Dad by Mario Aningat

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He is known by many names: Marianito, Nitoy, Brod, Lolo, Tatay, Uncle, but I knew him as “Dad” and I share the privilege of addressing him as such with of course my four siblings.

     Dad referred to himself as “the boy from the barrio,” but he said this with pride as he recounted tales of his youth to us and later on, his grandchildren to give us a glimpse of his origins, as well as impart valuable lessons in life. He came into existence during the time when patriarchy was strongly emphasized even in the smallest households, and his family was no exception. He was also the eldest son, and thus was compelled to take on responsibilities at an early age.

One of the most unforgettable things he taught me was the importance of education, hard work, and perseverance. He used to walk 5 miles a day just to get to school, and even rode a carabao despite the uncomfortable seat it provided because he wanted to be educated, and become the best he can be later on in life. To my mind, he succeeded.

Theboy from the barrio got his college education from the premier state university, became a member of two of the most prestigious fraternities in UP, became the District Collector of the Port of Manila when he was still with the Bureau of Customs. These are only some of the remarkable feats he achieved during challenging times, and in spite of the limited resources available to him. But he was more than the sum of his parts.

He was also a loving husband and father, even if he was a strict disciplinarian. He was a harsh critic but he did instill the value of becoming the best version of one’s self.  He was not the vocal/expressive parent but he saw to it that each of us, his children, got what we needed. He loved nature, plants and even raised chickens at our home in Marikina at some point simply because he missed life at the barrio.

He taught me to be generous especially to the less fortunate, as this somehow multiplied one’s blessings a thousandfold.

I have met many who will readily attest to the kindness of his heart despite the occasional colorful language. He actually loved music, despite his denials in the past, and during his penultimate night I even had the pleasure of singing with him while we were in the hospital.

He raised the bar very high that I will be more than happy to achieve even a fraction of what he managed despite adverse conditions.

Until we meet again I will continue to strive to be the best I can be, just as he taught me.

He was a lot of things to a lot of people but he was my hero, and for me he will always be “Dad.”

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A tribute from the Vanguard Fraternity

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Goodbye Dad

Preparing for Korean War
1st Platoon “A” Company

“ANIÑGAT, MARIANITO, Sir.” These were the last words my Dad kept repeating while at his deathbed. As if he was reporting for duty.  My sister Ma. Shura Wickens and I were wondering whether he was talking to St. Peter at the Pearly Gates or just reminiscing his green beret days.

Here is to the man who gave me life, a good provider, a shouter, a soldier and best of all, a father. My dad was the Corps Commander at the University of the Philippines, Class 56. He was an officer at the UP Vanguard and Head of the Upsilon Sigma Phi. Words are not enough to describe the kind of man and the influence he continues to have on me. He sent me to law school and gave me the best toys; a daughter could never ask for more.

No regrets Dad.

My Father, Marianito I. Aniñgat
My father, Marianito I. Aniñgat, after his training for Korean War.

My advice to children with a dying parent: have a checklist of what you want to do for your parent before your checklist becomes a checklist of regrets.  I will share with you my checklist:

  1. Give him sweet cherries.
  2. If he wants to visit his favorite barbershop, bring him.
  3. If he wants to hear you sing, by all means, give him a concert.
  4. Even if he does not wish to see a priest, bring a priest.
  5. If he wants a picture framed,  frame it.

The checklist varies from one family to another. It could go on and on and in all probability, different from mine. To be honest, I was able to comply with all four. However, I failed to frame a picture, this picture:

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My goal was to lessen my regrets in case Dad leaves. I still feel an ounce of guilt for not having framed this one while he was still alive.

Death is inevitable but as children, we should make a lot of good memories  to make our parents’ death, peaceful and regret free. Good bye for now, Daddy.

Dad was giving my brother Ramon, a thumb sign after his medical check up.
Dad was giving my brother Ramon a thumb sign after his last Medical check up.

Strange things happen during Halloween

Unfaithful to what I pledged last year, I had a bit of Halloween celebration. That is, by dressing up. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a far cry from my decade long style of celebrating this pagan custom. And as the old saying goes, old habits die hard.  Right or wrong, my kids and I always treated this occasion as a photo opportunity. Thus,

 

You must agree with me that Miguel’s eyes, reminiscent of the Village of the Damned, added to the creepiness of the photo.

My sons’ pictures above were regular; nothing special nor spectacular. However, when it was my turn, this happened.

The  second picture below, using an I phone, was taken by the lady whose head was mysteriously included in the photo. Don’t ask me what app was used because we did not use any. In fact, the photographer, the owner of the floating head, freaked out.

Strange things do happen during Halloween.

Feeding the Birds

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The last time I had a pet dog was during law school days. It was an afghan hound- very tall and very hairy. All law students would agree that if you are studying law, you spend hours and hours poring over the pages of your law books even during ordinary days to prepare for a possible graded recitation. Considering that my schooling usually ends at night, I didn’t have the time to bond with my dog until it died of a broken heart. Like humans, dogs have feelings too. My heart sank when I came home one night to find it lying down motionless. Fearing that another dog would suffer the same fate, I had to satisfy my “maternal instinct” by turning to turtles and birds instead of a furry friend. With dogs, there is the constant fear of outliving my pet again. Further, dogs have emotional needs. To my mind, birds and turtles are not as  emotional as  dogs. As  I write, my brother Ramon is grieving  the loss of his dog-Clotty. Clotty was ran over by a truck the other night. He died instantly.

Cloty when he was still alive.
Clotty when he was still alive.

In 1995, my older brother Luis gave me a female umbrella head cockatoo. My Family simply calls it Parrot but I named it Tak tak then my kids later on named it Nigel based from the evil cockatoo in the Disney movie RIO.  I bought it a mate in 2005 but its mate escaped.Its been twenty two years and for the third time, Nigel  escaped its cage. Nigel dashed out of its cage when my Mom opened the cage to feed it.

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Nigel  is currently on top of a tree in our backyard.

 

We feed Nigel by putting sunflower seeds and balingbing  (star fruit) in the basket.
Can you spot the bird? My blogger son, RG tries to bribe Nigel with sunflower seeds.

The nice thing about Nigel is it merely stays in the garden hopping from branch to branch. Occasionally it visits its cage but clearly, it has no intention of staying there.  My current predicament is feeding it because the trees are too high. Further, Nigel has developed the habit of walking on the grounds searching for fallen fruits  and scattered sunflowers- a potential meal for a lot of stray cats.  Studies have shown that  stray and feral cats have contributed to the decline of uncaged  birds. I decided to put a basket in a Bignay tree. So far it is working.

More on feeding the birds, my children just wasted one jar of birdseed to feed the neighbors’ pigeons which took up residence in our roof. The nice thing about feeding the uncaged birds  is  that you don’t have to worry about cleaning their surroundings. However, the danger lies in the spread of diseases.

 

In closing, I leave you with a quote made by Anatole France which goes: Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.

 

Painting Again

I never knew I could paint again until I tried. It’s been two decades since I picked up the brush and the palette. In this day and age of confusion, art is a great  stress reliever: or is it? Art is considered a stress reliever if you are not being commissioned to do it. Meaning, you are not time bound nor pressured to finish the painting tailor made according to the client’s specifications.   It’s a good thing that lawyering, my main profession, is not similar to  painting in which the client almost always can dictate the outcome.

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Here we are during the opening of the Art Exhibit.

On 24 April 2017, around 20 listed and declared artists in our office convened and showcased their painting/artistic talents. I was among the privileged to showcase my two artworks. Here are my contributions:

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From left to right: Let it blow, let it blow (Snowflakes) and The Prophecy of Simon (Jesus)

Your eyes do not deceive you. The featured image resemble the painting at the right. The earlier artwork was done in watercolor and painted by yours truly 23 years ago. It is more detailed and admittedly, more beautiful than the recent copy. Painstakingly reproducing it brought frustration and immense difficulty because the goal was to produce a better or clearer version of my earlier masterpiece. Reproducing it was in itself a journey. Imagining does not translate well into canvass if its rarely done. Focusing on that thought and thereafter releasing it through movement onto the canvass are two different things. You will be surprised that I literally prayed to Jesus (in my painting) to allow me to finish the painting in time for the Art exhibit. The recent copy although it is not as detailed as the original,  is not entirely a failure.  I merely  allowed my emotions to dictate what comes out: not mind. If I may say so, although I meant for the recent copy to look like the original, what turned out was  – just an expression of my soul.

After finishing the two paintings in eight days, I never expect I would actually be excited to finish some more.

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This is me with fellow lawyer, Atty. Jannel Cajote during the art workshop under Fidel Sarmiento.

Growing Old

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My parents

When I was 5, I wanted to grow up. So many rides, too many height requirements. I  was impatient about growing old.

When I was 10, I wanted to be 15 because I had a crush who was 18.

When I turned 18, I felt like an adult, but  not yet capable of paying my bills.

When I turned 22, someone broke my heart and I wished I was 18 again.

When I turned 29, I fell in love again, only to have my heart broken again and again and again.

When I reached 35,  I worried about the additional pounds gained.

When I reached 40, worried some more about getting old or dying young.

Talked to my father who is 82 years old, who never thought he would reach 80.

He drank too many beers and smoked too much cigars, survived Vietnam war and crashed on a post when he was 53.

He said,”You see, too many familiar names in the obituary. I don’t think I would be happy to live a few more years until I reach a point that you have to wipe me with a tissue.”

“Life is short Anak, let go of the hurt and remember only the love and good times.”

He said his life is filled with regret that he did not meet up with his friends only to find out that they already died.

He always said that if only he could apologize for the wrong things said or wrong things done to his kids when they were young he would do so. He was also busy growing up during that time.

Nobody could have said it better than a man who drank a lot of beers, smoked a lot and crashed on a post.

So enjoy the little things with your kids, because when you grow up, the little things turn out to be the big things.

Priestly Love

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Pray for your priests.  (Photo credits to the owner)

This post was supposedly intended for Valentines day. Well, I meant to write it sooner but due to several deadlines, now is the perfect time. So, here goes. Is there such a thing as love at first sight for priests and nuns? I don’t mean to be cheesy but can nuns and priests survive on God’s love alone ?A conversation with three priests revealed that they have feelings too and that they are prone to falling  in love. It’s just a matter of staying in love or acting on that love which makes love highly reprehensible or simply put, sinful.

When a priest falls in love, love becomes evil because our society mandates that priests remain celibate until they retire. On the the other hand, the woman who is similarly lonely/attracted could either reciprocate that love which makes her an evil temptress or choose to ignore  her feelings for the priest which is what social norms dictate and highly expect of her.

Recently,  Pope Francis raised the possibility  of ordaining married men given the shortage of priests. The pope ruled out the prospect of allowing single men who are already priests to marry but was open to the idea of allowing unmarried laymen or men already married to be ordained.

So what happens now to the priests who fall in love and want to celebrate their love freely with their partners? In our Catholic faith, it is either they get out of the ministry or simply give in to their hearts’desire but  risk  appearing sinful/taboo in the eyes of the public.

In this season of lent, let us pray for our priests. They become scarcer by the number because not many are attracted to the idea of a lonely mandated celibacy for life.

 

#maguinolbay