Archive for June 2008

Snippets from the past

June 19, 1977 (Faye is 2 years old)

We had sans rival cake with 2 red candles.  Faye blew out two: first one, then the other.  When we urged her to make a wish, she said: “Ayaw to [ko]“.  Had fun.  She ate all of her cake, too.

June 19, 1981 (6th birthday)

Ninang Tery and Tia Bib dropped by to wish Faye a happy birthday.  Tia Bib brought 2 big bangus and 2 kilos of sugpo (38 pcs.)

The day ended on a happy note.  Throughout it all, Avi [then just 1+ month)] slept.  Of course I had been breastfeeding her since this a.m. off and on, through lunch, through a snack, until about 8:30 p.m.  For more than 12 hours it was mostly Avi.

June 19, 1982 (7th birthday)

Yesterday was also an advanced celebration for Faye.  But I was very disappointed that I wasn’t able to see Tatay off at the airport.  We just waited at home for the sound of the airplane passing by and the kids waved excitedly when it did: “Babay, Lolo Maning!”

In the evening, we had cake, and Faye blew out the candles, all 7 of them.

June 18, 1982

It was late when we got back from Ninang Tery’s.  It was 11 pm past when I finally went to bed.

‘Twas quarter to 6 pm when the kids–Bryn, Xen, Faye–and I got impatient waiting for FG and decided to just go by ourselves to Ninang Tery’s (Teachers’ Village).  The time for the despedida dinner was set for 6 pm; Tatay arrived around 5, with Bien.  We were the first to come, then Romy, then Fe & Tony, then Flory.  It wasn’t ’til much later that Baby & Kiko came, or that FG came to fetch us.  It was 8:30 when we went out to eat.

I ate very little, as usual.  Tatay was very happy and kept recalling happy memories of my high school days.  I wish I could do much more.  Later, perhaps.  I hope he can still appreciate it, by then.  We walked home all the way, (the restaurant being very near Ninang’s place) Bien and I.  Tatay, Fe rode part of the way with Kiko, Baby.

June 18, 1983 (8th birthday)

It’s my beloved daughter’s birthday today.  We got through enrollment hassles, updated our Pacific Memorial Plan and was even able to celebrate her birthday!  But the luxuries have to wait some other time.

June 19, 1984 (9th birthday)

Alas, if only Uc [4 months short of 2 years] & Avi ([3 years] didn’t fall and hit their heads on the floor, this could have been a happier day.  Thankfully, there seems to be (I hope) no ill effects & the 2 kids are playing as before.

This was a rainy day.  I woke up from my nap with a splitting headache which thankfully cleared up after a short time.  Thankfully, too, I was also able to a lot of writing and typing of my term paper [for the previous sem] in the afternoon.

Tonight we celebrated Faye’s birthday.  I don’t know what she wished, but I hope that she’ll be performing well in school this year.  Avi also tried to blow out the candles and cried when she was rebuffed, so she was allowed to blow out 3 candles of her own.

June 19, 1990 (15th birthday)

It’s Faye’s birthday today.  It’s been a rainy day and everyone seems difficult and abstracted.  There’s also the tension from jeepney strikes and the very unstable atmosphere prevailing in the country.  One really has to exercise a lot of self-control to keep from falling to pieces.

Anyway, I stayed at home for the better part of the morning because I had to have FG’s letter xeroxed, however, it was brownout, so I had to wait until the electricity came back on.  (The Shopping Center where we have stuff xeroxed seems to have the same electrical connections we have.)

I got to mail the letters, ask for a copy of Atty. R’s notation on Atty. G’s letter, got a xerox copy of the BOR’s decision on P, and on to home.  And all this in pouring rain.  Later, saw Mr. Reynante and Ador and Ms. Guilbert at the Law Library.  I really miss my Law, after all!

June 18, 1995 (one day before Faye’s 20th)

The weekend seemed extra short.  Soon Xen & Faye went back to the dorm.

June 19, 1996 (21st birthday)


(7:41pm) I am killing time writing while waiting for 7:47 pm, when I should change my Nitrol.  Den is cooking, and Avi & Uc are clearing the table.  I don’t even want to imagine how lonely we would be without the 2 now that Faye and Xen are at the boarding house [in Manila].

I was so lonely all day that I wanted to call up Den around lunch time just to have somebody to talk to.  However, I just kept on with my task of arranging our books.  (8:28 a.m., June 20 — Unable to continue last night as we ate, watched Fair Game, then slept.)  It was at Vey’s and Faye’s room that I saw the numerous lovely cookbooks that Vey had bought at National, and a mixture of feelings overcame me.  The predominant one was loneliness: Vey is leaving us. [She was going to get married that December.]

June 19, 2008

So much has happened since Faye’s birthday last year.  We have lost Den, but we have gained Nina.  We’d like to think that the hardest parts are over, but Life has a way of upending all our plans, our expectations and high hopes.  So, armed with the fortitude that we have gained from suffering through Life’s trials, and with memories of happy times, we look to the future, and simply enjoy the present.  — EPD

sam cassell finally gets a ring. I’m sure dad would’ve been proud, and amused! :D

(and he earned it too! his 30++ years aside, he made crucial baskets in Game 4 or 5, showing that he still had the touch. yes, Dad would have been proud. :) fpd)

This essay formed in my mind soon after Dad died, I would have mentioned it at the funeral, but it wasn’t well formed and maybe I was still too sad.

Dad plants epithets on everyone. He usually chooses play-on-word- names: Guilagid, Palayuk, Si-shen, Abingot. But of all the names he planted on me, the one which was guaranteed to make me stomp my feet and to render me splutteringly angry, was “Bag Lady”!

I’ve only seen Bag Ladies on TV, but Dad had observed them for real during his stay in Philadelphia . These women wear ratty clothes and carry all their earthly belongings in garbage bags. He started calling me that name when I began my high school years.

Perhaps one, in teenhood, is illogical and sensitive at times, but I felt I did not merit the name Bag Lady. Sure I had a bookbag with textbooks and notebooks and papers… and a knapsack for PE clothes and shoes… and a plastic bag with an experiment or art project in it… Okay. So maybe I did deserve the name. Perhaps I was simply a teen who easily got pissed.

I remember at one time being so livid that I went ahead of Dad, stomping to the jeepney stop. I jumped aboard the jeep right away, bags flying, rumpled skirt flapping, uncombed hair streaming in the breeze. Passengers stared at me, but midway through my trip I was staring at something else. Unbelievable! Dad, in his gold metallic Mitsubishi Lancer, was right behind the jeep! He broke off later in the traffic but I imagine he was smiling, if grimly, to himself.

It wasn’t always like that. In kindergarten I had just one bag, a white drawstring bag Mom had made, embroidered with Hello Kitty. (I erroneously told my classmates that it was made from diaper cloth, which made them “Ah!” in wonderment.) Dad would park the car, then a white Holden, across the street from school. We would then walk hand in hand, chattering away.

Later in college and med school, my Ate and I stayed in a dormitory, then a condo, so Dad only drove us once a week. He now drove a heather mist silver Honda Civic which our eldest brother (and 2 sisters) gave him. I was really a Bag Lady then, with sacks of clothes and parcels of food, but Dad didn’t say anything; we were past the joking point by that time.

Later, as an anesthesiology resident and fellow, he would drive me to work. He had switched to a satin silver CR-V (another brother-bestowed vehicle). Mai would say “Duty ka ba? Marami ka bang dala? Den, marami palang dala!” I would say, “No, okay lang, two bags lang naman. Mauna na ako.” I’d dash out before the gate was unlocked. But halfway through to the jeep stop, I’d hear a familiar hum. I’d look back. Lo and behold, Dad in his CR-V has caught up with me! Silently I would slink into the passenger seat, and off we’d go.

Dad is the only constant in my evolution from Bag Lady to Dr. Bag Lady. Even while I was in kinder he looked old with his “baldy head” and his fringe of white hair. My classmate said “Nakita ko lolo mo, hinatid ka kanina.” When I grew up he still looked like a lolo, no dif. Dad had aged prematurely so that twenty-five years later, he still looked the same.

But later, he was tired. I knew he was tired, because when I went on ahead, he didn’t try to catch up with me anymore. I was both relieved and sad: relieved that he didn’t, sad that he couldn’t.

Now that he is gone I definitely will not hear the hum of the car trailing behind me. Bag lady or not, no one will call me that way. Perhaps it was his attempt to bring a smile to my surly lips, but either which way, he had always tried to help me.

I hope somewhere he is happily driving a big silver car, which dwarfs him yet is in complete control by him, no longer stressed by other cars cutting across, no longer befuddled by puzzling directions, no longer rushing to catch that elusive green light. His load is light and the highway is long and clear in front of him. If he stops to pick me up, and calls me Bag Lady, I wouldn’t mind at all. I’ll just smile.

In Biblical times, a certain young king married a princess from a neighboring country.  Soon after their marriage it became necessary for the king to leave his young wife and lead his armies into battle.  One night before he left, the king was walking in the palace gardens.  He stood beside the moon-drenched pool tossing pebbles into the water and watching the circles form.  “How like a circle is my love for her,” he thought.  “it, too, has no beginning and no ending!”

The next day he called in his goldsmith and directed him to make a gold circle to fit the queen’s finger.  When the king slipped the finished ring on his wife’s finger, he told her, “The circle, which has no beginning and no ending, is a pledge of my love for you, which is also eternal.”  And down through the ages, the gold circle has sealed the vows of marriage and symbolized the purity and the endlessness of love.

Wed.: 8 P.M., 3 NOV 1971

Dearest LC and Fruc,

For once, my wife and I are denying ourselves of the jealousy we always secretly bear, the jealousy of the very sweet love you always have for each other.  Somehow your fiery but solid relation to each other is always the ideal we ourselves really aspire to attain.  My wife and I have been constant witness to the uniqueness of your desires and love, since the two of you met 10 years ago by a spark of good luck.  That first time, we saw the two of you suddenly mutually drawn to each other, as tho one had been dormant unborn for 30 thousand years to wait with hope, patience and wisdom for the conception and birth of the other; then at the right time the moment of strong union just happened at full bloom.

We have seen the 2 of you holding hands, walking long distances every day so that you could lengthen the day.  You were not thinking of the future, you were not planning for the future, for with your love’s kind, the present is all that matters and it includes in itself whatever is the future.  We had known the first lovely seed of your love who came out perfect as a carefree child of love & nature on Nov. 17.  We had seen and felt the heavy grief you bore one June 24, when your first love flower fell off from your hold.  We had witnessed the two of you withstanding and recovering only to bear just another seed of equal beauty.  In short, we have known you to persist obstinately, as if saying that with true love, nothing, not even death or time could try the two of you.  And so, for the very force of your love for each other, despite our inherent jealousy of you, my wife and I cannot but greet you on your first decade of triumphant loving.  Please accept our small gift.  May your day of Nov. 17, 1971 be one of robust party.  The two of you are really the very kind of man and wife we do hold high to emulate.

Yours truly,

‘Ethel’ & fg

One of my most potent memories of Dad is when he’s in the kitchen. While I’m working on the computer or reading, he is going back and forth, chopping, boiling, washing, taste-testing. I hear pans smacking on the stove, cups and bowls clattering in the sink as he’s done with them. An inviting aroma emanates from the kitchen, then he calls, “Kain na!”

During busy weekdays, Dad could sling together a full meal within an hour. An unusual experience is leftover night, when one eats what appears to be sotanghon and detects a different taste, suspiciously like the chicken adobo the previous night. But his favorite day for cooking is Sunday. That’s when all of the sons and daughters come home with their spouses or boyfriends or girlfriends. On Sundays, Dad would leave early in the morning for his favorite haunt, which until recently was Nepa Q Mart in Cubao. He would come home happily burdened with seafood – alimasag, alimango, sugpo, tahong, bangus. There would be ripe and green mangoes, a stack of vegetables for the special dish he has in mind, and his beloved saging na saba. Once the dishes are laid out on the table, no visitor could refuse a second helping of pakbet, sinigang, or his special pansit spaghetti.

I am not sure if his Kapampangan blood urged him to create wonders in the kitchen. Is it from learning or leaning? I have tried my hand in the kitchen with varied results. What I remember as being distinct and disastrous is the first time I made sinigang. Perhaps I was 13 years old. I tasted and tasted the brew. It persisted in being bland so I added what must have later amounted to a fistful of salt.

The next thing I knew, I was hiding under a blanket in my room while Dad stood in the doorway, cold anger emanating from his silhouette. He did not spank me but his furious baritone was enough to send rats scampering to their hidey holes. “Sayang ang pagkain!” he thundered. From then on I stuck to pasta, where browning the meat and making al dente noodles are the only kind of outcomes I’m concerned about.

I often wondered how Dad managed to get the right taste when he had a poor sense of smell. Our mom said his olfactory capabilities were destroyed during his time in the research lab. Yet he could concoct the appropriate mix of salty, sweet or sour flavor.

My regret is that I never asked for his secret. I know he thickened the sinigang soup with lots of my favorite gabi, but how does he make it mouthwateringly maasim? How does he make the delectable pakbet with the squishy soft squash, crunchy sitaw and okra, the succulent talong? And of course, the pansit spaghetti. Who would teach me now?

There was one secret he taught me, though. One time, while flavoring the stew, he told me he gives one pinch of salt for every member of the family sitting down to dinner. “Then I add one more,” he said, whisking in a final pinch. “That’s for Ate Fevi.”

Dad never forgot our dead sister. And he never spoke much of her later on. But I knew how much he loved and missed her. That love for Ate Fevi, for his wife and sons and daughters, was embodied in every dash of salt and every meal he cooked. That love is what really made Dad’s dishes taste heavenly.

we remember you Dad today.

You are dearly missed.

Comment by Mai: June 15, 2008; 8:17 a.m.

Faye, this is simply…panoramic, a review of all the years since 1962.  Thanks for this tribute to Den, who always had all of you in mind even, or esp., when he was away, and eating good food or otherwise having pleasant experiences.  He would always say that he wished he were sharing them with us.  Esp. nowadays, when I see young fathers buying toys, dresses and food for their young children, or just simply strolling through the mall with their young children in their arms, I get nostalgic for those early days.

On this special and poignant day, even when he’s not around anymore, let’s just think that he lives on in all of you.  Happy Father’s Day to Den!

Happy Father’s Day too to my own beloved father, Judge & Dean Manuel Tolentino Panganiban (1913-2001), seen here in one of the family photos, who is one of the best fathers I know–kindly, gentle, supportive, generous, the ‘wind beneath my wings’.

i.   This is not a flower

This is spots of color

Petals and leaves

Keeping in themselves

A solid nut of seed

That mated you to one another.

[from a wedding anniversary card dated 7 july 71]

ii.  The smell of flowers is sweet

But that of imagined ones is sweeter

For even sweetness turns purer

When in mind it is distilled.

[from a card dated 19 oct 72]

… Fate just keeps on collecting dues. She is getting closer to where we are, to where I am especially. Many of our acquaintances have been singled out and claimed by her already. Soon, her knock will be at our door, to get me as her due. The sad thing about one’s fate is that he won’t be around to witness it and tell it to friends and relatives.

Death happens to everyone. It’s definitely personal, but the victim himself will never know it or about it at all. In this respect, a person has all the proof to doubt his death. Or he doesn’t have evidence at all to believe that he dies when he dies. That’s truth to which no one is personally privy. The experience of death is strange. By direct knowledge or acquaintance, it never is experienced to be known and recounted to others.

No one knows his first birthday: how he breaks into life and light of day. No one too knows his last day: how he breaks away from life and into the dark of night.

-fgd 170406