This is very late. But I thought I’d run this again. This is a repost from my defunct Friendster blog.
I met Mang Felix when I moved into my second dorm. He was a househelp, mostly running errands and sweeping the floors. He was probably in the neighborhood of 50 years old at that time. My friends and I took a liking to him, mainly because he was avuncular in his dealing with us. We teased him about his favorites, yes he does have one every semester. Upon my arrival, Ate Evelyn who was on her senior year was the “it” girl. Then came Afel and finally Rose. I don’t know if there were any girls after I left.
Curiosity about his story bugs us. So, we sought Ate Babes’ help. She was the historian of the dorm, having lived there the longest. The story goes that Mang Fel came to Manila from the Visayas after a townmate who came to Manila as a househelp returned for a visit with his wife, who was a resident of the dorm he was working in. He wanted the same romantic ending for him. So off he went to Manila and try his luck.
We asked if this was true and in his heavy Visayan accent, he confirmed this. He was never shy about this. Being young and somewhat rude, we in our young ways told him that maybe he needed to modify his goals to suit his life. He stood firm and stubbornly held on to his dream.
A couple of years later after we left the dorm, I received a letter from my best friend who said she bumped into Mang Fel in the same neighborhood we lived in. He looked so much older and from the looks of him, he was also sick, she added. We arranged to get together and pay him a visit.
It was only two years since the last time I have seen him, but he did indeed look years older; no doubt that he was sick as well. We chatted for several minutes before we asked him if he could go back to his hometown so someone can look after him. He was still working at that time. He refused to go and still insisted on waiting for the fulfillment of his boyhood dream. We didnt leave until he accepted our little monetary present. That was the last time I saw him. Nor heard about him.
For those who like Mang Fel has had “adopted” children but who goes through Father’s Day every single year without acknowledgment, here’s to you. You have shown us kindness and taken us under your care. You have arranged for fried rice for breakfast even though the management forbade this. You have given us that “look” a father would give when you knew we were naughty. For four years, you were our friend, our ally, our conscience, and yes a father figure. Wherever you are, cheers! Belated though it may be.