Remembering Tatay on his 90th Birthday

Tatay would have turned 90 last Feb 26.  He left us more than almost nine years ago, a little it more than a year when our Nanay suddenly left us in 2006.


He was an intense man….he is very forceful with his clients and seem not to have any sweetness in the way he talks with people. When I was a small girl, and he was a practicing lawyer…I would always run away everytime clients would visit our house and consult him on legal matters.  Why?  He seems to be so abrupt with them, shouts a lot but also gives them advise. I vowed that I will never be a lawyer.

With us, he is also abrupt, spews a lot of “lightning” word…which I also got when I was i my teens.  But, we feel his love for us… every weekend he will transform into a farmer, carpenter or any jack of all trade at home and in our backyard.  I remember we have a lot of fruits trees that Tatay planted.  We enjoyed different varieties of guavas, makopa, santol, pomelo, balingbing etc.  There are also a lot of coconut trees which provide tuba for drinking of the adults and the rest are turned into vinegar.  Coffee drank by the adults came also from the backyard together with Lolas cacao which are processed into tablea.  I was very sickly when I was small and Tatay would always bring us to the river early in the morning to sunlight can relieve my coughs and asthma.  Then he would build a well on the side of the river where we get water to take a bath.  Oh those were simple days…the river at the back of our property is so clean, the neighborhood would get their supply of water and wash clothes.  It is only us that do not get water from the river nor wash clothes as we have our own well with water pump.

Although I am in awe with him,  I think I idolize him.  He and my aunt inculcated in my mind that I have to study in the best school in the country, the University of the Philippines.  My father’s family is not rich, my grandfather was an ambulant vendor while my Lola was a housewife.  Despite this, they were able to send all their children to school and finish in Universities in Manila. Education is very important to our family…at that time.

Tatay at UP

This is Tatay’s picture in the Philippinesian, the Yearbook of the University of the Philippines. He graduated Bachelor of Laws from the College of Law in UP Diliman. We looked for the Yearbook but we can not find it…I remember the page where his picture is a bit dirty compared to the others as my sister & I would always kiss it.

Tatay encouraged my passion for drawing and storytelling.  He would bring a lot of scratch paper from his Office and I would occupy myself withdrawing( like comics with stick people and telling stories about it at the same time.  I outgrew that passion when I entered formal school as there were already a lot of homework at that time.  While I was studying, it was Tatay who gives my allowance.  In highschool, my allowance was P5 for the whole week ( I stay in a dormitory within the campus) but usually I spend half of it every Monday as we would go to Downtown Cafe and eat the best chocolate cake in the city .  Every Wednesday, I would call him t the Office ot at Tatay Miguel’s place to ask for additional allowance.  He would shout but would always give additional money.

Even during the time when I was already married, he was still the same intense always shouting Tatay but we know that he loves us so much.

He had a mild stroke ( we only knew later when he had a check up) and starting that time his mind has deteriorated.  He was not reading newspapers nor watching television anymore.  He would just stay in his room and listen to the radio.  He eventually had Alzheimers disease and we had a hard time getting along with him especially Nanay who has to deal with him everyday.  When Nanay passed away, we were so afraid that he will immediately follow her as he is so dependent on Nanay…but his Alzheimers was a blessing. He accepted her death and seemed to forget her. We were so grateful for this but caring for him was so stressful especially to my sisters.  He passed away one and a half years after Nanay left us.

We miss you Tatay.  I know that you still look after us in Heaven. I also know that you are happy with Nanay.


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