My father was born March 10, 1949. If he lived, he’d be 61-years old, retired from the Philippine Army, a grandpa, and cooking his favorite Papaitan as pulutan (appetizer) for his birthday drinking party. He died prematurely in 1991 at the age of 41 on my mother’s birthday and their wedding anniversary. When he left us, my mother was in her early 30’s. I was 13-years old then, my sister was 11-years old, and my bother JC was a 9-month old baby. He was ‘Papang‘ to us, and ‘Papa Charlie‘ to everyone else.
I have once written about the day my father died. Today on his birthday, my sister, Jessica, writes about how he lived.
My Father on his early 20's
I may have several men in my life, but few that stayed in my heart even when they were gone. It’s my father’s birthday today, and although he passed away a long time ago, his memories linger in the present.
My father was a simple man. Simple but firm. He left us with too many good memories that even with my young age, i already treasured. My father was one of the few good men I have known in my life. Not even once have I experience any verbal nor physical abuse from him. He might have been a tough soldier back then, but when it comes to his family, he was so gentle and protective. He was very proud of me and my sister. I remember when he and his friends were drinking, he would let me sing in front of his friends and tell them how good my voice was(hehe, this is the reason why i always believed i have a beautiful voice even if nobody agrees). I always sang “The Greatest Love of All”. I memorized it. My father was very good in drawing and math. He always took the time to sit with us and teach us everything he knows and helped us in our assignments. My father, just like my mother is very good in advicing us in how we should see life. He would tell us that we should respect other people so other people will respect us too. He was also keen on discipline. Every morning at 7, he would jog just to make sure he stays fit. Every sunday, we go to mass and visit “Fort Pilar” (a place in Zamboanga for Catholics to worship Virgin Mary). When we go to this place, he made sure that he gave coins to the beggars lined up inside the worship place.
My Father on his early 20's
If there was one legacy that my father left with us, it was his thoughs in education. We were poor. My father was a soldier. My mother was a housewife. Although this was the case, my father sent us to the best school there was in our place. He always told us that we might be poor and he might not have any material thing that he can leave us when he dies, but he would be able to leave us the best education and we can carry that even to our grave.
When he died I was 11, my sister 13 and my brother just a few months old, I had that legacy engraved in my heart. I am thankful for the wisdom he left us. My sister and I were scholars in high school and college. We maybe struggling then, but because of hard work and my father’s legacy and my mother’s fighting spirit(which I am also thankful for), we were able to graduate with flying colors. My sister worked as a programmer for a while and now married and happy. I, after a couple of years of trying to find a job that will suit me, is for now content working in a TeleComs company. My brother is already in college and hopefully he would also find what he really wants in life.
To my father, although we have not spent too many years together, I still feel your presence. I will not be who I am today if not for the things that you have taught us. They may not be material things. They are greater! And no one can take those away from us. It is in my heart and in my soul. I love you Pang!