MANILA - "Tay, may abogado ka na." (Dad, you now have a lawyer.)
It was lawyer Alex Castro's wish to be able to say these words to her beloved "Tatay Dong," a taho vendor who she formed a lifelong relationship with while studying at University of the Philippines Diliman.
On Saturday, Castro shared on Facebook her quest for her Tatay Dong, whose real name is Romeo "Dingdong" Corpuz.
"Coming home to UP always meant coming home to everything I loved and cherished for eight years, including you. So as I drove around campus, I kept throwing glances at large crowds, or the places you used to frequent, searching for the great mantataho — my Tatay Dong," she wrote.
She then shared how she and the 62-year-old taho vendor met.
"I met you when I was a wide-eyed freshie. We’d see each other at 7am every day, because you were stationed at the building I had my morning class in. We’d chat every morning over taho," Castro wrote.
Their daily chats became a habit, as Tatay Dong would always wait for Castro with a fresh cup of taho all throughout her undergraduate years.
Castro also shared how Corpuz gave her his only jacket after he saw him without one on a rainy day.
"I was just a daughter you picked up along the way, but you were so protective of me. One rainy day in December of 2009, I went to school without a jacket. I remember you were so concerned. So the following morning, you handed me a package along with my taho. When I opened it, it was your jacket. The one you were wearing the previous morning, and all the mornings before that. Your ~only~ jacket," she wrote.
"You wouldn’t take it back, and the only thing you said to me when I tried to give it back for the last time is, 'Nilaban ko na ‘yan, ‘Nak. Iyo na ‘yan,'" Castro added.
She eventually got the chance to return the favor by giving her Tatay Dong a new jacket. The old man would then proudly wear it, telling everyone it came from his daughter.
"You were such a huge part of my UP experience. In fact, I can’t think about UP without thinking about you. I love you so much, ‘Tay. Thank you for taking care of me during all my years in UP. Thank you for always supporting me, whether it be in sports, campus politics, or law school. Thank you for always being there," Castro wrote.
Luckily, Corpuz heard that Castro was back in UP, and they were able to meet.
"When you saw me, you immediately embraced me and exclaimed, “I missed you!” It truly felt like a homecoming. You held me so tight, and finally, I was able to tell you the words you said you’d wait to hear from me — “‘Tay, may abogado ka na.”," Castro shared.
"I hope I made you proud, ‘Tay. You deserve all the love in the world," she added.
Castro's heartwarming story has reached thousands of Facebook users. It has been shared 23,000 times, with more than 90,000 reactions.