In nine days, you would have turned 60. I was actually planning a big celebration for you, just us. I made reservations at Sofitel Manila for an overnight stay and booked a table for 5 at Spiral for your birthday dinner. You were very excited to become a senior citizen; its perks are quite nice. But what really motivated me to do that was your enthusiasm for good food that I can’t seem to catch until we ate at Vikings, Mall of Asia to celebrate my 27th birthday.
The kitchen was your domain. Some may argue that it should be the garage. You are quite the handyman. But your ingenuity and brilliance didn’t come with elbow grease and wrenches — they came with spices and butter, fresh seafood and choice cuts, greenest greens and sweetest fruits.
You, my father, had filled our bodies with so much nourishment. I learned from Nanay that you always felt you’ve failed to provide for us. You have never been more wrong. No one has satiated our life more than you did.
I miss you each time I walk in the kitchen. In any kitchen, for that matter. Oftentimes, I hate myself for even attempting to cook the dishes you made; I know they will always be cheap replicates. I regret not going with you to the market or not giving you enough money to get whatever you wanted in the market. I should have watched you more closely, inhaled deeply, so as not to lose the aroma of what you’re making. I should have followed you around, wrote down what you did in recipe cards (that you loathe so much), just so we’d have a semblance of your inspiration lying around.
My children shall miss so much as they will not have the privilege to taste your cooking.
As I count down to your 60th birthday, and I know it is too much to ask from someone who has passed, please make me better in the kitchen. I know no other way to honor you but to serve the people we welcome in our home — family, relatives, visitors, boyfriends, girlfriends, friends, what have yous — with the food you so carefully and thoughtfully made, filled with so much passion and love, that the scent of the pan is enough for the soul to consume.
I miss you every day. I hurt every day. I love you every day. And every day will never be enough.