The ‘highest example’ as gift from a father

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To everyone who joined in our grief and sorrow, my profoundest gratitude—for their tributes to, support for, and kind words about Romeo Capulong and our family. I was moved deeply that so many joined us at his wake and funeral.

There are many, many things on my mind, and I wish to say one last word publicly before I return to the United States tomorrow and live life without my beloved father.

Romeo had his failings. We humans are not angels, after all.  He was one of the heroic few, but he, like the rest of us, sometimes fell short.  What he gave to others and the country often took away from our family, especially those of us in the United States. For years, I was consumed by this pain and anger.  On countless occasions for 26 long years, he simply wasn’t there—unable to visit, unable to share, unable to be a father. That was part of the reason he was able to give so much to so many Filipinos.

Yet at bottom, our sacrifice as a family amounted to a trifle compared with what he was able to give to us, to those he served and to our country. This I’ve come to understand. And in the end, by any measure, he was able to provide me and my family with a beautiful life and the highest example.

When I visited him at the hospital before he died, I was able to say all this finally.  I was able to tell him that I was no longer pained, that it was all right, that I understood and accepted why he did what he chose to do. Why he returned to the Philippines, why he rarely visited us in the United States, why he often forgot about my mother. Before he died, I was able to tell him that even though I hurt, I was no longer burdened—and that I hoped that he, too, had let go of his own pain about the personal and political tragedies that defined our lives. In the end, I trusted that he knew that he had been able, ultimately, to teach me and my siblings that we could handle whatever it was he was leaving behind.

Romeo, rest. You’ve done enough for me and others.  Exceedingly more. We will continue your work and reslve whatever matters you have left undone. Our time in this world was too short—scarcely enough. Because you were such a beautiful person, my highest hope was for you to have spent time with my children, especially little Elijah and Isabella.  But even though this will never come to pass, you can be sure that they will know who their grandfather was, who you are, my beloved father—a kind and generous man, a real hero.

We love you.  More than you ever knew.  Rest in peace—we will meet again in the afterlife.

—EDUARDO ‘BETBET’ ROMEO C. CAPULONG III

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