Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Love Letter

I saw this article in the Inquirer and it touched me to the core. Its the sweetest thing that a father can do for his daughter. Knowing that he cannot protect her from the joys and pains that loving may inevitably bring, he just had to express his gentle reminders through this letter so that his daughter would be better prepared for the rough ride ahead.

"If you dare to love someone whom you feel in your heart of hearts deserves such love, you will not regret it."

On to the letter...

Dearest Nicole,

Terminal, chronic presumptuousness is an ailment that is very hard to recover from, as the name of the condition implies, and especially as regards your unica hija.

I labor under the misimpression that you will heed the counsel of the years, my counsel, no matter how flawed it is, and that despite the many mistakes I have made in my life, you will find it worth your time to listen to your old man.

One caveat though: On the subject I am about to rant and rave, I am no expert, in fact I have stumbled, risen, and stumbled again, many times over. I have only the benefit of committing the same errors enough times to know that you learn only through your mistakes, and that the race goes not to the one who runs the fastest, but to the one who keeps on running.

** ** ** *
I cannot emphasize enough what I say here now: Love is a powerful thing, it's not just a romantic platitude to say that Love makes the world go round. It is a primeval, elemental force that all the wisest men in the world have not even begun to understand. It is like a potent talisman that unleashes tremendous power to a prudent user, but wreaks havoc to those who do not learn to harness its awesome strength.

Look anak, I'm not trying to be vague, pahocus-pocus sounding, or purposely trying to conjure obscure images of otherworldly powers. Love is very real, and very definitely life-changing. It literally creates and shapes destinies before our very eyes, so fundamentally that we take it for granted and are largely unaware of it.

By posing just three questions that have heretofore always remained at the back of your mind but which you've been itching to ask, I can show you how Love is related to almost all of them.

Probably the most obvious is: Despite the love that existed between your mother and me for many years, why did it not survive beyond your adolescence, for all its vaunted longevity and intensity?

The gift of love that has been generated and nurtured between two people is not enough to accept and allow its existence. To borrow from Peter Parker's Uncle Ben: With great love comes great responsibility. You have to recognize that--especially after the honeymoon phase of a relationship--you progress from the stage of being in love with to loving a person. I'm not saying your mother and I didn't do this, probably we just didn't do it long enough. For that I am truly sorry.

One good lesson though that we can cull from that is: Just because one and the other are destined to be together does not mean they will live happily ever after. In fact, a declaration (and affirmation) of love often signals the start of an adventure in dedicating one's life for your loved one.

I go to the second question you seem to have asked me in gestures and in phrases. Given his rather reckless adventures in romance, is your brother not loving too much, or too hard?

You may laugh at my response, but I think it may be the opposite. What he truly loves, he cannot possess. And to compensate for this, he turns to those companionships that will not reject him. Do you know what I mean? Rather than being rejected by what he considers pure, noble, and ideal, he prefers to dwell within the comfort zone of those who will accept him.

It sounds trite but it is often true. Men offer love for intimacy, while women provide intimacy in return for what they perceive is love. While women learn early enough not to extend expectations based on this reality, men take a little longer. But then again, for some reason, women, who I submit are smarter than men, seem to have a blind spot in matters of the heart. Both for your and my peace of mind, I sincerely hope you learn from the mistakes of your parents and heed the lessons of history.

On that note, you should probably just give your brother a little more time.

Which brings us to a third question, which you have asked in many forms: If it comes to such a point, do I follow my head or my heart, when I feel like falling in love with someone?

The only way I can answer such a query (which I hope doesn't translate to reality in the near future) is notwithstanding all the fear generated in me (and most probably your mother as well), I go so far as to say this: If you dare to love someone whom you feel in your heart of hearts deserves such love, you will not regret it. Scary words from a scared dad, but engraved in stone. Ironically, not all the purest and noblest intentions will assure that you will have made the right choice. For in matters of love, who can tell, until the day we die, whether or not we have made the right choice?

** ** ** **
What I'm trying to say, anak, I guess is that you should not deny yourself the discovery of Life that Love makes possible, but at the same time not be overwhelmed by the crests and troughs of the rollercoaster that is Love. It is one of the truly defining experiences of our existence, but it comes at a great price: Love consumes you, and if you allow it to do so, it overcomes you pitilessly, remorselessly, till you are but an empty shell.

If I sound too passionate about a subject, it is only because I know the time is soon coming when you will fall in love. At least, you can fall back on your father's feeble words.

Promise you'll tell me if and when you do fall in love, OK? I just want to see the guy. Grrr.

I'm very lucky to have such a wonderful daughter like you, I love you and I miss you always.

Please kiss sabay hug your bros for me OK? Happy Valentine's Day!


(Editor's note: Noel Bautista is Papa to Nicole, who is turning 17. Noel calls himself "an accidental migrant" in Wellington, New Zealand. This is his "love letter" to his daughter.)

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