papa rests.

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And now the dust has settled.

Maybe it was a blessing that I wasn’t able to prepare for your eulogy during your wake. As always, I tried to keep myself busy and occupied by the little things because the big voices and feelings inside me are way too much to handle. But if I was to say something about you, it would probably sound something like this:

When I was young, my papa was everything to me.

Maybe it was because everyone gushed on how much I looked like him. “Kamukhang kamukha ni boy”, they would say. And I loved it. I loved our almost everyday trips to Ongpin or Luneta, the nightly order in of Aroma after dinner while he watches basketball or boxing, and our grocery trips to Unimart where in I point to just one item and come home with a box. When there were things that I wanted (but really couldn’t say out loud because that was rude, to ask for what you want) he would just ask, “Good girl ka ba?” to which I would immediately nod to yes with all my heart. I loved sitting at his lap while he let me drive his stainless owner jeep. I used to think I was driving it on my own, but he had one hand steering the wheel with me. I was my papa’s girl. He had his boys, but I was his only girl.

And then one day, my papa became a stranger.
No more trips, no more take outs, no more grocery shopping. But life, as it turns out, had to keep moving on. No more christmases handing out envelopes to our neighbors, no more birthdays, or big events that he was there. On such occasions, I would look at my self in the mirror and silently whisper in the little band-aids in my heart how I wish he would have been there. On my prom night, I remember looking at myself wishing he was there, and then realized I didn’t, because I had all that make up plastered in my face. (kabuki face with all that shiny eyeshadow, kemown! right? right?) He would have never approve of such… excessiveness. Because that’s the kind of guy he was. Just white shirts and slippers.

I never hated him though. I just truly missed him. I guess I understood the practicality of it, but my heart kept searching for that love that I thought I had lost. I kept him him with me by just wearing plain shirts and slippers, all the time, everytime it was possible.

Of course, life couldn’t be that simple, and so one day, my papa became a visitor.

We started to see him again, and in these little trips to Balut or Spring Deer or Aristocrat, he would buy little trinkets for us. Pins saying “best daughter/son” or little dolls and cars. When he would give it to us he would say, ” diba yan ang gusto mo?” Diba taga Assumption ka? Diba naging Man for Others ka sa Ateneo?” and sometimes my heart would crack because he was just stuck to that time when he was my papa. And so, we would order the same things we did when we were younger, and talk about the same things when we were still living with him.

In a way, it was a blessing, because he wasn’t able to see how much we have changed and grew up. He just saw us as his little kids who would still be happy with little trinkets which would just usually accumulate dust in our home. And so, no matter how small, I always love the little things, and the little trips, and the little meals that we would have.

In the latter part of his life, he started going to our house in Quezon City during Christmas time. The first time he ever did that, my eyes grew wide and my heart felt like it was about to burst sunshine out of it. I felt it was the best Christmas ever. I had one eye on my mom’s visitors and my other eye on him. and Papa was just quietly going around the house, looking at our pictures, smiling at the people that he had never met. I remember giving him a tour of the house like a kid showing her papa a painting that she did in class. Good times, good times.

And in the last months of his life, my papa became a human being. A man, made up of flesh and bones, heart and soul. I saw a man so raw of the feelings that we all usually hide behind the walls we have so carefully built to protect us so fiercely. I saw him happy, sad, angry, remorseful, and scared. And in those moments, how could I even hold a grudge to the man who is half responsible for creating me? How can I not give him the peace that he deserves?

Papa, there are so many things I wish you have taught me. but as I have forced myself to do this introspection before I internally combust, you not teaching me things have forced me to learn things on my own, and that’s not such a bad thing after all. The priest in your last mass said, “what an honor it is to have Manuel as your father, because out of the millions of fathers there is in the world, he was chosen to mold who you’ve become right now. ” and what a journey you have given me papa, most of the time bittersweet but I promise I have come out of it a bit better and a bit wiser all the time.
I’ve missed you for the past 24 years of my life, but I won’t miss you anymore because this time I know you will always be with me. I won’t have to worry about you not knowing the real me because right now, you are probably getting a blow by blow commentary on how I have spent the last 33 years of my life. I only wish I can make you proud, and be the woman you always imagined I would be.
I never lost your love. I’ll always be your little girl. I’ll always be your good girl. But now it’s okay, you can let go of the steering wheel. Let me take it from here.

Rest well, papa. One day, we’ll see each other again.

pa-gas tayo ma.

nakaugalian na naming mag-ina na tuwing uuwi ako ng sabado ng umaga ay magpapafull tank ako para sa 1 nanamang linggong pagmamaneho. sa higit kumulang na limang minutong biyahe mula sa aming bahay hanggang sa gas station, tumatalon ang aming usapan mula sa mga telenovela na kanyang pinapanood at sa sobrang hindi pa gasgas na usapang eskwelahan.

di naiiba ang umagang ito at ang aming naging topic ay ang aking subject mamaya na land titles and deeds. ok naman din, na rereview ko ang utak ko at dahan dahang pinagtatagpi-tagpi ang iba pang mga subject na nauugnay dito. nabanggit ko narin sa kanya na malapit na ang midterms ko.

sa kanyang pagbaba kay pepita, pahapyaw niyang sinabing, “alam mo, matuturuan naman kita sa busorga. madali lang yon anak eh.” ang utak ko ay nagpasingaw ng isang malalim na buntong hininga.

ganito kasi yan eh. sa dami ng pinag-aaralan mo sa abogasya, imposibleng lahat ng bagay ay alam mo sa isang utos mo sa brain neurons mo. pero dahil abogado ka na, kaya mo nang lusutan ang lahat ng bagay kasi dikit-dikit naman ang lahat ng batas. kung baga pagtinanong ka ng, “ano ba ang palabas sa Channel 2 pag dating ng 8PM?” pwede mong sagutin ng, “malamang telenovela yon, at siguradong ang pamagat ay hango sa isang OPM na kanta.”
di mo masasabing mali ka talaga, dahil tama naman na telenovela yon. di mo lang alam yung eksaktong sagot dun sa tanong. pero lusot kung lusot.

naiintindihan ko naman ang nanay ko. feeling ko hindi pako pinapanganak ay matagal niya nang pinapangarap na magkaanak na mag-aabogasya. siguro sa utak niya, nakikita niyang tinuturuan niya ang anak niya ng lahat ng nalalaman niya.

nung nagsimula naman ako e ganon naman ang nangyari. kasi wala talaga kong alam. lahat ng sabihin niya ay tama. lahat parang ang galing. pero nung mejo may nalalaman nako, shempre, nakakasagot sagot na ng konti, hindi na katulad ng dating sumasang-ayon ako sa lahat ng bagay. at sa tingin ko, tama lang din na ganon, dahil nag-aaral ako na maging abogado, hindi guidance counselor.

nung pagpasok ko, sabi ko sa kanya, “o sige. ganito. pag nasagot mo tong tanong ko, na hindi mo nirerelate sa tax ang sagot, papayag akong turuan moko.”

kung isusulat ko pa ang naging word-minton namin ay aabutin ako ng long weekend. e mahirap din naman ihiwalay ang tax sa sagot dahil partnership ang tinanong ko. so malamang related nga sha sa tax. pero hindi kasi pwedeng yun ang mga isagot ko.

kagaya nga ng sinabi ko kanina, hindi mali ang sagot, pero hindi rin tama. at dahil nag-aaral pako, hindi pwedeng palusot pa ang mga sagot ko dahil may hinahanap na sagot ang teacher ko. at malamang batukan ako ng teacher ko pag sinagot ko sila ng, “because the law so provides.” *nginig*

hayaan mo ma, konting tiis nalang at magtataxation nako. doon talaga, pangako, maniniwala ako sa lahat ng sasabihin mo. di nako makikinig sa guro ko. gagawin kong lunes ang schedule non para buong araw ng linggo ay pwedeng nating mabuo ang mga pangarap mo. pero sa ngayon,

ma, pa-gas tayo.

papa’s day.

my mom and dad separated when i was in grade 3. nothing really formal. in the eyes of the law, they are still legally married, but they never shared the same bed again.

i remember when i was younger, it was really tough for me since i was such a papa’s girl. when me and my mom would argue, she would always tell me that not only did i look a lot like my father, i also acted like him. ¬†and because of that, i have romanticized the image of my father. that everything would probably be better off if we stayed with him instead of my mom.

but now i know that it can never be the same with my mom and dad, and that’s really fine. along with growing up, i began to see my dad for what he really is: a human being.

he’s a chainsmoker and a womanizer. he owned a gun as early as 16 years old and always gets into fights. he was kicked out of high school and he never finished college. he was never affectionate, and the only language of love that he knew was to be a provider, and it was not even that regular. he curses a lot, and is irritatingly stubborn.

but even after all of that, it all boils down to this: he is my papa. without him, i wouldn’t be here right now. and that’s all that matters to me.

i spent the day with him today. half-heartedly, to be honest, since i had a 3 hour class tomorrow that i seriously needed to study for. i only went because the last time i saw him was last january, and it was also for a family dinner. today would have been no different, since it was the only thing we knew to do – dinner and his monologue of his past and present troubles.

when we got there, he gave me a present. it was an “i love UST” pin from papemelroti. the last time i even entered that shop was when i was in grade 7, and uso pa ang papemelroti non. it couldn’t have been more then 50 pesos but it tugged my heart so badly. “diba diyan ka nagaaral ngayon, anak? kaya yan ang binili ko. binilan din kita ng angel (na pin din) para may magbabantay sayo parati.”

he brought my brother an ateneo pin. “wala kasi akong makitang mapua, pero man for others ka diba? atenista ka parin.”

our conversation always started like that – with, “diba gusto mo yung…. diba favorite mo yung…” as if trying to affirm that he still knew us. that i still wanted that sotanghon from aristocrat or chocolate mousse from kfc. and it is still correct. somehow, a part of me kept these things because it reminds me of him and what we had when i was a kid, but also, it reminded me on how much he doesn’t know me anymore, that sadly, i am not that little girl that wanted that hello kitty pencil case from greenhills so badly.

i want our relationship to grow. he told me he was also a supporter of gibo. it was the first time i ever high-fived my dad. i wanted to tell him that i also smoked winston lights (and can i have one please!) but he is old, and the wounds of his past are already too deep for me or anyone else to pull him out of it. and here’s the truth – he’s never there during my birthdays. he wasn’t there during my graduations, and i can only dream and hope he would be there for my wedding. i will never have that father and daughter relationship i’ve always dreamed of, but i love him because he is my dad. how simple and complicated is that?

and tonight, as we ate our dinner with me telling him that law school was hard, my papa looked at me from across the table and said, “ganon ba? anak, kaya mo yan. ako di ako nakapagtapos ng pagaaral, kasi akala ko ok na yung mayaman ako, pero ikaw, matalino ka, mana ka sa mama mo, kaya mo yan.”

there was nothing else i could ask for.

happy father’s day papa. i love you.

bakit ba lahat ng pictures namin ay may hawak akong doggie bag?

“And I love you so
The people ask me how
How I’ve lived ’til now
I tell them I don’t know”

in which i talk about cheerleaders

one thing i admire most about cheerleaders is their uncanny ability to become that headaching sunlight to a dark cast sky.

“who cares if the team is behind 45 points! we have 5 more minutes to go!”

now, normal human beings would be calculating at this point, saying, “nah, that’s impossible already. wala na to.talo na.”

cheerleaders would go, “all you have to do is make 9 points per minute and we can tie this game!!”

nice math, but hey, libre lang mangarap.

this sucks me back to my DLSU days, watching the always anticipated, always legendary, UAAP DLSU-ADMU finals. the year was 2002, and we were defending our 4 peat championship. after the two “given” games for the finals, game 3 was on hand. i was just a sophomore back then, but watching the finals in Araneta Coliseum gives you this certain glow and passion for your school. i have trouble remembering the exact things that happened that day (especially since i just keep nudging my seatmate to ask what’s happening each time the referee blows his whistle) but what i remember the most is that we never stopped cheering until that final buzzer. everytime DLSU would score, we would cheer as if it was the winning point. never mind that we were 7 points behind in the end. what mattered is that we stuck by our team and still held our heads up high. i vaguely remember a text quote going something like, “even the great archer has to lower down his arrow in order for the young eagle to fly..” or something like that. there were no more talks of, “dapat eto ginawa mo, mali kasi ang systema mo.”

tapos na eh. alam mo yon?

i think that’s a true definition of a cheerleader. you can do pessimism all by yourself. it’s the “you can do it” that you have to be reminded of.

but i do get it. of course, one has to look at his past mistakes in order to create a brighter future. but i think what’s more important than that, is staring back at the present to actually start doing that brighter future.

my point is, if you’re going to be my cheerleader and my number one fan, stop talking as if i was built to lose.

i’m out.