This was one special week for me. Finally, after two years and four months of writing and research, we unveiled a 4½-kilogram tome (“Razon”), heavy with memories and little-known information and details about our family’s history.
Although not every relative could come to the grand party, we had nieces, nephews, cousins, uncles and aunts from Vancouver, California, Hawaii, Georgia, Costa Rica and Australia, and of course, the Philippines show up, ready and raring to have a sentimental reunion, as we launched the family book.
Some came a little earlier than the date, and the arrival of the first group was our cue to celebrate. There was a lot of reminiscing, and because we are typically Pinoy, lots of eating.
The main event on June 20 was over the top and saw over a hundred of us gathered at the stunning and impeccably elegant Finestra at Solaire.
The weather was perfect as we sipped cocktails on the veranda, waited for the sunset, hugged, kissed, laughed and cried tears of joy.
Countless cameras clicked and a drone hovered overhead to record the activities.
I believe every family, big or small, should make time to get together if only to remember what it’s like to share, not just a name but also your history.
We did last Monday. It was a once-in-a-lifetime event. And we are still reeling from all the love.
A couple of Sundays ago I wrote about goodbyes. I think I got a little schmaltzy and perhaps even overly sentimental.
A good friend was concerned and called to ask if I was OK. She may have thought I had suffered a “relapse” from past history.
It was far from that. Well, maybe a little of the remembered pain snuck out. But I am really so fine, thank you.
In a few days, God willing, I shall be on a plane with my sister, headed for Atlanta, Georgia, and other parts.
I will see my youngest daughter and her family, and that makes me supremely happy. I have been away from them for over two years working on the Razon book.
When I went to buy my ticket, I was told I had to pay a huge fine for overstaying in the land of my birth. I forgot I was just a balikbayan here and that my legal time was up many months ago. Sad. I had to cough up a hefty sum for an extension.
That was all done two weeks ago. But I still don’t have my papers back, as they keep springing new requirements on me.
Is this normal at the Bureau of Immigration? Or is my travel agency at fault? I am dreading a “photo finish” at the airport. I am not happy.
But enough about me.
Today, I am sad to face another kind of despedida. I feel a knot in my throat as I watch P-Noy getting ready to step down. Come June 30, at high noon, his term is over.
I listened to his final speech as President delivered on Philippine Independence Day at the vin d’honneur held in the Palace.
P-Noy talked about the accomplishments of his administration.
“We have achieved everything we are enjoying today while respecting the process of law, as well as the rights of each person. We did this without silencing anyone and while valuing the freedom that those before us fought for. We firmly believe in this principle: that there can be no true progress if we surrender our dignity and our rights.”
I remember that at a recent cocktail party I heard someone explain P-Noy’s reluctance to make “knee-jerk” decisions precisely because of his respect for due process. The gentleman, effusive in his defense, went further to say: “If he had acted immediately, spoken off the cuff, or decided drastically, he would have been branded a dictator.” So true.
I was misty-eyed when P-Noy recounted that when he was just 13, his incarcerated father told him he was now responsible for his mother and sisters. It tugged at my heartstrings to imagine this young boy trying to digest the monumental task put on his shoulders by “a father who seemed to be saying goodbye.”
In his final speech he talked about his many achievements. And why not? He deserves his bragging rights, I insist.
“When we began our time in office I made a promise: By the time I step down, I will leave behind a country that is better than we found it; under our governance, the Philippines will be an honorable and respectable member of the global community.”
And, in Pinocchio’s language, by Jiminy we are!
When has the Philippines ever enjoyed such stellar stature around the world, pray tell? And who has not seen and marveled at the transformation of the Philippines from the Sick Man to the Darling of Asia; from a basket case to a rising tiger?
But why is it that I have this terrible sense of fear and foreboding? You too? We need to pray, real hard.
And may we as a nation remain vigilant, remember and take to heart the words of British statesman Edmund Burke: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
This is an inevitable and sad goodbye.
I feel like apologizing for an ungrateful nation.
But all I can say is: “God goes with you, P-Noy. Thank you for making us shine. ”