He fumed when I told him I wanted to be a missionary. I ought to look out for myself and my family first, he said. It vexed him to see his son take such a risky and underpaying job after he had put me through excellent schooling. That was a painful conversation for both of us.
My dad didn’t talk about himself very often. Only at his wake did I learn two very important things.
First. On his coffin we placed a picture of him smiling. More than once, visitors pointed out (unsolicitedly): “That’s Mel! His smile, that’s exactly how he was. A good friend.” This confused me, for I knew my dad to be a hard man.
Second. Many of his college friends were at the wake. They had something in common. They were activists. I learned that my dad was a leader among activists. This also confused me; didn’t my dad say I should look out for myself first? Then I hear that he fought for human rights during Martial Law?
My biggest regret is that I did not understand my dad very well.
So here’s to Mel P. Abundo, wherever you are. Thank you for being my dad. I love you very much.