My Papa died in November 2000. I was then assigned in war-torn Buldon, Maguindanao when I learned of his passing. My Mama followed 6 years later in April 2006. I was then in Korea attending a symposium. On both occasions, I was still in the active military service, hence I didn’t really get the chance to be with them during those precious last days of their lives here on earth.
Now that I’ve retired, I have had more occasion to think about my Papa and Mama. So I wrote them a letter recently. A quick one that I just let flow. And as we pay tribute to our dear departed ones this season, I pray that the angels will be kind enough to deliver this letter through heaven’s gates. So here goes…
My dearest Papa and Mama,
I just want you to know that I love you so very much. And that I miss you. And that I’m sorry for not having been there for you during those last few years of your life.
I want you to know that I don’t have any issues against either one of you. There is nothing that I should really feel bad about. Well, perhaps a little bit with you, Papa. I wish we had more time together, so I could have learned more from you.
Having said that, it is I who must ask you for some slack now. It is I have wronged you a lot. I recall the many instances when I hurt you both. With my indifference, my lack of discipline, my irresponsibility during my younger years. I know that I gave you a lot of heartaches by simply not living up to your expectations.
You were both there for me and Manoy Monch when we were small kids. And I don’t begrudge you, Mama, for spending more time with Manoy Monch during our homework sessions in those early elementary days. You were certainly right in doing that then. Besides, I too learned – and benefited much – from listening to you.
I know that those times when you punished us, Papa, were for our own good. And I never was mad at you for that. Well, yeah, there was one time in high school when you forced me to have my haircut. But otherwise, there were no big heartaches really.
You were both there for me, and I love you and thank you for everything you afforded me. The many wonderful experiences in my life – these would not have been possible if you had not made me what I am today. I will always cherish those unforgettable memories; of our travels together, the simple joys, the food and fun, the singing and dancing (oh, you so loved to sing too), even the scare-stories you employed, Papa, to keep us in bed. Those were the good times.
But even the bad ones were great learning experiences as well. I remember that long strike you led against PAL. As Vice President of PALEA then, how you stood your ground for your principles. I took that with me, Papa, that stubborn pride, and that fierce loyalty to your men. And I recall Mama borrowing from friends and relatives to keep us afloat while you dug in with your principles for more than two years. And I admired you both for that.
Thank you, Papa, for forcing me to take the PMA exams. I would probably still be bumming around if not for that life-changing decision from you. Thank you, Mama, for taking care of our growing-up years. I am very glad for all the lessons you provided me.
Mama, I do recall the time I gave away some of your dogs to my barkada. And I’m sorry for that. That was the insensitive me. And I so regret that. That’s definitely one of the things I’d change given the opportunity.
Papa, remember that ball you gave me in Grade 5? I will always treasure that. My very first basketball! You made me the rabid sportsfan that I am. And you gave me pride, self-confidence and a sense for fair play. You developed me, and you taught me how to deal with people. You’re the guy, Papa! Really! How I wish I could thank you personally now. You have been the best ever!
Thank you so much for all the sacrifices you made for me. The challenges, the hardships you had to put up with. They all have a special place in my heart. And most of all, thank you for the life you gifted me with. I will always, always remember you.
(You can browse the pics with the music on. Simply click the pic.)