I woke up at 4 the past two mornings to tears flowing down my cheeks. They came unbidden, no gulps or sobs, just a waterfall of tears, and are in relation to the man struggling for life in the hospital room across the hall—the love of my life, my husband, Angelo Castro Jr.
With each tear a memory, a glimpse of the past, a feeling, an emotion, which I know is neither good nor bad, right or wrong—for how can one be judgmental over “Feelings,” as Imelda used to sing with such passion?
It is in the Choice we make, the Act of the will, that reality comes into play. I chose to love this man more than 40 years ago and I am so grateful that as I wait in peace for him to cross over into the light, I love him still.
I first met Angelo when I joined ABS-CBN and was a mainstay of “Laugh In” and “Mission Patok.” I was young, brash, and a dish in really short, hot pants. A group of hotshot salesmen chanced upon Baby O’Brien, Mitch Valdez and myself and invited us to dinner and dancing at the top of Hyatt hotel.
The top hotshot of them all (not Angelo) asked me to dance and bit my shoulder when I said I didn’t want to go out with him because he was married. As foolish as I may have been then, I knew that nothing good would come out of deliberately wounding another woman, especially a wife.
In the car on the ride home, I was seated next to Angelo, who immediately held my hand. It lay there, unresponsive, until he mockingly threw it away.
A few days later, he chanced upon me at the lobby, waiting for Mitch to finish “TSP Presents.” He stopped and asked what I was doing. “Nothing,” I replied, and he countered with, “How would you like to do nothing with me?” I was snared, and would often crack a joke to hide the blaze of my heart.
Full of joy
We would talk for hours, hanging on opposite sides of the grills of the gate till 4 or 5 in the morning. At the time I was living with Rosie and Julie Borromeo (to get away from my super strict German-American stepfather), and every time he drove up in his “bulok” lime-green Cortina, Rosie would yell out, “Hark. Hark, the lark!” and I would dash out, so full of joy.
We decided to live together, and when my mom heard this, of course she was shocked. June? This St. Paul colegiala, president of the Catholic Action, Sodality of Mary, star of Paulinian musicals? I countered with “Because I want to make sure it isn’t just lust. So many of my classmates got married upon graduation and are now separated. I want to know if this is love.”
Tiklop si mom. And maybe, because in my heart I knew it wasn’t right, I fought to hold on to the relationship.
But what a shock it was to me. As strict as my stepfather was, he was gruff and conventional. I thought all marriages and relationships were like theirs. He was VP and GM of Peco (Philippine Education Company) and he went off to work at 7 a.m., would call my Mom at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. every single day. He would be home by 5:30 p.m. Every Friday he would bring home an egg pie, take my mom to his Fraternal Order of Eagles meeting, and on Saturdays my Mom and I would meet him at Castillejos, eat in a Chinese resto and watch double-bill movies. (Audie Murphy was her favorite.)
When we finally got a car, we would pack some lunch and drive to the lot we bought on Tagaytay Ridge. I had begun to develop jiggly boobs, but that didn’t stop me from climbing trees or falling into hot piles of carabao shit.
But life with Angelo almost put me into catatonic shock! He never came home on time. I would wait—from 7 to 10 p.m., frantically dialing all numbers, searching for him. And he was the jealous type, imagining dragons where there weren’t any. I would go off to tapings often on a 6 a.m. call time, put on 3 or 4 pairs of false eyelashes and layer my face with foundation all day. He would wait for me to finish, drinking at Country Chef, pick me up usually around 3 a.m. and whisper: “Love, I didn’t eat dinner because I can’t wait for you to cook for me.”
This, to a spoiled only child who took three hours to make rice! By the time I was done, he would be fast asleep and the layers of false eyelashes would be strewn all over the floors and counters.
But that wasn’t all. I couldn’t go to sleep because each night he would lovingly mutter, “Love, don’t forget to wake me up early so I won’t be late for work.” So I would make sure to be up for him at the appointed time. Boy, let me tell you, those Castros can sure sleep.
And he was a chick magnet. I died every time. Maybe I wasn’t the right woman for him, but the song “Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, I gotta love one man till I die” must have been written just for me.
On hindsight, I realized it wasn’t easy for him to be with me. The guys at Country Chef would roar out that the reason he had a new car was because June had a new show. After Edsa, one of his so-called friends loudly boasted that the reason I was so brave was because I had a third ball. “Alam namin na yung isang b—g ni Angelo na kay June.”
But, somehow, through all those turbulent years we had, without outwardly consulting each other, we came to the personal conviction that it was important to keep the family together. We had a son, Diego, with whom he would swordfight and who would rub watermelon rinds on his face at the dinner table. We got married and had a daughter, Gabriela Guadalupe. He finally met his match.
This was the female who captivated him. He lulled her to sleep singing “Chain Gang,” called her seven or eight times a day even though she couldn’t speak. And she had him wrapped around her tiny fingers. He brought her to the newsroom, to golf on Saturdays. He even breathed life into her when she stopped breathing because she was mad at him.
He came home one night in tears, asking me to pray for an ex-girlfriend with whom he had a daughter. And when he miraculously survived a quadruple bypass, I knew God wanted more from me. So I sought the woman out to say I had forgiven her and wanted our children to come together.
But Angelo wanted even more. He asked me to go to her as she lay dying of breast cancer, as he couldn’t be there. So I went to the hospital, feeling like the mistress because of some shocked, hostile stares, and took her in my arms and sang to her as she was dying. Her daughter is now our daughter, too.
Now Angelo has been asleep since 4 p.m., and our son has come to tell me so. I rush through this article as my eyes begin to blur. I have to finish this—it’s for him.
I am at peace because Fr. Orbos has anointed him. But I weep as I thank God for the love of my life—Angelo Castro Jr.