At 80

My father reaches 80 years last November 7th.

Growing up, I was told, he was always the difficult one, being the  middle child, perhaps. I would often hear stories from my aunts of how he would always be the one who wouldn't cry, or back down when all three of them brothers were punished for wrongdoings. (A little trivia: they had a sister named Estrella, who died during WWII the Japanese occupation. Forty plus years later, my father met and married my mother whose name is Estrella. Talk of serendipity!)

My grandfather didn't spare the rod on them. But they didn't see my father cry or refuse a challenge, one of them was kneeling on monggo seeds for as long as they could. He knelt the longest. It was as if he derived his redemption by letting my grandparents see that he could or would endure.

Didn't he file a case against his father for spanking him hard at one point? My grandfather then told him, "If I can't discipline you now, I know you will most likely end up wayward." "He was right," my father affirmed. "I am on the right path because of him."

True enough, he turns out to be the most reliable and responsible one.

I am not saying he is the perfect father, or he didn't have vices. Oh, he did! He smoked packs of cigarettes a day (But quit in an instant when I was in Grade 6 because he said, he already had a young lady, that's me! and so he should quit!), drank till drunk (There were episodes when he would go straight to the drinking session after work.), and gallivanted with women (Good thing, my mom had so much respect in herself and in their marriage that she didn't let go!).

But always, he has a good head on his shoulders. He was not negligent of his duties as a father and a husband. Sure, he had big fights with my mother, but never the kind that we would be traumatized.

And didn't he take care of his aging parents till the end?

Up till today, he looks after us like a hawk and still doesn't mince words if he wants to drive home a point.

At 80, with the grace of our Lord, he is still sharp and is up and about. Maybe not as active, but still very mobile. He still keeps himself busy by reading and playing chess (this time chess online, playing with virtual opponents he he). He is still good at analysis, and has strong opinions about things.

And most importantly, I still draw a lot of my strength from him.

May the Lord bless you, always! Happy birthday, Hutsai! <3

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