Our father, Lauro Velarde, passed away on August 17, 2007, a day before his 65th birthday.
It doesn't feel like it has been 13 years since our father had his first and last heart attack because the emotions are still raw and there are days when I cry as I remember him.
Remembering him is important to me as I want my nephews and nieces to know what a special and extraordinary grandfather they had.
My brother Fernando has one child, Anya, and my sister Melissa has two sons and two daughters -- Julian, Jizel, Jozef, and Julia.
None of them met their Lolo Larry because Dad passed away three months before our eldest pamangkin Julian was born.
This is the reason why a few years ago, I asked our Mom -- Erlinda Velarde -- and my siblings to write down whatever they remember about Dad.
What I remember about Dad
As for myself, I have also been writing about the things I recall about Dad. Here are a few of the things I remember:
(1) The name. Dad's name is Lauro and his nickname is Larry. However, I was confused growing up because whenever we went to his hometown, Cabanatuan City, people would call him Lory.
In high school, I asked Dad about this and he said the name Lory was coined by his cousins for having a pointed nose that looked like a loro's (parrot).
I asked which name he liked better and he said "Larry," saying it was "mas modern" than Lory.
(2) The look. Daddy looked like an "artista." When I was about seven, we attended a town fiesta and people crowded around our family, thinking he was the actor Eddie Gutierrez. Dad explained that he wasn't but one of the women said, "Bakit ayaw mong aminin? Nakita ka namin sa Liwayway (magazine)."
Then in college, the girls in my dorm in UP Diliman said Dad was gwapo and looked like actor and now Mayor Richard Gomez.
(3) The style. I didn't like giving Dad a shirt for his birthday or for Father's Day because he had a very specific fashion style. At home, he mostly wore plain white shirts like Fruit of the Loom.
As for his polo shirts, they had to be of a certain color, style, or fabric. He liked simple, not fancy clothes but he also had pieces like Bally, Oleg Cassini, Lacoste, and Ralph Lauren because as a car executive, he had to meet with different people.
When he was the head of the Ford Plant in Mariveles, Bataan, he met with Ford executives who flew in from abroad and people like Princess Margaret who visited the Philippines in 1980.
(4) The smell. Dad always smelled good. For some reason, he smelled nice even when he came from a long day's work at our farm.
When he was no longer with Ford, he started his own businesses -- Lidinver Trucking and also Lidinver Farm, a cattle ranch.
He valued cleanliness, order, and hygiene and would wash up or take quick showers or change clothes several times a day.
(5) The history. When I was in Grade Five, we were assigned to make a "family tree." I asked Dad to list down the names of his ancestors. He stopped at Dalmacio Velarde Sr., the father of his father Dalmacio Velarde Jr.
Dad said, "Hanggang dito na muna anak." Perhaps because I was only 11 years old then, he wasn't comfortable saying that Dalmacio Velarde Sr., our great-grandfather, was the son of a Spanish priest who was assigned to Cabanatuan City -- Padre Isabelo Velarde, who had a child with a "Sotto," a Spanish-Filipino woman.
Just before Dad passed away in 2007, I discovered that Dad had interesting relatives in Spain, including national hero Capitan Pedro Velarde, one of the two people who started Spain's six-year revolution against their French conquerors in 1808. I even showed Dad a painting of Capitan Pedro, who looked just like him.
Journal for Mom
In 2018, I gave Mom a journal for grandmothers, to help them jot down the things they remember about the special moments in their lives, including how they met their husbands, when they got married, and so on.
2018 was an important year for our family as Mom and Dad would have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary that year.
Mom's 50th wedding anniversary gift to Dad was a 20" x 24" oil portrait by painter Rellie Liwag, who once modeled for fashion designers Pitoy Moreno and Auggie Cordero.
About the artist
Mrs. Liwag and her husband Mr. Mel Liwag were among the principal sponsors when my husband Riz and I marked our 25th wedding anniversary last year at Santuario de San Antonio in Forbes Park, Makati.
Mrs. Liwag and her family lived for 18 years in the US before returning to the Philippines for good a few years back.
In the US, she studied oil painting at the National Academy of School of Fine Arts also in New York and the Art Students League in New York.
Her mentors included artist Robert Cenedella (May 24, 1940; 80 years old) and the late Daniel Greene (February 26, 1934 to April 5, 2020), considered the foremost pastelist in the US.
In 2019, Mrs. Liwag also studied at The Florence Academy of Art, an American art school in Tuscany in Central Italy.
Over the years, Mrs. Liwag, a member of the Visual Arts Guild, has held art exhibitions in the Philippines and the US.