‘We keep reminding dad why we don’t kiss him anymore’ | Inquirer Lifestyle
Ambassador Tantoco with (from left) daughter-in-law Nena Tantoco, great-granddaughter Nicole delos Reyes, daughter Maritess Enriquez and his caregivers

‘We keep reminding dad why we don’t kiss him anymore’

Maritess Tantoco Enriquez, Rustan’s board member, on father, former Ambassador Bienvenido Tantoco Sr.

Ambassador Tantoco with son Rico

Dad turned 99 this year, and we all feel blessed that even in this quarantine, he is in tiptop condition.

He is so alert, well and healthy, even if he has a hard time hearing, but that’s normal for his age. He also has a problem with his central vision, but his peripheral vision is excellent.

When the enhanced community quarantine was announced on March 15, I was already on self-imposed quarantine as I was under medication for allergic rhinitis and asthma. That and the anxiety over the pandemic aggravated things, so unfortunately I was not able to see my father until June 1.

Luckily my sister, Nedy, lives next door and would visit him every day for lunch and dinner, and spend afternoons with him. But I would call him every other day in the afternoon, on FaceTime, to say hi and how I missed him. This made him happy. And on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, my other sister Merl would visit him in the afternoon.

On his birthday, still during this quarantine, we did a Zoom greeting. Unfortunately I don’t think he really understood or was aware that it was on real time and live, so he kept saying, “Tayo na … ”

We were almost 75 people greeting him. So in the evening, my nephew Anton called each of my siblings individually and we greeted him again, and it was so much better.

Ambassador Tantoco with (from left) daughter-in-law Nena Tantoco, great-granddaughter Nicole delos Reyes, daughter Maritess Enriquez and his caregivers

Every day during the lockdown my dad’s favorite pastime was, at 5 p.m. he would tune in to Father Caluag’s ABS-CBN Mass.

When the general community quarantine was declared June 1, he started having lunch with my brother Rico. I visit him Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays for dinner. Some days I come for lunch or dinner, as well.

But Dad has adjusted to the whole situation and is not affected much by it. We just have to keep reminding him why we are seated at the dinner table so far apart and why we don’t kiss him anymore. Or why we are all wearing masks.

During meals he is still so alert and replies to our stories and jokes with witty remarks. You just have to direct your words at his ear—a bit of an effort.

Having our dad around even in this pandemic is a blessing we receive with a grateful heart.

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