A good man died today. One of the best actually. In so many ways, he truly was. And much like his idol, he was the finest of the Filipino.
The news will probably be breaking soon, though his family wanted to keep it quiet. Keep the memorials simple, much like he was. He was a simple guy. When I think back on his life, that is probably the best way to describe him. He was simple. Not in thought, or writing, or legacy. No, those were complex and deep. But he…he was simple. He smiled and laughed and treated everyone the same. He didn’t see so-called class distinctions. He saw Humanity. He saw Filipino. He didn’t care about anything else. That’s something can’t be said for many.
I was lucky, I grew up under his wing. I can’t think of anyone who influenced me more. From my writing to how I approach Philippine history and culture. I could spend hours writing stories about him. And that wouldn’t even be enough to capture his wit, his knowledge, or his depth of understanding of who we are, what it meant to be Filipino.
He has accolades a plenty. From his public service to his writings, he has enough. It’s the unknown aspects of his life, though that are worth remarking. All the writers he supported, the stalwarts of Philippine literature and culture who are around because of him. Or LABAN. The organization that he founded, supported, fought for during those dark days of Martial Law. He initiated reforms that helped somewhat eliminate American colonial thought in our history.
He was a fighter. He was a guerillero during World War II, a real one. That spirit carried over to public service and into Martial Law. He didn’t believe in personal attacks, he believed in arguing points and positions. Even those who were on opposites side of the spectrum respected him. He always told me that was something he appreciated, he worked for.
I’m sure the paeans will come this week and next. And they’ll be flowery and wonderful. People who he fought side by side with will pay their respects. I know I will.
He signed off from his column last year. Faded quietly. He signed off simply: He wrote as he wrote. He did his −30-. He had a dream for the Philippines. He tried to make that dream a reality. And in the process he left us with insights into the Philippines that have not been replicated.
And somewhere, the Philippine’s hermano mayor, the man who gave us back the fiesta, is presiding over a party. And asking for another glass of red wine. Along with Nick Joaquin for sure.
I’m going to miss Tito Anding.