On The Eve of his 10th year Death Anniversary

Ten years. Ten years have already gone by. It was just an ordinary day. We were just about to start our English 11 class with Ms. Valenzona when a student assistant from the student affairs division handed her a white slip of paper. I didn’t mind it as I was busy reading some lines in my English 11 workbook. A minute later, she called out my name and said somebody was waiting for me in the Office of the Student Affairs. A lot of teasing ensued next. Some of my classmates wondered who that person was. A boyfriend maybe, but Ms. Valenzona’s face was serious then and replied in a clipped tone, no it was my cousin. My cousin who? Well, it piqued my curiosity however, just two weeks from starting of classes why would my cousin be here to visit me on that auspicious day of June 17, 1997. I hurriedly picked up my stuff including my shiny blue Giordano bag and tons and tons of books. I was absent minded then still wondering why my cousin came to see me. The next five floors of the Canisius Hall building in Ateneo gave me ample time to process the idea of my cousin visiting me. As my heavy steps led me to the office of then OSA director, Sir Ricky Enriquez, I saw my cousin indeed the son of my mother’s sister there still in his municipal office uniform just saying these three words to me, “LET’S GO HOME”.
It was then, that fear seeped into my system. As I desperately tried to understand what was going on and why do I have to go home. Home, was three hours away.

He asked me, if I could pick up some stuff. He meant clothes so I could go home. I called up the place where I lived. He then asked if it was ok with me to travel alone. He needed to take care of something. So I went home alone. After picking up my stuff, I went to the bus terminal for Compostela and was still in a daze.
It was inside the bus that I couldn’t help myself but feel afraid. Ugly thoughts were then plaguing me. No! not death. But who? And why? I just couldn’t accept someone from my family in that situation.
The three hour ride home was also a rollercoaster emotional trip. And as I was approaching our house, I saw the company car with a dragon logo. Then I saw my mother, heard my youngest sister crying in the background and saw my oldest sister staring into space with tears in her eyes. My mother then was calm when she looked at me and I knew it was my father. I broke down and wept. Wept as if there was no tomorrow. I couldn’t help myself but repeatedly say this, “He promised he would be there to see me on TV”.
Two hours later, when mother saw that we were spent in crying. She then brought the three of us to the morgue. And I saw his cold body. His face was blue and black. He was still soft. His mouth half open. I cried again.
I only spent seventeen years with him and majority of that was spent on hating him. He was so misunderstood because he never knew how to express his emotions.
My life changed so suddenly. Ten years have passed already and tomorrow will be his tenth year death anniversary. Ten years since that happened. I have already resolved my issues despite the fact that it wasn’t reciprocated. But I don’t need to prove anything.
But as to what I have achieved lately. I know he was right there with me cheering in the sidelines.
Mother was right. I had my father’s strength in me. I can go anywhere yet I can still survive. Because I am my father’s daughter, he knew right then that he needed to toughen me up because that was his only legacy and that is to nurture my unbreakable spirit.
This is to honor you papa. Thank you for the life you gave me.


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