It's May 16

AND MANONG RALPH celebrates his 28th birthday today.

I can't thank him enough for the Christ-like example he showed me. I was drawn to Jesus when, ten years ago, I saw him praying and reading his Bible inside our room, as if he were talking to a dear friend, his face a combination of seriousness and delight. It was around that time when he shared the gospel to me, as a beggar, after having eaten in a feast, would instruct another how to get to the banquet. Then I realized that Christ radically changes lives. Christianity is real. For that, I'm eternally grateful.

I'm proud of the work he's doing for the abused and oppressed, but I have yet to see him in action in court. One day, maybe, when my schedule clears up.

I won't be seeing him today, but I want to commemorate this day with this photo of ours, taken when I was barely a year old and he a little over two. Sean was still a concept. My parents still hadn't owned a house and lived in a small rented apartment along Alunan Avenue, very near the road you take when you go to Lantaw Restaurant.


manong and me

This was our standard outfit at home—white sando and underwear, which our mother's friends still remember us by.

For many people Manong may be the quintessential simple, down-to-earth, reserved man who likes to bury his nose (a truly enormous organ) in books, sometimes taking the tricycle when he appears in court (in a dark suit with shiny shoes), but for me he will always remain as the person who once told me one morning, beneath the small shrub in front of the gate, "Lance, come over. I have a secret to tell you." Seconds later he broke into a hearty laughter. It occurred to me that I had fallen into his trap. I had stepped on dog's poo, and it was all over my feet.

And it is I whom people call a bully.

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