The Letter that Changed My Life

I have already shared this letter before but allow me to do it again for today’s occasion. I was a rejected writer way back in High School. My articles were literally crumpled and then thrown into the trash bin (I saw my teacher did that heart-breaking scenario inside the faculty room). My superior said that my articles were “not good” and “unreadable.”

I think most of us knew the feeling of failing and being rejected. I thought of myself as a failure. A total failure and an embarrassment. I almost gave up. I lost faith in my own skills.

But as in all tragedy, there is a hero, a redeemer, an inspiration. And I saw that person in my father. He wrote this open letter when I was in second year High School and have it posted on the Francois Corner – a bulletin board/literary board in the seminary for the written works of the seminarians (talk about “pambabraso”, I think that term is more appropriate).

 

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This letter changed my life. Since then, I have been writing articles after articles, stories after stories, essays after essays, taking into consideration his messages and advice written on this letter. This letter became a major turning point of my life. The Juan of today will never be the same had he not written this letter.

November 27, 2002

Sorry son, I beat you on the draw this time. Time and again I have always urged you to write something for the Francois Corner. I want you to express yourself, your views of life, of family, of human relations, of growing up, and whatever heaven-may-care concerns you think worthwhile. Write them as they are gestated on your mind. Don’t wait until you may only have to recall the precious moments, when life is already filled with misgivings for the things you’ve done and those you chose not to do, when you may already have to contend with the biases of your own reasoning, whan all things have their good excuses and alibis…the very way I do now.

You have read better books than I did and your vocabulary has improved considerably in your almost two years in the seminary. Nevermind if I tell you that the words as you define them have awkward meanings. As you go along life’s path, you’ll realize the words and gestures alike are interpreted in appropriate contexts, not just they are portrayed in the dictionary. The best poetry of literary piece is something that depicts noble intentions, of truth, of justice, of virtues, of writer’s characters. Avoid flashy and ostentatious adjectives, grandiose adverbs, and dangling modifiers..they often end up in lies.

You are so lucky son. you have found freedom within the confines of the walls of the seminary and I want you to write of this. Freedom is not just doing what you want. It is also getting rid of the things that would otherwise prevent you from doing what you want. Most of us outside are virtual prisoners of our own means, of both obsession and indifference, of curiosity and apathy. Put no envy or remorse for being sheltered from the world, just have it that many would have wanted to be in your place. Talk to your brother seminarians, your formators, and every people you meet and you may learn the reason. Whatever reason it is, take it with humility and reticence. Read a lot, keenly observe things and improve your sense of disrection. Seek wisdom in prayers and let faith be the pillar of judgement.

Write, son, write. Hearten others with the might of your pen. When I held your hand when I first thought you how to write, I had no further intent for you but to learn to inscribe your name. After a few summers, reams and reams of paper, and buckets of ink, I urge you to make a turn around.  Let not your name be prominent but God’s. In your own modest way, lead your readers to Him. Let those words be your hook and line as you brace yourself to be a fisher of men. With God’s grace and a few summers more, (And this, me and your mother pray for) you may already have been an adept articulator of his words. I hope that by then, you will remember this day that I encouraged you to write.

I hope that you will not fail me son. I expect to see your paper tucked in the corks of Francois Corner. We love you.

It has been almost a decade since my father wrote this letter but from time to time, I still look at it for inspiration, guidance, and something to look up to. I see this as an oasis of an honest words of advice from the man whom I consider a hero, a model, an idol.

 

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It has been ten years since he wrote this letter. Times and circumstances have changed.He may have not written a follow-up for this letter but from time to time, he talks to me, man to man, about life’s little tricks and lessons. Since we are open to each other, I think a letter is no longer necessary to give his message to me. But who knows? Maybe when the circumstances need it, he would give me a better and more dramatic father-to-son letter.

I know that I still have a lot to do in order to reach my dream to write and to inspire pople. But I am proud to say that I have taken the few little steps to reach that journey. Thank you to all who read my posts here in my little blog.

I have learned from my Psychology and Human Development classes that a good image of a father is vital to a child’s (especially a son’s) development. I thank my  Tatay Juan for being a good model, a friend, and a drinking buddy. And thank you for being my inspiration, for being my Maestro. I will always be grateful. I love you.

Happy Father’s Day po Tatay. Inuman tayo mamaya. Padayon!

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