This is actually a very late reaction.
I know. I know. You could call me now a loser for I haven’t known an article of mine was published on a national paper last February 4 (that’s a week and a day ago). I tried sending an article to Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Youngblood for the first time last month without giving a damn if it gets published or not. Of course, I was hoping it would happen but I never expected. Not really.
So there I was receiving a text message from a friend that she had read the article. That was last Friday, exactly 6 days after the issue was released. And I was shocked and had felt a bit bad at the same time (because I’ve known it so late). Nevertheless, I was so overwhelmed that I couldn’t even speak a word while the pack was jumping and shouting.
For those who haven’t read. Here’s the article:
Lolo the unforgettable
I remember the times I would run to granny’s room every time he came home drunk at night. As a child, I couldn’t understand then why he was acting the way he did. And I was afraid every time I saw him in that state. But despite my fear of him, I learned to respect him.
Lolo has always been good to his grandchildren. When he was younger, he would bring us fruits fresh from his farm and he loved to play with us and carry us in his arms. My childhood memories of him are still so vivid. And though there’s still that fear of him, I remember him as a very caring grandfather.
My father would tell us stories about how a disciplinarian Lolo was—the spanking, and the kneeling on grains of salt. He would recall in a funny way how he felt when Lolo would come home drunk, which was exactly my feeling too. My father would tell me how he would dance and sing in front of my drunken Lolo. He said he did those funny “foolish” things because he was afraid of Lolo. But through it all, my father still saw in Lolo things he believed he ought to emulate.
Lolo Temio, as we call him, was indisputably a respected leader in our place. A barangay captain for quite a time, he was respected for his accomplishments. This, I believe, was what pushed his sons to continue his legacy of public service.
I remember how big Lolo’s and granny’s smiles were when all of us, their grandchildren, were gathered in their house. We were all unruly, but they never showed a trace of exasperation with our presence. And Lolo, being a good listener, patiently paid attention to my stories no matter how impossible they seemed.
Lolo has only three grandsons (all others are granddaughters), and I’m the closest to him. When I was a small, I loved to sleep with him. He would tell me various things like the war, the flood and many other stories I can’t recall anymore. I played solitaire with him and he always reminded me to be a good son to my parents. I didn’t understand then, but I would tell him, straight up with all innocence, to stop getting drunk because I was afraid of him when he was. And he would just burst into boisterous laughter.
I see how the years have formed wrinkles on Lolo’s face. His hair has turned grey, and his skin is now all creased. But he has not changed, not a bit. He still drinks. He still tends the fruit trees, the fish pond and the house. He still plays the solitaire. But he does these all alone now. Granny died 15 years ago, and all his children now have their own families, and his grandchildren are all grown-up, and we don’t play with him anymore; and, sadly, gathering all of us is next to impossible.
At the age of 85, Lolo is still in good health and a bottle of liquor is still his best friend. “We would all be leaving this world, of course. We all will,” he would say.
Yes, Lolo is old now. But I still see the strength that I always saw in him during my younger days. I still see it now, even through his wrinkled skin.