One of my dad’s favorite stories about me is my first days at school. When I first went to school, I didn’t want him to leave me alone. I’d cry and throw a fit if he’d attempt to go. My classroom was at the second floor of the building, and according to my dad, I told him that he needed to place his hand on the door where I can see it. If he so much as removed it and I won’t see it, I’d cry.
I finally relented when he said it was tiring. I let him place his foot by the door instead of his hand.
This went on for a few months, until the school president had to talk to him and say I should be left alone, even if I’d cry and cry. He probably did. Big probs to my teacher Mrs. Pedrosa for keeping me in line.
During my second year at school, our room was at the very end of the corridor at the opposite end of the gate. It was dark, and scary for a five year old. However, this time I was more mature. I only let Papa stay at the gate of the school, and every so often I’d peek. I see his silhouette and I’d be fine.
My other “Dads”
My dad wasn’t the only one who endured the role of my yaya. My tito Omy would pitch in for days when my dad couldn’t go. Like my dad, he was patient with me and took my demands in stride. Even when I grew up he’d always tease me about it.
Growing up, I didn’t lack for male role models. My dad’s brothers lived with us until I was around 7 or so. Tito Omy was my alternative yaya, who taught me all sorts of things like how to make sweet munggo for a snack. Tito Abet was still studying then, and I’d keep him company in his room while he was reviewing. I’d sit quietly in my corner and do my “business”, hehe.
I also had one of their cousins, Tito Tito (yes, you read it right), who lived next door. He was still young enough to have the toys and the gadgets to amuse a kid like me. Countless afternoons were spent at their house playing or reading comics.
My mom’s brothers were also a constant in my life. Tito Del was older by only six years, so he was more of a playmate than an uncle. He was my inspiration when it comes to art, because he can draw and make comics. I still have some of our early sketches (I was six, he was twelve and we drew topless women. Hahaha!). Tito Ben was a font of information even before, and he always had something for me. I remember him making a sketch of me. So you can guess where a good chunk of my for-the-meantime-dormant artistic skills come from.
Then there’s my dad’s cousins Tito Noel, Tito Edwin and Tito Babot. Tito Noel and Edwin lived with us for a few years. Tito Babot would visit us every so often (he lives in Davao). All of them are generous and fun and wonderful to be with.
I also had my parents’ in-laws. Tito Athan I didn’t at all while growing up, but I knew him through his brother Tito Edgar. I’m happy that I see him every few years, and got to know him. Skype rocks di ba? 😀 Tito Vic was the quiet one, but as I grew older I appreciated his steadiness, his generosity and humor. He is also a geek in the truest sense of the word.
And of course, there’s my grandfathers. Mama’s dad Lolo Oning, and Papa’s dad Lolo Sal. As a kid, I was more partial to my grandmothers. My granddads seemed to be larger than life men, a little more distant than my lolas. Yet in their own way, they showed how much they love me, my siblings and my cousins. Both were well-educated, accomplished men who could be counted on. I never doubted that they love me.
To my Papa, my Lolo Sal, my titos and Ninongs, Happy Father’s Day! Thank you for the guidance, the inspiration, the love.