December 2010

I phoned my dad for a pre-birthday chat and asked him if he had a birthday wish. Wouldn’t you know, the ONE thing he asked for I can’t give him because I’m 2,750kms away: he wants a portrait.

So I’m recruiting my brothers to do it and this is the next best thing: my favourite recent portrait that I shot at Christmas 2010, when I was there and had pneumonia. (If I didn’t have pneumonia, I would’ve taken more pictures.) That’s pretty recent, just 14 months ago and he still looks the same.

I was last there in December, but I took these photos in the restaurant just before we saw the Muppet Movie and everyone was in a goofy mood:


I’m posting this a day early, but nobody really knows my dad’s actual birthday (not even my dad) because during that time nobody kept track. They’re farmers, they only kept track of the farming season, nothing that specific. Also, the Japanese bombed the administrative buildings in the Philippines during World War II, so whatever records had been kept were lost, anyways. My dad was just a kid during WWII, but he remembers the snipers. I can only imagine what it would be like to grow up during a world war in a commonwealth of the United States while under Japanese occupation, but the family survived it and the Philippines became a republic in 1946. My parents immigrated to Canada in 1974. What a history, and that was less than half of his life gone by.

My brothers and I are supremely lucky to have grown up here. Life would’ve been a lot different for us if they hadn’t made such a move. Thanks, Dad.

Some other favourite portraits that I’ve taken:

Gumpa with the EdTwins

August 2004

taking a breather

helping me at the house in Pennsylvania, September 2005

That was followed by this photo, which still cracks me up:

everybody's tired

everybody's tired


Dad on film: September 2006


Christmas 2007


Uncle Mateo's memorial service in Chicago, June 2008

the folks

North Vancouver, July 2008

(And if you think my dad looks good for 75, my Auntie Fely there at left in the photo is 82! Auntie Sophie in the middle has grandchildren in their 20s, and my Auntie Carol at the far right dances, swims, and plays tennis against MEN her age!)

Thankfully, my dad’s health is good and we will plan for many more birthdays to come.

Gail at Large
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Gail at Large

Canadian freelance photographer on 4th expat adventure. Previously: USA, Scotland, and Australia. Portugal became home in late 2013.

Blogging daily for nearly 14 years. With 5,600+ posts across 97 categories, there is something here for everyone, especially travel photography.

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Gail at Large
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5 thoughts on “75!

  1. You really look like him, I can definitely see some family likeness!

    He really does look young.

    Did your father adopt Canadian customs completely, or he is still Filipino as well? I almost tend to forget you are from there as well, so I was wondering!

    • I wish I looked more like his side of the family — my cousins have (real) dimples! (I just have one “fake” one.)

      After 37 years in Canada, I would say that Canadians probably have the impression my dad just arrived, whereas Filipinos would notice he’s become Canadian.

      When I was younger, there were definitely practices I wished he’d give up, like trying to negotiate prices in stores like Canadian Tire. He never did learn how to use forks and knives together. People had (and may still have) difficulty understanding his heavily-accented English and his Filipino sense of humour. As a kid, you don’t want to stand out that much and we were very self-conscious about these differences.

      After many, many years here and travelling back to the Philippines more often, my dad has reached the conclusion that he no longer has the desire to retire in the Philippines anymore. He’s become a very patriotic Canadian!

  2. Love it. My dad eats with his hands on occasion and uses fork and knife when we’re eating American food. But he was in the military and became accustomed to Western ways quickly. My dad didn’t negotiate prices… that’s my Mom’s thing!

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