Your life inspires me. Your story of despair and hope; of struggle for a living and freedom from poverty; of lack of a school education and a wealth of life’s education – they nourished me; they educated me, and; they brought me to where I am now.
I am Rinand because of you and Nanay. God used both of you to give me a life with so much confidence looking to the future with limitless possibilities.
You are a man of ambition. That is the reason why for many a times those who do not know your heart and mind, laughed at and ridiculed you, for how can a man so downtrodden and downcast and without an iota of academic learning dream so big to reach for his impossible stars.
But deep in your heart, you know that God created you to live a life of meaning and purpose. And so, smiling at those who gave you up for nothing, you and God walked together through tough and hopeless times, slowly and with agony, until you reached and took hold of your stars.
Your beginnings were miserable and undesirable. You stared poverty right on her face. You ate not on a table with a silver spoon and a plate but, sat on your buttocks and devoured your food from a banana leaf with your bare calloused hands. You slept not in a bed of comfort but stretched your battered body on a cold surface of clay. “This man has no future in him”, they said and judged you then.
But you are a dreamer. Gifted by God with a discerning mind; an articulate tongue, and; a heart brimming with courage and hope, you dreamed to fight and slay the demons of your poverty.
Blessed with a body toughened by years of hardship and endowed with a strength honed through life’s daily grind, you picked-up yourself to explore the world.
Hardened by the sugarcane fields of La Carlota, you crossed the seas to Iloilo and later to Zamboanga, to become an experienced and a tough stevedore hand; a highway construction worker; politicians bodyguard, and a church building caretaker. You went where the wind took you for a chance at a better life.
Without a formal education, you daringly entered the gates of a University, joined the Gospel Team and courted a lady of simplicity and dignity and respect who became your wife and taught you your “A,B,Cs” and she I now call, my “Nanay”.
Without access to books penned by scholars and the learned, you read and meditated on the Holy Bible which became your source of wisdom and enlightenment, satisfied your intellectual curiosity and fed your soul.
Without a degree to embellish your name, you worked night and day and offered your body to be scorched by the sun and drenched by the rain just to feed your family and send Nanay and your four growing children to one of the finest universities.
That was then.
Now, you smile at your detractors and testify in your words, “Dalayawon guid ang Gino-o. Indi ini iya tikal. Wala ako sang tinun-an apang naka-tapos ang akon pinalangga nga asawa kag apat ka mga kabataan, sa CPU pa! Wala ako gina-kaptan nga titulo apang sa grasya sang Diyos ang akon asawa kag mga kabataan puro may mga kurso kag, may doctor, engineer, pastor, kag nurse ako nga mga umagad. Ano pa nga titulo ang pangita-on ko?”
When I read the story of your life, I still wonder, “How can a man of the earth, encircled by overwhelming obstacles fought through the maze and came out a victor?”
Given what you have experienced, even a day of it, I wonder how I could survive. You amaze me Tatay as much as you bless me.
You have finally slain the demons of your poverty, together with Nanay’s help. And, we your children, Inday Rina Joy, Boboy Andrew, Nonoy Harold, and myself have tasted the sweetness of the fruit of your conquest
Tatay, today you turn 80 and you are healthy, prays and reads your Bible everyday. You are not perfect like everyone. You have your weaknesses and limitations.
But you are a hard and a rough stone smoothened and fashioned by the hands of God to become a precious shining gem.
Thank you Tatay. I love you so much. God bless you.
HAPPY 80th BIRTHDAY.
Toto Rinand, with Inday Lory Joy, Toto Brahms, Nonoy Strauss and Tata Handel
NOTE: This letter is published with permission from Mr. Rinand Escuban.