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I was born to, and grew up in, a family that was considered conservative even in my time. You know, chaperones (is this word still in the dictionary?) to movies and parties—if at all I was allowed to go to a party outside of school affairs or at a relative's house—and a third party unobtrusively, but almost always, present whena young man or the young man was visiting.
It was my mother who laid down the rules and saw to it that they were followed as strictly as was humanly possible. It was my father, a lawyer and a congressman of our province at the time I was in college, who was more indulgent (maybe because I was the youngest girl in the family), who brought me books, gave the extra allowance, lent a sympathetic ear, and was actually more friendly and sympatetic towards the young men who came to visit. It was my father who has tears in his eyes when I returned from my elopement, "assisted" through a civil wedding by my brother Johnny and his wife Alicia. And it was my father who welcomed my brand new husband warmly into my family.
I remember my father as a quiet, soft-spoken, church-going man who loved to do crossword puzzles, seated at the dining table with the paper opened to the crossword page, as he waited for dinnertime. My mother said I inherited my dimples from him. He loved to sing to my sister's accompaniment at the piano, and he was, truly, a 24-karat sentimentalist. He must also have been the original homebody, not cut out at all to be a politician. I guess you don't find many like him anymore these days. Which is probably why, even after all these many years that he has been gone, I still miss him, especially when I hear his favorite songs, or I'm deeply troubled or have problems I can't find solutions to.
I never saw my father-in-law enter a church, except on their golden wedding anniversary, and at my mother-in-law's funeral mass. He was a man who worked with his hands all his life you might say. He was a mechanic for a large bus company in Pampanga, and later he put up his own machine shop. He also tried various businesses that involved traveling to other provinces in Luzon so he was rarely home, or often came home late in the evening. Well, on one of those evenings that Tatang came home tired from a long trip, he was told that my husband and I had had a quarrel and predictably, I had "gone home to Mama."
Without further question, he got into his car and drive to Quezon City from San Fernando, Pampanga, to fetch me and bring me back to "where I rightfully belonged" with the gentle admonition that a wife should never be the one to leave the conjugal home, no matter who was at fault. I'm not sure now if that advice still holds true in these times, or even that a father-in-law would take the trouble of traveling 65 or so miles to fetch a young and troubled daughter-in-law and bring her home to her husband. But I do know that up to now I'm big on fathers, fathers-in-law, husband, and all other males of all persuasions who have cupcake-cookie hearts.
* * *
Read in the papers the other day about Mav Rufino's art exhibit in Madrid in June and her engagement to Argentine diplomat Miguel Realmonte. I'm happy for Mav that she has found a new love and her time for loss and loneliness is over.
* * *
So the rains have come, in perfect timing with the opening of school and the influx of students into the world of books, teachers, and problems of all kinds, such as may be found mostly in this, our beloved country, and shown over on television. But it also warms the heart to see the response from kind, generous souls who volunteer service when they can't give financial or material help. It's good to know that people do care, and care enough to do something about it. We are, after all, really our brother's keeper, are we not?
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of HerWord or BusinessWorld.
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