June 17, 2024

An author once wrote that to be a complete man, one must have written a book and sired a child.
Literally, the author of kids is the father, thus Happy Father’s Day to all the men and in this modern liberation-time women who raised their children in both roles as dad and mom.
Of course, it goes without saying this piece is a tribute to my late father Art. His memory lives forever and I remember one cold night when he wrapped a blanket around me and my brother Eric and loaded us in his AC Mc Arthur type jeep.
We hied off to his sleepy hometown called Moncada in Tarlac. There we got to eat burongbabe (homemade tocino), sweet longganisa or gurami (dried fish marinated in toyo and sugar) or the banana-leaf wrapped buro.
We learned few basic Kapampangan phra-ses like Nanong lagya mu? (What’s your name?), Mekeni mangan tamu (Come, let’s eat), malagu or masanting (ganda o pogi), and potangbengi (tonight).
There was also my alahambra smoking lola Ing-gay’s favorite “tak day na-na’ (censored) especially when you ask for money while she is playing mahjong or the Boys’ High version ‘potang benging ballbearing keni, ayaw tumulid! (no translation).
My father had his parent’s nipa house in a corner lot in front of the Plebian Elementary School and a few meters or was it kilometers away was an old railroad track abutting a rice field and a swamp amidst big bamboos and bushes. This is where he taught us how to shoot the de-bomba “escopita” actually air-gun.
At nightfall, we would eat dinner by candlelight and be amazed by the abal-abal (no translation, but they fly) or fireflies or bugs that hovered around. I asked him once, “Papa are bugs good to eat?” With stern look, he whispered “Let’s not talk about such things at the dinner table.”
After dinner he asked, “Why were you asking me that silly question?” I said “Wala naman. There was a bug in your food kanina, but now it’s gone,” and that was how I tasted my first dagok for the night! Kathang isip lang po!
Not a perfect one, like all normal fathers must be, but he delivered the care, affection, and support for his family. In a movie whose title escapes me now I saw at Pines where papa worked, I could never forget the line “I may not be the father you want and you may not be the son I wanted, but at the end all that matters is the bond of love that we give each other”.
Haaay! A timeless reminder to Tatan and Enzo of how they are endlessly loved by their dad, the way my papa did and the rest of us with our children.