He left with a smile. And he made sure I knew that he heard me when I said “I love you Abba!”
My dearest miracle man is now healthy, whole, and singing his heart out in Heaven. I can just imagine the Hebrew conversations you’re having there.
My dearest Tatay, Dr Florencio-Isagani S. Medina, III, passed away today, 10 November, early in the morning Philippine time.
My Abba was a quiet man, but when he spoke he spoke with eloquence, and he spoke when it mattered. He was strict, very strict in fact, but he would spoil us too. He knew exactly when to do it. And when he did treat us, it was treating on a massive scale. He made sure we had everything we wanted. My Abba was a generous man. He was generous not only to his family and friends, he was generous with everything and with everyone – his wife, his children, his brothers and sisters, his in-laws, his friends, his neighbours, his colleagues at work, his students and even the man who sells us taho. He was kind because he knew what it was to live without, how it was to be hungry, and if he could help someone else not go through the pain, he would do what he could.
Abba, I feel so blessed to have been born into your family. I am so proud to be your daughter. I am happy that you are now free from the limitations of your body. But I will miss you so very much, more than I can ever say. Thank you for staying with us for 7 years. Thank you for enduring the difficulties your strokes brought on your body. You knew we needed you. You knew we weren’t ready to not have you with us. Thank you for everything. My heart is so full because you gave to us so beautifully and completely. You made sure we knew we were loved., completely, unconditionally and individually.
I love you forever Abbadabbadoo! I’ll see you later!
In Filipino, we have a word for “big sister” – it is ATE (ah-teh). In several Philippine dialects, it is Manang (mah-nahng). We also have other words for elder sister, according to whether they are eldest, second eldest, third eldest, and so on.
In my mom’s family, there is an Ate, a Ditse, a Sanse and a bunso. My Lolo Osiong and Lola Gening had 8 living children – 4 boys and 4 girls.
The Ate in my mom’s family was my Tita Margie. Tita Margie was, to me, the paragon of all Ate virtues. Without any exaggeration, I’ve always felt that Tita Margie epitomised the perfect “Ate”. She took care of her family. She took care of my Lolo and Lola. She took care of her siblings. She was at least 10 years older than the second eldest girl and she took her role as big sister seriously.
Mom often recalled that her Manang Margie made matching clothes for them, my Tita Migen, my Mom and my Tita Bing. They had pictures of the three of them wearing matching outfits that Tita Margie had sewn for them. Mama always said that Tita Margie always insisted on all of them being turned out well, that she would sew them outfits if they had something important to go to. She was the same with us. She would insist we dressed up properly and dressed appropriately.
Tita Margie started sewing when she was in high school and never really stopped. I remember she would sew clothes for my cousins and me. I remember all the clothes she sewed for me. Her sewing machine and sewing kit were a never-ending bag of surprises and she created magic with needle, thread, cloth and her Singer sewing machine. Once, my brother Aryeh asked for a plane-shaped soft toy and Tita Margie, even though she had never made a toy like that before, gamely took the challenge on. That toy is still at home, in Don Jose, somewhere. Tita Margie always made things to last.
Tita Margie was the constant in my mom’s family…at least to me she was. She was always there for everyone – for her brothers and sisters, for her nieces and nephews. She was the head cheerleader for her family. She was proud of her siblings and their achievements and I know that in her own way, she made sure that her siblings knew that. She let them shine and she helped them shine.
Tita Margie always wanted the best for her family. She was the same with her nieces and nephews. In a way that was uniquely Tita Margie, she encouraged all of us to be the best we could be. She supported us in whatever way she could. She cheered us on but at the same time, if she felt we were behaving in a manner that was less than acceptable, she would tell us, in no uncertain terms. She had rules and she had standards. But she had a way of calling out bad behaviour that only she could. We may not have felt it at the time, but in hindsight, everything she did, she did in love, because, she always wanted what was best for us.
Everything she did, she did because she loved us. Everything she did, she did for her family. Her love for her family was in everything she did, in every word, in every deed, in every stitch, in every treat, in every gift.
I cannot imagine Manila without Tita Margie. I cannot imagine not seeing her cheeky smile and hearing her witty conversation. But at the same time, I am relieved that she is no longer in pain, no longer uncomfortable, no longer struggling to move. I am thankful that she is now healthy and whole, with my Lolo and Lola, with my Uncle Magni, Uncle Franklin and Uncle Wawell. I am thankful that she is now with the Lord. I am thankfully reassured that when the time comes, I will be with her again.
I’m sitting at my work (from home) desk bawling my eyes out.
I was watching the news and a woman who hadn’t had the chance to hug her father, who was in a care home, was finally able to after months of waiting. This was all thanks to rapid testing now made available to care homes so that relatives can visit their elderly loved ones. I’m so glad that people are able to visit their parents now. I’m so envious that they’re all now able to hug their parents. I so miss my mum and my dad. But I can’t go home to pay them a visit yet. Not whilst cases are still high in the UK. Not while there is a risk that I might bring the virus home.
My parents (and aunties) are older and obviously very vulnerable and at risk, especially my dad, who has survived multiple strokes. As much as missing them is a physical ache, I am aware of the risks that visiting them presents.
Everyone, please. Please could you think of those of us who cannot go home because we run the risk of spreading infection? Please could you think of those of us who cannot hug our parents? Please could you think of those of us who cannot care for our parents physically, even though we are desperate to, because we cannot travel home. Please think of us. Please put yourselves in our places. it’s not only the daily freedoms that we miss. We miss our families too.
I’m making sure I do my part so that I don’t contribute to the possible infection transfer so that the restrictions come down. I hope others do their part so that we all are allowed to enjoy the freedoms that we take for granted, so that we are able to be with the ones we love, our families and our friends.
No man is an island.
Never has this been more true and more evident. We’re all in one massive pond. Whatever makes a ripple in the water that surrounds me, will make ripples in the water that surrounds you.
“The father’s job is to teach his children how to be warriors, to give them the confidence to get on the horse to ride into battle when it’s necessary to do so.” ― Cheryl Strayed, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
Happy Father’s Day to the most amazing man I know.
I will never be able to thank you enough for everything that you did for us, so that we could follow our dreams, be strong enough to fight our own battles and live the lives we want. Your kindness and generous heart extended not just to your family but even to people on the street that you barely knew. You loved generously and gave of yourself to your family unselfishly.
I am blessed because I know HOW MUCH you love us. You will forever be our amazing superhero, our miracle man.
I know I am still grieving. Even though I smile and I laugh at things. My days are still tinged with sadness. But I will be okay.
I have told myself that whatever it was that I wanted to say, whatever it was that I never actually said to my uncle, if I send out in the universe, God will make it possible for my thoughts to reach my uncle. He will know how much he is loved, valued, oh-so-appreciated and respected. The regrets are counterproductive. It is good to acknowledge them, but it won’t be healthy to dwell on them. There is nothing that can be done about the things that I haven’t done. The opportunities have passed and I will have to trust that God will make my good plans and intentions known to Uncle Wawell.
The only way to honour him is to live the life that I am living, the life that he dreamed for me and all his nieces and nephews.
Carlos P Romulo personally asked him to join his team when Mr Romulo was appointed head of the Department of Education. Mr Romulo even sent someone to where they lived in Frisco to invite him to join him in government. Larry Henares called him an Islamic scholar. He was a proponent of the Ninth Ray campaign to introduce a ninth ray on the sun on the Philippine flag that sought to recognise the contribution to Philippine history and sovereignty by our Muslim brothers. He was highly regarded in the UP community and was well known as a poet, a writer, a scholar and a brilliant mind. He was a proud Filipino.
He was a political organism. He ran in circles with the great political thinkers and political personalities. I grew up with him saying he met with this person, or had coffee with that, and then I’d read the name in the newspapers. I know very little of his political involvement, only that he once ran for public office in Toledo, in Cebu. He didn’t win the election, but I have no doubt that had he been successful, he would have served with all his heart, only thinking of what was best for the constituents he served. He helped set up livelihood programs in various locations in the Philippines to help his countrymen improve their lives. He spent his years advocating Mindanao Muslims so that they were represented and respected as valuable, integral parts of the Philippine society, and not viewed as schismatic or separationists.
But to us, his nephews and nieces, he was simply Uncle Wawell. The uncle who wanted the best for his family. To me, especially, he was Koji. When I was little, he was the uncle who visited me and played with me. He allowed me to call him Koji because that was the name of the character he played in my dress up games. He even suffered a busted lip once because we played jump rope and my head hit his chin and he bit his lip. He was in pain, I’m sure, but he said he was okay.
I think he taught all of us how to play chess. I remember him telling me when I was looking at what piece to move that I needed to think, be strategic and plan. Little did I know he was trying to equip me for life. He was telling me that it was necessary to plan and to know where you wanted to go, what result you wanted to achieve and to consider carefully how you planned to get there. He loved his lists of things to do and enjoyed word games, particularly a good crossword puzzle. He loved a good chat and a cup of coffee, and he could talk about anything under the sun. He was brilliant like that. He believed in his nephews and nieces. He was our biggest fan and our biggest defender. He was someone who was always there if you needed to talk. He tried to give us everything we wanted, if he could. When he found out that I needed a portable typewriter for school projects, he just appeared at Don Jose one day with typewriter in hand…just because I needed one. He was like that. He once said that he would do everything to support his nieces and nephews, because he wanted us to realise our potential to make up for him not living up to the promise of his own potential. He loved us, in the way that he loved his brothers and sisters, deeply and completely.
Antonio Porchia said that “one lives in the hope of becoming a memory.” On Friday morning, I received the heartbreaking news that my Uncle Wawell passed away. Koji is no longer physically with us. I will never hear him laugh or clear his throat, or hear him call his sisters Fems, Gards, Binggay or Jinks, which always made me smile. But he is with God and he is whole, healthy and no longer in discomfort. He said once to me that he never lived up to the promise of his potential. Oh but he did! He has contributed to everyone’s lives in more ways than he can imagine. He has made the lives of a multitude of people better. He has made his family feel valued, supported and important. His memory will live on through his family, his nieces and nephews and their children, and the people whose lives he touched.
We love you Koji. We are proud to call you our Uncle Wawell. You are remembered with pride and love.
You are my hero, my strength, my inspiration and my guiding light.
I am who I am and where I am because of everything you have done, risked and sacrificed. I will never be able to thank you enough. I am blessed because you love us and have always expressed it in word and deed so that we are never in doubt of it. And though we are not together, and your illness prevents you from being the Aba we know you to be, I see glimpses of the father I adore when you smile when we FaceTime and when you try to say our names and tell us you love us.
Arthur C. Clarke said “I’m sure the universe is full of intelligent life. It’s just been too intelligent to come here.” I beg to differ.
In my opinion, Brigadier General Florencio A Medina had one of the most brilliant minds in the Philippines. He was a soldier in the armed forces of the Philippines and fought the Japanese in WWII, when he was captured, he endured the Japanese prison camp he was put in and survived it. He was instrumental in the development of what is now the Department of Science and Technology. He was a proponent of the Philippine Science High School (which paved the way for excellent and specialist science-centred-education and this gave a lot of Filipino students a chance to study in an excellent learning environment for free) and served as one of the early chairmen of the school board. He was the first Filipino to be elected chairman of the International Atomic Energy Agency. He was a mathematician and a chemist and a published author.
But most importantly, he was my grandfather. He was a good father and provider to his 13 children. To those of us, his grandchildren, who had the opportunity to grow up with memories of him, he was a loving and very present grandfather. He was very active, larger than life and…just…there. I will forever cherish the memory of our time sitting together at the square table in the apartment in Mabuhay with the blue and white porcelain mantle clock and you teaching me how to tell time.
You would have been 111 today, Lolo Isiong. I am so proud to be your granddaughter.
So this little girl is celebrating her birthday today…well at least it is still her birthday here today. I wish I could hug her and say how proud I am of her, of how she has taken on so much responsibility. I wish I could tell her that I so believe in her capabilities and that I believe she can do anything she puts her mind to.
I hope you had the most amazing birthday Duckie! I know that William being well and truly married and Harry not really finished looking for himself is a huge disappointment, but remember this:
Clara Ortega said “ To the outside world we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters. We know each other as we always were. We know each other’s hearts. We share private family jokes. We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys. We live outside the touch of time.” And I agree.
To me you will always be the little boy who “break dances” by spinning on the floor, on his tummy, the one who invents words, our source of joy and entertainment. I pray that you will be blessed beyond your desires, because we are so very blessed by you.