Thursday, June 21, 2012

Extraordinary Guy

During my preschool admission interview for St. Scholastica's Academy, I was asked the standard questions:

Q: What's your name?
A: Denise Nicole P. Tolentino.
Q: What's your mother's name?
A: Bernadette P. Tolentino.
Q: What's your father's name?
A: Andy Garcia.

The nun doing the interview looked at me blankly, checked her files and then looked at me again.
Um, your father is Andy Garcia?

Now before you think I was a delusional kid, that was entirely my dad's fault. Growing up, I only knew him as "Papa." So one day when I asked him what his real name was, he answered (and quite nonchalantly); Andy Garcia - and that stuck, until the day of my interview.

I guess the nun let it pass because that school year I marched into the sprawling green campus of St. Scho.

But, who does that?!! Tells his kid another name and then laughs about it when he finds out I actually said it to the nun giving my interview? Well, my dad. He does a lot of these kinds of things. He's got a whole list of pranks and practical jokes he's done to his friends, his teachers, his family, his kids... all in the name of fun. My dad likes to have fun. He likes to sing and dance (even in public places like department stores). He likes lighting up firecrackers, singing videoke and drinking, even with my friends.  My dad loves to travel. His work as a management consultant took him around the Philippines. He was the first person I ever knew to travel to Batanes (in the 80s), where he told me he saw a mermaid.

"(Gasp!) A mermaid!"  Yes, my dad is the first person I ever believed to see a mermaid.

Uh-huh, my dad is cool and funny and always popular with our friends. How often have I heard: "Ang cool talaga ni Tito Guy!" (That's his real nickname by the way).  He even amuses friends of mine that he has never met... through Facebook. Yes, my dad is active online and all my Facebook friends can attest to the fact that he is almost always the first one to comment on anything I post,  even if it's just to put a corny remark.

But there's also a side to my dad that isn't easily revealed on Facebook or in drinking sessions with friends, and that is his kindness. My dad has a big heart.  He's the kind of guy that gives even when he has nothing. The kind who is considerate, even to strangers.

Once when we were driving home at around 1 am, he saw a little girl about 6 years of age still awake on the street trying to sell sampaguitas on the road. My dad stopped, rolled down his windows and bought all her sampaguitas. "Umuwi ka na" he said,  "gabi na." And that was just one of the countless times he came home with a wreath of sampaguitas hanging on his rear view mirror.

One night my dad took a cab home from work. He noticed his cab driver dozing off, causing their cab to swerve. He tried to wake the guy up but the driver looked dead tired. When others would have opted to get off and take another cab, my dad told the driver to scoot over and sleep on the passenger's seat as he drove himself home. When we asked him why he didn't report the driver and just take another cab all he said was: "Kawawa naman eh."

You could just imagine the surprise of the subdivision guards when they saw my dad driving a taxi home, with a sleeping "passenger."

Well I could go on and on about my dad's good deeds but the point of this post is: my dad may be popular for his "antics" but this time, I want to put the spotlight on his compassion and open mindedness. Something that isn't so popular nowadays.

I never realized until lately that dads like him are few and far between. And this is why I want to thank him. If he wasn't so wacky and adventurous, compassionate and understanding. I wouldn't be where I am, nor would my siblings be who they are now (all of which are awesome in their own ways).  I am thankful for a dad so cool that he's happy as long as his kids are happy. Who never tried to dream for us but instead waited for us to dream and stood there to support it. This support never wavered, no matter what decisions I made in life; work in an ad agency, leave the ad agency, move to an island, quit my job on this island, go freelance, move in with someone, move out,  meet someone new, travel, etc.

Thank you Papa. You are cool not just in the ways our friends know, but in every sense of the word. Maybe you do deserve to be called Andy Garcia. :)

Well we finally told our dad that he doesn't really look like Andy Garcia, but more like Al Pacino.  

So now he signs every letter, email or text message as Al PAPAcino.

Happy birthday Al PAPAcino.

I love you. :) 

1 comment:

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Denise,

You have undressed my persona in public! It would have been better to just post my totally naked picture on this post (READY UPON REQUEST)which would've saved you 10,000 words - but would certainly elicit 103 million reactions of "ooohs and ahhhs" AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Seriously, if you believe I can ever be serious, everything that you mentioned here characterizes the core of my beliefs which I wanted you and your siblings to imbibe : life is fun, if you know how to find the fun in it - its in the simplest things and with any type of person; if its not fun, its not worth doing; nothing is permanent, everything changes, and if the situation is not to your liking, wait for the winds of change and seize the opportunity to be first; be adventurous, try new things, travel, learn a new language or dialect and talk to people in that tongue just for fun; enjoy all types of people and learn from them, because there are some things they know you don't - and there are some things they can do better than you; everyone is equal to everyone regardless of material wealth, status, education, position, title, etc. These other things do not count, what counts is their humanity and their ability to have fun, even to laugh at themselves. Most importantly, success is not about materiality or what you take from this world, its what you give back to it, to make it richer and better for others. A lot of people keep saying that we should make this a better world for our children, forgetting the fact that we must raise better citizens to build a better world.

I do not mean to create a post out of your post, sorry for getting carried away. Anyway, you can always delete most of these as you have enabled a "comment moderation." ;-)

What I really want to say is, thank you very much for this post and I am profoundly touched. However, as you mentioned, very few people know some things about me you wrote here - and I'm saying they would probably dispute these - but that's okay, the fewer people who know, the better. Its better to surprise them.

Take care Denise, and always stay happy by looking at the bright, positive side. You are never poor, broke sometimes, but never poor. Poor is misery, broke is the conclusion of happiness waiting for the next windfall.

I love you very much.

Al Papacino