2005-12-18 @ 1:35 a.m.

She was 15 he was 20. She’s still live and as well as one can be after losing their soulmate of 67 years. He, at 88, is moving on to the next world leaving a legacy unheard of in this day and age.
21 pregnancies
13 live births
12 still living – 4 boys, 8 girls - of whom my eldest cousin is older than my youngest aunt! - 3 generations living within the family!
52 great and grand children…that’s 1 for every week of the year folks!
They survived World War II.
He survived the Bataan Death March one of the darkest moments in Filipino history and has been pronounced dead more times than one can count.
He is a fighter, a leader, a survivor, a believer in faith, a Captain, a husband, a father….my grandfather.

Age is but a number describing physicality when it came to Papa as at 88 his mind was sharper than anyone I meet these days. A great lover of knowledge, his mind would unfold like a map recounting places he’s been, books he’s read, and people he’s met.

He spoke of his children and grandchildren with great pride and adoration and would lovingly quiz us on geography (it is now instilled in my mind that the highest lake in the world is Lake Titicaca with a sea level depth of 12,500ft.), history (a man of such mixed blood wouldn’t identify with “Filipino” but “Malay” as Philippines was a name given by King Phillip of Spain in conquest), language (he could speak numerous languages and dialects and would challenge me as to my inability to speak Tagalog and so I would attempt to make amends by struggling to speak enough Spanish to converse with him), career (one must begin saving immediately into a retirement plan when one begins to work, which in his case was at the age of 9 when he left home to work cleaning a ship to satisfy his love of the ocean as well as help his family financially), and like any protective father…love life (he was quite up to date with the love affairs of all his grandchildren keeping tabs as to who would be next to be married as one can’t wait too long to have children, obvious in his rapid procreation).

With such a strong spirit even after evolving into the lovable buddha physical presence that I remember him as, his presence was one that commanded the attention of the room. I was told that Papa was known as “the Giant” to all who knew him in the Philippines standing much taller and physically stronger compared to the average Filipino.

These are all stories and sentiments shared by all my siblings, cousins, Tito’s and Tita’s as we all reminisced this past week. Through these stories and my own experiences with him I realize and am thankful for my Mom and her method of raising my self and my brothers having learned from Papa that the greatest wealth in life is to have an open heart that is filled with the happiness of those around you. I am thankful for such a large family! I also can’t help but think of my Dad who I know is now chattin it up with Papa way up above- something he always enjoyed as he was quite the trailblazer and lover knowledge himself. I am quite blessed to have had such great father figures to look up to and quite blessed still have them with me every day in spirit.

It’s been a hard week, emotionally trying as it happens with loss – I feel for my Mom and all her sisters and brothers who as I have, have lost their Dad. I feel for my Mama who will have to come to terms with the fact that for the first time Papa won’t be coming home. But that’s just physical. It’s evident that he is all around us family as the energy is quite powerful, protective and comforting. It really truly has been a celebration of life as 10 of his 12 children gathered in one place - for my uncles, it’s been the first time in 20 years the 4 of them have been together. And, unless you know some Filipinos you have no idea what the 21 of us that gathered in LA this past week can do in one house for one week. Laughter, karaoke, and lots and lots of food abounds!

I am honored to be a part of this grand family and hope to see them all soon to celebrate my Mama’s 83rd birthday in June- a joyous cause for reunion!

Through all of our blood runs that of Papa - in feature and in character.

Papa – a person, a grandfather to challenge you, to admire and to love…my BigShot.

I love you Papa!

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