My father, Antero, passed away 10 years ago at age 90, but my memories about him are still vivid and alive. I still feel pangs of sadness over his death, but I like replaying in mind certain incidents involving him.
One such incident took place about 18 years ago. I remember it very clearly because up to now, I am still puzzled about my father’s reaction to something he saw on that day.
Two friends visited me on that weekend in our house in Cavite. One of them brought a video which we watched in the living room while we were drinking beer. The video was an adult movie.
My father entered the room, saw us watching something on TV and, for a moment, also watched it. Suddenly, he broke into uproarious laughter. He continued laughing while he got out of the house.
He went to a “kubo” (small hut) in our compound, where he laughed and laughed. For the whole afternoon, he was laughing. For a while, I thought he had lost his mind.
I was embarrassed as I suspected that his continuous laughing was his sarcastic way of protesting what we’re watching. Up to now, I am still at a loss why he reacted that way.
My theory is that his reaction is a manifestation of some kind of moral or cultural shock. My father was a farmer with simple ways and simple mind. He could hardly write his name because he never attended school.
He had lived almost his entire life in the Ilocos and had come to the city (Cavite) when he was more than 70 years old. As he was already old and could no longer do hard work in the farm, I asked him and my mother to live with my family in Cavite.
He enjoyed watching wrestling and boxing on TV. And it was his first time to see, albeit momentarily, a pornographic movie.
I guess it must have shocked him to find out that a strictly private affair between a man and a woman could be watched on TV by anyone. It must have shocked him to find out that there are shameless men and women who have the gall to show to anyone what they are doing in bed.
Since then, I had never watched an adult movie in our house. This was out of respect for my father’s simple mind and ways.
And his simple ways also remind me of another incident.
It was my wedding day. Shortly after the church ceremonies, our guests – many of them old folks from the Ilocos – lined up to greet me and my wife, Elizabeth. Before the ceremonies, I instructed my father, who looked quite formal in his resplendent barong, to do whatever the other guests are doing.
The guests greeted us by shaking hands with us. Aside from shaking hands with me, my mother, my aunties and the other women relatives, also hugged and kissed me.
My father was next on the line. Smiling, he shook my hands. And then he did the unexpected: He awkwardly embraced me and kissed me. I was surprised because in the Ilocos (and in the Philippines, for that matter) men do not embrace and kiss other men even if they are fathers and sons.
People who saw my father kissing me had a good laugh. I, too, could not help but laugh. Later, he came to me and whispered, “I just followed what the others did.”
This particular scene was captured in photograph, and every time I see the picture, I laugh.
Come to think of it, his simple mind was a blessing to him. It did not cause him to worry about so many things – such as global inflation, global warming and terrorism — that people with comparatively more enlightened mind are worried about. Innocence is bliss, so they say.
This piece is my way of expressing my eternal gratitude to my dear father on this Father’s Day. I thank him for the many sacrifices he had done for his family. I implore our Lord Jesus Christ to take him to His Kingdom.