Back in the saddle – May 20, 2004 is my column for today.
Manuel L. Quezon III: on-duty punditry, off-duty rants, double-duty opinions and opportunings. Resources on Philippine history.
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Your piece on Don Enrique Zobel was very touching. I never knew the man, but over the years I’ve read so much about him,he seemed like a man who really cared about Filipinos and what happens here in our country and I consider that a rarity in this day and age especially for persons of his stature. It would be so easy, especially given his condition, to just sit back and sit quietly, enjoying his riches, living the easy life and yet until his death he was an outspoken individual, unafraid to speak his mind on important issues regardless of whether his opinion might be deemed popular or not. That is really worthy of admiration and respect and Don Enrique’s death is a great loss. May his soul rest in peace. My condolences to his family and friends.
I don’t see why not as long as you give proper credit to the author.
hi manolo, may i post this piece somewhere?
Thank you so much for your kind words -they’re inspiring. I believe Anvil publishing is thinking of something along the lines of what you want published. Anyway, I’ll email you.
I teach economics in Philippine Science High School. I’ve admired how much you’re doing to build this nation by educating us on our political history, present, and future. We are currently revising our curriculum and your views have influenced us greatly. Our Social Studies Unit is embarking on our own nation-building project with Justice Magdangal de Leon, whcih we hope to tie up with the Alejandro Melchor Foundation and the Ayala Foundation.
I’m also heartened to read your column about EZ. I also lost my dad. We celebrated his death anniversary last Sunday. It’s been four years since. I would also like to share with you a piece I wrote after that anniversary. I hope you take time to read it. I’d also like to embark on a project to compile essays about sons paying tribute to their fathers. I hope to collaborate with you on this one. Not often do sons like us have the courage to be in touch with such emotional topics.
MY IMMORTAL DAD:
The love between a father and his son is forever and for always
My dad is immortal. He had passed away for four years now; but he is very much alive. He is even more present in my life these days. I get to talk to him more openly. I confide in him readily. When love is indeed true, not even death can be an obstacle. Daddy is not constrained by time or space to be always with me. I believe that not even death can sever the strong bond between a father and his son.
I used to think that my dad was not proud of me. I have grown to be less interested in sports and politics, which were some of his passions. We never talk openly like I do with my mom. Our talks were often uncomfortable. We behaved as if we could not wait to get them over with. I became a teacher instead of an architect like him. I was not proud of him because he smoked and drank a lot. He was not a good provider because he spent more time with his friends. He did not save so my mom had to work a lot to provide for us. The litany can go on but suffice to say that most of my life, I was not also proud of my father. During the last years of his life, I chose to live outside of our home. I was able to do that until he died because I never thought he wanted me.
This all changed when I saw the film Big Fish by Tim Burton. It was about a son who came to terms with who his father really was. I related to it so much because the relationship between the father and his son from the movie echoed what I had with Daddy. We were like two strangers who knew each other very well. We hardly talked because we were not strong enough to know ourselves more. All this time, my mother never gave up in convincing me that my dad was proud of me. I was too blind to see it all the while.
My dad had always wanted a son like me. Although they had my sister first, my dad could not wait to have a son that they had to try right after my sister was born. I came the year after right away. When they named my sister, they had to agree that they both get to name her. When I came along, my mom gave my father free rein. He named me after himself! He claims Pope Julius II, the pope who commissioned Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel, inspired him; but we all know it was just an excuse to boost his ego.
I did not only understand my dad after watching the film. I guess seeds were already planted when I started working. Since I am a high school teacher, I often act like a father to my students. I teach in a public school so the pay is not that high. However, I believe so much in this noble endeavor that I do not mind it at all. It is just hard for me to convince a girl I can raise a family. Now, I understand why I thought my dad was not a good provider. Those times when he hardly had enough money for us or saved something, most of his income went to assisting his friends. My dad borrowed money to lend to his friends. When he was out on his drinking sessions, which I fondly call â€˜case studies,â€™ he was usually counseling his friends. My dad never thought of himself. No wonder I am as idealistic now as he was.
Although we did not have much, we never felt deprived. To make us less covetous of toys, he showered us with books and stories. After he got home from his drinking sessions, he would wake us up to tell us about his day. Since my mom was the one who earned for us, he took over the task of inculcating us with good values. Since he was a history buff, he always wanted us to learn from the past, both successes and failures. He made sure we had a sense of history to continue what worked before and perhaps improve on it and to avoid committing the same mistakes twice.
My father was a wise man and he had great faith. He only became religious later in his life but although he hardly went to church with us, he was a very principled man. He did not believe that he had to show off that he was a good man. He shunned hypocrisy in public. When he was dying, he was very devoted to St. Joseph. I am not surprised since both of them were dependable fathers. My dad never worried about money because he abandoned himself to divine providence. When he helped other people, he knew God would always pay us back a hundredfold.
When his body was brought back to our province, there was a sea of people in the airport to see him off. He was not a celebrity, he was a mere government employee like me but he touched many lives. He did not leave us any material wealth but he left us a legacy that lives on: his friends, who will always tell more people about how great my Dad was.
I try to live up to that by being a good teacher. I make sure I always forget myself and serve others. I do not mind being single for some time if I really make sure I burn myself out trying to be a good educator. True love waits. If I do find someone, it would be someone who also understands my commitment to public service. My mom understood my dad perfectly. She was always there behind him although it may have looked that she became more like the father. These days, there are no gender-specific roles anyway. I guess my parents were ahead of their time.
I write about my father because he makes me very proud to be his son. I will make sure I give honor to his name. Big Fish is really a big deal to me because my dad made sure I see that film to assure me that he really loves me. The day he died, I was out watching a movie instead. I was not able to forgive myself since. In Tim Burtonâ€™s film, there is a scene where the son came to terms with who his father was while the latter was breathing his last. While watching the film, I felt my dad telling me that I was wrong to think that he was not proud of me. I should have believed my mother.
When I was living outside our home, my dad and I were not talking anymore. He never read my letters nor talked to me on the phone. When I left, it was not pleasant. When he pleaded for me not to leave, I told them I would return their investment. My remark really hurt him. A few months before he passed away, he asked my mom to tell me to come home. I readily obliged not knowing it would be the last time we would see each other. He rented plenty of Julia Robertsâ€™s films for me. He knew how obsessed I was with that actress with a killer smile. From that gesture, I should have known that he forgave me. Officially, he asked me to go home because my brother was having religious problems. He was getting estranged with our faith. He asked me to counsel him since my dad was too sick to do that already. He actually made me act like the dad to my brother. This was how much he believed in me. He had molded me so well like him that he trusted that I could really rear my brother like what he did to me. Whatever the real reason was for my coming home, I was greatly relieved to have spent a grand time with him before he passed away.
The day he went into a coma, I was out of town. However, early morning then I dreamt that my mother sat beside my bed and was weeping. Later during the day, I received a call from my sister that my dad went into a coma. I did not even know he went to Manila for his regular check-up. When he was about to be discharged, he went into convulsions. We did not expect him to die anytime soon.
I never cried when he passed away. I was still bitter that my dad was not able to leave us anything to pay for his hospital and burial expenses. We had to borrow as usual. I vowed that I would never be as irresponsible as he was. Who was I kidding? I was already teaching for two years then. I deliberately refused offers from the corporate world to pursue my dream to teach the hope of our fatherland.
I must have hated my father then because I dwelt on his imperfections. Now that he is gone, I realize what I had. I appreciate him more now that he is no longer around. I do hope sons who still have their fathers around would not wait for the time when it is too late to tell their dads how much they love them. I cannot turn back time. That movie Frequency about a son who was able to tinker with time to bring his father back to life is too tempting to contemplate. I may have lost the opportunity but since I know my father loves me so much, I know he hears me long after this life.
I must have hated Daddy so much because we are very much alike. We love movies so much that we communicate through them in this life and the next. I am stubborn and proud like him. We both cherish the present moment. We never worry about the future because we know God will always take care of the rest when we do our best. The way I live my life is a testament to how great he was. I make my dad proud! I am indeed my fatherâ€™s son!
Very truly yours,
Julius Legaspi II
Special Science Teacher – I
Philippine Science High School
Tel # 9247629
Home # 9841764-65, 9843543
Mobile # 0917 -8265746
As usual, if a variable is not given in a math problem, you can assume two things: whatever the actual value, it does not affect the solution, and to help solve the problem, you can just use any value you like. ,
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