Happy birthday, Kuya!
Kuya Tony turns 73 before the end of this month. He’s the eldest among eight siblings, with me at the bottom of that ladder.
So you can imagine that when I was yet a whiny toddler (my siblings always chorused I was the ultimate cry-baby), Kuya was probably busy chasing after his crush and getting quite serious with “where-do-I-go-from-here?” thoughts.
He was, I’m told by his contemporaries, the “crush ng bayan.” I don’t doubt that at all because his old photos show a striking resemblance to current heartthrob, actor Jericho Rosales. “Pero hindi lang gwapo,” a high school classmate said, “magaling pa!” He was always on top of his class.
As expected, even while working to finish his engineering course, he excelled in college, then pursued a career which brought him to executive level in one of the country’s biggest corporations. We both retired from San Miguel Corporation in 1998.
Kuya is not so well nowadays, and he and Ate Cora, his wife, have bravely coped with the challenge. We make it a point to visit him once in a while for a tete-a-tete and to discuss some family business. Funny it’s only now that I’m seeing my brother in three-D. Coming from a big family and with six siblings in between, we hardly spent time together in our younger days.
Nowadays, he regales my brother Dan, our sister Mita and myself (our other siblings live abroad) with stories of his youth and we’d always end up laughing our heartiest laughs, hanggang maiyak sa katatawa.
Then we’d once more reminisce nung unang panahon incidents which would draw even more teary laughter. When our cousin Kuya Ador (Kuya’s contemporary) joins us in these visits, our conversations turn more hilarious.
Kuya Tony recently talked about his first pair of leather shoes, bought after religiously saving money to afford his dream brand. “Besa shoes!” This new yuppie sat on the bus one day, excited about his prized acquisition and imagining everyone admiring it when he got off in our hometown (Sampaloc, Quezon). He sat like someone on cloud nine, extended his foot a bit too far, then felt a scrape. Besa's been scratched! “Mayabang kasi!” He now laughs it off.
But really, Kuya had never been a show-off. I remember him as a hard-worker and passionate about life, even music—he was my Pavarotti! But never boastful.
After his recent hospital stay, Kuya lost considerable weight. Well, we all grow old and lose weight and never look like our former selves. That’s life.
But my image of Kuya will never change—kind, funny, considerate, self-controlled, patient, intelligent and wise, lover of life, a good son, father, husband and provider to his family.
Kuya Tony will forever be my big brother!