of their old school. Don’t be misled though as she knows how to have fun through her Korean bands and soap operas.
So there you are, if the measure of a good father is being a dad for the kids above who are the “crown jewels” of our lives which no power, fame or money can ever give, then I as a father would not have lived in vain. Sigh!