On Being Blissful: The Things that Make Me Happy

Okay, so people who have known me for years know that by nature, I am a whiner. It’s not that I was a given a bad lot in life, I just find it oddly cathartic to whine. I also used to have this notion that whininess =honesty: So if you share your troubles with others, or if you give them a heads up that you’re not totally keen on what they’re doing to you, then you’re being upfront. And I’m all for being upfront. So I end up whining. These reasons were exacerbated by this crazy superstition that I swear by; I believe you can preempt an unfortunate event from happening (or getting worse) if you talk about it. For me, it’s as if I’m giving a heads up to the universe, “hey, I’m on to you. So whatever practical joke you’re about to play on me, stop it.”

The thing is though, I realized that all my whining has made me a Debbie Downer. You know those people whose facebook statuses you hide on your wall just because they’re always so emo? Well I became one of them.

And it’s not just about what others thought of me too. I always prided myself on being able to be alone for long, long periods of time without getting bored or restless. But my whining had slowly infringed on my “me time” and I got to the point where I would get really anxious thinking of all the “problems” and “injustices” that I had to go through.

That’s when I realized that things have got to change. I mean, it’s one thing to be perceived as insufferable by others. You can’t please everyone after all. But if you can’t stand your own nega vibes, then dude, it’s time to take a chill pill.

Last year, a few months after I got married, I started a gratitude journal. The idea is everyday I would write about things that I’m thankful for. My list isn’t always major or life changing. Sometimes, I just tick down simple stuff, like being able to sleep well the night before (I’m an insomniac so that’s actually pretty major) or being able to make edible cream of mushroom soup from scratch (ok, again, if you guys know how much of a dud I am in the domestic department, that’s actually pretty major too). But I noticed that as the weeks passed by, listing down all these happy things made me realize how good my life really is.

One of my blog mentors, Martine (her blog is pretty awesome, makeitblissful.com), gave us an assignment and asked us to write down things that make us blissful. Much to my surprise, it didn’t take long for me to come up with things. What actually made it harder was narrowing my list down;  so now I’m forced to divide my list into two. The significant list and my cutesy simple things list.

Posting the significant one first. Will publish my cutesy list next time.

Being married and more importantly being married my husband

 I will not get into details because I plan to write a long, sappy post about our relationship to commemorate our boyfriend-girlfriend anniversary (yes, we still celebrate that. After being together for more than a decade, we feel that it’s still more of a feat than the measly 1 ++ years we’ve actually been married).

I find I find that being married has given me such peace and happiness in life. And knowing that I married “the (right) one” has made things even more blissful.

We’re not always passionately, “The Notebook” happy.. I think our marriage is more like a Tina Fey-Steve Carrell movie than a Ryan Goslin-Rachel McAdams one. We don’t spend our days sharing our hopes and dreams while holding hands and gazing into each other’s eyes. If anything, because we’re technically an old couple, we skipped the honeymoon period and went straight to practical and mundane. But simply put, I married my best friend. And when you’re with your best friend, even the most boring of activities, like grocery shopping or driving across SLEX every single week can be quite entertaining.

And just like my bffs, I feel totally secure with my husband. I can say the most inappropriate things (he’s usually more inappropriate anyway), cook the most inedible meals and examine my newly -acquired wobbly bits indifferently because I know at the end of the day it will not change the way he feels about me. (Well, there was a moment of doubt when I miscalculated the amount of chicken needed for a recipe and ended up just giving him 2 pieces. He seriously looked like he was contemplating why we were together at all. :P).

Even during supposedly poignant, loving moments my husband and I just end up bursting into inappropriate laughter

Even during supposedly poignant, loving moments my husband and I just end up bursting into inappropriate laughter

Needless to say, we were not poised and composed during our wedding program

Needless to say, we were not poised and composed during our wedding program

Family

There’s a saying that goes you can’t choose your family but you can choose your friends. The funny thing about it is, even if I was made to live a different life, I would still choose the family I have now.

I remember my husband telling me how he finds it baffling how my parents (dad included when he was still alive), my brother and I could spend hours and hours and hours just talking to each other. That’s when I realized how incredibly blessed I am to be part of a family that I actually like hanging out with.

My dad, was my confidant and my source strength. My mom has always been my cheerleader, the one person I could count on to not only to support me, but to make me feel like I’m the sh*t. My brother never fails to make me make me laugh with his absurd sense of humor even when I’m in the throes of one of my heartfelt melodramas.

Like other individuals who spend an enormous amount of time together, we have our fair share of squabbles. We also tease each other mercilessly, without regard for each other’s self-esteem. At the end of the day however, we sincerely love and respect each other.

The great thing about it is, over the years, I’ve gotten to appreciate my extended family as well. I used to whine (I did mention I was a whiner) about my parents being overly-involved with the lives of our relatives, but truth be told, my life wouldn’t be fun without all my quirky uncles, aunts and cousins.

The last Christmas we spent with papa

The last Christmas we spent with papa

My brother and I like goofing up in front of the camera. Mom was clearly not on board. She wanted her beauty shots

My brother and I like goofing up in front of the camera. Mom was clearly not on board. She wanted her beauty shots

My close-knit extended family

My close-knit extended family

 

Friends

I’ve been blessed with a great set of friends. I’ve known most of them since I was in my teens  and we sort of started hanging out because we had certain things in common (going to the same church group, being in the same block in college). But despite having outgrown all these common things, and despite us having somewhat disparate lives, we’ve managed to keep our friendship intact.

I know that these friends are for keeps because we’ve been through just about everything together. We’ve comforted each other through heartbreaks, deaths, career and financial upheavals, and have celebrated new relationships, marriages, child births and promotions together. I also know they can’t get rid of me that easily because I’ve managed to worm my way into their families’ lives as well. (I lived in Taytay, so I was a squatter for most of my college and young adult life. I shamelessly took advantage of their parents’ hospitality and would spend days at their houses. I’ve become such a familiar fixture that even their long-time house helpers would get cheeky with me. Whenever I visit my friends’ houses, they would unabashedly ask me why I’m not pregnant yet and would offer unsolicited advice on how I can loose my “excess” weight)

Truth be told, I would have been perfectly content with just my “childhood” friends. And I could live a happy life not making any more new friends. But because the universe loves me, I’ve been blessed with more people in my life. Some of these people I’ve met through work, some through my husband and surprisingly, a handful through our brief stay here in Subic.

These friends may not have know me when I was a skinny, poufy haired, outspoken teen, but my bond with each of them has grown surprisingly deep despite short time we’ve known each other.

So I guess life has a way of compensating for the things I lack. I may be a pauper in terms of finances, but I definitely have a lot of true friends I can count on (many of whom are not paupers and I could potentially mooch off of if the need arises. :P).

I love my bff's!

I love my bff’s!

My college friends back when most of them were still based in Manila. Viber still keeps us pretty much updated with each other's lives

My college friends back when most of them were still based in Manila. Viber keeps us pretty much updated with each other’s lives

These fun, awesome people  are my husband's best friends, but since we're married I'm claiming ownership  as well. :)

These fun, awesome people are my husband’s best friends, but since we’re married I’m claiming ownership as well. 🙂

 

My crazy work friends. None of us stayed  long  in the company we worked at, but it was long enough for us to form our own clique.

My crazy work friends. None of us stayed longer than 2 years in the company where we all met, but apparently that period was enough for us to form a lifetime clique.

Our whataspp group is aptly named the vodka girls.  As you can tell from the picture, we end up getting plastered every time we meet up

Our whataspp group is aptly named the vodka girls. As you can tell from the picture, we end up getting plastered every time we meet up

 

With our new subic friends. We pretty much lived a staid, isolated life in Subic. And then we became friends with Sam and Ledh,  all of a sudden we had a social life.

With our new subic friends. For a good year, we pretty much lived a staid, isolated life here. And then we became friends with Sam and Ledh, all of a sudden we have a social life.

 

Living in Subic

Okay this is another reason why I think my whining does not do any good. When my husband (who was then my boyfriend) first got an offer to work in Subic, he practically had to drag me here kicking and screaming. I spent many blog posts describing how I lamented my fate. I was seriously dreading the move, especially since I was going to be away from family and friends. But just a few months of living here and I was already eating my words.

Now, my husband has to drag me kicking and screaming every time we need to go back to Manila (still whining, I know).

Living here has filled me with such an inexplicable calm. I surprisingly love having to live away from all the “noise” that I used to thrive in back when we were still in the city.

Again, will not elaborate because I plan to write a post about why I love Subic as well. But please allow me a moment to gloat because I can’t help myself : No traffic. No floods. Enough said.

To level expectations,  this is not our view every morning.  This was actually taken in Kamana, where we got married. But why would you want to live in Manila, if you could be minutes away from this??

To level expectations, this is not our view every morning. This was actually taken in Kamana, where we got married. But why would you want to live in Manila, if you could be minutes away from this??

Home <3

Home ❤

 

 

Finding My Passion

Everyone who knows me knows that I’ve struggled with finding what I really wanted to do. Among all the careers I tried, I stuck with psychology and counseling the longest; mainly because I was genuinely interested in the field, I’ve invested so much time and effort training for it and because I was getting feedback that I was good at it. Also, at the risk of sounding immodest, being able to discern how to help people in that manner came quite naturally to me.

The funny thing that I discovered about personal callings however, is that it’s not always a matter of what you’re best at. Sometimes it’s really a matter of what makes you happy. And for people like me, those  things don’t necessarily coincide.

There are two things I realized that I want to do: I want to continue being a stay at home wife (kids are not yet, and may potentially never be, in the picture) and I want to do freelance writing.  The weird thing is, I’ve never actually considered myself good in either one.

Growing up, my family used to tease me about how helpless I was around the house. I couldn’t even boil water for crying out loud. And I’ve never operated a microwave until I my husband left me alone a couple of days after we got married with nothing but wedding food leftovers. (I had to read the manual from cover to cover before having the guts to push any of the buttons).

But once I got the hang of things, once I learned how to plan meals, cook, budget, clean, and basically do stuff to manage a household, I found myself loving every aspect of it. I’m quite proud that our helper can go on a vacation for a couple of weeks and I could boldly proclaim that I could manage without her. I love being able to anticipate my husband’s simple everyday needs and being able taking care of them even before he could ask. I love researching on new cleaning products and new recipes and trying them out. Weird I know, but scrubbing faucets until they’re shiny fills me with more satisfaction than any of my other jobs ever did.

The same thing goes with my writing. I’ve never been a total dud in this department the way I was with keeping house. All through out my academic life, I was always placed in advanced English and writing classes. But I also knew very matter of factly, and without a trace of insecurity, that I was never at par with my incredibly talented classmates.

In our college English class, my teacher (the great Doreen Fernandez, may she rest in peace) gave us mock awards at the end of the term. My classmates got “Most Likely to win a Pulitzer award” or “The Next Newberry Award Winner”, really cool literary stuff. Guess what I got? I got “Most likely to be a Seventeen Magazine Editor”. So see, I sort of knew early on that I was never going to have an illustrious writing career. Infact, when I graduated, I tried my hand in various fields, but I never even tried to get a job as a writer.

I rediscovered my passion for writing however, shortly before I got married. There is something about finding the right words to communicate your thoughts  that I find incredibly fulfilling. It’s also quite rewarding to know that you can fill people with a multitude of emotions by just putting certain words and ideas together.

Realistically, I know that being a housewife will not pay the bills. And freelance writing may help augment our expenses but it will definitely not send our future kids to Brent (if we stay in Subic) or Ateneo (a non negotiable for my husband if we go back to Manila). So I’m very open to doing other things in future if need be.

But I’m so thankful that at the very least, after years of trying on different hats, I’ve finally found a couple that actually fit.

 

So this is one of the first meals I cooked by myself.  It doesn't look like much, but I swear, it's yummy!

So this is one of the first meals I cooked by myself. It doesn’t look like much, but I swear, it’s yummy!

 

 

One of the things that give me absolute bliss. My friends and I are in the middle of setting up a customised book business.  Shamelessly plugging since it's my own blog anyway. You can message any of us for details. :)

My latest passion. My friends and I are in the middle of setting up a customised book business. Shamelessly plugging since it’s my own blog anyway. You can message any of us for details. 🙂

 

Reading through my list, it dawned of me that the things that make me the happiest are pretty basic. But I guess that’s the beauty of being blissful. It sounds incredibly simple, but I now seriously believe the cliché that was constantly being shoved down my throat by all the religion and philosophy classes that I took; happiness is being able to really appreciate the things you have.

When I gradually I let go of this belief that life is a struggle, I realized that being happy isn’t really that complex. You don’t really have to search long and hard for bliss. Happiness isn’t something that you have work for. You already have everything that you could possibly need to be happy. All that’s left for you to do is to recognise it.

 

 

 

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My Father The Hero

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It was my dad’s birthday last June 7. He would have been 64. A week after that was father’s day.  Tomorrow, we will be commemorating his fourth death anniversary. As a way of remembering his life, I decided to write about the 7 things I miss the most about him (7 was his lucky number. Yes, daddy was not cryptic).

One of my favourite pictures of me and my dad. I posted a backstory of this picture series in Instagram.  They wanted to take a picture of me with my cousins. But I would throw a fit and would refuse to be in the picture unless my dad carried me.  Notice the big smug smile on my face when he finally complied

One of my favourite pictures of me and my dad. I posted a backstory of this photo series in Instagram. They wanted to take a picture of me with my cousins. But I would throw a fit and would refuse to be in the picture unless my dad carried me.
Notice the big smug smile on my face when he finally complied

His “practicality” with money

My dad was kuripot. Unabashedly so. His prudence with money was so legendary that when he was in grade school, he won a national award. He was the thrifty boy of Makati. (My uncle, his older brother, beat him and won the regional award, the thrifty boy of Rizal. Yup, being frugal runs in the family, although sometimes it skips a generation or two. :P).

His stinginess was a running joke among the four of us and we loved to tease him about it. I started appreciating his money-savvy ways however, when I was much older.

You see, the fascinating yet perplexing thing about him was his abhorrence for credit. For him, if he didn’t have enough money to pay for something upfront, then he wouldn’t buy it. Borrowing was reserved for essential things like starting a business or investing but never for “happy” stuff like cars, gadgets or clothes. Infact, he first applied for a credit card when he was well into his fifties. And when he finally got one, they gave him a 5000 php credit limit because he had hardly had any credit history.He always preferred, as much as it was reasonably possible, to pay for his purchases, big or small, with the money he had on hand.  

I realized however, that my dad was not totally, hopelessly kuripot. He was just very prudent with his finances and was uncomfortable spending on big things that he thought were unnecessary. And, thanks largely to the influence of my shopping-loving mom, I noticed that he eventually seemed to enjoy indulging himself and his family a little bit more.

I remember distinctly when he started loosening his purse strings. He had asked me to buy him a bunch of stuff from National Bookstore, and he had around 50 bucks leftover. When I tried to give this back, he very gallantly announced that I could “keep the change.” Naks.

Seriously, he really had a good attitude towards money. If he didn’t have enough, he learned to adjust. If he had more than enough, then he splurged on a couple of small indulgences and saved/invested the rest. Money was just money. It was merely a means to a prudent end. He was never consumed by it.

This is pretty much my dad's usual gear every day. He wasn't big on designer labels and would pretty much wear whatever anyone gave him.  There was a time when he was much older , that he got into La Coste shirts (my mom would give him a bunch when she felt guilty about shopping for herself. Hehehe ). He had no idea how much they cost however, so he once gave me 1500php to buy 2. He expected me to give him back the change.

This is pretty much my dad’s usual gear every day. He wasn’t big on designer labels and would wear whatever anyone gave him. When he was well into his fifties, he got into La Coste shirts (my mom would usually give him a bunch when she felt guilty about shopping for herself. Hehehe ). He had no idea how much they cost however, so he once gave me 1500 php to buy 2. He expected me to give him back the change.

 

His high threshold for pain.  

My dad was a rock star when it came to enduring physical pain, and this was especially evident when he got sick.

I remember our frequent emergency room visits.  Because of his high tolerance for discomfort and kuripot tendencies, dad was always very reluctant to go to the hospital. Mom would usually have to wake me up because I was one of the few people who could convince him to go. (It wasn’t because of our exemplary father-daughter bond. I would just unashamedly play on his stinginess. What usually worked was when I threatened him that if he didn’t go to the ER right at that moment, things would get much worse, and we would end up having to spend more on his confinement.)

Because we know that he wouldn’t have agreed to come if he wasn’t feeling really, really bad, we’re usually frantic in the ER. I, in particular, would get quite insufferable and would badger the nurses and doctors to attend to him immediately. Dad however, would remain unperturbed. When doctors would ask him how he felt, he would just calmly munch on crackers he always had with him, and respond “Medyo… hindi normal. May konting shortness of breath.”

Doctors would give me a patronizing, we’re-dealing-with another-illogically-panicky-relative look and proceed to methodically run tests on him. But sure enough, when they get his results, several long agonizing minutes (sometimes hours) later, they would find out that his oxygen levels are really low and he’s in the throes of a massive heart attack.

(Taking this moment to express my beef with Medical City, which was the closest hospital to our place. We were in the ER a lot! They never seemed to have any sense of urgency and would never listen to the combative, half-hysterical daughter)

Even during his regular dialysis sessions, dad was a trooper. While everyone else was crying or giving the attendants attitude because the four- hour procedure was just so uncomfortable, dad would happily flirt with the nurses, listen to his ipod and sing very loudly to the Beatles.

He explained to me once that, pain was a state of mind. And most of the time, what really gets to us is not the physical sensation itself, but the fear that we feel when anticipating the pain. So he just simply willed himself to relax every time he knew that something excruciating was about to happen him.

I think his ability to control his body and discipline his reaction to pain is one of the reasons why he lived as long as he did despite having multiple chronic medical conditions. Everyone who knows him agrees that my dad passed away, not because his body involuntarily gave way, but because he decided it was time to let go.

My dad and I during one of his regular dialysis sessions. My brother bought him big ass earphones so he could listen to the  Beatles properly. They also served as his earmuffs.

My dad and I during one of his regular dialysis sessions. My brother bought him big ass earphones so he could listen to the Beatles properly. They also served as his earmuffs.

His calm, serene nature

My dad was not only a pro when dealing with physical pain, he also had this unwavering calm about him.   It was very rare to see my dad showing excessive signs of distress.

During my teenage years, when my bratty emotional angst was at its peak and my outbursts would make even Gandhi forget his vow of non-violence, I could count the number of times dad raised his voice at me. Even in the midst of a crisis, dad always, ALWAYS kept his cool.

When we were kids, a good part of our house burned down. During this time, Papa was in Quezon for some business thing.  His office got a hold of him and insisted that he go back home ASAP. (This was pre -cellular phones so communication wasn’t easy). The only thing they would tell him however, was that there was a family emergency. According to the guy who brought my dad home, he was completely composed in the car, and did not give any kind of nervous energy. This was how their conversation went:

GUY: Cool na cool kayo boss ah.

DAD: Wala rin naman kasing magagawa.

GUY: Ano sa tingin niyo nangyari?

DAD: Walang sinasabi sa kin eh. Siguro grabe kasi pinauwi nila ako agad… Sana wala lang naospital. O naaskidente.

GUY: O kaya sana walang sunog no boss?

DAD: Kung sunog ok lang. Basta safe pamilya ko.

Guy: Solved na problema niyo boss! Wag na kayong mag-isip masyado! Nasunog bahay niyo!

Sure enough, when my dad got home he surveyed the damage and methodically proceeded to take charge of the situation. His reaction did not at all mirror the devastation wreaked by the fire. Because he was calm, any lingering trauma that the incident caused was quickly erased from our minds, and pretty soon we were regaling him and my mom with funny anecdotes of how we dealt with the crisis.

That incident pretty much described how our family dealt with any kind of difficulty. Because of my dad’s unwavering composure, we grew up with an outlook that everything was going to work out. Every unfortunate event became just another funny story we could entertain our relatives and friends with. As long as dad remained unfazed, we were unfazed.

The thing is, for an old school kinda guy, dad really had a new age  Zen attitude. Simply put, for him, sh*t happens. And you could either whine and lament on the unfairness of it all, or you could roll with the punches. As one of his favorite, go-to expressions go (take a moment and imagine him saying this to me, his melodramatic daughter while I’m blubbering, sputtering and crying), “Ganun talaga.”

When things aren't going your way, keep calm and videoke. (he got a kick  when he saw that his psychedelic shirt matched the funky upholstery by the way)

When things aren’t going your way, keep calm and videoke. (he got a kick when he saw that his psychedelic shirt matched the funky upholstery by the way)

His fun-loving childlike vibe

Until the last few years of his life, my dad, every morning, would baby talk my mom, coaxing her to stay at home instead of going to work or running errands.

Taking that disturbing yet endearing anecdote as a springboard, dad was really a child at heart and never really outgrew the simple pleasures of life.

While everybody else’s dads were busy playing golf and networking with business associates, dad was busy with his pellet gun competition with my brother and showing me his vintage matchbox collection. He was the perfect dad to have around when we were kids because he would wrestle, fly kites, catch spiders and play hide and seek with us. He never thought of these activities as merely “stuff you had to do to bond with your child”.  He genuinely enjoyed them. Sometimes more than we did.

He was kinda little Prince-ish in a sense because he would talk about the stuff that really mattered to us. He and my brother would have in-depth conversations about video games. He would engage me in long-ass discussion on Guns n’ Roses and how Slash was the best guitarist, ever. (He couldn’t relate with my New Kids addiction though, and was totally outraged when I boldly proclaimed that they were way better than the Beatles).

Even his hobbies were pretty unsophisticated and child-like. He would spend hours on his work room building stuff (more on that later) and would be perfectly content watching boxing or Animal Planet the whole weekend. (I remember how he would gleefully exclaim every time a predator would catch an antelope or some other prey after  hours of tense hunting, “Uy! Dali si kolokoy!”)

Because of my dad, I learned that the simplest things were the funnest. And you can keep on enjoying yourself like a kid even if you’re burdened with “adult” responsibilities.    

My dad clowning around with me. He had just suffered from a massive heart attack and was unconscious for days. He felt well enough to pose for a funny selfie however.

My dad clowning around. He had just suffered from a massive heart attack and was unconscious for days. He celebrated being able to breathe without the aide of a machine by posing for a funny selfie with me.

His creativity  

My dad loved making stuff. His workroom was his happy place and and he would spend hours building, creating, repairing or taking things apart.

He could construct anything with his hands and was pretty indiscriminate about what projects he would engage in.

He obsessively worked on various endeavors from practical stuff like making tables and repairing broken gadgets, to sculpting little statues and drawing posters and even to sewing costumes and repurposing old t-shirts.  He once decided to create an AM radio from left over electrical pieces and used an old intercom as the casing just because it was fun.

All my cousins have at least one costume made by dad. I remember for one school activity, my brother won an award for coming as a banana that my dad sculpted from paper mache (Yes a banana. He went to a Catholic school that had no concept of cool. The whole class was made to dress up as fruits. The other section had to dress up as religious leaders. So my banana brother shared the stage with a tomato, a rabbi and a monk during the awards ceremony. I’m not making this stuff up).

Growing up, we rarely had to call “a guy” for anything. Whether it was a leaking faucet, some faulty wiring , a broken vhs player or even a torn shirt, we expected my dad to fix it.

It’s one thing that I really miss now that I have my own household. I would try to channel my dad every time I would engage in a new DIY project (Apparently creative genes are not inherited because I always ended up with dismal results). My husband also gets a lot of judging looks every time he calls the maintenance for repairs.

Who needs store-bought cakes when you have daddy? (Disclaimer: lola baked the cake, he just designed it)

Who needs store-bought cakes when you have daddy? (Disclaimer: lola baked the cake, he just designed it)

His Intelligence

Okay, this is going to sound like a daddy’s girl gushing about her beloved papa’s extraordinary talent. But dad was a genius.. My lola, always claimed that among her highly intelligent brood, my dad was the smartest (she had an MA in guidance counseling and had the standardized tests to back it up).

All of her children were extremely accomplished in school and received various awards. Except unfortunately, for my dad. He was, how do you say this nicely, the least academic. Papa hated school and actually flitted from one university, and one course to the other.

He however, absorbed information like a sponge and knew a lot about everything.  Before Google was invented, my brother and I had our Papa. And we would badger him with questions for school or just because we’re curious about mundane, everyday things. He usually had an answer for everything we threw at him, and if he didn’t, he would patiently research on it and would try to explain things to us in a manner that we both understood.

Even for aches, pains and other medical problems, we expected my dad to fix things. Most of his recommended methods and medicines produced great results, so I still swear by them until now. (Well except maybe for his weird attempts to practice acupressure. I used pretend that I was all better just so he would stop pressing on my palm.)

But I guess aside from being incredibly proud of having an smart father, what I learned from my experiences with him was that academic success does not really measure intelligence. Even before I took up psychology in college, I had this appreciation for how every person had a different way of learning, and consequently also had different ways of showing their intelligence. I also learned not to automatically dismiss anyone, just because they did not have the same academic or work credentials as more “learned” people, so to speak.

Likewise, I also realized that it’s not enough get good grades or to have a prestigious job to be considered intelligent. Although school will give you the much-needed tools to build on, knowledge and skills are more importantly acquired through observation, a voracious curiosity for things, an openness to try new methods and and a genuine love for learning.

My dad and his older brother, my papa andy. They had the same cardiologist and would occasionally have appointments together.

My dad and his older brother, my Papa Andy. They had the same cardiologist and would occasionally have appointments together.

His Love for Family

Although my dad was well liked at work (we were actually quite overwhelmed by all the touching anecdotes shared by his colleagues and associates during the wake), he really did not have friends he hung out with on a regular basis. My dad instead, devoted a lot of his attention to his family. Infact, when he was growing up, his main barkada were his cousins. And towards the last few decades of his life, he considered his oldest brother as his best friend.

My dad was  not the demonstrative, affirming type. I don’t think he ever verbally said that he loved me. Even his demonstrations of love were not grand or poignant. But I felt it. And even when we were at odds with each other, I never doubted it.

You could never call him sweet nor was he a romantic. He showed his love the same way he dealt with life; in a cool, subtle and almost pragmatic manner. I remember one Christmas, mom wanted a purse. As with any other female, she did not care if it was functional, she just wanted a pretty one. My dad happily presented her with one of those trendy body bags, because in his words, it was big and had ‘lots of pockets’.

Despite his cerebral tendencies however, dad had a gentle, caring and considerate side.

A few years after my paternal grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, she came to live with us. My dad, no fail, would talk to her every night. Even when it got to the point that she lost the capacity to respond. Even when he knew that she didn’t understand a word he was saying.

During their retirement years, he gave up his beloved sports channel and started watching my mom’s telenovelas instead, so she didn’t have to leave the room to watch TV and they could spend “quality time” together. He would even watch them when my mom was away, so he could give her a blow- by -blow when she came home.

Whenever my brother and I were sick, my dad would always  be on top of things and would spend sleepless nights comforting us. When I developed a cyst in my ovary, he offered to go to all of my checkups with me, even when he was going through regular dialysis sessions himself (I declined of course).

When we were growing up, a lot of cousins (most of them from mom’s side of the family) came  to live with us. Dad, who valued his privacy, never said a word and loved all of them like their own children. He even became a valued confidant to most of them.

There is a quote from Maya Angelou that went, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

I think this best exemplifies how my dad lived. He did not have a lot of over the top achievements under his belt and lived a pretty staid life. But for those of us who had the privilege of getting to know him, he was a superstar. He touched each and every one of our lives in a poignant, almost inexplicable way. He inspired us with his strength, made us feel secure with his calm optimism and taught us to see the good in others by seeing the good in all of us.

Another light-hearted moment during my Tita's birthday.

Another light-hearted moment during my Tita’s birthday.

The Clan the night after my dad's funeral. We spent hours regaling each other with dad anecdotes.

The Clan the night after my dad’s funeral. We spent hours regaling each other with dad anecdotes.