Reminiscences: February 16, 2006

Happy 62nd Birthday, Father.

Found this in one of my vault files:

February 16, 2006

  • Today my father retires from the military service
  • I am usually very indifferent. But today, my heart is filled with a hodgepodge of emotions. And I have to admit that it is a bit disconcerting because I am far from being a profound and emotional person.  I want to remember this moment… because I have never felt this way before and I know that I will never feel the same way again.
  • Camp Aguinaldo has become my home, work, and play grounds for the past five years (seven if I include my NDCP working years but I lived in San Juan during that time).  During those five years, we lived in three houses in the camp. First in the quarters for a one-star general. Then after about two years, we moved three or four houses away to the Deputy Chief of Staff quarters, and then after another year, we moved a few houses away to the Vice Chief of Staff Quarters.  Next month, we will be moving to a new home, one that my Dad can finally call his own. After living for some 20 years in my late Grandpa’s home in San Juan, it was surprising how we could easily adapt to a somewhat nomadic way of life. I wonder, will I ever live In SJ again?
  • I am sad that all the things that I used to take for granted these past four or more years, we won’t have anymore… I am glad for all the wonderful memories and experiences, yet I am heartbroken that they will never be duplicated ever again…
  • We obviously loved the many benefits that come with a high position in the military. Who wouldn’t? There were lots of drivers, lots of free food, no utility bills (sure, the houses we lived in temporarily were crumbling and sometimes musty but they were free lodgings so who were we to complain?) lots of security personnel (no one dared try to bully us!), lots of respect, lots of courtesy, lots of special treatment and lots of friends, genuine or phony – all of which come with my dad’s position. For a family like ours, such things like that made us feel extra special (including the phony friends).  I could never understand how other generals could still salivate for more when they could already live comfortably with such perks.
  • All of these (including the phony friends) will be passed on to the guy next in line to my Dad’s position. All that will be left are memories and those who really cared about him and his family.
  • I have never, in my whole life, felt so proud of my father as I did today and the past week. It is an honor to have a father with such strong moral conviction. Always, I think, too, whenever I see or hear about bad guys, criminals, corrupt generals and politicians, thank God their not my dad.
  • We have never felt the love and respect of his friends, family, colleagues and coworkers as we did this past week.  Although the testimonial dinner given in his honor last night were shared with two other generals, most of the guests came for him.  We estimated that over 500 guests came to say goodbye to him.  Even a Japanese friend came all the way from Japan just to attend his retirement.
  • I am pleased to  have had a small contribution to his testimonial dinner last night. I conspired with his office in making a video tribute to him.  I wrote the manuscript.  Although the video will win no Oscars (horrible! Horrible!), I think I did my dad justice with my manuscript.  The DND choir sang some songs for him.  My friend Ritzel and I, along with some guys sang our version of “The Prayer”. We weren’t the best singers, I know I suck, but I enjoyed it. I’m glad I didn’t cry.  During some of our practices,  I would choke in the middle of the song because I felt like crying.  I had to pretend I was losing air.
  • During the mananita given by the Office of the Vice Chief of Staff and the OESPA for my father’s birthday today, there was this very fleeting moment when I saw my mother at her most beautiful. It was probably the moment when I loved her most.  It was early in the morning, at our VCS quarters,  everyone was bustling about, eating rice porridge, talking, and there she was. Bustling about, too, busy with entertaining the guests. Once, she sat down near the dining table where my dad and some officers were. Her hair was in disarray, she had no make up on but her face had a child-like, almost innocent wide smile and it shone with happiness, pride and love for my father.  The talking around me became a quiet, incomprehensible drone and it touched my heart that I almost cried when I looked at her.
  • I feel so fortunate and blessed.  I feel ever so grateful to God for allowing us such wonderful experiences.
  • The universe conspires to bring good to our family.

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