My parents were unconventional in the sense that there were no gender stereotypes. Mom only knew how to cook one thing — pork chops; but my dad could whip up a mean meal from scratch. His mother was a goddess in the kitchen, and having been her sidekick from the age of ten, he definitely knew his way around the kitchen and made sure that the pantry was always fully stocked with whatever it was he needed.
Mom, in spite of her flourishing show biz career, did most of the dirty work — she could do basic plumbing, climbed roofs, took the cars to the talyer, drove us to and from school etcetera. It was dad who did the groceries on weekends, and attended most of our PTA events in school. He had very high standards and I would often shake in my boots, and get sick on report card days because I knew he would hit the roof if I got a grade lower than B. But it was also dad who would nurture us and sit beside our beds, fuss over us, take our temperature, made sure we took our medicines on time, and was always present when we needed to go to the pediatrician.
Dad was the disciplinarian and mom was the one we turned to for fun. Both of them indulged our love for books and movies, and dining out on a Sunday was a treasured family ritual.
Because dad was a truly hands-on and very engaged father, even though we only had him for a few years (he died at 49) to this day, our minds and hearts are filled with a trove of memories that we can call on. He passed on so much wisdom and “Everything passes” is my personal favorite.
He was a very private man of few words but there was always something striking or inspiring that you could pick up from him.
Dad was the great love of mom’s life. They met in 1958 and were together for a total of a 23 years.
Mom loved to say, “Ang guapo na ng daddy mo, matalino pa, spoiled pa tayo lahat. Hindi na tayo makakahanap ng ganyan!” True enough. after he died, mom poured all her energies and channelled her attention and love on me and my brother. It was a choice she made. Her love life ended when daddy’s heart stopped beating.