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Ash Wednesday

Tomorrow, March 6 is Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent.  It is a day of fasting and abstinence for us, Catholics.

Coincidentally, March 6 is also the death anniversary of my late father, Tomas B. Morato.

On Easter Sunday, last year was the day a group together with my youngest brother welded the gates inside the compound and fenced us out of the ancestral home of our parents at 99 Scout Gandia Street, Barangay Sacred Heart, Quezon City, which belonged to the six children, but ended up being owned by another group of people.

It was a surprise attack that we did not know at all what was happening.  How we wish it did not happen for it was the wish of both my father and mother to preserve the house full of memories of our childhood.

Allow me to honor the memory of our father whose death anniversary is tomorrow, March 6.

For a while, there was a controversy on who was the First Mayor of Quezon City.  Some say that President Manuel L. Quezon was the First Mayor for only eleven days; and my father, the second.  It took me years to explain that President Quezon was never mayor of Quezon City.

At the time, my father was the mayor of our hometown in Calauag, Quezon Province, then the province of Tayabas.  Nabigla ang ama ko nong sulatan at ipatawag ni Presidente Quezon to come to Manila, immediately, for as President Quezon said in a letter sent to him: “Tommy, I would like you to have the singular honor of becoming the first Mayor of the City to be named after me.”

But my father had to pass on the mayorship of Calauag to the vice mayor; and that took a few days to put in order the Office of the Mayor; coupled with the preparations to move the entire family to Manila also took a few days to prepare.

My father rented a house on Gilmore Street near the Quezon House for the Peoples Homesite were still constructing houses along what was then Sampaloc Avenue, now Tomas Morato Avenue passed by Congress:

“Sixth Congress of the Republic of the Philippines, First Session, House of Representatives, H. No. 411, Introduced by Congressmen Caliwara and Ilarde, AN ACT CHANGING THE NAME OF SAMPALOC AVENUE IN QUEZON CITY TO DON TOMAS MORATO AVENUE.

“Because of his practical ability and rare experience as a lumber magnate and as a public official he was employed by the late President Manuel L. Quezon to establish in Diliman Estate the future capital of the Philippines.  Under his enlightened program of urban planning and city development, the late Don Tomas Morato administered a newborn City of sprawling Greenland almost bare of houses, which later grew into a modern metropolis now known as Quezon City…”

The appointment of my father as “First Mayor” of Quezon City was on the very same day that the City Charter was signed in October 12, 1939.

It was Don Pio Pedrosa who resolved the issue of who was truly the First Mayor of Quezon City.  Don Pio Pedrosa was then the Secretary of Interior under President Quezon.  Don Pio called me and said: “Manoling, President Quezon was never the Mayor of Quezon City.  As President, he could not be Mayor of a city at the same time for he would fall under the Department of Interior.  President Quezon only acted as caretaker of the City for eleven days.”

Papa’, you and Mama’ are always remembered by me, Elvira, Teresita and Lolita.  It pains us so much and suffer silently that the ancestral home, your dream-house with Mama and the family was demolished last April 2018 without our knowledge.  It was in the morning of Easter Sunday.

It was both your wish with Mama’ to preserve our ancestral home with all the memories and memorabilia of the entire family, forever, from generation to generation.

Papa’ and Mama’, your lovely house is gone and we were not even able to save your things and Mama’s (including my things in it) for it was suddenly demolished by you know who from where you are now.

Let your presence be felt by those who did you and Mama’, wrong.

We, together with my three sisters Elvira, Teresita and Lolita continue to pray since we lost both of you.  We honor you, we continue to remember and pray for you, Papa’ and Mama’.

Be with God forever.  Please ask the Lord to help us here on earth.    

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