The Law of the Sea

Arturo M. Tolentino: I wish people will remember me for The Law of the Sea

A Tribute to My Father

On Parents’ day, Lacson College, December 4, 1939

From Arturo M. Tolentino’s Early Writings Volume three

Today, let me pay tribute to my father, for in so doing I am sure I pay tribute to your own dear parents, to the parents of those who live with them today and to the parents of those who miss them today.

I never realized how much my father meant to me, until that day when I saw him go, with not even the strength to utter “good-bye”. When he lived, I took him for granted; I went along with my studies and my work, little thinking of the great sacrifice he was undergoing to enable me to carry on. I enjoyed myself freely in the blessings of a happy home, in contentment and in comfort, little did I realize the untold hardship he suffered, working in the scorching heat of the midday tropical sun, not even stopping to rest even if caught by sudden thundershowers in the midst of his work, lack of sleep and constant exposure to the merciless elements slowly but surely undermined his health and brought him closer and closer to his grave. My father died that my brothers and sisters and I might live.

You whose fathers are now dead, can understand how I feel. And you whose fathers still live and are constantly working and sacrificing that you may be here to enjoy the benefits of expensive education, may you never feel the pain and the agony of those who now long for their dead. When our parents are living, we feel that they stand between us and the cruel world and even death; but when they are gone, we find ourselves standing in the forefront of the battleline, to stand or fall alone without their aid. And it is not until then that we realize the true worth and value of our parents. Indeed, we are never able to know how much they mean to us, until it is too late for them to hear what we have to say.

In usual course of events, we find ourselves too young and too incomplete to return with the sacrifice that which they have given us through sacrifice. And when we reach that age and understanding when we may be in a position to give them the equivalent of the sympathy and help that they had given to us, we find that sympathy and help being claimed by our own wives and children. Never, therefore, do we really repay in kind what our parents give us.

But what we cannot give in material things and comfort let us at least give in terms of honor and reverence. Let us on this day rekindle the flame of love we have for them, and let that flame shine ever brighter with a new and lasting brilliance. Let us remember that “whoever makes his father’s heart to bleed, shall have a child that will revenge the dead” and “unblessed is the son who does not honor his parents, but if reverent and obedient to them, he will receive the same from his own children”. There is perhaps no better passage to repeat and remember this day, than that of Tyron Edwards:

In closing, my friends, may I beg you to join me in paying a tribute, with love, honor and reverence, to my most stalwart protector, to my most learned tutor, to my most truest friend, and to the most constant companion whose companionship I sadly miss today. – my father. And permit me, to join those of you whose father are also dead, to offer at the alter of their memory the most loving thoughts of this day, and to pledge that we shall endeavor in this life to do nothing that may strain their memory or that may displease them if they had been alive. And I join those whose fathers are still living in the fervent hope and prayer that their companionship may last forever, in comfort and in adversity, with neither tears nor suffering, and may your love and respect and gratitude towards them, make up at least in part, for the worry, the care, and the sacrifice they undergo for you. And finally, to all fathers, living and dead, let us unite to offer a garland of thanks, adorned and perfumed by the flowers of love, honor, reverence, gratitude and devotion.

In the same year Daddy wrote two letters to President Manuel Quezon. Philippine Free Press published it May 13, 1939 and the second one June 24, 1939 on the matter of Re-election and Constitutional Amendment.