Si Daddy, pag nagsalita ‘yan, akala mo laging galit sa mundo kasi ang lakas ng boses. His harsh words, to the unaccustomed ear, may seem hurtful but we, his family, have come to accept them as mere expressions of fleeting bursts of emotion that don’t mean harm. Every morning he calls my name, or Joy’s, three times in different tones (insert sample here) that sometimes elicit an irritated “Po?!?!? Bakit po?!?!” or even an impolite “Ano?!?!?” from the daughter who has been roused from deep sleep. Our household help get a daily scolding from him with every mistake or forgotten task that makes one shudder at the thought of ever committing the same mistake again. Like a corps commander, he makes a roll call every mealtime and will not stop until you abandon whatever it is you may be doing so we could all eat together. At sa gabi, bago matulog, ang ka-OC-han sa bahay, talagang walang magnanakaw na pwedeng pumasok sa dami ng beses niyang i-che-check kung naikandado na lahat ng pintuan at sufficient na ang ilaw. You may as well say that every member (pati inanimate object) of the house is up and about primarily because of Daddy, which is a good thing because we get to see that everything and everyone are in order, are accounted for and meet his standards. Kaso minsan talaga may pagkakataon na gusto na lang naming tahimik sa bahay for once.
A few years back, Ate Celia invited Daddy to spend Christmas with her and her family in Boston. With a little reluctance on our part, he left in December of that year for the US to take a 3-week vacation with them. And while he stayed there, our house suddenly became quiet since we all went about our tasks without anyone giving orders. Then Christmas Eve came, and it was Noche Buena time. My mom, brother, Joy and I were gathered at the table and ate quietly with nothing but a few funny one-liners or the clanging of silverware against the china here and there to break the silence. It was then that Joy suddenly remarked, “Sana nandito si Daddy. Masyadong tahimik dito, ang lungkot tuloy,” which brought tears to our eyes. Yes, we missed the racket our Dad made when he complains about the cold soup, when he would holler for an extra plate, when he proudly exclaims how good the ham is. Somehow, the deafening silence that befell us that night brought not peace but loneliness.
Dad came home a bit after New Year’s and things at home went back to their normal, albeit mildly chaotic state. To this day, he still wakes the entire household to its feet and we must admit that it still gets to our nerves sometimes, but Joy and I have come to embrace it because we wouldn’t have it any other way. We want all that noise if it means breathing zeal into our home and giving us a feeling that someone is making sure we are all alright – and is shouting it to the world! Our hearts go out to this very outspoken father of ours who tells everything as it is, and we know that his kakulitan is a testimony to his unconditional love for all of us – a love that fiercely proclaims its might and its truth.