My father passed away, last Wednesday. He was 88. This is the eulogy I delivered, more or less, at his funeral. The extra time gave me an opportunity to clean it up some more as well as rewrite some parts for better details and clarity:
My dad was not the perfect father, but he taught me to strive for perfection.
When I was in grade school, I would sometimes go to school on Saturdays to hang out with my friends. When I asked for permission, he would always ask me what time I would be home and I had to call him at the office when I arrived. One time I arrived home around 10 or 15 minutes late. When I called him, I could hear his stern voice asking me why I was late. As I stammered through my excuse, he said, “If you say you are coming home at 3:00, then come hell or high water, you better make sure you’re home at 3:00.”
From there, I learned an important lesson in responsibility, in keeping one’s word, and in being on time.
A year before I was to be married, I had the opportunity to work closely with him. I was his driver, bodyguard, assistant and secretary, as he hopped from one meeting to another. He was a workaholic and on top of running our business, he was president of three organizations and active in one or two more.
Being the resident computer expert, I would type letters that he drafted in longhand. Later on, he didn’t bother writing anymore but just dictated to me while I typed and edited sentences on the fly. I became quite good at editing and composing and so after that, Dad would not bother dictating word-for-word anymore but he would just give me the gist of what he wanted to say, very informally, and I would write out the entire text for him.
That experience was an integral part in honing my writing skills, especially in being concise, clear and businesslike.
But perhaps the best thing my dad taught me was about love, relationships and family.
He would always find time amidst his busy schedule, to spend time us. When we were younger, Sundays meant swimming at Apo Golf Country Club or Villa Victoria Beach, or even just Times Beach. When he had business trips in Manila when I was in college, he would stay over the weekend so that I could spend time with him at his hotel. We enjoyed many breakfast buffets together, as well as a number of steak dinners.
When I was working with him, some of my favorite times were the lulls between work, when he would invite me for a snack in the conference room of our office where he kept a microwave, some crackers, canned tuna and bottled sardines. Over these little bites, he would share to me bits of wisdom or stories from his younger days, and I would would also ask him about his recent projects, sometimes voicing contrary opinions and we would go back and forth with our ideas.
One of the phrases I remember was, “Do not love things and use people. Rather, use things and love people.” My dad might have been a businessman with many organizations, but for him, relationships always came first. He would not hesitate to stop in the middle of something to help out someone in need — be it a family member, or our househelp, a friend, and sometimes even random strangers or casual acquaintances.
From those times, I learned the value of love and compassion. My school prides itself on shaping people to be “men and women for others,” but even though my dad did not attend the same school, he lived out that very ideal.
My dad was not the perfect father, but he was certainly one of the best and I am grateful to have known him, and be one of only four children in the world to call him “Daddy.”
Originally published in Sunstar Davao.