I sorely miss the best dad in the world – Mussilini De Villa Ligaya.
My dad was a clever good-looking Batangueño with a great sense of humor. That’s the best way to describe him.
He was a merchant. He would buy different products (clothes, kitchen utensils, blankets, mosquito nets, etc.) from Divisoria and sell them in far-flung barrios (villages) in the provinces of Central and Northern Luzon. He would bring me along once in a while especially during summer time. I was so fascinated by his capability to interact with people, make them laugh, and convince them to buy. There were times that my father challenged me to initiate and close deals. I tried so hard to copy his good business acumen.
Aside from teaching me how to communicate with customers, my dad also impressed upon me when I accompanied him in his business sorties the values of hard work and patience. We perspired, huffed and puffed, as we carried the products he was selling and walked together through muddy rice paddies to reach homes of potential customers in places which the vehicle he hired could not reach.
Those were the times that I realized that whatever we want in life will not be served in a silver platter.
My dad was the reason why I developed fondness for reading. He was a voracious reader. Everyday he would read three newspapers – Bulletin Today (now Manila Bulletin), Tempo, and Balita. He did not spend a single day in high school but he was so good at English. He was my first English teacher.
He was also the reason why I included “teaching overseas” among my career options. Way back in the late 1990s, when I informed my dad that I was about to complete my Master’s, he asked this question – “How much would your additional degree add to your monthly salary?” I gave him a rough estimate of what would my monthly pay be should I get that graduate degree. He shook his head and told me that my cousins (and the husband of a cousin) who have no Master’s but are working as seamen are receiving salaries three (3) to five (5) times higher than mine.
In no way that my dad undervalued education. He was the one who pushed (and helped) me to get a college diploma. He merely challenged me to maximize the returns of whatever degrees I earned. That night, I revisited my career path and included ESL teaching abroad as an option.
My coming here to South Korea to teach was not an overnight decision, it was a part of a plan – a plan that was influenced by my dad.
I love you dad!
Kaylan ko po ba ito dapat sulatin?
Kapag ba Inay hindi mo na puwedeng basahin?
Kaylan ko po ba ito dapat sabihin?
Kung pandinig mo ba INAY naglaho na’t
tinig ko’y ‘di na kayang dinggin?
Bago ang nakatakda’y maganap
… bago ang mga braso mo’y bawian ng lakas
at di na kayang gantihan ang higpit ng aking yakap
Eh isuot mo po INAY ang iyong salamin
Simpleng tula ko sana’y basahin.
INAY iyong damhim
Pagmamahal at pagtanging
Sa bawat taludtod padadaluyin
Maka-ina daw ako!
Aba’y dapat lang.
Kung ang ina ang anak ay ‘di malilimutan
Ang anak – ina’y ‘di puwedeng talikuran.
Ako’y nakarating sa gustong paroonan
Dahil nilingon ko sinapupunang pinaggalingan
Ng buhay kong sa Panginoon ay hiram.
Noong bata ako’t walang muwang
INAY ‘di mo ako pinabayaan
Mga bisig mo’y nagsilbi kong duyan
Inaruga mo ako’t inalagaan
Kayo po ang una kong guro
Kay dami ninyo sa aking naituro.
Maraming… maraming salamat po!
Salamat po INAY at naituro mo sa akin –
…na magtiwala sa kakayahang angkin
…na sa Panginoon laging manalangin
Hindi ka perpekto INAY
Subalit mahal kitang tunay.
Bigkis nating Diyos ang pumanday
Mananatili hanggang sa kabilang-buhay.