Gathered on neatly manicured, grassy portion fronting the stucco designed bungalow of the Walter Brown family, dozens of guests, with not a few coming from neighboring towns, graced the launching of the reprinted copies of the 1940 "Tanay Tercentenary Souvenir" sponsored by the Samahang Pangkasaysayan ng Tanay known by its acronym "SAPAT." Led by medical surgeon, Dr. Alfredo C. Alfonso, the latter's cousin, the billionaire Walter Brown, financed its reprinting and the expense attendant to its launching. Anchored on providing Tanayans with a record of the town's past history researched and written by its own people, SAPAT left no stone unturned as, to enlist more participants, it 'burned' facebook by its repetitive invitations!
Situated on a forested 5 hectare land known as "Epic Parc Rainforest," in Sitio Bayucan, Barangay Sampaloc in Tanay, the elegant bungalow perched on a cliff overlooking Laguna lake, provided the airy atmosphere neutralizing that early summer’s scorching heat as invited speakers tried as much to give brief speeches.
Yet, Walter Brown's extemporaneous anecdote touched a sensitive chord among 'catholics' in the audience:
"...sa Pilipinas ako lumaki. Meron nga kaming mga tanim na manga pero laging ninanakaw ang bunga. Kaya nagtanong ako sa Lilong Simeon kung paano ang gagawin para may makuha kaming manga. Ang sagot niya: damihan mo pa ang tanim na mana para may matira..."
The ensuing laughters mixed with meaningful noddings from the audience indicate a deeper understanding of the message behind the humor: sharing is part of the joy of harvesting! - a truly biblical gem.
My first encounter with Mr. Brown confirmed what little I knew about the man: highly - educated, a successful businessman, drilled in clean living and steeped in the ways of his philanthropic ancestors. In talking to him, I tried, as diplomatic as I could, to skirt debatable issues even as recent events hugging the headlines tempt most people to take sides. My questions, coached in polite legalese, however, surprisingly evoked positive comments by Mr. Brown about the current administration that, shunning debate on its methods, I chose simply to express my fear on its aftermath.
But the guy was simply amazing. At 78 years of age, like a trial judge, he could easily change from one topic to another with much ease and focus that one feels glowingly sated by his answers. I couldn’t help but ask him jokingly if alzheimer runs in the family and his kind of answer convinced me how truly engaging the man is and a joy to talk with: "Yes, my mother had it...", sounding seriously sad and, while looking directly at me, ended with a grin saying, "...when she reached 94 years old!"
SAPAT, no doubt, could create a sequel to the 77 year old book titled "Tanay Tercentenary." Mr. Walter Brown appeared to be the only living link to the glorious past of his heroic ancestors whose legacy charted the town's present course. His own life history and those of his contemporaries could provide the unwritten, unspoken epoch that followed the era where the book ended. The sequel, of course, could contain memorable, personal anecdotes, not simply third-person-summaries (of writers) to make it even more entertaining and authentic.
A little reverie looks enticing.
Taking the stairs on the way down from our law office on the second floor of FARE Building in M.H. Del Pilar Street in Tanay, Rizal, one sees hanging on the wall a wooden wheel of a "kalesa" without its protective rubber. Painted light yellow with splashes of leaves designed in blue and green, not a few visitors asked whether the wheel was recently bought. Sporting my wide grin, I explained that the wheel is more than fifty (50) years old bought in 1965 from Paete, Laguna, by my father who was a "kalisero" (rig driver). It looked new because my father used it only for a few months unaware that he will be immigrating to the United States summer of the following year. I know it being myself a "kalisero" like my father was during my younger years.
That old wheel serves as an icon, a symbol, a most befitting guide to recall events, people and life episodes too fleeting in memory to remember without it. In a sense, it serves to symbolize also our ascent from the lower to the upper esteem of our people.
But an icon without a written history accompanying it is short-live. The perfect recall of history is generational, diminishing as time passes. In fact, for those unconnected, either as active participants or witnesses to people and events that happened, the story becomes legendary and, centuries hence, a forgettable myth.
A sequel to record and immortalize events, public and private, of Tanay and Tanayans after the glorious year 1940 that gave birth to the Tanay Tercentenary is, in that sense, a moral imperative, not only on the heirs of those heroic writers, but also on all who benefitted, in any manner imaginable, from its creation and longevity as Tanay's lasting relic.
It is not, of course, an easy task.
The history of the past seventy years may no longer be culled from the lips of those who actively gave their prime years for its welfare. A World War II followed by the Japanese occupation made our country's liberation and recovery of our beloved land a much-prayed goal only to be followed by the unexpected exodus of our people to America touted to be the "land-of-milk-and-honey." Martial law followed that, 14 years hence, created EDSA to teach the world how revolution should be waged, not through arms, but through rosaries, flowers, prayers, and the genuine smiles of a caring people.
Where was Tanay during those challenging years of our nation?
More pointedly, where were you?