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  • Erwin Barona

Of Legacies That Never Die



[ In keeping with last week's blog, "Of Roots and Family Trees", I am re-posting from Facebook the following entry, with a few revisions and additions. ]


This is a framed photo of Daddy for his college graduation; I took it from my parents' tokador before the house at 98 Malumanay was sold. While Daddy pursued his Electrical and Mechanical Engineering degrees at the Mapua Institute of Technology, Daddy joined the Central Bank of the Philippines in 1957 as a security guard. It was the only job he could do during that time, because it allowed him to earn for his own tuition, to read and study at night, and go to school by day. After acquiring his degrees, Daddy continued working at the Central Bank as an electrician in their maintenance department. He and Mama eloped in the late 1950s. It is said that they only had 7 pesos in their pockets on their civil wedding at St. Joseph's Church in Project 2, then went with two of their witnesses to lunch at Max Restaurant.


One of my earliest memories of Daddy was of him bringing me to the Central Bank of the Philippines, a stone's throw away from Fort Santiago. I was about 5 years old. I remember the 45-minute ride on the JD bus transit, with me on his lap, to save on the 10-centavo fare. There were a lot of people at the Central Bank's main entrance because then President Diosdado Macapagal came for a visit, as was the reason for the trip with my father. I remember President Macapagal giving me a signed 1-peso bill, which Daddy and Mama kept in our Family Bible.


"My father didn't tell me how to live. He lived and let me watch him do it." ---- Clarence Budington Kelland

That trip to the Central Bank was the start of many other trips Daddy took the family on weekends --- Lido Beach, Laguna hot springs,Pagsanjan Falls, La Mesa Dam, Antipolo, summer trips to Ilocos Norte and Abra and Baguio, picnics in Luneta and Manila Bay and in Tagaytay on a hillside plantation of peanuts and pineapple, overlooking Taal Volcano where Uncle Joven's Meteora now stands, to name a few. Daddy loved to take us on trips in his first automobile, a spacious aqua 1962 Impala Biscayne.


With his unassuming but jolly nature, he always made things work out for the family. With three others, he built a comfortable house; he sent us through the best schools; he supported Mama when she was pursuing her own Accounting degree. He was the consummate hard-working father and mentor, climbed thru the ranks from being a security guard and electrician, to land 35 years later as the Director of General Services that oversaw the operations of the Central Bank, the Money Museum, the Philippine Mint, the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Folk Arts Theatre, and the Philippine International Convention Centre. It is said that he was never late for work or important appointments, nor was he accustomed to taking long vacations (on his last years at the Central Bank, he had accumulated some 7 years' of vacation days!). His elder brother, Uncle Abat, gave him an Omega Seamaster in the late 1950's; this, his first and last wristwatch, kept him informed of the time he was managing, "time management is self management!", and is now my only physical trinket of Daddy. He never told a lie; according to him lying is a form of stealing --- from the truth.


I was with him as he slumped from a heart attack in 1992, three months before his retirement. He was only 63. There are so many things to say about Daddy; yet the limited space afforded here will not do justice to describe how much he influenced our lives. He rarely told us he loved us; but by his selfless life, he demonstrated us how much he did. One thing I have to say he encouraged us with --- build a good Name and pursue education, as these are the only legacies we leave behind for our children. Born 1929 from generations of Abra farmers, he often told us to always be better than yesterday. Not only did he do this, he also accomplished more to be better than the generation before him.


"If there is immortality to be had among us human beings, it is certainly only in the love that we leave behind. Fathers like mine don't ever die." ---- Leo Buscaglia


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