(A Tribute to Atty. Atlee T. Viray on the occasion of his 70th Birthday)
YOU all know him as “Atlee”,
the brilliant and accomplished lawyer,
the former PCGG Commissioner,
and our current City Legal Officer.
He was born 70 years ago, on May 1, 1949.
To us, however, he is our “Daddy”, he is our “Lolo”, he is our “Superhero”.
Daddy has been there for us ever since each one of us was born, and just like all families, we have had our ups and downs. Daddy has always been very proud of us when we were “up”, but more importantly, he was, and is always, very supportive of us when we are “down”. What our family has put him through would have made a lesser man give up a long time ago, but not our Daddy. He has been the source of our strength; he has been the bedrock of our family.
Daddy deals with all our individual personal problems. As a lawyer, he deals with other people’s and his client’s problems on a daily basis. As legal officer, he deals with the City’s problems everyday. I don’t know how he does it, but despite all the problems he has been burdened with, he still remains one of the jolliest, cheerful and kind-hearted men I know. Daddy is the nicest man, not just to us, but to everyone he knows.
We lived in San Fernando Subdivision and St. Jude Village, which were both just small neighborhoods then, and I remember my Daddy, whether he knows you or not, will always smile at you, shake your hand, and wave to people, even to total strangers. Kapag may binati siya nun na tao, tatanungin namin siya, “Daddy, sino po yun?”
Sasagutin niya nun kami, “Hindi ko kilala e.”
Tanong namin sa kaniya, “E bakit mo binati o kinamayan, hindi mo pala kilala?”
Dad would then say, “Baka sabihin nila isnabero ako sa personal.”
Daddy has always been respectful to you no matter who you are or what you do. He has always treated others the way he wants to be treated.
As I’ve grown older, I have been able to see a much different perspective of a man I have been with for my whole life. As a father myself, I can see much clearly now the hardships and the very many sacrifices he made for me and our family. He has shaped me into the person I am today. I don’t believe we could ever find a more dedicated father than mine. He has taught me, through words and actions, the meaning of love, honesty, dedication, hard work and making sacrifices.
We have been truly blessed to have such a wonderful father whom we can also call our friend. My dad has always stood behind us and always accepted us as the people that we are. He has stuck with us through our many different interests, he has allowed us to open our eyes and see the world, and he can always be counted upon to be there with us every step of the way. If one day, I can be half the parent my dad is to me, I will be very much satisfied.
One of the things I want in life is to make my parents proud and to never disappoint them. But what my Daddy doesn’t know is how proud I am of him. I’m proud of how he puts family first, always. I’m proud of his sense of humor, and how he lifts the spirits of those around him; how he can lift the spirits of our family when times are tough.
My Daddy didn’t have the easiest childhood; he lost his father at an early age, and grew up with a many siblings, essentially standing in as his brothers’ and sisters’ pseudo-father. Madalas po na maikwento ng tatay na napakahirap nila noon, nakatira sila sa Barangay Bulacus, Masantol, Pampanga, isang Barangay na mararating lamang noon ng bangka.
Ang papag ng bahay daw po nila noon ay lupa lamang, dahil hindi man lamang nila ito mapalagyan ng semento o kahoy man lang. May mga araw daw po na hindi nila alam kung papaano sila kakain. Again, a lesser man would have given up, a lesser man would have been broken.
But not you, you persevered, you manufactured your own success. You became a teacher, you became a medical representative, and you became a lawyer, out of your own hard work, grit, and determination, and for that, I am very proud. You went through great hardships and trials, but still today, you are one of the happiest, most joyful-hearted men I know, and for that, I am proud.
I’m proud to tell you that our Daddy took the time to love us, to check on us, to look after us, and to write us personal letters every time we accomplished a personal milestone, and every time we were at a crossroads. I don’t think our Daddy has ever known how much those letters truly meant to me, but I have kept those letters and referred to them for guidance even now, as a father myself. For loving us and guiding us, I am so very proud of you Daddy.
Daddy has an incredible amount of patience, and an endless love for his family. He has a loud and infectious laugh that will make you laugh with him, even when you are sad. For these, we are very proud.
We are proud of you for so many reasons. You have accomplished so many things in your life and in your career. You have always been a leader, with natural charisma that not only has attracted our Mommy, but also other people to follow you and to trust in you. And I have no doubt that you will have several more successes around the corner.
You have done an incredible job of raising Raissa, Rosco and I. He’s worked hard to raise three children, give them the best education possible, and also give them wings to fly. Contrary to what most people think and assume, my Daddy never pushed me to become a lawyer myself, I made the decision on my own.
Sabi ng Daddy ko nun, pag ang tatay, ginaya ng anak ang trabaho at hindi pinipilit, that is the sincerest form of flattery, dahil may nakitang maganda ang anak para gayahin ang tatay. Napakarami kong nakitang maganda sa iyo, kaya lumipat po ako ng pagdodoktor, at nag-aral ng abogasya. Kayo po ang idol ko! I am so very proud of you.
Thank you for all that you have given me, thank you for all your love and support, but most of all, thank you for being a wonderful father to us. Atlee is our Dad, he is our Lolo, he is our mentor, he is our idol, he is our friend, and most of all, sa panahon ngayon nila Ironman at ng mga Avengers, siya ang aming sariling superhero. We are so proud of our superhero Daddy! We love you so much! Happy happy birthday!