At the evening one day before E-li's wedding, it's the first time I met Daddy.
The wedding rehearsal was going on in the chapel with a lot of people outside and in who came for the wedding tomorrow, including ceremony master, priest, 8 couples of bridesmaids and groomsmen, E-li's & Bambi's colleagues, classmates and friends, as well as some relatives who specially came for the wedding. They arrived at Subic Bay one day before the wedding and they didn't go anywhere else but crowded in the chapel cheerfully.
I heard that I am the only foreigner invited in the wedding, so when E-li and I walked into the chapel, all the people surrounded us with smiles full of curiosity and kindness on their faces.
"My dearest sister, Jessamine, she's from Taiwan,"
"She just arrived Subic Bay this afternoon."
E-li held my hand and introduced me to everyone in the chapel, and I tried my best to remember many strange Philippine names which I had never heard before.
All the people were curious about how I know E-li. I told them that E-li and I made each other's acquaintance in Europe. She was one year younger than me, and as we lived with each other in Europe we were as close as sisters. E-li's cousin exclaimed out:
"You are one year older then E-li ? " She waved her hand to an elder man, who was standing on the chapel platform.
"Uncle, Uncle, come here ! "
The elder man was discussing with the priest. When he heard someone calling him, he came up smilingly.
"Ask her, ask her," The cousin said excitedly,"Ask her how old she is ! "
I sat on the bench in the church. The elder man came to me, squated down by me amiably, and looked at me with his eyes at the same height with mine. He held my hand and said smilingly,
"OK, tell me, lady," His English was slow and elegant, and his voice was low and magnetic, sounding like the tone of a wise and mysterious elder in Hollywood cartoon,
"Tell me," He slow down again:"How - young - are - you ? "
He didn't ask me "How old are you ? " but "How young are you ? ". I understood his humor and sensed his gentle style when asking a girl's age. I smiled happily and began to like this elder unfeignedly.
This is my first time meeting Daddy - E-li's father.
Daddy was always taking care of others. In the night of rehearsal, there were so many people about in the chapel, including many visitors. Besides the workers for the wedding, there were many E-li's and Bambi's classmates and friends. As E-li and Bambi were too busy, Daddy went around to greet those new people. No matter where he went, there would burst out loud laughter sooner after daddy's coming.
Being with Daddy, we all became children who are seeing Uncle Mcdonald, and then you can't help loving him.
Daddy was chatting with E-li's friends
Although all the people were amused by Daddy and grinned from ear to ear, E-li was still very busy in dealing with wedding things. The priest talked to her, the wedding agent gave phone calls to her, and all the friends arriving at Subic Bay also went to her and talking. Although there was still a sweet smile on E-li's face, she looked a lit bit tired after a whole day's business. Later, it's bridesmaids and groomsmen's turn performing the rehearsal. When E-li finally got free, she went to Daddy, acted like a little child, nestled in Daddy's lap and sometimes whispered with Daddy.
Daddy tapped his daughter softly. They nestled up together intimately and watch us performing the rehearsal.
E-li acted like a cherished daughter in Daddy's lap.
When I saw this scene, I ran down the platform to take this photo
in spite of the on-going rehearsal, but asked an excuse from the priest
My action interrupted process of the rehearsal.
Other people also noticed Daddy and his sweet daughter.
E-li smiled shyly.
Fathers of our generation in Taiwan are most dull and hard to express their affection. Although there are different ways to express one's affection, I still truly envy such an intimate interaction between father and daughter.
The bride's room was so crowded and busy in the wedding day! There were people helping flower girls to find flower baskets, helping priest to find Bible, helping bride to zip the wedding-clothes, helping bridesmaids to spray hair mousse. All the people were very busy and the photo studio was always finding a place in the crowds to take photos. There were always about ten or twenty persons speaking simultaneously in the small room. The strangest thing is that all the people were speaking in English, instead of Tagalog, where Tagalog is the mother tongue of the Philippines.
However, because of so, I could almost catch up all the conversations, getting known how to arrange the cars, getting known that we would take photos first after arriving the church, and so on.
Then I found soon, that once people were starting to speak Tagalog rather than English, Daddy would stand in the center of the room, raised his right forefinger and drew a big circle in the air,
"English ! English ! ! ! "
Then, the busy conversations in the room would pause one or two seconds. When it resumed, it seemed that someone had pressed the bilingual switch button of a remote controller, which made all the people converse in English again.
What's an interesting scene it was ! !
But why they should speak to each other in English, since I am the only foreigner?
Immediately, I understood that it was Daddy who arranged it carefully. He by no means hoped that the sole foreigner in the wedding felt isolated due to language barrier, so he must reminded everyone in advance:
"We have a foreign friend in the wedding, so please speak as more English as you could. Otherwise, she can't understand what we said and would feel lonely..."
I was deeply moved by Daddy's subtle and cinsiderate thoughts hiding behind his humor.
E-li is the treasure in Daddy's heart
In my eyes, Daddy is such a handsome and stylish man
"Will you love E-li , look after her, cherish her forever, even though she may become very fat in the future ? "
The whole church bursted into laughter.
The wedding was carrying on in a warm and witty atmosphere under the blessing of priest.
"You can kiss the bride now ! " The church burst into a cheerful and blessing applause.
Daddy was looking at his daughter and her husband elegantly and carefully, with a gentle smile on his face. He was so concentrated that he wanted to memory every minute of the wedding.
At that moment, I noticed that he had a strong affection for daughter behind his calm and tender face.
I greatly hoped that I could have a camera at that moment, so that I could record the peaceful and profound paternal affection at the very moment.
At dancing time in the wedding dinner, Daddy and E-li were dancing together.
E-li nestle Daddy and whispered to him.
Daddy's face showed his deep affection for daughter.
Daddy had a very characteristic turn-up mustache,
He loves it !
By the swimming pool at dinner party, I saw him playing with his mustache.
Having been persuaded by Daddy and E-li's family, I went back to Manila with them by car in the next morning of the wedding. When I met Daddy in the Lobby of the hotel, I found he wear leisure-wear and looked relaxed and vigorous.
" Daddy, you change a different style everyday !! " I said. In the car back to Manila, I had a pleasant and long conversation with Daddy. The country scenery was changing fast outside of the car window, but I was totally immersed myself in the conversation with Daddy. I even hoped that the journey could extend farther and farther, so that the conversation could be longer and longer.
Dad laughed happily.
Daddy in leisure-wear.
I took this photo because I found that the leg of his spectacles frame was broken.
Daddy told me embarrassedly that he was watching Boxing in the restaurant overnight
and he was so excited and sat imprudently on the spectacles frame and got it broken.
I thought it must be very funny when I imagined the scene when Daddy watched Boxing excitedly.
As how Daddy always amuse people all the time,
when Daddy took this photo grinningly, all the children aside laughed.
There was a mysterious and magnetic tune-pattern in Daddy's English. If you have watched the cartoon recomposed from fairy tale, you can found that the prologue of such films are always the voice of a mysterious elder man, telling slowly, softly and clearly,
"Once upon a time, there was a princess..."
The way how Daddy speaks English, is just like that ! !
Daddy's English is actually very fluent, maybe that's because he often reads books about science, philosophy, history, and so on. However, he always spoke slowly, smilingly, clearly and kindly. His voice was mellow and magnetic. I was always obsessed when listening to him, feeling confused whether I was stay in the real life or back to my childhood.
Our car was vibrating on the road. Along the dream-like vibration, I talked with Daddy about life, philosophy, history and music. Daddy is not only humorous and considerate, but also profound and wise, which makes me admire him so much.
By accident, we talked about racial problem:
In the car back to Manila, I had a pleasant and long conversation with Daddy. The country scenery was changing fast outside of the car window, but I was totally immersed myself in the conversation with Daddy. I even hoped that the journey could extend farther and farther, so that the conversation could be longer and longer.
"Knows what? You are different from others," said Daddy, "You treat us equally and like us sincerely, without any discrimination."
For a moment, I didn't understand whats Daddy referred to, so I looked at him with a puzzled face.
"I can feel and understand how most people of the world view Philippines," Daddy said peacefully and elegantly as usual:
"They think that we are dark, dirty, greedy and evil. But most Philippines are not like this."
I was surprised at what I had heard. For the first time, I realized that there really exists racial discrimination in the real world. However, I hardly imagine how they associate such words as "dirty", "greedy" and "evil" to such a sagacious, humorous and kind elder man in front of me
"It's true that most people in the world regard us like this." Daddy smiled to me and said:
"But you are different. You came here without any prejudice and any preconceived discrimination. That's why you can really recognize us and love us." Daddy said: "You make everyone of us feel so much warm, so I said you are really special in my eyes."
Wedding party in the previous night lasted very late, so on the car, E-li's family all fell into sleep because of fatigue, except Daddy and I. In fact, I was also very tired, but I didn't want to waste time on sleeping. I closed my eyes and lean on Daddy's shoulder. His voice continued,
"I like giving. Giving makes more happy than receiving." Daddy said:
"In Palawan, I always put some chocolate in my pocket. When I see children, I will give it to them. I love children's smile."
Daddy continued: "I like your smile, too," His voice was full of smile as cherishing a girl in his heart, with the slow, clear and magnetic tone as usual,
"When you smile -, it seems - your eyes - are - singing -"
I leaned on his shoulder and smiled sweetly. Suddenly, I could deeply understand E-li's attachment to Daddy as a little girl. Daddy hummed a soft jazz music near my ear. Both his voice and the rhythm were so beautiful that I immersed myself in a half-dreaming state, and I neither want to awake nor to fall in to sleep. Mistily, I saw daddy holding his spectacles frame on the broken side, it recalled me that he didn't sleep much in the last night.
"Daddy, do you want to have a rest ?" I asked.
"My wife, children are asleep, so I must be awake in order to protect all of you."
This is the last words I had heard before I fell asleep.
The uproarious noise of Manila downtown became more and more clear. My hotel was only several corners away. On leaving, Daddy reminded me about things I should take care of in my life. I took out my pen and paper and asked him to write down:
To ever-dearest Jessamine,
4 things you must need to do are:
1. Think good
2. Do good
3. Feel good
4. Look good.
... ... ... ...
With Love and forever prayer,
(Daddy have been engaged in sports and body development for his life, so all the four things he reminded me are mostly related to healthy and optimistic attitude toward life.)
In the lobby of my hotel, E-li's brother gave me a key ring of Palawan:
"Please do visit us again in Palawan," I hugged good-bye to Daddy.
I'm not sure how long it will be, but I know that we will meet again, in Palawan.
* Daddy was once an athlete, boxer and gymnastic coach. Now, he is going to retire, but he is still a gymnastic coach and designs gymnastic courses for a gymnasium as a part-time job.
* Although Daddy's brilliance is from his connotative inherence, it is worthy to mention that once he was chosen as Mister Filipino (the champion) in 1981 and 1984.
* This article was done in Bhutan and it's my first time to write with pen instead of computer.
The whole region of Gang-ti valley was out of electronic power supply and the hotel became quiet at night.
I remembered that I always wanted to write down something about Daddy, so I spent two nights and 5 candles in finishing this article with the flickering candlelight.
Daddy, E-li's mommy, and me. Photoed in the dinner party.