Haven’t really reflected much on this but really, why is it that I am able to understand and practice what he taught me far better now that he is gone? “You have to do what is right—whether or not someone is looking over your shoulder or even when no one is looking!”
It does feel good to do what is right even when no one is looking because in the end, we need to live with what we have done. In fact, we can be our worst enemy!
“Prioritize home over vehicle; do not buy a car if you haven’t acquired a house yet,” he once told me. He said cars depreciate while the value of a house and lot appreciates. It’s true that once that car rolls out of the dealer, its value decreases dramatically!
“Walk facing the traffic so you know who hit you!” he would always say with a grin. True enough, having learned some safety rules, that’s one thing one must always remember when walking along a busy street—but mainly to avoid oncoming vehicles.
“Plant your heels first” he would tell me, as if he were my drill sergeant. Some of his lessons may not be appropriate but these have nothing to do with character.
Among his constant reminders were the importance of education—that it is one “inheritance” no one can steal from you; that books are friends and are meant to be read so that, again, no one can take from you what you read!
He valued privacy and taught us how to respect it. We were taught to knock on doors, ask permission from owners before using their possessions, never to read letters that weren’t ours and to say “excuse me” – especially when we belch! He wouldn’t even open magazines addressed to me!
He survived the Death March and torture in Fort Santiago, he cleaned my shoes and picked me up at rehearsals in high school. He would carry me from the car to the house whenever I fell asleep while in transit. He taught me to eat kiamoy whenever I had migraine attacks.
He valued durability that the shelf he built using 4 x 4s could carry lawnmowers, spades and jackhammers – all at the same time; that the kite he built could not fly because of the bamboo skeleton and the weight of the paper; that plastic covers on notebooks have to have support strips so they do not fall off the soft paper covers and that my school shoes had to be a certain brand because those were the ones that really last long.
Yes, I am referring to my father—my hero. His ashes are buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, where “ I may not know the dignity of their birth, but I do know the glory of their death” a quote from General MacArthur’s Farewell Speech at West Point is carved in stone greets visitors. To me, that is hallowed ground, even if some of those buried there led questionable lives. I only hope they do not add one more whose heroism is questionable. There are more deserving people who should be given such honor!
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