The Selfless Dreamer
Posted April 4, 2010on:
Three Hundred Sixty-Five days. You would think after 365 days, it got easier and we would miss him less. We certainly don’t miss him less but his presence is even stronger now than when he actually was with us, don’t you think? I think you would agree that we’ve seen so many LITTLE MIRACLES since his passing. You would also agree that he is behind all these miracles, being the selfless dreamer that he was. So to remember Dinky Boy on this day, I thought I’d re-share with you the eulogy I wrote for him when we laid him to rest…
In these last couple of days, I’ve met various personalities that knew my dad in different ways. Yesterday I got a glimpse of the kind of person dad was from the perspective of his colleagues in Congress, from his work mates in Cocolife and from his brothers in Aquila Legis. Today I thought I’d attempt to give you a glimpse of the persona behind Ding Tanjuatco, not the lawyer, not the Congressman but Ding Tanjuatco, the dad, My dad.
Like most fathers, my dad’s main concern was to provide. He and my mom gave me and my siblings EVERYTHING and nothing less than the best. I must admit, being his eldest daughter I took advantage of his benevolence to the point of being spoiled. Being one of three daughters it was easy to twist his arm and get whatever I asked for. In the recent necrological services, many of you mentioned that my dad hardly turned his back on a favor. He hardly said no to requests. Well he was the same for us, his children. It was difficult for him to say no to whatever we asked for and whatever we needed. He already operated under the assumption that we deserved it, even if we really didn’t because all he wanted was to see his children happy. I remember this one day when I was an angsty teenager brooding about some matter that is now insignificant. He was quietly observing me from afar. Finally after a while he called me to come to him. Then he said to me: “I work so hard to make sure that all of you are happy because I’m happy when you’re happy. So it frustrates me to see that all it takes is one person, one situation to take away all that I’ve worked so hard for. So please if you can’t find it in yourself to be happy for me, could you at least smile?” I think you can all picture the huge fake smile I had plastered across my face all throughout that day. But that’s how important our happiness was to him. He gave us what he thought we deserved because seeing us happy ultimately made him happy.
There are many facets to my dad’s character that I admire and actually even emulate. But there is one that I’d like to share with all of you today because this is what I think makes my dad special. This is what fueled him to live the meaningful life that he lived and be the great man that he was. My dad was a big dreamer. He was a manifestor, a doer. He made things happen. Everything he did throughout his short life was carefully designed to help him achieve his dreams. Yesterday when Tito Peping said that my dad started off his career in public service by doing small but fundamental tasks for the opposition, I instantly knew that he happily did his work no matter how small because he believed that these tasks were little pieces that formed a bigger vision, small stepping stones that eventually lead him to live a life serving the people in a big way. And he felt that he could do this best by serving the public either as a lawyer or in the august halls of congress. He aspired to move up perhaps one day becoming a Senator and who knows where he could have gone from there. He just kept on dreaming. Unfortunately, as fate would have it, his career in congress ended in 1998. But because he held on to this dream so tightly he ran again twice and lost both times. And in spite of those two very costly and painful losses, he never turned his back on his district in Rizal. He never closed his doors to the people of his district even if these were the same people that didn’t vote for him, twice. He was faithful to these people because he was faithful to his dream. That’s my dad, the dreamer.
When I decided to relocate. I was leaving a very promising career here only to start a new life from scratch in the US. While initially I could feel his reluctance, he let me go because being the dreamer that he was, he understood, he got it. He watched me quietly from a distance, hurdle trial after trial all by myself. Every so often he would send me an email just to offer help and to tell me he thought that I was doing a good job and to just “keep on trucking”, that eventually I would get there. The day we confirmed he was sick happened to be my birthday. I remember crying to him suggesting that maybe I should leave all this and go home. And very adamantly he said “NO. I am not going to allow you to jeopardize everything that you’ve worked for. You stay there and live the life you’ve always wanted to live.” He didn’t want me to come home because being a dreamer he understood. He got it. Even until the very end he insisted that I stay put. He was willing to leave this world without even seeing his daughter because he understood. He got it. And the only thing that he wanted for me and for my siblings was to live our dreams the same way he strove to live his. That’s my dad, the dreamer, the selfless dreamer.
My dad would always tell me in jest that he had achieved a certain level of success because HE WAS THE KING OF THE HILL. And I used to tease him about it a lot by saying “sure dad you’re the king of an ant hill”. In these last few days I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Maybe what he really meant when he used to tell me this was that he was the king of his own seemingly impossible dream, the king of his own destiny. This was probably his way of telling me to take control of my life by being the queen of my destiny, the queen of my dreams. Therefore, for us, his children, there is no other way to honor his life than to proudly live our dreams. I’m going back to New York with a renewed sense of purpose, thanks to my dad, the dreamer, the selfless dreamer.
So it’s with a very heavy and broken heart that I let you go, dad. You go find that hill, that mountain, that universe to be a king of where your hard work will easily be honored and recognized. Where you will never fade away and will always stay gold. Please leave the light on in heaven for me, for Mom, for Dino and Nancy, for Dax and Ciela, for Pat, for Priscilla and of course, for Nadine, your precocious little friend who happily played beside you on your couch in your last lucid moments. Leave that light on so that when our time comes, we may find our way back to you. And as I let you go, my only regret is that I wish I told you sooner how proud I am to be your daughter. I love you.
So to my Dad (wherever you are), THANK YOU for being the moon that continues to shine on my seemingly daunting path. I LOVE YOU : )