A Letter to Daddy

"Although I have trekked this path of forgiveness a million times, I can confidently say that I have forgiven and I want to ask forgiveness,too, daddy for all the heartaches that I have caused you and mommy."

by Rhea C. Hernando

Dear Daddy,

This will be the first and last time that I will write about you. “Strained” doesn’t begin to describe our relationship, although “estranged” is a bit harsh. But I just want you to know that one morning, I thought of you, and there was not a trace of bitterness or anger or pain in my heart and in my soul. Instead, happy memories flooded me.


“Walking in the beach with dad”

I remember daddy. I remember every single thing that you taught me: at 8 years old, with me standing on a wooden stool, both afraid and excited, and you hovering near the stove, teaching me how to cook fried rice using just the right amount of oil, garlic and salt. I had blisters in my ten fingers because the potholder was too thin and the cooking utensil I was using was too hard. But I was happy because I saw you beaming with what looked like pride. You started teaching me that complicated game of chess and strategies at 7 years old, I was winning against the older neighbors when I was 10 or 11 years old, and against high school students older than me during school sports fests. You gave me a Citizen watch at 9 years old, and taught me how to read the short hand and the long hand. You insisted that during summer breaks, apart from the household chores, I have to write an essay and a poem for you to critique. It was from you that I learned what “myriad” means. I was winning essay writing contests from elementary up to high school. You taught me how to wake up at 5am when the rooster crows, because you think that knocking on our door or waking us up every morning will make us lazy.

In my entire life, you didn’t give me big sermons nor did I hear you spout big, complicated words, not during mealtimes because we usually ate in silence, not during down times because I honestly could not remember any. My schedule was always full. I wake up at 5am, cook rice in the good old metal pot and watch over it like a hawk or it will burn and you won’t like it because it’s a waste of all the hard work that Uncle Toto and Tatay Oscar and Nanay Minia put in the rice fields, take a bath, put on my uniform, and eat at exactly 6:00am so that we will be on our way to school by 6:30am, just in time for the daily flag ceremony at 7:00am. I come home at 5pm and not a moment after, wash my uniform, take a bath, cook rice, eat dinner, wash the plates if it’s my turn (some days it’s my sister’s turn), study at 8pm, and sleep at 9pm because whether I want to read a Sidney Sheldon novel or not doesn’t matter to you, it is lights off by 9pm at our house.

"Children at Play" Photo by Dupz Ravelo

“Children at Play” Photo by Dupz Ravelo

Weekends were the best days of my life. I get to play outside, climb up a hill, slide down with just a piece of cardboard on my butt, and go home at 5pm dirty but happy. We try to hear mass on Sundays when you’re in a better mood, but usually we skip it because you strongly feel that praying is a personal thing, not something to show off to all and sundry along with your best Sunday dress. If you have extra money, we’d go straight to Tavern Hotel for buttered chicken, chop suey, and bouillabaisse soup. I remember that soup daddy, it was difficult to pronounce but very easy to gulp down because it was by far, the best soup dish I’ve ever tasted in my whole life, and I’m not a soup person.

It must be old age – mine. But the pains have blurred far, far away into the distant past. I remember but I choose to forget. Although I have trekked this path of forgiveness a million times, I can confidently say that I have forgiven and I want to ask forgiveness too daddy for all the heartaches that I have caused you and mommy. I have bad days when I feel trapped in that vicious cycle of regret, forgive, ask forgiveness, regret, forgive, ask forgiveness.

If I could, I will go back, be a more obedient and respectful daughter, do everything all over again, get married in Church flanked by you and mommy because I know it is something that both of you would want and because it is the right thing to do. Maybe we’re not destined for that kind of altar ending, maybe something far better awaits in the next life. That is what I keep telling myself every time sadness envelopes me. I know it doesn’t matter now, and I know you have forgiven, but I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.

Ma used to say every time I am angry at you “he puts food in the table, clothes on your back, and sends you to the best school in Surigao and then in all of the Philippines, surely that is enough to be grateful about.” Thank you daddy. You were always such a hardworking man. After office, you’re puttering in the house, cooking our meals, planting mango trees and kaimito and guayabano and tambis and macopa and langka and bayabas and okra and pechay and herbs of all kinds for all your gourmet-like home-cooked meals. And you are generous with whatever you have. Your government salary bonuses always go to us- a new dress during Christmastime, complete ingredients for mommy’s spaghetti (the real del monte tomato sauce and not just ketchup no no no, plus extra cheese), and a kilo of crunchy grapes.


Until now, every time I tell you we are coming home, you always insist on paying for our airplane fares, and I had to insist back firmly that kaya ko na ‘dy. You are a strong man. You have difficulty walking because of a stroke that left you half-paralyzed and yet, you continue to live life the way you’ve always wanted to live it I suppose, in an unhurried way – reading the morning paper while drinking tea in the morning, watching a bit of TV, taking a nap, watching the world go by.

Every time I offer something to make life a bit more comfortable, you always refuse. I get it daddy. You refuse to be a burden. You are not. But thank you for recognizing that we have our own lives now, and raising our own children. Ma was right, the fact that you chose to rear us and nurture us the best way that you could, when you could be like other fathers who abandon their family at the slightest hint of hardship, is something to be thankful for. But what I’m most thankful for is that you raised us not by words, but by example – of working hard, being generous and taking responsibility. We turned out fine daddy; we all turned out fine.


Me, Mae, Ayn, and Ryan.

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A Vow of Love and Friendship

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Yellow.”

It is not lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

As fate would have it, the course of my love life suddenly went off on a tangent and collided with your journey’s curve at a precise time. That very moment, when my path unexpectedly touches with yours, was meant to be our point of tangency – our inflection point.

It was no coincidence. We were destined to meet.

“Take this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

That was our vow of consent, the act of will by which we give ourselves to each other, during our solemn wedding ceremony in December.

It seemed like yesterday. But, no! It has been twenty-six momentous years of highs and lows, a seemingly roller coaster moment of joy-disappointment-happiness-sorrow, that we shared with our four children.

Coupled with prayers, it is friendship, I believe, that has kept our love alive all these years.

It was friendship that kept us stronger when the honeymoon stage dimly faded and when our hearts seemed to have forgotten the fiery embers of romance. When our personal spaces seemed overwhelming, due to money or lack thereof, friendship helped us overcome our shortcomings and seemingly unending flaws. When parenting woes kept us awake until the early morning dawn, it was our friendship that made us held on to each other until both of our sobs died down.

And this gold ring explicitly portrays what words can’t.

Unadorned but timeless, this gold ring reminds us of a hope and a prayer that our love will be without end. It is an aide-mémoire of the vow that we made to each other and of the promise that God has made to the both of us.

Happy 26th anniversary of love and friendship, my dear Maxim! I thank God for the gift of inflection points.

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How I Made It to The FilAm’s “A Collection of Memorable Personal Essays for 2014”

Photo: "A Drop of Trust" by Dupz Escatron Ravelo

by Mayette Timblaco Geraldino

Cristina DC Pastor, the founding editor of The FilAm – a magazine for Filipino Americans in New York, has been instrumental in rekindling my love for writing. I still don’t know what convinced her that I could write. I didn’t tell anyone of my stint as editor-in-chief of The Nicolanian, the official college paper of St. Paul University Surigao.

Days after our chance meeting at the Carnegie Hall for the 2013 The Outstanding Filipino Americans in New York (TOFA NY) Awards, where I was the awardee for Education, Research and Technology, she sent me a private invitation in Facebook. “Mayette,” she said, “would you like to write for The FilAm?”

At first, I was taken aback and thought to myself, “But where would I find the time?” As a New York City teacher and a mother of four, I did not think that I still have the time to write. I also argued, “How does she know that my article would even make it to her writing standards?” Cristina, as claimed by a former student, is a “legend among editors and writers” in Philippine journalism.

But I said, yes, anyway. My first attempt made it to her “What we read this year; The FilAm’s most clicked stories in 2013.”  The article was also re-published by the GMANetwork.com.

And it just took roots from there.

Fast forward to today. I just learned that one of my FilAm articles made it to her “A Collection of Memorable Personal Essays for 2014.”

Thank you, Crien, for that invitation and the opportunity to improve my craft. You have been a good mentor and an inspiration. You re-opened my world to what I love to do, next to teaching math of course, which is writing.

Was it just a coincidence that we met in New York City, no less? Or was it a pre-ordained inflection point?

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Of Life and Loving

Photo:"Life as a Dew Drop" by Dupz Escatron Ravelo.

By Gay Tibay-Corbeta

Why do we tend to deny the things that are just burning inside our core? They are an integral part of who we are as a person. They are what make us humans.

It is regrettable, for instance, that we deny the feelings that we may share with another person, just because we consider it as impossible.

In this world, one thing that is for certain is that our time is limited to a minute fragment of cosmic journey. Why would we waste each precious moment by trying to live as someone else other than who we are or what we really feel at the depths of our soul?

Do we really have to deny our heart’s whispers, when it is our heart that would lead us to a real and true happiness in life?

I say, never. I argue that the more we deny who we really are, the longer we prolong the agony of not being truly happy. I argue that we don’t have to choose self denial – a choice that we may regret for a lifetime.

To truly make a life worth living, be “you” without any pretense. Drop the mask and just love and live the way you were meant to be.

10582991_10202516888629474_2934426608343962636_oThe author is an English professor at the Cebu Institute of Technology (CIT) University in Cebu City, Philippines.

A Student’s Christmas Gift to Her AP Statistics Teacher

The student wrote the essay in October, as part of her application to the Stanford University Summer College (Residential-Domestic) program. The prompt was: ‘Write a 500 – 700  word  essay  on the best advice you have received.’ 

My Stanford University Essay on “The Best Advice I Have Received” 

by Lissette Barretto 

Dr. Marietta Geraldino, my Algebra 2 and AP Statistics teacher, has taught me much more than formulas and rules for math. In fact, she has continuously taught me the value  of striving for excellence. In our fast-paced 8th period class, Ms. G, as she is fondly called, would still find a couple  of  moments  to  share  a  few  words  of  wisdom  that  have remained with me ever since.

She shared with us that none of her accomplishments would have been possible without confidence, constant motivation, and a strong support system.  Then,  to  emphasize  this philosophy,  Ms.  G  loves  to  say, “Your classmates are NOT your competition. Your only competition is yourself.”

Now after hearing that same phrase constantly, I began to think about her words and slowly decipher their meaning. Then, in turn, what I learned from Ms. G inspired me to be a better student and person.

Firstly, Ms. G’s comment made  me realize how vital it is for me to truly believe in myself and to continuously strive to be better. As a freshman in her honors Trigonometry class, I felt unprepared and overwhelmed going into the course. In a class of 18 students, most being juniors and seniors, I was one of the  only  five  freshmen in  class.  Ms. G  had  high expectations for me, but in reality I was pretty baffled by the content.

Only later did I discover that the only thing I really had to fear was fear itself. After spending hours reviewing my class notes and doing self study, I slowly began to grasp the material and dared myself to do well. Without the confidence that I developed throughout the year, I wouldn’t have excelled in all my classes. Whenever I tend to doubt my abilities or second guess my role in the class, I would remind myself of all the progress I had already made as proof that I could succeed in this class.

Secondly, her mantra also taught me the value of motivation. I choose to focus on her as my role model because of the consistent drive and determination she displays everyday. I don’t see her solely as a math teacher but as a successful and admirable woman. I told myself that I should strive to be more like her, and that all the advice she gave me I would practice daily. Ms. G never lacks confidence and motivation. She believes that any student could achieve anything if we put our heart into it. I now understand that in order for me to reach my dreams and aspirations, I have to constantly work for it. When she said that our only competition is ourselves, I told myself that I shouldn’t fear anyone. I shouldn’t be intimidated by others, rather, I should challenge my self to constantly improve.

Thirdly, Ms. G’s motto made me realize the value that my classmates have in my academics . When I was placed in the Trigonometry class, I wasn’t the only freshman; there were four of us. It wasn’t until after Ms. G told us that they weren’t competition did I realize that they could be so helpful. I became such close friends with Aimee, Miranda, Jonathan, and Christopher. We helped each other in class, reviewed in lunch,  stayed after school together and most importantly motivated each other. Thus, after these observations, I’ve realized that skills alone are not enough. Motivation is equally, if not as more important, and I know it will be a key aspect of achieving my dreams.

It was also in these moments that I would reflect on  all the times my classmates and I would compete about who had the highest grade on the test.  Such kind of pettiness only held us back and was a waste of time and energy that could have been used so much more effectively. I learned that a peer’s achievements would not in any way diminish my contribution or worth.  In fact, I’ve found out that we were able to do so much more as a collective whole or when we all coöperated as a class. Therefore, as I continue to pursue my academic career, I want to help foster the kind of intellectual community where everyone treats each other and supports one another as equals.

Thus, from Ms. G’s brief words, I have learned valuable lessons about myself and the world that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I now feel inspired to pursue my academic passions wholeheartedly, help those around me, and challenge  myself  to  be a better person than before.

Lissette B.Lissette emailed me the essay today as “my way of thanking you this Christmas,” she said. This is a gift I will always treasure as an educator.