THERE is this picture of my mother, not yet 30, holding a brand new baby in her arms. She is at the beach. We all are – family, cousins, bodyguards, maids, and all. My dad had just won an election to the Baguio City Council, and the beach trip is the victory party. The baby in my mother’s arms is my brother Daniel Martin, born January 5, 1963.
There is this picture of him with his yaya Lolita, who dresses him up snazzy daily, only to see her handiwork come unraveled after three minutes, when they haven’t even left the house to go out to play. Lolita follows Danny Boy everywhere, literally his guardian angel.
There is this picture of Dandan getting the scolding of his life from Uncle Pax, one of my dad’s best bodyguards, because Dan runs to the house on Kisad from the UCCP nursery school, instead of waiting to be fetched by Uncle Pax. The bro argues that he was coming home for lunch, and Uncle Pax yells that Dan was to wait because he would still get home for lunch anyway, expletive.
So there is a related picture of him at the closer to home Kindergarten run by Father Tchang at the small church beside the Midland. Dandan goes to school with a hard hat on, and one day brings to school loads of our father’s cash on hand, and gives all the money away. Father Tchang calls the house and asks my father, “Atty. Cariño, how much money do you give your son to go to school?” The tale is funny to this day.
There is this picture of Danny at his first Holy Communion, candle in hand with a shy smile on his face. He is standing in front of the rock that is the Maryknoll Convent School backdrop to an altar in the new chapel famously designed by Architect Silvestre, father of my grade school classmate, Roweena.
There is this picture of my baby bro in a white shirt and khaki pants that serves as the grade school uniform for the boys. I search my mind for an instance that the shirt is still tucked in and not already hanging out, and for the life of me, can find none.
There is this picture of being in the Saint Louis Burgos gym for a basketball game which features UB versus SLU (boys’) high schools, and being pleasantly surprised to see that the UB Robins first five has my baby brother in it. He plays well, yes. Well, don’t we all, at that basketball “court” in front of the Upper House on Kisad.
There is this picture of Dan fetching me from evening classes at SLU when I am doing masters classes there, and then we head home to Camp Seven together. There is another of him so early at the wheel of one of the cars in the family history, an orange Brazilia, and my marveling at the steadiness of the way he drives. There is a picture of him at the wheel of one of his own cars much later, and others of us going places in those wheels, and of others.
I knew my brother Dan for all of his 56 years, and have a huge memory bank of pictures that have him, in hard copy and otherwise. As I pick and choose pictures by which to remember him by, let me select a favorite.
It has him in the backseat of this beige and white Nova II which was the family car for a while. One of his arms is around our dad at the wheel, the other around our brother Matty, sharing the front seat. For some reason, they all three are laughing their heads off over something or other.
A tweak, now: The irrepressible Vader, of the pedigreed German Shepherd line – I see him in the backseat, too.
The four of them in the Nova arrive at the perennial cañao up there on Mount Pulag of the gods and the clouds, of where merrymaking is forever.
Go with God, you three. Four.