My cousin from the father’s side just tagged me in facebook with some old family photos. One picture struck me the most..
|My father rescuing a baby (who later turned out to be my grade school
classmate Kristina Bernadette Lao –small world, huh?) from Ruby Tower,
a condo near his hospital in Manila,q
St. Francis Xavier General Hospital (where I lived & grew up).
I got this from wikipedia when I tried googling his heroic effort..
The 1968 Casiguran earthquake occurred on August 2, 1968 at a magnitude of 7.3 on theRichter scale. The earthquake’s epicenter was located in Casiguran, Quezon (now part ofAurora province). This was deemed the most destructive earthquake in the Philippines prior to the 1990 Luzon earthquake, and generated a tsunami that reached as far as Japan.
The city of Manila was the hardest hit with 268 people were killed and 261 more were injured. Many structures that suffered severe damage were built near the mouth of the Pasig River on huge alluvial deposits. A number of buildings were damaged beyond repair while others only suffered cosmetic damage. Two hundred and sixty people died during the collapse of the 6-story Ruby Tower, located in the district of Binondo. The entire building, save for a portion of the first and second floors at its northern end, was destroyed. Allegations of poor design and construction, as well as use of low-quality building materials, arose.
Even before, when we (my mom, brother & I) finally had to transfer to the south after his death to take care of his other businesses, I would hear of heroic & fond stories from his old patients & employees. I guess he was everybody’s hero. The million dollar question now is.. why couldn’t he have been mine?
Funny as it may seem, I never knew the guy. Yes, he was my father, but everything ended there. I didn’t know what his favorite food was, or his favorite color. I didn’t know what made him laugh, or cry. I never had a conversation with him that I remember distinctly. Even his passing is a blur. When he left, he didn’t leave a big gaping whole in my life. Because there already was, one which He never filled in the first place.
My father’s family is what you call elitista. My grandmother was a spanish-filipina mestiza. My grandfather a rich chinese playboy who sired many children outside his marriage to my grandmother. We never felt close or welcomed by my 5 aunts & their children. We always felt out of place with their kasosyalan. In parties, in very rare occasions where we would get “invited”, the sisters & their families would always huddle together while my mom, brother & I stayed by ourselves. We were never welcomed into their exclusive group. We were always made to feel like the outsiders, the one who “no habla espanol“.
|My paternal grandparents.|
|My father was the eldest, and the only thorn among the roses.|
My aunts were spoiled debutants who played the piano & sang like bluejays. A far cry from my mom’s simple & humble beginnings. Simply put, we just weren’t their kind. Even though my mom was already a successful obstetrician at the time, with a thriving business of her own.
|On one of the very rare occasions we were “invited”.|
We were never particularly close to our cousins, even to this day. I shudder to think of my own grandkids not being close to each other. I can only hope & pray that my own children and grandchildren will grow up loving one another, accepting each other’s flaws & faults. Helping one other, and always forgiving each another in spite of. Only then will I know that I have succeeded as a mother.