Wednesday, February 21, 2007

mr. alfar

Post-Read Or Die, the gang had dinner at Lasa, one of the good restos at The Podium. Among my friends was photographer Benjie Ordonez who happily snapped photos as we talked.

Anyway, looking at my photo now, I realize just how much I look like my father. My parents were divorced when I was very young and I lived with my mother. Growing up without my dad, I found it odd how relatives who knew him - upon seeing me walk - would say "Dean walks just like his father". Or how he and I slouched in the same way, had the same laugh, or the same expressions.

What was strange to me then was the notion that the behaviours could be inherited. My young self asked just how could we have the same laugh? The same slouch?

As a teenager, my mother told me that I had my father's sense of humor, his ability to find something funny in almost any siutation, and his capacity to mine circumstances for laughs. This made me think too (yes, I guess my understanding of genetics was quite Mendellian, and restricted to peas and physical traits like eye color).

When I met him again as an adult, I thought to myself "We do not look alike. We do not act alike. We do think alike. We do not laugh alike."

But in retrospect, I think it was a combination of defense mechanisms, my need to be my own creation, my desire to step away from his shadow, and the mixed results of his absence on my mindscape. I wasn't fair to him. Or to genetics.

At our most recent time together, a couple of years back in Las Vegas - me in my 30's; he in his 60's - I remember looking at him for a long time. And listening to him talk and laugh.

And I knew with a conviction beyond genetics that we were both Mr. Alfar, and that the saying "chip off the old block" is a cliche because it is true.

And I knew that beyond the fractured father-son relationship there was something deeper than genetics. There was care, compassion, laughter... and friendship.

If he lived in Manila, he'd be one of the gang, no doubt, and we'd be laughing over the same silly things.

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