Early November 2000. I was just eleven going on twelve, sixth grader, when my then pregnant cousin Ate Kendi told me “Manganganak ako around the end of the month. Baby girl. Ninong ka.” As a pre-teenager, the statement was very intimidating, as I was then pretty sure that I am still of not the right age and financial status to do some godfather duties. At that time as well, I was not really cool with having kids as I believed then they are just added mouths to feed. The fact that the soon-to-be-born baby is a girl did not help too, as young girls irritate me with their eardrum-shattering brawls. All I wanted at that time was to just get a Merit Award by graduation, finish The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons, and invent Pokémon (making Meowth of the electric-type and giving him a pre-evolutionary form called “Magnettik”).
I was seriously about to ask my cousin to just consider another person aside from me (my then eight year old sister perhaps, who was more excited to be a godparent? Meh.) when the 23rd day of the month came. I found myself in a maternity hospital, staring at my harassed-looking cousin. She told me to go to a specific room where newly-borns can be viewed by visitors. Somewhere in a small bed there, I saw:
FRANZINE LEIGHAN “ANGEL” CHEE
So this is how it feels to have a new kid in the block, I told myself. Nothing really new for me, but must mean some real great deal to my cousin and to the old people in our clan (especially my maternal grandmother and grandfather, this baby after all is their great-granddaughter). So I just went on.
One year passed. I was on my way home from school when I saw this really adorable teddy bear in a nearby store. I have some savings and thus I purchased it. That had to be my first ever gift to Angel. At that time, I felt some unimaginable happiness in me. Ganito palang maging Ninong ah.
The next years of my life, however, I became more inquisitive into exploring the pleasures of being a male teenager. Before I knew it, I was not really able to save. I actually had to swallow my pride during Christmas where I gave to ask mommy for some cash to give as aguinaldo to my Chi-niece. At times, I would be reluctant with giving up my pride, I would literally ignore the day of Christmas, godfatherly-wise.
Then again as I may have really not been generous financially during my high school and early college years as a godfather to Angel, I am happy to have grown with her. As much as Ninong Troy was still childish and carefree with some of his actions, Chi-niece Angel (or Fang-Ru-Ying, 方如英) taught him to start acting like a young adult already. Before I knew it, I saw Angel not just as a goddaughter or a niece, but as my very own child.
Until know, I still see her as my very own daughter. Of course, I have to give justice to her true biological parents. But as for me, I will continue to work hard, as she is one of the many inspirations which keeps me going.
Ten years have already passed since I was surprised by Ate Kendi that I’m going to be godfather to her daughter. Ten years of Angel wiser, ten years of Ninong Troy more mature. There is more to come and I’m looking forward to it.
Dearest Angel, thank you for showing me one of life’s true joys — to be a father. Happy birthday, I will always love you!