Wishing Heaven Got Visiting Hours

There was a simple gathering at my mom’s house last night.  Me & my sister brought a cake while my mom cooked our family’s favorite dish.  It was my dad’s supposed 80th birthday. Had one desire though yesterday.  How I wish God allows visiting hours in heaven.

My mom & dad.

Happy 80th birthday Tatay Joe!

My Christian Warrior

nengkoy & joe

I grew up in a Catholic family.  My father was Catholic when he converted to being a Born Again Christian back in the late 80s.  Ironically, his conversion happened in the Islamic country of Saudi Arabia where he was based as an overseas worker.

When my father retired and decided to stay for good in the Philippines with my family, he was one active member of his church.  He even attempted to convert every one of us in the family.

Too bad for him, he started with me.  I actually commend my father for trying.  His strategy to start with me was so genius.  He knew that if I will be converted, it would be very easy for the rest of the members of my family to become Born Again Christians.

Up until the last days of my father, he never stopped in convincing and converting me.  I guess he knew that I am really the one who needs to be saved from the fires of hell. Hahaha! I can still remember the funny and humorous intellectual debate we had about how to be a true Christian while he was in the hospital.

It has been years and my father has gone to heaven.  He may have failed to convert me, yet I am pretty sure that in spirit, he still looks after me, Nengkoy and the rest of my growing family. He has always been my Christian Warrior.

I guess my father’s failure to convert me is really not a failure after all.  Because a true Christian Warrior will simply let you be the seeker of your own Truth.  And that is one of the multitude of impacts and contributions of my father to me.

Happy Father’s Day Tatay!  You got one proud son here…

Amishyu!

Dami Im Sings Classic Carpenters

I can still vividly remember the first time I owned a cassette tape of the Carpenters.  My father during my elementary days brought with him from Saudi Arabia (he was an OFW starting late-70’s) a Sony cassette player.  And along with the small player are cassette tapes of Tom Jones, Dianna Ross, Boney M, Don McLean, The Eagles, Carly Simon and of the Carpenters.  And that was my first exposure to the beautiful songs of the Carpenters.

Three and a half decades later, I am but glad and happy to know that Dami Im, now my favorite Australian singer, has a new album.  And it is her take, tribute and covers of one of everyone’s favorite, the Carpenters.

grabbed from dami im''s fb page

grabbed from dami im”s fb page

the next song is dedicated to myself… hahaha!

What I particularly love about the songs of the Carpenters are the tunes and melodies.  Each song are simple and unpretentious.  It’s unlike those grand and complex songs in which only few people could sing.   And though Dami has one magnificent singing voice, her rendition of the Carpenters songs were just lovely and uncomplicated yet very sophisticated.  The melody, the rendition and the tunes are easy and pleasant to the ear, I could listen to Dami Im’s Carpenters version all day.

Sarap pakingggan…

Offertory With My Father

tatay joe

tatay joe

Last week before spending a short weekend escape in Baguio, I and my friends stopped over and heard a Holy Mass in the Shrine Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag in Pangasinan.  And during this very Holy Mass only did I realize that every time the Offertory is about to begin the person that enters my mind is my father.

Offertory would always remind me of my childhood, my father and the numerous episodes of my family hearing Mass in Baclaran Church.  When the choir starts singing to indicate the start of the Offertory, my father would automatically dig his hand in his pocket and would hand me and my siblings a couple of coins.  These are the same coins that we would naively put inside the collection bag being reached out and brought around the church to collect cash donations.

This simple episode that constantly reactivates in my memory every offertory, I guess is the modest and humble symbolism that reminds me about my father being the family’s able provider and role model.  This simple act (I guess) is the symbol which in a way developed in me the concept of charity, kindness and sharing.

Aside from enriching my soul and taking the opportunity to thank the Heavenly Father for all the blessings he showers me, attending the Holy Mass is also an avenue to remind myself that I actually had a “good” father.

Happy Father’s Day Tatay…

Goto on Father’s Day

yum yum!

yum yum!

Some would sneak out of the bedroom to have a bar of chocolate or a decent pint of ice cream.  Others would have a bag of cookies or even prepare themselves a hearty sandwich.  These are some of the common food chows people eat if they would have a midnight snack.

I never have cravings for a midnight snack, and if I would have one, I would go for a super bowl of “goto”.  I don’t know the English word for goto.  But it’s a hot rice porridge with meat innards (usually ox tripe and intestines) topped with chopped leeks, toasted garlic and a squeeze of the ever versatile calamansi fruit.

Psychology reveals that patterns for adult food choices is based on childhood influences, socio-economic life course and obviously the physiological state of hunger.  I believe on all these three factors.  But my choosing goto as a midnight snack is based on the first.  My childhood influence.  This is basically because of my father.

happy father's day tatay!

a true dad knows how to and not ashamed to do the laundry… happy father’s day tatay!

During my days living in Pasay, my father religiously fetched Nengkoy from work when she would render overtime reaching until the wee hours of night.  Before my parents would head home, they would drop by a goto store to purchase this superb rice soup.

And when they would arrive home, both would wake up all of us (their children, including the maid) so as to enjoy the tasty goto.  Heavy-eyed, lethargic and drowsy, I would slurp a mouthful which would definitely wake me up.  This has become a very long habit of my family in Pasay until my father has gone sick and Nengkoy retired from work.

Now that I am an adult, has lived independently from my family and my father has gone to heaven, today’s Father’s Day I guess would be so nice to have a midnight snack.  Definitely, that would be some big bowl of hot delicious goto.

Happy Father’s Day to everyone…

Ano nga ba inglish sa gowtu?

A Visit to the Home of LA Lakers

I am not a big basketball fanatic but when I was growing up, I can clearly remember that my whole family – especially my father – has as our favourite NBA team.  And since I was no basketball fan, it was actually the only NBA team I knew back then.  And up until now if I would be asked to name an NBA team, it is so automatic as if embedded in my genes, LA Lakers would simply first pop out of my brain.

award!!!

award!!!

Actually, the first and only NBA player I grew up knowing was the lanky yet legendary Kareem Abdul Jabbar.  And as I reached high school the only other player I knew then was Magic Johnson.  Obviously from the same LA Lakers team.

That is why, when I had the dreamy opportunity to visit the USA, I was just so glad that I had the chance to see the home of the LA Lakers, the Staples Center located at Downtown Los Angeles.  It was so surreal that I was actually on the plaza grounds where the striking statues to revere the legends Jabbar and Johnson were located.

nba legends jabbar and johnson

nba legends magic and kareem!!!

with mr. & mrs. torio, two of my super friends who toured me around l.a. and las vegas

with mr. & mrs. torio, two of my super friends who toured me around l.a. and las vegas

joesel's version of jabbar's tardemark "skyhook" (the fashionable way)

joesel’s version of jabbar’s trademark “skyhook” (the fashionable way)

at the staples center with the world travelers...

at the staples center with super friends…

What added to my already delighted feeling of being in the area is that on the day me and my terrific friends and travel buddies were there, the area was packed with lots of bustling goings on ala mini-funfair.  It is because a game was about to be held between LA Lakers versus Boston Celtics.  There was a booth that showcase the last NBA championship trophy won by LA Lakers, a booth where you can take photos and signature of the LA Lakers cheerleading squad, an ESPN booth that interviews an NBA player whom I don’t know, a booth where fans can line up to acquire souvenir autograph by an LA Lakers player and of course numerous booths by major sponsors that gives away souvenir pieces and thingies.

Having a long glimpse on those statues, seeing the iconic LA Lakers colours and insignia and most especially being at the lively Staples Center made me miss my late father.  How I wish I could proudly tell him that I was once at the home base of his most favourite NBA team.

Walang steypler sa staypols senter…

A Massive Thanks To A 70’s to 80’s OFW: A Father’s Day Special

Thanks to an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW), at a very tender age I know the taste of Baby Ruth and Hershey’s chocolate bars.  Thanks to an OFW, I am one of those young lads who owned a Japanese electronic game set called Atari.  Thanks to an OFW, my pubertal apparel includes United Colors of Benetton shirts, Swatch watches and Adidas shoes.

Thanks to an OFW, my taste buds are no stranger to the savoriness of Spam and imported corned beef.  Thanks to an OFW, at an early age I was exposed to a wide range of cassette-tape music from sweet soothing tunes of Carpenters to pop-beats of Boney M.  Thanks to an OFW, even before the existence and coining of the words “balikbayan box” I know the epidermal comforts brought about by Ivory bath soap and Jergens body lotion.

An enormous thanks to my father for all these.

tatay joe in saudi arabia

tatay joe in saudi arabia

I know these are all mundane worldly materials and I should instead thank my father for giving me an urbane civilized life.  He may have passed away a long time ago but I know my father knows that I’m thankful for that already.  So I’m giving myself a chance to express my deep gratitude regarding these specifics.

Hapi Paders Dey Tatay! Misyumats!

Farewell To You “Tukayo”

neil armstrong

It is believed that in 500 years, people of this planet will forget about wars, calamities and even its world leaders but will never fail to disregard the time when a man first stepped on the moon.  Actually, people have difficulty recalling the names of the men who stepped on the moon but definitely not Neil Armstrong, the first man who did it.  I’m pretty sure planet Earth until it blows itself into smithereens will forever remember him.

I do not have any relation or association with Neil Armstrong except for my name.  He is my tukayo (a friendly Filipino way of calling a person having the same first name as one’s self).  Nengkoy and Joe named me after this iconic hero.  Being the root and basis of my appellation I have always felt a close connection with this man.  His name is forever on my birth certificate, my signature and of course will be on my gravestone hopefully in a very distant future.

That is why I am saddened to know that my tukayo has passed away.  It felt like the beautiful birthmark on my skin that I have been so proud of has suddenly disappeared.  I feel like I lost the chieftain of the tribe whom I belong.

He may now be gone but the gigantic scientific achievement he has contributed represents one of the peaks of humanity’s progress.  He is definitely one great ambassador of the human species.  And I’m damn proud that I was named after him!

Paalam tukayo…

Joe’s Boxing Moves – A Father’s Day Special

While the whole world is still trying to figure out how to swallow the bitter reality that Manny Pacquiao lose a fight yesterday to Timothy Bradley, have you ever seen your dad, brother or best friend how they looked like while watching the controversial fight?

Every time there is a key boxing event, I am always reminded of my late father.  In my childhood days during these major events no one in the household could watch anything on TV.  Switching the channel would be like chasing bad luck and adversity. Thus you would have to settle with other forms of entertainment.  But for me my dad is my source of entertainment during these TV boxing episodes.

He is not the commonly overt cheerer type.  He is neither a clapper nor a shouter.  When he watches a fight, he would slightly sway his body from left to right front and back as if he would parry, dodge or deflect an opponent’s punch.  These movements are so faint and subtle you wouldn’t notice it unless you would stare, watch and observe.

That is why every time my father would watch a boxing match I would cunningly observe him.  When his posture and movements would go too obvious, I would laugh out loud.  He would then gently ask me why I am laughing and I would just say nothing and pretend as if I am also watching the match aired on TV.  When he would shift his center of attention back to the fight on TV I would again watch him and laugh out loud once more when his swaying movements would yet again gone too apparent.

Bradley, Pacquiao, Maywheather, Donaire and other pound for pound kings may popularly break through the history of boxing and will eventually retire but Tatay Joe’s eccentric yet barely obvious moves will always remain as the most entertaining to watch during a boxing match.  I of course will forever cherish those treasured moments.

So the next time your dad, husband or brother would watch a boxing match on TV try watching them instead and be entertained!

Ayan, ang siguradong panalo.

We Were Like A Rolling “Bulanglang”

i will never be too old for tantrums...

The benefit of being with your mother is that you are allowed to simply be yourself and say whatever you like to the point of throwing tantrums.  That is what I exhibited when my family was travelling back to Manila after an overnight stay at the hometown of my father in Pangasinan last weekend.

And as usual, just like any rural adventure that my family would carry out from time to time, Nengkoy never fails to stop over and shop at the local palengke (wet and public market) of the rural place we visit.  Our journey would not be complete without Nengkoy buying the local produce of the province or the countryside we visit – bushy-tailed vegetables, freshly caught fishes, newly slaughtered meat, brightly colored fruits as well as local indigenous delicacies.  She wouldn’t just buy a piece or two just to satisfy her shopping passion.  She would buy tons of it!!!

This usually makes me cranky and grouchy.  This is because I and the whole family need to spend considerable amount of time at the border and perimeters of the wet market doing nothing but wait while Nengkoy finish her procurement.  My considerate and selfless brothers and sisters are so used to Nengkoy’s habit they would sometimes join her in penetrating the labyrinthine passageways of the palengke to locate the freshest produce and help her out carry the loads of her purchases. I, at all times refuse to join the pack but instead just wait and wait and wait.  Did I already say that I impatiently wait?

Anyway, while we were in Manaoag, Nengkoy purchased local delicacies of Pangasinan: bags of puto calasiao (local rice cakes of Calasiao, Pangasinan) and tupig (charcoal-grilled glutinous rice and grated coconut wrapped in banana leaves).

While we were in Dagupan, she purchased tubs-full of fresh bangus (milk fish), oysters, large shrimps, a bag full of mangoes and large bottles of the local bagoong (a brown, murky yet tasty sauce made from fermented tiny fishes).

We also made a stopover in  Villasis where she bought heaps and oodles of locally grown vegetables – malunggay (fruits of moringa tree), talong (eggplants), sibuyas-pula (tiny red onions), bawang (garlic), kalabasa (pumpkin), and even bouquets of bulaklak ng kalabasa (squash blossoms).

All throughout these panic purchasing moments, I did nothing but wait and complain. Grrr!  We literally could no longer move inside the car for it was full of the local produce of Pangasinan.  Out of madness, I even cried out loud to everybody inside the vehicle traversing the highways of North Luzon on our way back to Manila that we are already like “Umaandar na Bulanglang!” (a rolling Bulanglang – a stew made of fish and mixed vegetables seasoned with bagoong that originated from northern Luzon).

nengkoy with some of her bulanglang veggies

Pagdating sa bahay ni Nengkoy, ako din naman ang kumain ng mga yon. ‘Yan si Nengkoy walang kupas. At ako, walang pasensya.