Five (An open letter to Isay’s Ninongs)

FOR Isay’s fifth month, her christening stands out as the most significant moment. There’s a reason we waited what people felt was too long to have her baptized. Especially since we live in a country where superstition still has its talons sunk in its psyche. Oldtimers say that it is never good to make long trips before a child’s baptism. And Isay has been traveling to Nueva Ecija quite a bit.

But we wanted her to be physically strong enough to endure the solemn and the social parts of christening. People would want to carry her, we assumed, and we needed to be sure that her body was strong enough so she wouldn’t require overly delicate cradling.

Just making sure we’re on the same page. (c. David Lim 2015)

About the title of this post. Let me tell you a story…

At about half past midnight, when the wife is finally done cleaning Isay’s feeding bottles, she packs expressed milk into six of them. She cuts off pieces of masking tape, marking them 1 through 6, and then tapes them to the cover of each bottle. This is for later in the morning, when she is off at work and it’s my turn to feed the baby.

She then heads to the bedroom and, as if on cue, the little one stirs from her evening sleep. The wife picks Isay up, cradles her and proceeds to breastfeed the little one. After that comes the burping and the rocking to sleep. Just before 2 a.m., she gently lays Isay between us and then tucks her underneath a cotton blanket. Only then does she sleep. She wakes up at 4:30 a.m. for another feeding session, naps and then gets up at 5  to prepare for work.

She leaves the house at 6 or 6:30. Manila traffic necessitates early commutes. She works until 5 p.m., walks the equivalent of six to eight blocks to the long queue for the ride back home and arrives at around 7 p.m. She showers to wash the day off her, retrieves Isay from the help (I go to work at around 2 p.m.), feeds her, changes her into her night clothes and then lets her have her early evening nap. If my wife is lucky, that nap lasts until 9:30 p.m., and she gets to catch a few winks herself. She gets up at around that time, feeds Isay and puts her to sleep again before proceeding to unpack the milk she pumped while at the office and cleaning the used feeding bottles for the following day.

Rinse and repeat. Five days a week.

Why am I saying this? Aside from the fact that I want Isay to know someday how much her mother doted on her during her infancy? Because I was going to give a speech for Isay’s godparents during the christening, specifically for the ninongs (godfathers). But since we didn’t get to cobble up a passable sound system in time, I’ll have to make do with this letter. The ninangs (godmothers) might wonder why they don’t get the same treatment. The previous story illustrates why.

Hello ninangs! 🙂

Godparents are supposed to be surrogate moms and dads. The ninangs were selected because of the love and affection they showered Isay with and we wanted Isay to always have that feeling she will have her godmothers to spoil her and take care of her (And babysit! Hello, Peaches Cordova and Patricia Bermudez-Hizon) every now and then. (Also, ninangs, if you have children, please tell them to accept little Isay as their sister from another mother.) Because while Isay needs her extra moms, she doesn’t need a surrogate mom. The wife is already mom of the year.

Hands down (c. David Lim 2015)

The ninongs? They’ll have to do more than just pamper my little girl. I’ve always feared that I won’t be a sufficient dad for Isay. That’s why the ninongs were selected for their ability to teach the little one things I may not be able to. They were chosen to be surrogate dads who would fill the gaps in my father skills.

I hope, ninongs, that you guys will take at least one time in your lives to hold Isay’s hand and teach her about how you live. Maybe invite her to your home one of these days. Maybe then she could see the complete picture of fatherhood she’s never going to get from me alone.

Willie Marcial, tell Isay that life will have twists and turns and teach her to adapt to every change to survive. Rickie Santos, teach her the quiet devotion to an endeavor, the same one you bear for the sport of basketball. Nate Barretto, talk to her about faith and how calming it can be to rest ones burdens by communing with the divine. Jon Hernandez, teach Isay to pick up newspaper scraps just to devour any form of literature and also to fight back hard when life deals you unfavorable cards. Son Dalupang, tell Isay what passion is, what it means to chase after dreams, no matter how unreachable they may be. Danny Ildefonso, make Isay realize that hard work trumps everything, that with it, a third-string national team center can rise to become a two-time MVP and a PBA legend.

Jong Uichico, teach Isay the value of loyalty, not the one that loudly proclaims affinity to a group but the subdued, dignified kind of loyalty that holds on to roots no matter how far one may have traveled. Olsen Racela, pass on to my daughter your passion for living; teach her to be always fired up when doing whatever she chooses to do in the future. Lourd de Veyra, teach Isay how to appreciate art and how creating it—be it music, literature or whatever else—enhances one’s life. Brothers Brian and Dominic Ochoa, sit Isay on your laps one day and tell her that family always comes first and that we should protect the ones we love and not allow bad things to happen to good people.

Last but not the least, Glenn Gacutan. The guys in my family live our lives striving, and failing, to be the kind of man my grandfather was. Yet you approximate his life so effortlessly it’s almost like both of you branched off from the same primordial tree. Isay never got to meet her great grandfather. Maybe one day, you can invite her to Fairview, hold her hand, teach her to bike or scale mountains and tell her about love, patience, understanding and forgiveness. Explain to her why bottlenecks are the curse of traffic and how long it should really take to get a road repaired. And maybe then, she could approximate the feel of having my late grandfather around.


Please, ninongs? (c. David Lim 2015)

With your help, ninongs, we could be Father of The Year By Committee.

Thank you for taking part in this big moment in young Isay’s life. See you all on her first birthday. 🙂


Adding these photos because this sequence makes me go awww…




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