March 22, 2018, 8:10 am
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The sweet in the bittersweet

WHEN my mother died on my father’s birthday in 1993 he asked me: “How can I be truly happy on my birthday from now on?.” I knew what he meant. I could imagine him asking the Fates why, out of 365 days in a year, she had to die on his birthday.

Now I feel him - because, like him, I can only scratch my head and wonder why, out of 365 days in the year, his death had to coincide with my day today.

But still, thank God that out of the bittersweet moment is that sweet portion which comes from all of you — my relatives and friends (and even FB friends) — who add love and spice to my life. “What’s your purpose in life now?”, an old friend recently asked of me, she the half of a “power couple” from law and academia. Hmmm. I really haven’t thought that deep. Aside from living for as long as I can and being of help to as many folks as I can help I guess there’s not much more left to do as I feel that with my dad’s passing a year ago my greatest purpose in life has been served.

Fate will determine the final purpose.

In the meantime as I start my Double5 year I would just like to try focus on the sweet part of this bittersweet day, and thank all of you who are a blessing to me. From classmates at UP - from the Child Development Center, Elem and High School, Pol Sci and Law, to ex-colleagues at SBMA and E Zobel Inc.., Coca-Cola and NAC; the Coca-Cola/Powerade Tigers family and the PBA; Malaya and DWWW774, the Philippine Collegian and NAC Bulletin and IamPGH; Pilipinas 2020, Magdalo, StandFIRM and the Chamber of Mines; the veterans of the Champion UP Men’s Basketball team led by Coach Joe Lipa; friends I’ve made from travels abroad, friends I’ve made from travels at home, those who have worked with me, even those I’ve pestered...

My introduction to the world of radio broadcast I owe to Lilibeth Nacion who introduced me to Roberto Bacsal, then owner of DWWW774. Under him I had ten great years as a public affairs commentator.

My stint in this paper in turn began when I was with our Enrique Romualdez on a trip to Germany. A casual “why don’t you write for us?” in 1994 is why I am here now.

A special thanks I reserve for those who I have been blessed to have as mentors - the very first being Napoleon Poblador, then a law student who took me in at the Philippine Collegian. As a lawyer at PECABAR in 1984 he led me to his boss Assemblyman Renato Luna Cayetano whom I then served as legislative assistant at the Batasan Pambansa and at the Nacionalista Party-Enrile Wing. Through him I met Richard Gordon, then Olongapo Mayor, and for whom I volunteered at Subic Bay in 1994. In 1988 it was Cayetano who introduced me to Don Enrique Zobel to whom I became executive assistant for 9 years and who gave me the unique honor of a last request to deliver a eulogy at his funeral mass. After working for EZ my mentors were my bosses at Coca-Cola. And now finally at Nickel Asia I have Manny Zamora and Gerard Brimo to learn from, with the bonus of wise counsel from Rep Ronaldo Zamora.

While I cannot name everyone else, if you’ve somehow touched my life then you should know that you’re part of the long list I would like to devote this day thanking in my thoughts and — yes — in my rare prayers.

Of course I reserve my final thanks for my father. He gave me a unique chance to “pay up” by moving in as a house mate, an opportunity and a blessing I would take if given the chance to do so over and over again. That he passed away in his sleep, at home, without fuss and without hardship, was his final gift to me, still a touch of sweetness in a bittersweet moment.

Never in our wildest dreams did it ever occur to me - and I am sure to him - that his final months will be spent with the black sheep of the family.

But then again such is the wisdom of the Fates, yes?

To all of you, to my family and especially to Daddy, thank you.
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