My two fathers
I thank God I had two fathers. The first was my biological father. He guided me and shared with me words of wisdom. He advised: “Stay close to Jesus Christ. He or she who asks a question is a fool for a moment, but he or she who never asks a question is a fool forever.”
Those were two important pieces of advice that I follow to this very day from my biological father. He died of a heart attack. Juan Ponce Enrile jailed him. He was not an activist. He was a De Leon, and the De Leon clan supported the opposition Liberal Party. My dad told me Enrile was responsible for him ending up in jail. But the law of karma caught up with Enrile, because he also went to jail. What goes around comes around.
It was 1975, martial law time, when I became an orphan. My mother died of childbirth 1974. Dad died of a heart attack in 1975. I was the eldest child at 18 years old. I had one sister and four brothers. I thought I had to stop studying and work to support my brothers and sister, since I was the eldest.
I thank God someone played the role of a second father. My maternal grandfather, who was around 70 years old, adopted me and my other siblings. He was retired at that time, and used his financial resources to pay for my tuition fee and the expenses of my other siblings.
I graduated college. My sister became a doctor, and I had a brother who became a lawyer.
I am eternally grateful to my grandfather. I called him Lolo Papa (grandfather and father) because he played those dual roles in my life.
He was the ideal grandfather and father. He did not smoke, get drunk or do anything that was scandalous, unlike politicians who womanize and say bad words. Every day, he went to Mass and received Holy Communion. He prayed the rosary. He went to confession once a month.
I read the Bible to him every day. Every Thursday, poor people would go to his home, and he would give them bread and coffee and coins. He did this for more than 20 years.
He lived up to 101 years old, and my grandmother lived up to 99 years old. They were married for 77 years. They prayed the rosary together, went to Mass daily and celebrated their birthdays and wedding anniversaries with a Mass in their home. One of their sons became a Jesuit priest.
The family that prays together stays together, indeed. Now that I am a senior citizen, I realize how wise and great God is. I lost one father, but he replaced him with another. Every adversity carries within it the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit, according to Napoleon Hill. That I believe.
Emmanuel de Leon, 63, teaches at Ateneo de Manila University. He wrote the book “Secrets to a Long Life and Lasting Marriage.”
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