ACCORDING to Wikipedia “Family tradition, also called Family culture, is defined as an aggregate of attitudes, ideas and ideals, and environment, which a person inherits from his/her parents and ancestors.”
My husband used to celebrate his birthday with lots of his special barbecue, spaghetti and pinikpkan. This year was different as we spent a dinner with nephews and my sister Marlene and husband Sammy and last November 19, together with other comrades of VFW 124 they had a joint celebration with leg of roast beef, Thanksgiving turkey, potato salad and lots of other food. We were stuffed. And today I wish to share what his brother Alex Allan wrote in his FB account about my husband. Alex is a seasoned writer , who claims he is retired, but I don’t think so.
Home is the sailor
My brother John is the second after me in a brood of five males who all grew up to be men. He didn’t finish high school and although I have the distinction of being an intelligent 4th year college dropout from UP Diliman, he is smarter than I am in the things that count, the things that are of practical importance in life. After briefly interviewing him, then Education Secretary Carlos P. Romulo issued a certification that he was a high school graduate – enabling him to enter the US Navy. I am sure that great statesman does not regret having helped a young man from the Mt. Province who would have been deprived of opportunity because of bureaucratic niceties.
John rose in the US Navy to become a medical corpsman in the Marines. He served stints in Japan, Vietnam, and Central America and was addressed as Doc by his fellow Semper Fi combat soldiers whose mottos were “Balls of the Corps” and “Make Peace or Die.” When he retired, he joined the California corrections system. He was derogatorically called “Igoi” by inmates who learned he was of Igorot ancestry from the Philippines but he turned right around and called the inmates, most of them black Americans, as “Nigois.” John is a lean 5’7” and many of those prisoners were huge, 250 pounds on the average due to training with weights daily, but he told them to straighten up because in his view and that of his 12-gauge shotgun, “you are simply meat.” Despite aggression being part of the dynamics in a prison situation, he was well liked.
I consider myself a good handyman but compared to my brother, I am a woeful apprentice. He once put together a car from an American junkyard and he has almost finished a house by the beach in La Union without advice from engineer or architect. The house is built to California standards (meaning earthquake-proof) and is perhaps the sturdiest in the province. He has had the help of two good handymen – our cousin retired Army sergeant Tinong Domiclong and brother-in-law Gilbert Gano, a wood carver of renown from Banawe. I contributed muscle – shoveling soil and mixing cement and gravel.
The saying goes that behind every successful man is a loving woman and my sister-in-law Philian Weygan-Allan has always appreciated his talents. She knows when to scold him (when he lights up a smoke and does not take his medicines) and when to hug him (when one of his many dogs dies).
I write this to tell him “Thank you.” It is a phrase rarely said among us brothers, perhaps because of our closeness which engenders both a taken for granted attitude and a measure of embarrassment. He has been away from us for so long, having become an American citizen, but a he decided a few years ago to live his remaining decades in the Philippines. Tomorrow, 11/11, John will be 72.
Happy birthday, ading, from your manong, drinking buddy and friend. Cheers, too, from Linda and the rest of the Allans whom you have returned to.
Published in the SunStar Baguio newspaper on December 11, 2017.
Latest issues of SunStar Baguio also available on your mobile phones, laptops, and tablets. Subscribe to our digital editions at epaper.sunstar.com.ph and get a free seven-day trial.