Friday, June 15, 2012

Remembering my Father

    Today is my father’s birthday. Born on April 9, 1933, Dominador Tumamak Tabucanon would have been 79 years old had his life not ended 30 years ago. He was a remarkable man. I miss him more than I could express. I wish I could write a longer piece about him, maybe someday. For now, its just scribbled tidbits on the life and times of the man. If you have recollections of him, would be happy to know.
    There are three things I would like to say about Papa: 1) much like many Filipino parents he made sure we got good education, 2) how he dealt with his fellow men, and 3) love for family, both his nuclear and larger family.
1. Education. Papa was a stickler for academic propriety and excellence. He corrected my use of "trucking" to refer to buses that passengers use in going to Manila: " 'Trucking' is for cargoes, not people."Yes, people and things are not the same. He also made sure that we read, andbought books for us. He was himself a well-informed person who regularly read papers and the Reader's Digest. His long-standing rule in the house was those who read do not do house work. I took advantange of this "law", that up to this day I do not know how to cook! I guess, every good law has its downside. Papa's education was anchored on loyalty. Many may not agree, but in my case it worked. For instance, he insisted I (and Vilma) do my high school at Western for he studied there, and it worked forhim (e.g. he became a lawyer). Logically, this is incorrect. What was good forhim, may not suit his children. Its like saying I went to this mountain school barefoot, you do the same. Yet Papa's insistence on my sticking it out with Western paid off for when the school opened its law school they took me in as dean. That's loyalty and Papa's foresight in action.
2. Fellow men. Papa had an exceptionally high social intelligence.This did not always sit well with Mama who wanted a quieter and more domesticatedhousehold. During Papa’s time ours was an open house. The trip from Ormoc toTinag-an was an odyssey of sorts by stopping by, drinking, eating and talking with his clients and friends. I developed some kind of social phobia after theexperience. Yet, if there was one thing Papa cannot be faulted, it was hisability to connect with people: people of all shapes and sizes, denomination,  persuasion, sexual orientation and economic standing. He was one of the few individuals I know who does not know how to discriminate. He was loved by the people in return. His love was universal and cosmopolitan. When TV was new in the villageand some households charged fees for a view, he said our TV should be free; sowith the beach house in Tinag-an.  He said that should be for free use by the community.
3. Family. Papa loved his family, his wife, children, brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts, and cousins galore. It was a love that radiated through and through, and I don’t know how he did it but he seemed to have memorized the names of each and every cousin of his including their spouses, children and grandchildren. My shy and private nature is but a speck of that genius of knowing one's exact family interconnections to the dot. He does not distinguish between blood cousins and cousins by virtue of his marriage. When Dodok, who was Mama’s first cousin had Aplastic Anemia, Papa spearheaded the line up of blood donors and offered him  a room in Ormoc (had it painted and screened). Papa was loved by his larger family in return. He treasured gifts and made sure we knew who gave what to him: his law books, office table (the one with DTT initials that looked like they were bullet holes), and cabinet were given. He treasured the Samsonite bag given by his sisters, and was proud of the dollar check gifts he received from his family in America which he would divide among us, his children, by ratio and proportion according to age. And that suited me, being the eldest, but then I did not choose to be born first.
    All in all, Papa’s was a life well lived. He was a good man, and a kind man, to his family and the community.  I am happy to have met and interacted with him, enough to recollect some of the many good things he did. For my part, I have dedicated some of my important life works and projects in his name and memory.
    Papa, I hope wherever you are that you are happy:  All your children have married and they have their own children now. Life goes on. You have not failed us: you were a good father and person to all of us.
Sydney 9 April 2012

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