He was this charismatic architect, known for his sincere concern for the marginalized. I remember him helping out tricycle drivers, by giving them additional ways to earn a living, from simple paint jobs or minor construction work. He once ran as Barangay captain, or something.. i think he won..
Too much for a tribute no? Can’t even remember his significant contributions in our community.. but here are some things I can really remember about him..
He was our ambulance. I remember him driving my mom to the hospital, when she was to deliver my brother. One time she had to be checked up for hemorroids that made it hard for her to sit down, he would drive us with their family’s old beat up blue car (wasn’t too privy on cars then, so I dont remember the model and the brand).
He would call out my name and try making a conversation with me, but I was too “suplada” at 6 years old. When his wife’s nieces would come to their house, he would welcome me in as their playmates. I call his kids ate’s and kuya.
I would often see him standing alone in front of his pick up truck. I believe he has been a witness a lot of things going on by our gate. Sometimes I see him with a cigarette, but in the recent years, i think he has quit.
I never knew something was wrong with him. I was aware that he was growing old. I only rarely see him drive his pick up during errands.
I used to call him Mr. Vasquez, but treated him like a tito. I remember going to his house during Christmas day to make “pamasko”, and he would so generously give me crisp purple bills.
But when I grew older, transitioning to elementary, high school, college, and then employed days, the interactions were only once in a blue moon. From being the Suplada kid, I just grew as the shy lady who chooses whom to approach. Mr. Vasquez wasn’t one of them.
Maybe it was his glasses. Maybe it was his often crossed-arms, or his blank/serious look, that made me feel like I’m unworthy of a conversation with him. Maybe we just grew distant. My interactions with his wife, though, were the opposite. I would just learn about him from his wife.
Somehow, looking back at how things went between us, I still feel sad and teary-eyed knowing that he’s gone. We’re not related, but it feels so much like losing a dear Uncle.
Wherever you are, Tito Nani / Mr. Vasquez, may you rest in peace. Go design beautifully God’s abode up there, so that when it’s our turn to go up (if we do go up, hehe!), it’ll feel more like home…