poetry & tsismis: emily's blog

May 8, 2011

Building Community: Papa and Pacquiao

Manny Pacquiao won his boxing match last night against Shane Mosley, which allows the boxer-turned-Philippine Congressman to retain his Welterweight World Champion title. Pacquiao is the only fighter to ever win eight different titles in various weight divisions too. While today is Mother’s Day, I know that my father is also smiling in heaven about the “Pac-Man” win.

The last time I watched a whole Pacquiao fight was in March 2010, on the night of my father’s funeral. After the church and burial services, the Filipino Community of Seattle, Inc, graciously hosted the wake at their Community Center, where my father spent most of his free time. He had served as President of the FCS during one of its most controversial moments in history. After he retired from the ferries, he later hung out at the FCC weekly, for their Senior Lunch Program, which my late mother used to run.

When Papa died and we were trying to schedule the funeral, the one concern FCS President Alma Kern had was for us to not have it too late in the evening because everyone would want to go home early to watch the Pacquiao fight.  I said, “I know, my father would have been the first one rushing home or to a bar to watch it!”

Then it struck me: Papa loved sports, especially boxing, what more when his fellow kababayan/countryman was fighting, so why don’t we just all watch it together? I asked Tita Alma if the Community Center had cable television.

She said yes.

And a big screen?

Yes, with the new remodel, of course!

“Can we get Pay-Per-View? We’ll pay for it!” I said.

“Oh, don’t you worry about that. We will look into it and take care of it. This was your mother and father’s second home. That is the least we could do,” Tita Alma said.

Papa would’ve loved watching the boxing match with all of his friends, especially at the Center for which he fought so hard to save from debt and the light-rail wrecking ball.

On that Saturday, after the funeral services, the FCS board members and family friends laid out a spread of all of my father’s favorite food for the wake. Board members and the building manager also set up chairs in the FCC’s new vestibule and lobby. There, a flat-screen TV hangs on the wall, between the Restrooms and the Board Room, where my father’s picture hangs above the Board Room’s head of the table, with all of the other past FCS Presidents. Many of the folks who had been with us all day – all week, really – did go home, but about 70 of Papa’s friends and family actually stayed to watch the fight. Folks even paid a small donation to the FCC for the pleasure.

That night, I sat next to my best friend’s father, Larry (who I grew up really just calling “Dad”). When I was a kid, Larry and his wife Edie owned a house on the corner of Juneau Street, right behind the FCC. At the wake, their daughter Andi explained to the crowd that is how we actually met as young kids, playing outside the FCC. Larry used to always talk sports with Papa, both of them loving Muhammad Ali. And just like when we were kids, Dad Larry narrated the whole Pacquiao fight, sitting on my right.

Sitting behind me was one of my father’s closest compadres/friends, Uncle Rick Beltran, a past FCS President too. Earlier that day, at the cemetery, Uncle Rick was one of the last ones to place a rose in my father’s grave, saying, “Goodbye, old, dear friend. I will miss you.” After Pacquiao won the fight, I thanked everyone at the FCS for everything. Uncle Rick placed his hand on my shoulder and said, “Look at all these people. Your Papa would have really loved this.” Yes, I know.

And here’s another Pac-Man win for you Papa!

*    *   *

© by Emily P. Lawsin

www.emilylawsin.com

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