I DON’T usually like making much of a fuss of anything--even birthdays. Thus when my wife, my relatives, the relatives of my wife and even my high school batch mates conspired to give me a grand entrance into senior citizenship, I initially resented it. But I also didn’t want to be KJ, so I played along. In my mind though, I was asking, why do we have to make a fuss about birthdays?
I was born on a special day, the Day of Candles. Because I usually don’t have rituals on my birthday and did not even bother going to church on that day growing up, I didn’t realize Feb. 2 is also a big day for Catholics. Not until I married a woman who is all about Catholic rites.
Even when she was still my girlfriend, she would always prod me to go to church on my birthday. There, we would buy candles, big and colorful ones, that priests would bless at the end of the mass. Those candles I bring home to be kept on the altar. Soon, I was into the ritual during my birthdays.
And I began to understand why my parents gave such a weird name as Candido. I thought it was because I have an aunt named Candida that, when she became a US resident, simply became Candy. (Incidentally, Manny Lumanao, former associate editor of the defunct Visayan Herald, bylined my article he once published in his paper, Candy O. Wenceslao.)
The day is known as Candelaria. My cousin Elsa, who was born on the same day, told me recently she was lucky her parents didn’t baptize her Candelaria. For the male, the name of choice is almost always Candelario. In a way I am a bit lucky I am just named Candido.
When I was in the elementary, I was known simply as Candido But my relatives and close friends always knew me as Dodo. In high school, I was Dido to my classmates. But why “Bong”? I would “blame” former The Freeman editor-in-chief, the late Juanito Jabat, for that.
In the first few articles I wrote when I was with The Freeman, I was Dodo Wenceslao. “Batia ana, uy,” Mr. Jabat told me. Then I remembered “Bong,” one of the many noms de guerre I once used. So Bong was it. As a media person, I thus drifted away from Candido.
Anyway, the celebration of my birthday this year was a reminder that I now have what is often joked about as “dual citizenship.” I am now both a Filipino and a senior citizen. Which means I have reached the age for mandatory retirement from my full-time work as a journalist. The day thus marked the start of the Big Shift that I have been talking about.
Translate that to mean it ushered in a period of uncertainty. I am now in transition, a limbo of sorts, wherein I am unsure of what I will do next. Retirement is not rest, like what some of my friends congratulated me for. It is but a continuation of work in a different, slower pace. That’s why I describe it as the Big Shift.
On this, there’s this Catholic saying that God will provide. This is why I face this challenge with a good dose of hope.