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To Armando Flores Sibal, on Father’s Day

A couple of months ago, while we were hanging out at the garage, you asked me what kind of eulogy I would give at your funeral. Since I was taken aback by the question (who wouldn’t be?), I told you I’d think about it and let you know later.

I’ve thought about it, and here’s my say.

When I was 14 years old, you told me I could never be like you. I could never have as big a heart, and I could never look at the world as you do. To the 14-year-old me, it was a set-down. After all, you were my hero. It upset me then that you would say something like that to your only daughter, one who idolized you.

But what do 14-year-olds know? They’re nothing but ignorant rebels. It would take them at least 20 more years to figure things out, if they ever do.

You’re right, Dad. I could never have as big a heart as yours. You’re perhaps the most generous and compassionate person I know. Your hands are always open, not just to your family and friends, but even to total strangers. You are quick to forgive those who have disappointed you. You always give of yourself, no matter how much it hurts. These are things I know I find difficult to do.

And I could never indeed look at the world as you do. You look at the world with three parts weary wisdom and one part childlike wonder. You read people and situations so sharply. And yet I don’t think you’re ever cynical.

Besides, how could I look at the world the same as you do? We are all shaped by our personal experiences, and mine are certainly different from yours.

I have you to thank for that, you and Mom. The two of you made sure my brothers and I didn’t have to go through the hardships you went through when you were young. We didn’t want for anything, and you gave us the best of everything that you could afford.

Thank you for giving us room to be reckless, even though this probably gave you more sleepless nights than you can count. Like that time I had my sleepover for my 18th birthday, when Sheila, William, Daryll and I took the car so we could take Daryll home even though all four of us have imbibed alcohol.

Thank you for allowing us to refuse your guidance and make our own mistakes, even though you probably wanted to bop us on the upside of the head for being stupid. And when we’ve realized that we’ve made a mistake, thank you for not saying “I told you so.”

Thank you for watching anime with us even though you hate it. Thank you for those random pizza nights. Thank you for introducing us to the wonderful world of tennis idolatry, even though it’s horribly frustrating to watch Rafael Nadal lose to Novak Djokovic for three Grand Slams in a row.

Most of all, thank you for checking my essay for my English class in third grade. You taught me then that in any piece of writing, a sentence should always connect with the next one so the idea being expounded would flow smoothly and without interruption. It was my earliest lesson in writing that I could remember. That lesson shaped me more than I ever let you know.

I could never be like you, Dad. But I do hope to be close enough someday. I still idolize you; you’re still my hero.

I don’t know if this is the eulogy you want me to deliver on your funeral. Surely I still have some time to edit this. I’ll let you know when I do. For now, let me just say “Happy Father’s Day” and “I love you.”

 

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Anna Sibal-Gonzaga is a freelance writer based in the Philippines. She likes reading books and watching movies and TV shows in the sci-fi, fantasy and historical genres. She is also a casual gamer and an all-around nerd.

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