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Last Friday, my father Joe and Uncle Raul shared their life stories with their family and friends. Being twins, they both turned 80 years old, with my father being older by 10 minutes. Both are still with the same women they married more than 50 years ago; dad having produced eight children and 28 grandchildren, while my uncle has five kids and 17 grandchildren.
My grandparents from both sides were entrepreneurs. My lola Herminia Concepcion sold liquor, as our home then at the corner of EDSA and Taft was frequented by the Japanese. This is how they survived, income-wise. My grandfather, who worked for Edward J. Nell Company, was able to get the license to manufacture Carrier in the Philippines. He and my uncle built Concepcion Industries Inc. (CII) to what it is today. Meanwhile, my father worked with his father-in-law, Don Salvador Araneta. I would say that while my dad had the entrepreneurial spirit, his conviction was towards social reform and this is where he got along with his father-in-law. Both of them ran in the 1972 Constitutional Convention, and both of them won. Because of their shared passion, they both suffered during the Marcos regime. He was jailed during the dictatorship, while my lolo took exile in Vancouver.
The books on Joecon’s journey which I wrote, as well as my uncle’s book, written by my Tita Menchu and co-authored by Joanne Ramirez, were launched that evening. Both books tell the stories of how they went through life. During my brief intro on the book to the audience, I kidded that my father was a playboy and is proud of that. Another one was that in one of his love letters to my mother (she keeps around 400 of them close), he wanted to do a blood test to see if they are compatible so they can have kids. The audience laughed, of course. I would never write such a thing. Unfortunately for my father, all these letters have been kept by my mom, and some of the letters are shared in the book.
What I am happy and proud of is that our clan has remained together as we move towards the 3rd and 4th generations. It’s not easy as we had our own family issues, especially my father and I. Just like most fathers and sons, we often see things differently. But I guess through divine intervention, things eventually fell into its proper place. And it is every generation’s role to do their part to grow not only the corporation but to keep the family together.
The same effort that is given in growing one’s negosyo should also be given in maintaining relationships, even if it would cost something. Travelling together, Sunday lunches, family shareholders’ meeting, moving towards professional management, taking the company public – these, among all other things, are important in creating an atmosphere that will help keep the family together.
Our celebration with family and friends is our bit of sharing the lives of our fathers, Joecon and Raul. They have somehow lived up to what was God’s gift to them: 80 years of giving to others, staying loyal to their wives, and being a good mentor as father and grandfather. I hope both of them continue to live a longer and more fulfilled life. As my dad would kiddingly say, he wants to live to 100 and he wished my uncle to live to 90.
Let me share with you the letter I wrote my father, which is in the book:
To a Dad whom I will always remember:
I will always remember our Pasay days when we lived in a very small house at the corner of EDSA and Taft. I vividly remember staying in one room with my siblings. I remember having to look forward to the toys you would give us and how we filled our closet with them. I remember how we used to play on the floor, and the downstairs room that would turn into a swimming pool when the neighborhood was flooded. I remember climbing the big tree in front of our house.
I will always remember packing goods for flood and fire victims which seemed to be an endless exercise. I remember the Lapiang Malaya massacre, when you took me to the site and we saw all the dead people in the streets.
I will remember you helping me fulfill my dream to be Batman by giving me all kinds of Batman gadgets, or riding with you in a small car we called The Monk, or the summers in Baguio and playing golf with you. I will remember how you would spank me with a belt and would later come to hug me.
I will remember the Concon election, and how we were all excited to campaign for you, and how amusing it was to also see your twin brother join your campaign. I will remember the night the soldiers took you away and placed you in Camp Crame. You told me then that we would have a solution to the dictatorship.
I will remember you taking us to the Namfrel sorties; it was scary seeing all those goons. I will remember your happiest moment during the Edsa Revolution, seeing your impossible dream become a reality. I will always remember you as the man who lit that candle and inspired a nation not to give up. And today I pledge to continue to light that candle of hope and sing to the tune of Man of La Mancha, inspiring people through Go Negosyo’s advocacy of entrepreneurship. I dedicate this book to you, to continue your dream to give hope to the Filipino, and to continue the Filipino’s quest to conquer poverty.
I will always remember you, Dad, as a father, and a great mentor.
Love, your son, Batman the Caped Crusader
I’d like to greet Kevin Belmonte a happy 50th birthday. Some four years ago, it was him who convinced me to write for The Star. I didn’t think that I’d come to write two columns for Star and produce seven books for Go Negosyo, and later on write my father’s book. In school, I never thought communications was my strong point, so I owe Kevin for having me explore this part of me.