Tuesday, March 01, 2011

A Sister Speaks

In honor of the Oscars yesterday (which I missed because of my brother's wedding), I am posting the speech I gave last night. A lot of people came up to me afterwards because they really liked it. I told them that it took me an hour to write, and I wrote in the middle of the night because I completely forgot about it because I was out of the country up until the day before the wedding. But may be it resonated with a lot of them because I wrote it from my heart. Even though he's a fully grown man, even though he's now married with a family of his own, he will always be my baby brother and I love him.


I’ve been asked to give the speech on behalf of our family tonight, not just because I’m the smartest and funniest of all us Titong kids, but also because being only 18 months older than him, having been his room mate, and having spent countless hours listening to Dave Matthews and U2, smoking illegal cigarettes and experiencing existential angst together --- I’m the one who knows Epi best.

And knowing my brother as well as I do, I have decided to entitle my speech tonight: Top 5 Reasons Why We Wish Anj All the Luck in the World (aka Stuff that might have changed your mind about marrying him 2 hours ago but now its too late and we have a strict no-return, no exchange policy in our family).

5. He’s secretly in love with… the best man (you know I’m talking about you Anton Palma!), and they may or may not have been carrying on a secret affair for the last 10 years. Later tonight ask him about OMD’s song Secret and why it has special meaning for the two of them.

4. He carries all of our genetic waste material – case in point: notice how white I am, notice how dark he is. He is short. He is fat. And in the words of Homer Simpson: “Baldness is hereditary”. That’s why it’s a good thing Anj is so pretty, because at least now his kids will have a fighting chance.

3. And speaking of genetics, it is a fact that the father carries the math gene and will determine how well your kids will do in math. Your husband carries the dubious distinction of earning the lowest math grade in the history of the Ateneo High School. So Anj, I hope you’re also good in math.

2. You are marrying the world’s biggest cry baby. He’s more emotional than a woman who is having PMS. I would say he cries like a girl, but that would be an insult to girls. He cries at tv commercials and sad movies. I have seen him cry when girls dump him. He used to cry during swimming class when we were kids. Nowadays (and Anj can attest to this) he cries in the hospital when they have to stick a needle in him.

1. And the number 1 reason why we wish Anj all the luck in the world --- He has not one, or two, but three bossy, loud, cranky, OLDER sisters. And everyone knows that a sister-in-law is 10x worse than a mother-in-law, and now she has 3. So if that doesn’t merit her all the good luck in this room, I don’t know what will.

While he is not a prized catch, I must admit that my brother has redeeming qualities:

1. He is kind. And generous. To a fault.

2. He is funny. Sometimes even when he doesn’t mean to be.

3. He is loyal.

4. He is smart. Hopefully in all the right ways.

5. Most importantly he values family. And in the sum total of all things, that balances everything out. A man who values family, who puts family first before all things, is a very rare and precious man. And you should count yourself lucky for having found one in my brother.

Earlier I said that I am giving this speech tonight on behalf of our family because I’m the one who knows Epi best. To be honest, I am giving this speech on behalf of the two people who loved him the most, but could not be here tonight.

It was no secret growing up that my mom loved Epi the most, more than all of us girls combined. We never held it against either of them, because they always had a special bond. Plus it was kind of obvious that he was her favorite because when we were kids and my mom used to ration the M&Ms because they were hard to come by (for the benefit of those of you too young to know what PX goods are --- imported chocolates were hard to come by and were usually brought home by relatives from the States or bought in Cash and Carry), my mom would give each of us girls 10 M&Ms after dinner for dessert. And she would give him 20. And it was like that with everything, so medyo obvious diba?

Eps, she loved you so much. She loves you still. And while we argued about whether or not she could be here today, I know you understand that it would be too much for her, and it won’t be good for her health. But she is always with you, with us. Remember the M&Ms, the kisses good night, the hand that held yours through so many things in childhood and after --- and know that she is here with you now . And always.

And if Dad were here, well, who knows what he’d say? You think I’m funny? You should have met that guy. He might joke about the fact that you were the rascalliest of all his little rascals. He might kid about how different you two are from each other, and how much better looking he is than you.

I like to think that he would say, in a very simple way, how proud he is of you. Of the man you have become. He never gave up on you, and I believe that is why you never gave up on yourself. And I think it’s the most wonderful thing that even he, with all his love and hope and faith in you, could never have imagined how far you would get, and how much further you can still go.

And while he is no longer here, he still lives on. In you. In all of us. He can live forever, if we raise our children right. If you love you children the way he loved us. If you believe in them the way he believed in us. Then his legacy of what a great parent is and should be, will be continued, first by us, then our kids, so on and so forth. And that will be how he lives on.

If you could be half the father he was to Sophia and all your future kids, how lucky they will be. If you could be just as he was, they would be so blessed. And if you could be more than that, then Daddy would consider his life well lived. Because all he ever wanted from you, from all of us, was to be the best person you could be. And you are on your way to being that. You could be the man he always knew you would be. And that would make him so happy.

I know that he’s looking down at us right now from heaven, smoking his cigarette and drinking his scotch. And I know he’s telling everyone he’s with, with pride: That’s my boy, that’s my son.

I love you little brother, even though you still owe me P500 from 1998. You are the best brother a girl could ask for.

And Anj, I hope you like David Hasslehof. I hope you don’t mind being the one who turns off all the lights at night, since my brother is afraid of the dark. And I hope you like guinataang bayabas because that is the Titong national dish and we all have to like it.

We’re so happy to welcome you and Sophia to our family, the only family that makes the Addams family seem normal.

Congratulations to you both.