My Lolo Dad would sing to me 'Que Sera, Sera'. It'd be playing on the record player in the living room and tiny Adi in a frilly dress would dance around the living room with him as I attempt singing my toddler version of the song. There was a year my dad studied abroad and my mom went with him, leaving me with my grandparents for an entire year. They permed my hair and showed me off to all of their friends, proud of the fact that I could spell Duck. "D-U-C-K duck." Never mind that I'd spell dog the same way (as in "D-U-C-K dog!")
Eventually Lolo Dad retired from the Central Bank Of the Philippines and his daily life became primarily comprised of renting horror B-movies in Betamax from his suki in Greenhills. He'd buy me soft serve ice cream with rainbow sprinkles, the one in the middle of the old Virra Mall, and then we'd go home and watch the movies together in his bedroom while he chain-smokes right next to me. I do not even remember the title of all those movies. I just remember him fast-forwarding the parts with naked women, and playing it just in time for the blood and gore, virgin sacrifices included. A restless kid of four, when he's just watching the news or anything uninteresting for a kid, I'd go outside play with my cousins; but I'd always come back to Lolo Dad after. Too many times my parents would just carry me asleep from his bed, up to my bedroom because we'd watch the nightly local horror movies shown on some local channel back then and then drift off to sleep next to each other.
He spoiled me, alright. I was the eldest kid of his youngest, arguably his favorite offspring. The only time I remember him getting angry at me was when I taped 'No Smoking' signs that I drew all over the house where he would smoke everywhere; and then stole his pack of Salems from under his pillow and painstakingly removed the tobacco off each cigarette and replaced it with cotton and put it back under his pillow. He forgave me quick though. Whenever he'd come home from a vacation in the States, I'd have a whole balikbayan box of pasalubong. He gave me fancy sneakers, a huge Barbie head where I could practice hairstyling and make up, Barbie trailers and houses with furniture and cars that Barbie and Ken can actually ride and play house in, a cute cute Little Tykes fridge complete with ice trays and fake food inside, among many, many other material things.
Seeing as he'd be in bed all day chain-smoking, reading me jokes off the newspaper; and at night having a few beers then sleeping late watching movies with me, he one day got a stroke. He recovered eventually, his movement restricted to the living-room-turned-his-bedroom. He'd still be there watching movies and reading the paper, telling me about interesting crimes and the jokes that he'd read off it. As I entered late grade school, I had more things to do and spent less time with him. A few days before his second stoke though, he asked me if I still remember us singing 'Que Sera, Sera.' I smiled and said yes. But I was a tweener then and I hardly gave it any thought. And then he got into his second stroke which pretty much turned him into a vegetable for months and wouldn't recognize most of us anymore when we'd visit. A few days before he died, during my ritualistic goodbye kiss to a grandfather who would not even know who I was, he held me tighter and longer and mumbled something that resembled "Thank you."
I was so stunned because he’d rarely speak so I didn’t get to say anything. I got teary-eyed on the way home, but kept my tears to myself because I was thirteen then and teenagers do not cry. It was the same case when he died a week later. I simply sat at the foot of his bed and would look at him with no concrete emotion, and touch his foot just so I could say that I touched a dead human being.
Years later, I find myself crying my eyes out about Lolo Dad and how much I miss being a child primarily because I miss hanging out with him. Aside from the toy fridge I still use as storage of accessories and liquor, all the other memories of him exist merely in my head and in pictures. Almost all of myself, he unknowingly built like colored Lego blocks during the course of our relationship. He made me who I am now – a morbid (occasional) prude with a fascination for the uncanny and a notorious imagination; with a weird weird sense of humor, who enjoys a couple of beers every night; and who from loving second-hand smoke evolved into smoking as well. I love movies, B-movies, zombies, vampires, aliens. I thrive in horror, fucked up, palpitation-inducing thrillers; and this time I’m old enough to sit through the entire things. I have grown to love movies to the point that I enjoy being a part of writing, planning, organizing, and basically, making them also.
At twenty-three with my childhood behind me, and the rest of my life ahead, I remember my favorite verse of the song.
When I was just a child in school, I asked my teacher what should I try.
Should I take pictures? Should I sing songs?
This was her wise reply - Que sera, sera.
Whatever will be will be. The future’s not ours to see.
Que sera, sera.
I don’t take pictures, professionally at least. I’d want to sing songs. I make music videos. I make shorts. I write. I make AVPs. I produce. I manage. I plan things and make them happen. I organize. I arrange. I do damage control. I do PR when I have to. I doodle. I swim. I dream of owning a beach resort and living there. I dream of being an underwater photographer and being one with the ocean and its entire ecosystem. I wonder what I still could be. Moreover, I wonder if Lolo Dad’s proud of me.
I wonder if he knew when he passed away or if he knows now how much memories of him I treasure more than any other thing in my life – more than my first kiss, more than supposed unforgettable out of town trips with friends, and more than my Ateneo education. I cherish more from Lolo Dad.
He'd play ‘Que Sera, Sera.’ The future’s not ours to see. I worry constantly if I’m doing the right thing and going the right way; if I should give a shit that I AM doing the right thing and if I am even supposed to know what the right way is; if people think I’m doing the right thing; and if I should even give a shit about what people think. He taught me about acceptance of the things you can’t change. Things fall into place eventually. If they’re scattered all over, I suppose that’s not it yet. That’s the fun part of the future methinks. You just don’t know what it holds because whatever will be, will be.
Lolo Dad, thank you. I love you. Your chain-smoking next to little me pretty much locked my smoking fate right then and there. Maybe I’ll see you in heaven’s Lung Cancer Club. I owe you a warm, warm hug when I see you in another plane. For some reason, I can't wait.
- The State I am in:Nuthouz. It's just emotions taking me over.
- So apparently, I have feelings...: Generally on the down low.
- This entry was inspired by:Everything's Alright. Yes, everything's alright.