FUKUOKA, Japan—All they wanted was to get one photo with the entire family together.
In April, sociologist Randy David found out that he was chosen to receive the prestigious 2019 Fukuoka Grand Prize. He was set to become the first Filipino to receive the honor.
He was asked to keep the news to himself until the selection committee made an official announcement. But he couldn’t keep it from his wife, Karina.
“Nasa ospital noon si Karina. Sabi niya, ‘Nakakatuwa ‘yun. Let’s all go. Our treat. Let’s bring everybody. All our children and their spouses and grandchildren," he said.
“Sabi ko, jokingly, ‘Then we have to pay for their fares?'”
Bringing the entire family to Fukuoka meant that they had to fly in their 4 children, their respective spouses and grandchildren from the United States, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines.
They thought it would be costly, but that it would be worth it to see the family in one zip code.
“Limang apo. Ranging from 18 to 5 months old. Mahirap mag-travel. Mga bata," David said.
“Sabi niya, ‘You have to buy the tickets now.’ Nagmamadali siya. So I did.”
“She was hoping na umuwi na ‘yung aming mga anak. Kasi hindi niya nahawakan 'yung pinakabunso sa mga apo namin.”
The planned September trip to Fukuoka gave Karina something to look forward to. She made arrangements with her children even as she dealt with her deteriorating health.
“She really wanted to get well. Gusto niya malakas siya. I think she knew na it was going to be the last family trip. What she and I did not quite expect was that mabilis ang pag-decline ng kaniyang kalusugan," David said.
On May 7, just a few weeks after booking the trip to Fukuoka, Karina passed away. By then, an announcement of David’s win was made public.
“It’s a bittersweet moment. Noong burol para sa wife ko… ’yung mga pumunta, nagsasabi ng condolences tapos ‘di nila alam kung paano sasabihin ang congratulations at the same time. Ganoon pala feeling noon. Magkahalo," David said.
Then came the September trip.
All 14 members of the David family arrived in Fukuoka for the awarding ceremony.
One of David’s daughters, Kara, wore her mother’s terno for the event. Another brought with her a framed photo of Karina.
“’Yung isa sa mga daughters ko, dala-dala lagi ‘yung picture ng mama nila. Tuwing may group picture kami, sinasama nila," David said.
The framed photo was also there during a private session with Japan’s Crown Prince Akishino and his wife, Crown Princess Kiko.
It was a meet and greet of sorts that was only supposed to last for a few minutes inside a hall with the Fukuoka Prize winners. The David family was told by security that they couldn’t approach or touch the royal couple.
But upon learning of what happened to Karina, the princess broke protocol and approached the family to pay respects.
“Noong nalaman niya ang pagyao ng wife ko, sabi niya, ‘I’m so sorry. I’m really very sorry, I heard," David said.
“Lumapit sa aking mga anak at kinamayan ang bawat isa sa kanila at mga apo. Tapos nakita niya yung litrato ni Karina na hawak hawak ng isang apo ko. Sabi niya, ‘Is this Mrs. David?’”
“Sabi ‘nung anak ko ‘Yes.' So hinawakan niya. She touched the photo. Sabi niya, ‘You have beautiful family.’”
“Karina was definitely there with us in spirit.”
In his speech, David dedicated the award to his wife of over fifty years.
“She’s not with us tonight but our children and grandchildren are. My wife Karina passed away in May, a few weeks after she learned that I have been chosen to receive the Fukuoka prize. She did not make it to the ceremony. This is for her," he said.
The complete family portrait taken after – the one they dreamt of having – was for her too.