Every time I hear the song Besame Mucho, I remember you.
I remember growing up in the old house in San Jacinto
during those years you were a young town mayor.
At night, this song will play again and again
on our portable turn table, in a 45 single vinyl disc
while you rested, listening to Besame Mucho.
Hearing it again and again, I memorized its lyrics.
Those were the years you served the town people
selflessly, honestly and joyfully.
You were always ready to help all those who came to you
even at the cost of your health.
I remember you with coughs that never cured
with voice always hoarse from speaking.
In return, the town people loved you
and showed their love giving us what they had:
vegetables, fruits, chicken, corn, rice, eggs, goats, sheep…
I got free rides in the ferris wheel, free entrance at the circus…
Because of you, the town people loved us, your children.
Anak nen Didi, they would say, and I would walk away feeling proud of you and happy.
Higher political ambitions, for sure, you also had
because you were young, brilliant and promising
but you gave it all up for the sake of your family.
You knew that no honest politician could support a growing family of six children,
with three more to come.
Thank you, Papa, for choosing your family over your political ambitions.
Looking back now, I realize that those were the best years of my childhood.
I can go back to those years not only to relish the sweet memories
but also to look for the cause of my own vocation, its major influence and inspiration.
And I must have found it in you,
during those years you were the mayor of San Jacinto
what I now call the Besame Mucho years.
If service to others is the greatest vocation…
it was the way you served the town people of San Jacinto
that must have inspired me and all of your children to do the same.
Mommy as a teacher, Ate Grace as a nurse,
Jim as a lawyer, Agnes as a mother, Gerry as a father…
Zenia as a dentist, Jun as a composer/writer, I as a priest….
Kuya Ramon, Vicky, aren’t we all involved somehow
in the service to others, in caring for other people?
So now when I feel tired and challenged to do more…
when my work leaves me hoarse and coughing…
I shall think of you and how you served the people selflessly, honestly and joyfully…
and I shall be strengthened. Then I can go on to serve…
in the same way you served…
the town people of San Jacinto.
To rest, I shall listen to Besame Mucho
to inspire me to love as you loved
to serve as you served.
I shall be ending now my reminiscence
that gives me joy and makes me strong.
Thank you, Papa, for being the mayor you were and father you were to us
Thank you, Pa, for loving and for serving us, your children…
Thank you, for everything you have done for us…