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Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Father in the Workplace

I remember doing naughty things as a boy at the workplace of my dad…

Everybody had a time card and since I wanted to act as if I was an employee too, one time, I punched a time card just like the way everybody did. The problem was, I did not have my own time card so I just picked one time card and punched it.

“Ha, ha… I have timed in.” It was a wonderful feeling to work!

However, as I pulled out the time card out of the box-like clock on the wall, I noticed that I stamped a new time with a same date on the employee’s time card for that day. Since, there was a double entry on one slot, the ink was a bit scattered, which made the entry unreadable. I felt I did something wrong but I kept silent. Several days afterwards came pay day. The time keeper came to check the time cards. As expected, a problem arose when he could not read the entry on that particular date. Thus, the time keeper could not determine if the employee was late or not so he could not release to the employee his salary. Everybody was sure it was my doing.

“Did you do that”? Dad asked. I was so scared but I had to admit it.

“Yes, dad.” I said, then I bowed my head. I knew he was furious and wanted to spank me but he controlled himself.

“Don’t you do that again!” He warned me sternly. Then he told the employee that he would just pay his salary for the particular day in question.

“Whew!” I felt so relieved when the problem was settled.

I remember the following day, Dad gave me my own time card.

“Ha, ha, ha! I have my own time card!” I happily told myself. I did not bother to understand what problem I had caused.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Plant Superintendent

After dad’s retirement from military service in 1980, Elisco Tool Manufacturing Corp, the exclusive manufacturer of M16A1 Rifles in the Philippines under license from Colt Inc USA, hired him as Plant Superintendent. The assembly plant was in Bataan and every summer, I would spend my vacation there with dad. As a child, I had seen and learned how to assemble, dismantle and test fire an M16A1 rifle. Sometimes, I would even sneak into the firing range to share in the firing spree! Usually, dad would not know but the employees would tell dad afterwards. It was safe though because the rifle was placed on a metal clamp and was locked in its place. Nobody held the rifle for test fire. The person doing the test fire would adjust the rear and front sight based on the grouping of the bullets on the target sheet which he watched through a TV monitor. It was chicken for me...

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Convoy

Another exciting adventure for an innocent child like I had been was firearm test firing. Since RDC test weapons for military use, there were many occasions when dad would tag me along. They would test pistols and rifles of different kinds and caliber. Sometimes he would let me hold those firearms and feel how to fire a caliber .22 revolver.

Although as a child, I could not understand why they had to shoot different combat helmets neatly arranged on the target area with their M1-Garand Rifles. I did not actually witnessed the shooting but I could see the big holes on those heavy metallic helmets.

However, the most exciting adventure was the convoy of military trucks dad led as a government inspector for the M16A1 SRDP. The convoy would travel from GHQ to Camp Antonio Luna in Bataan and back heavily escorted. We would ride in one of the military jeeps. I would wear my marine uniform so I felt that I was one of them. However, still an innocent 7 year old, I would fall asleep in the middle of our travel with my hands on a rifle (a real but safely unloaded one) totally unaware of the hazard. Those military trucks were fully loaded with thousands of M16A1 rifles!

The First Sergeant

I was probably 6 years old when dad started to take me with him to work. I would ride in front of his Suzuki 125 motorcycle. It was always an exciting ride. The problem was that every time we were on our way home, I would easily fall asleep when I squint as the afternoon sun hurt my eyes. Often, dad would make a stop over along manila bay to wake me up. We would watch the sunset from there before we go home.

I remember, he was the first sergeant of the RDC GHQ AFP. During flag ceremony, he would stand at the middle and shout out commands to the troops; about a platoon in number if I remember right. I felt so proud. I knew I wanted to be like him when I grew up.

All the more the zeal to be a soldier flared up in me when my mother sewed a marine uniform for me and Dad sewed to it his previous insignia. It felt so great to wear that uniform…

A Great Marine

My father was a Marine- a fine and well-decorated soldier. He entered military service with the Philippine Marine Corp on 9 July 1958 as a rifleman. He was a veteran of the Mindanao War against the Muslim secession movement and local bandits in the area of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

His succeeding assignments were: Presidential Security Agency from 1961 to 1964; Naval Operating Force 2 (intelligence) in 1964 to 1965. He also served at Naval Provost Marshall as Military Police in 1966 to 1967. He was also a part of an anti-smuggling strike force of the Bureau of Customs, (Phil). From 1967 to 1974, he served as supply sergeant then as chief armorer of the Philippine Marine Corp. Then lastly as NCOIC and first sergeant at the Research and Development Center, GHQ, AFP where he became the government inspector in the Elitool-Colt SRDP.

While in Marine service, he attended schoolings that earned him commendations and promotions:

  • 1967- Naval Amphibious School, Amphibious Training Command, United States Pacific Fleet- Amphibious Intelligence Staff Officer
  • 1967- NBI Police Academy- Narcotics Control and Investigation
  • 1970- Philippine Army School Center (PASC)- Armament Maintenance
  • 1972- Ordnance School, United States Marine Corp Development and Education Command Quantico Virginia- Infantry Weapons Armorer; Optical Instrument Repairman
  • 1975- Jones & Lamson USA- Optical Comparator Seminar
  • 1976- Colt Industries, Hartford Connecticut USA, Philippine Training Program (M-16A1 Rifle SRDP) - in the field of Government Inspection

However, one important highlight in his military career I guess was the account he was always telling me tirelessly. He was so proud of that day…

One of the marines in their platoon went back to their remote marine detachment drunk after going to the town proper in Tawi-Tawi, Sulu Province. However, before he went to the marine detachment, he rudely rang the bell of a local barrio (a small rural village) Mosque, which enraged the Moslem people in the barrio. They armed themselves with firearms and bolos and were ready to attack the outnumbered Marines to get the wayward soldier. However, although outnumbered, the Marines had superior firepower and if fighting ensued, many civilians would be killed.

Dad hurried to the Moslem leaders in the barrio. He sought their help to pacify the infuriated barrio people to avoid a senseless bloodshed. The Moslem leaders agreed to talk to the people and convinced them to put down their weapons and return to their homes. Fortunately, the people listened to them. Dad was the hero of the hour not because he showed superior combat skills, but because he showed concern to the barrio people and found a peaceful solution to what could had been a bloody encounter.

A Great Singer

My dad loved to sing in church although there were only a few songs in his repertoire. He would sing from his favorite songs: “Give Thanks”, “Purihin at Sambahin”, (Papuri), “Sa Aking Pagdulog” (Papuri), “Sino Ako?”, and “Glorify Your Name”. His favorite Christmas Carols were “Himig Pasko”, “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas”, “Silent Night” and “Oh, Holy Night”. I remember him doing all those Christmas songs in a medley. Of course, I did the arrangement. He sang only with me on the keyboards.

He had a good singing voice. He sang with the choir before as a tenor or bass “whichever the choir needed” as he would always remark although, it was easier for him to perform in solo. The only problem he had was rhythm. When he sang, I had to follow his beat instead of him singing as the organ played. Nevertheless, his singing voice was one legacy I cherish.

He also loved to dance. I would remember him dance to his favorite tunes at home and a few occasions in church. Well, that’s one thing I would not be able to follow…

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Memories of a Great Father

November 29,2008…

After the laboratory tests, we learned that his creatinine count was 600. The normal count should only be 120. He was suffering from sepsis because of kidney failure. He needed dialysis treatment in order to survive… for life fearfully… The doctors did what they could do…

Despite the condition, I remained optimistic. My mom was in tears. She was scared that my dad would not make it but I was steadfast. I told her, “Diddy would recover after the dialysis…”

My dad was a strong man with a strong faith in God. He was a great father. He would cover me with a blanket as I slept at night and massage my paralyzed legs tirelessly every morning even after his stroke. He would not eat breakfast until I was awake because we always ate together…

I was active in church ministry all because he was religiously taking me to church every Saturday and Sunday until he suffered from stroke in January of 2006. Since he could no longer drive, our church van started to pick me up every Sunday afternoon for our vesper service. Still, he would not let me leave on my own. He would use the little strength left in him to help the church driver pull me up of my wheel chair onto the van.

At church, he would fix everything that I would need as an organist: carry the organ to the designated place, connecting the cables to the electric outlet and to the amplifier. He would get a music stand for my hymnbooks and music sheets. He could easily get exasperated whenever the other users would not return the equipment to their proper places after using them because it would be harder for us to set up…

My dad was the wind beneath my wings… the feet that kept me standing up…

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The Last Time Together

November 28, 2008…

An unexpected situation had happened. After two years of survival from stroke, my father got sick again. He was having fever, weakness and was complaining of muscular pain on his body and thighs. I was worried sick about him but I was optimistic.

He could hardly stand up on his own that afternoon. I wanted to help him up but I could not because of my physical restraints. He held on my right arm while he was sitting on a chair inside the room. I felt so attached to him while he was gently holding on to my arm. We were not conversing but I know we both appreciated that time that we were together. Later on, he successfully got himself up after several attempts.

However, later that afternoon, his pain worsened. He was reading his Bible but I could feel the discomfort that he was feeling. He was losing strength to keep his balance while he was sitting on the side of the bed. I did not know if he could still read on very well at that point but he was trying with all his strength to read a page. I tried to hold him up from my wheel chair. I tried to keep him stable in his sitting position by holding his left shoulder up but it gave not much help. If only I could transfer from my wheel chair to the bed, sit beside him and offer my body as a backrest… If only I could…

Later that night, we rushed him to the hospital. Before they left, he told me that he wanted to urinate. Those words echo in my mind up to now… I looked at him as he rode the cab. I was not nervous as I expected him to return home well. I fixed his beddings right away that night so that it would be clean with a fresh smell when he comes back…

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Tribute from a Son

“A man may have a hundred children and live many years; yet no matter how long he lives, if he cannot enjoy his prosperity and does not receive proper burial (tribute), I say that a stillborn child is better off than he.” Ecc 6:3


Dad spent his years well,
His gray hair was a crown of honor,
A great family man; a good soldier,
A responsible citizen; a prayerful Believer.

No words could express the sorrow,
Of an orphaned in a well of tears,
Drowning in the agony of the passing,
Of a dear, loving and caring daddy.

The Lord cried out, “Why hast thou forsaken me?”
My spirit cries out the same!
“Why hast thou forsaken me, father?”
Life could never be the same again.

Life will go on with a missing link-
Dad’s strong arms that carried me,
His presence that gave security,
The sweet echoes of his singing.

My dad shall remain in my heart,
His memories will linger on beyond time,
His touch, his smile; the words he left behind,
Are like fire that will light my life.
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