Tag Archives: inquirer

The Naked and Famous

Not naked, not famous, not about the band–although this post is very remotely related. The Philippine Daily Inquirer chose my Young Blood essay, “Memories of A Father,” for their fourth anthology of Young Blood articles. Yipee! From hundreds of entries from 2005 to 2011, my rather overshare of some very stale sentiments was selected alongside those by Aika Robredo (daughter of the late and great Jesse Robredo), Rep. Raymond Palatino (who wrote two), as well as a pair of my friends. According to the editors, selection had been a long, strict, exhausting, and dramatic process. Me? I was just happy to be there!

Had it not been for my former Inquirer colleague, Irene (who was also published), I wouldn’t have known about my selection, that there would be such a book, and of the launch. Unfortunately I had to miss out on the latter due to a very important affair–I missed out on meeting my fellow Young Blooders (vampires!) as well as getting my two free copies! Grr. I was glad I didn’t have to sign any autographs though–something I later learned the others did.

I went to the PDI office a week after because they told me I could claim my complimentary copies there. Jason and I had already visited nearby National Bookstores and they didn’t carry the book at all. After over an hour of waiting, I went home with absolutely nothing because (1) there was miscommunication and (2) because they had no copies left and (3) only Corporate, who didn’t have work during weekends, had copies. Ang raming dahilan! The stars were most definitely not aligned for me! I was sad and disappointed. Jason, however, the perennially optimistic person that he is, promised me we were going to find one. Being in a book is Dream No. 3 (okay, I was already included in the SPOT.ph book in 2011, but the feeling doesn’t diminish the second time) and none of my family and friends seemed to care enough about getting one.

I was whining to Jason about not having a copy of my own and the sad fact that no one else appeared to be excited for my “achievement.” We took another useless trip to National Bookstore and by the time we got home, I was quite upset. So after a bit of pep talk and cheering, Jason went home and I was left to watch Gladiator (Javert made me happy too!) by myself. A few hours later, he texted me to say he had a surprise and to check a photo on his wall:

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Turns out while I was festering in low-self-esteem, he had asked all their salesladies to look for a copy in every bookstore within the vicinity. I started crying again because I was so touched with his gesture. I didn’t expect him to bring out the big guns especially because I know more than anyone apart from himself how busy he is.

So to spare the mushiness for the third straight entry, I end with saying: I’m so happy and thankful and lucky! For a boyfriend who has an unending supply of hope and who never hesitates to give some to those who are dangerously low in supply. For a boyfriend who believes in me even when it’s about a three-year-old piece that everyone has probably already read. Thank you for spoiling me with nothing but support and kindness and cheer!

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Young Blood by The Naked and Famous is one of my favorites songs even if it’s a little hipster for my usual taste.

18 years :)

Today, someone is probably getting ready for her 18th birthday party. Her first pair of high heels? Check. Mani and pedi? Check. Gorgeous designer dress? Check. As long as everybody comes on time and brings the right gifts (no figurines, please) her debut is sure to be a blast.

But while that nameless debutante is preparing for one of the biggest nights of her life, here we are celebrating a loss that happened 18 years ago–probably around the hour of her birth–when a C-130 plane crashed in a Libmanan rice field. The past is riddled with holes and every now and then, we wonder how different life could have been if we slipped inside a different one. Sometimes, I wonder: maybe, just maybe, if the skies had been clear that night, would I be here right now? Would I be allowed out of the house in this short a miniskirt? In my life, the biggest hole is really the hardest one to get into.

It’s always hard to talk about loss, even one that’s so long ago. But for me, it’s plain hard not because it rubs a closed wound raw but simply because I find it difficult to remember anything. It’s borderline tragic that I remember someone’s death more than his life, especially when that same person gave me half of mine. It’s also slightly depressing that I don’t even have a photo with my dad (maybe I do but I’ve never seen it). Sometimes, it feels like he barely existed but then I remember that I’m here, with four happy siblings.

I could go on and on, complaining about what could have but didn’t happen, but that’s not really me. So allow me to re-post a little something I wrote last year about my dad. It’s the first time I ever talked about him and funny enough, it got published in the paper! One-time-big-time, ika nga! My brother said today is a time of prayer but I think this essay is especially apt for today. Because for me, this is the reminder that he lived. 😀

I HAVE exactly five distinct memories of my father:

1. Him helping me throw cabbage at the giraffes in Manila Zoo.
2. Me pushing him as he hugged me when I slept.
3. The long curly hair on his legs that looked like tree trunks.
4. Him slipping on the bathroom floor.
5. His death.

My father died on Dec. 15, 1993 in a C-130H plane crash caused by a typhoon.

Whenever someone learns that I lost my father when I was 3 years old, the initial reactions are always the same: “You were so young, do you remember him?” “?What was it like growing up without a father?” and “How did your mom handle it?”

Well, let me tell you, my mom handled it perfectly well–with the grace and determination any young mother with five little mouths to feed should have in a sudden crisis. I can write an entire book about her methods, but that should be left for another day.

I do remember my father, even though it was 17 long years ago when I last saw him. I remember him lifting me up on his shoulders, gently instructing me in our native Bicolano to throw the cabbage heads high at the expectant giraffes. My throws were too weak and he ended up feeding the giraffes himself.

I remember choosing to hug Mama instead of him whenever I squeezed myself in between them at night. I remember how as a toddler I got annoyed when he asked me to massage his feet after a long day’s work and how I would pull the curly hair on his leg in revenge. But he barely noticed since he would soon fall asleep.

I remember the smell of the bathroom after he used it and the anger on his face when he blamed everybody for leaving the floor wet after he slipped.

I remember waking up in the middle of the night with two of my uncles huddled around our bed and telling us that my father had died. I even remember the night shirt Mama was wearing at the time.

So to the people who will ask me in the future: Yes, I do remember my father. But no, I never knew him. Neither do I know what it was like growing up without him.

My mother never married another man. Instead she married us, her children–a commitment just as unwavering and hard-wearing, if not more. Never in my life did she make us, especially me, feel less loved and incomplete because we no longer had a complete parental set. She attended every play, dance recital, presentation and award-giving ceremony without fail. She became the addressee of the Father’s Day letters English teachers assigned every June. She took over my father’s construction company (and more). She fulfilled both roles of breadwinner and housekeeper simultaneously.

And then there’s my ever-reliable brother, our eldest. Between us was a seven-year gap that felt like decades. He seemed to be old enough to deserve my reverence but young enough for me to always turn to. He taught me about superheroes, wrestling and video games. He wore my father’s shoes during father-daughter dances. He stepped into the places where my mother wouldn’t fit. He even sported a daddy belly. Between him and my mother, I had an unconventional father.

I sympathize for my friends who lost a loved one at a time when they actually knew what sadness felt like. But it’s hard to miss someone or something I never really had.

This whole setup has been the norm for more than three-quarters of my life. And as far as parenthood is concerned, I don’t know anything lacking. This has been my life as I know it.

Apart from those five memories, everything else I know about my father comes from stories told by others and photographs as well as his tennis and bowling trophies. Most of them are secondhand information, given from a perspective that is obviously not my own. Learning about him is like writing a research paper: it’s interesting but rather too formal and technical. My father is a far-away concept, an object. Sometimes even calling him “Papa” is a tad awkward because it seems too personal.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not an ungrateful, insensitive child. I’m not as detached as I might seem. Sometimes my mind does trail off to what life could have been had he lived. My sisters and I would probably not be allowed to have boyfriends until we are well past 30. My brother would probably have shown more interest in basketball (father’s favorite sport, I heard) and engineering (his profession).

Sometimes my imagination runs wild, and I would launch into a soap opera where he would suddenly come knocking on our door, the sole survivor of the crash, still recovering from a bout of amnesia and relearning that he left a family behind.

But even with these stories inside my head, that’s all they will ever be. And that’s all I want them to be.

Looking back at my almost fatherless life, I don’t want anything changed. I’m wistful that I have forgotten the timbre of his voice. I’m sorry I never learned how it felt to see him in the morning. I feel guilty that I was too young to actually feel bad over what happened to him. But I’m not longing or itching to turn back time and alter everything. Life has been good to me. I can’t consider a life without the close and supportive bond that my family developed after my father left us.

To my father who gave me one-half of my life, I lovingly carry those five memories forever. To me they are proof that even for a short time, you existed. And that’s enough. Because you’ve done your fatherly duties and you’ve done your part in keeping us tightly together all these years.

(Sasha Lim Uy, 20, is a graduate of Ateneo de Manila University and works as an editorial production assistant in the Inquirer.)

“Memories of father “
By Sasha Lim Uy
Philippine Daily Inquirer, Young Blood section
10/05/2010

EPA Christmas Party

Yesterday, at about 11:30 pm, the Editorial Systems Staff (editorial production assistants) had their annual Christmas party after work, of course, at the office’s multi-purpose hall. Since it started, literally and fashionably late, it lasted til the wee hours of the next morning, ahem, today. My house is a far 50-minute drive from work  so I was able to rest much later than everybody else–besides; I was also still a little giddy so an mad adrenaline rush kept me from sleeping.  It wasn’t  exactly surprising that I’m still a little groggy from the euphoric hangover of last night’s festivities.

Last night, I learned the dynamics of office Christmas party-ing:

1. Everyone wins something–no matter how small. No one leaves empty-handed unless they choose to. Yes, my boss left early and waved his raffle prize.

2. No one gets too old for Pinoy Henyo… and even the seemingly simplest Christmas words and terms can leave the most common-sensical person baffled.

3. You don’t always have to go all out to win a Best Costume–case and point–

This photograph is proof that sincerity and pure excitement can go a long way. LJM was so overwhelmed by our warm welcome that she gave out loads more raffle prizes, including P2000 cash!

when you’re not sure that a best costume prize is going to be handed out. Hahaha.

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Anyway, I planned on being a snowflake but my glittery Victoria’s Secret-inspired costume of masking tape and tin foil wasn’t holding up very well. I had the Tree left over from a shoot Jason and I had the day before. I can’t wait to see the finished photos of THAT once Jason’s done with his editing.

Merry Christmas everybody!