Lakan Uhay Alegre

In memoriam of Ed Alegre, my Tatay

We never quite say goodbye, you wrote; I read, from your book, years later, when I finally mustered enough courage to read the words you left. Years, after I woke up to sight of you— a dead body, gout-infected on a hospital bed in Tacloban.

That dreadful morning, Nanay held me in an embrace and sang the lullaby you sang. You gave her your paalam. She said I was your last habilin.

But you never gave me the chance to say goodbye.

I remember telling you how much I hated goodbyes,

how I pretended to be asleep when Kuya Elias left for the States, how I refused to kiss Tatits when we left Algo but in that moment, I wished for your farewell; I wished to hear your paalam.

Of the million words you left, I do not remember the last ones you spoke to me until now so I search for them in your works, traveling from article to article book to book footnote to footnote, hoping to spot even just a clue on some forsaken manuscript.

But in this search, I found the inanity of those lost words because you are alive.

The writer is not dead; he is alive, you speak to me.

Page 199, paragraph 2, Biyaheng Pinoy:

The sadness is a mode of acceptance, a manner of coming to terms with and is a response to a finality. It’s a way of the heart….When you come to the end of a journey, plan the next one.

Page 25-37, “Getting to Know a Culture”:

The Waray have an elaboration for mildness. They have not migrated elsewhere. You speak to me: Use this for your thesis.

Page 438, closing remarks, same book:

After this page, life continues. It has been a long stopover. Thank you for being there, too.

Indeed, life has continued: Nanay released your book. Kuya Elias has a daughter.

Tatits lost a tooth. I drink now, and I have yet to finish college. I write too, just like you.

I lived in Davao for a year and ate in the same karenderya you ate in. Then in Diliman, where I reread your articles for class.

There’s a global pandemic so I’m back in Tacloban, compiling your columns. I’m finishing my thesis, thanks for the advice.

I’m still wondering where the next adventure is.

You never said goodbye. So Tay, Ingat.