BY MONICA ORTIZ | DAUGHTER
Salamat po sa lahat ng mga nakikidalamhati, nakikiramay, at namamahagi ng kwento tungkol sa tatay namin.
It’s hard to come up with the words to say how horrible it is to lose a father, much more to lose him in a manner so cruel and abrupt. We didn’t get to say goodbye and we didn’t get to squeeze his hand, or make him laugh a little before passing over into the great beyond. But we are at least comforted by the fact that he died free of pain and that he was well cared for by his doctors. He was in an induced coma for two weeks and I think that he really tried to stick around.
Andami pa niyang plano sa buhay. But, leave it to my papa to go out on a high: in Paris, invited as an expert in security, with the lovely prospect of seeing his grandson the next weekend. I don’t think he would have any regrets in the way he lived life, whether he left us at 96 or at 66. He carpe’d the shit out of the diem. His motto in life, which he often repeated to me, was “work hard, play hard.”
And boy did he work hard: his CV is a decorated one. He was a big man in any room: opinionated, wise, confident. A leader. He could command a room and rouse an audience. Papa seemed to know everything about everything, be it energy or water or ethnic conflict. Nung umuwi ako 8 years ago from studying abroad at magkasama kami sa grocery, sa mall, o kung saan pa man imposible na walang babati sa kanya o wala siyang babatiin ng “o pare”. I feel like he knew everybody and everybody knew him. For this reason I love reading all his accolades and the tributes to him from so many who loved him.
But how did *I* know him? How did his family know him? There are only four of us who could speak about him as a father. Our Papa was a tough one, I would say. Not that he would be very strict or put on a curfew. But he was tough because he had such high expectations out of all of us. He pushed us and he challenged us to do better and to excel. Sometimes also, he wasn’t there. From him living his own busy life, going on all his adventures (scuba diving, biking, etc.), to us living far away from each other for many reasons. We didn’t see each other for many months sometimes. But that didn’t dampen the overwhelming influence of our papa on our character, on who we are now, and who we will become.
Looking back, I realise that he worked so hard to give us the freedom and ability to dream big for ourselves. When he passed away, I anticipated many words to be written about him, his leadership and his accomplishments. But I wanted to write about the Papa we knew and loved: the one who talked to me about history on the drive to Pisay everyday, the one who taught Mikey and I how to bike near Bellarmine, the one who taught us all how to swim. Our papa who always made corny dad jokes (“Hi hungry, I’m Alan”), who hummed and sang throughout car rides to songs we would laugh at, who snored so loud minsan yumayanig yung kwarto… o yung sinehan.
Everyone who has sent me a kind word has told me that he was incredibly proud of his kids. Thank you for passing that on… but we knew. While he was tough, while he pushed us, he celebrated us too. He was a loving father and he tried hard to be there for us even from far away. There is not enough time in the world to share stories about all that our Papa was, and all that he gave to us.
But with all the time that we have left, we’ll continue to tell stories about him to each other, and to Sam. And I think he would like that very much. Thank you Papa. We love and miss you very much.
Photo submitted by Monica Ortiz.