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.”