A father’s fulfilled obsession | Inquirer Opinion
High Blood

A father’s fulfilled obsession

/ 05:03 AM September 17, 2021

Reading Dr. Floriño A. Francisco’s High Blood contribution “Lessons my father taught me” (12/28/2017) delighted me so much and caused me to reminisce about my own father and our big family.

Dr. Francisco is the son of a provincial assessor. Like him, I am also the son of a provincial assessor. My father, Julian A. Medina, was the provincial assessor of Cavite at the time of his death on April 23, 1962.

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We were 12 siblings in all, but one died in infancy, while Dr. Francisco had nine siblings. Like Dr. Francisco’s siblings, all 11 of us became professionals. Our father’s obsession was fulfilled.

Our father was very proud when three of his sons became lawyers. One was elected provincial board member of the province of Cavite and was later appointed judge of the city of Tagaytay. Another son, my father’s namesake, Julian C. Medina Jr., was elected mayor of Cavite City, while I retired as city prosecutor of Cavite City after 23 years in the prosecution service.

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Three of my siblings became public school teachers. Two became dentists, while one became an optometrist. Another son, after graduating with an accounting degree in a Manila university, enlisted in the US Navy. The youngest, after passing the PRC civil engineering examination, joined an engineering firm in Washington, DC, that reviews the 25-year advance development plans of the US capital.

My father died at the age of 55. Five of my siblings were then still in college. To support their continued education, our indefatigable mother opened a small store under our house for her rice retail business. She also engaged herself as a real estate agent. Those of us who had graduated and were already earning helped our mother with our younger siblings’ educational expenses until they all finished college and became professionals.

My mother’s wise budgeting of the meager salary of my father enabled us to continue our college education. I remember that at breakfast, we could not exceed our allocated share of the bread on the table, lest my mother’s budgeting of the family’s funds was upset.

One time, after all 11 of us siblings and our mother were seated at the dining table, our father startled us with the words; “You should all forgive me and your mother.”

We thought he had committed a very serious offense. But he said: “Until now, we have not purchased any piece of property for the family. Unlike rich families who amass material wealth but later file suits against each other over their inheritance, you will not quarrel over your share of knowledge I have planted in each of your heads. To us, your education is much more precious than any material wealth that we can give you.”

My sisters had tears in their eyes. An elder sibling managed to say; “Tatay, we are very grateful for the education you have given us. Our education is more precious than any material thing you can bequeath to us.”

My father had no college education. He was a high school undergraduate. But through self-study, he was able to pass all the civil service examinations he took. He was a second- and first-grade civil service eligible and one of the first eight eligible assessors in the country. Because of how he wrote his official communication as a municipal treasurer and later as provincial assessor, he was often mistaken for a lawyer. In fact, while at the provincial government, he used to head the investigating committee usually formed to investigate erring treasury officials and employees. He served as municipal treasurer of several Cavite towns, such as Silang, General Trias, Bacoor, Ternate, Magallanes, and Dasmariñas. He was the first provincial assessor of the province of Cavite.

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Unlike Dr. Francisco’s novelist father, my father had no library of prominent authors. He, however, devoured his sons’ law books and usually finished reading our law books even before the semester had ended.

During his younger years, my father was an active member of Panitik Kabite, an organization of Cavite’s budding writers. He wrote poems and short stories for the local monthly magazine Sinag ng Kabite, together with journalist friends Emiliano Reynante, lawyer Tereso Montoya, and several other local writers.

When my father died, his subordinates in the provincial assessor’s office requested us to take home the personal belongings he left in his office. Entering his office, we saw 11 thrift cans on top of a small table, with the name of each of his 11 children. We were told that my father regularly placed his extra coins and money inside the 11 thrift cans, which he opened at the beginning of every school year to augment the money he had saved for the enrollment of his 11 children.

That was how he valued our education. He did not leave us any material possessions, but he left each one of us knowledge and wisdom. He was a gem of a father. Due to his early death, however, he failed to fully bask in the professional achievement of his 11 children. But we know that wherever he is now, he is happy and proud, because all his 11 children became professionals.

—————-

Lawyer Manuel C. Medina is a retired city prosecutor of Cavite City. He turns 86 today.

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TAGS: Father, Manuel C. Medina, obsession
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