‘Tatay taught us not to give value on material things, but rather in human connections’


Photo from Mayumi Liwayway Espina

I can clearly remember one night. There was power interruption and the whole family stayed outside. We were blessed with a bright full moon and what other way to pass the time than to bring out tatay’s old Yamaha acoustic guitar and sing out some tunes.

I played some songs while he serenaded the night. He then told me in his usual nonchalant way “Mas maayo ka pa mag gitara sa akon.” That was the one time that tatay gave me a compliment without me needing to try hard for it. And it stuck up to this day.

As most of you know, tatay always had a way with words. May it be written, spoken, or thought of, he surely leaves a lasting mark on anyone he meets. I can’t even begin to fathom the ripples of change that he had on the lives of many.

Tatay, you’ve always loved music. Thank you for passing on that gift to me. You’ve sang “What a Wonderful World” more times than I can count in my fingers and toes. You owned the song. What a wonderful world indeed and that’s greatly thanks to you. Despite the dark side of it all, you filled our lives with colors, music, and overflowing love.

Tatay, you are one of the most selfless, most dedicated people that I have ever encountered. Despite the high blood pressures and whatnot, you soldiered on through it all.

The way you upheld your principles and beliefs was truly admirable. We never lived a life of luxury and always lived within our means. You brought us up to not give much value on material things, but rather in human connections, experiences, and love. You have always reminded us that a person’s worth is not measured by his riches but by the goodness of his heart. This was often our line of conversation back then and I’m thankful for this priceless pamana.

At an early age, you took off our rose-colored glasses. You made us see the world for it is; sometimes cruel but still brimming with joy. After dinner, we would stay at the table as you amazed us with yet another story from your adventures back in the day. As I listen to you, it’s as though I have seen the world through your eyes too.

You were always a people’s man. I am happy that we got to share you with the rest of the world. Although you already went ahead, do know that your legacy and the causes close to your heart will always live on.

Tatay, salamat sa tanan tanan. Thank you for giving me a piece of your time amidst your round-the-clock hectic schedules. Thank you for sending me links of shenanigans that you and I both enjoy. Thank you for the marathon of conversations about the random things that pique our interest. Thank you for the music. Thank you for the books. Thank you for helping me make tons of the most memorable moments in my life. Thank you for raising me into who I am today; taas-noo sa bawat unos at naka-apak sa lupa sa bawat tagumpay. Salamat kay tatay ka namon.

Three days before Tatay passed, me, my brother Daki and our nanay Len Len got to enjoy tatay’s company one last time, while he was still awake. We sat him up in his wheelchair as we helped him with his dinner. We were watching Purple Rain, one his favorites. As Prince was singing his iconic song, tatay, with as much energy as he could muster, tapped his hand to the tune. Even in his weak moments, music never failed to keep him going. That night, we got to hear him tell us “I love you” one last time.

Death is a constant in this life. It is beyond our control. That, we are sure of. However, how you lived your life and what impact you had on others is what counts. For tatay, well, he lived one hell of a life. Kumbaga, quota na quota na sa pasahe to his next stop.

To all our family, friends, and everyone who selflessly offered their hand, MADAMO GID NGA SALAMAT. We can’t thank you enough for the heartwarming support as Tatay went through his journey to the next chapter.

Tatay, until we see each other again. Pangitaon ta gid ka kag kuliton naman non-stop. Ma jam pa ta liwat a, enjoy na da subong.

Love always,


Mayumi Liwayway Espina is the daughter of the late veteran journalist and media rights advocate Nonoy Espina.

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