10 April 2013

Eduardo and Editha

Today my parents celebrate their thirty-sixth (I think) wedding anniversary. They met in a provincial town about three hundred miles north of Manila called Tuguegarao, which is now a city. Mother was a student in Saint Paul, father was in Ateneo de Tuguegarao, which no longer exists. During or after his senior year, at sixteen or seventeen, he successfully joined the AFS program, which meant that he was going to live and study for awhile in some exotic place called New York. This was in the sixties. The entire Bassig clan, including my paternal grandmother and grandfather (may they rest in peace), went to flank him at the airport. I have seen the send-off picture: they all had tears in their eyes and probably thought that he was never going to come back.

Well, he did. He came back as the world’s biggest Yankees fan, and he hasn’t since rooted for anyone in football except the Buffalo Bills. He also made good on his promise to marry my mother. In keeping with tradition there was a courtship stage, with maybe a bit of drama. Originally my mother’s family had not been so warm to the idea because he was not what one would call a mestizo; this was at least one of the unspoken reasons. Her family, you see, and this is all according to what I’ve been told, is of mixed German descent: Germany’s interest in newly independent Philippines, cut short by the Treaty of Paris in 1898, in the event somehow left a settlement in these blessed islands and produced my maternal grandmother. As I say, this is all according to what I’ve been told. I certainly don’t look one-sixteenth German, and I am as brown as father.

I am not, however, half as persistent or charming as he is, because eventually he won the affections of my mother’s parents and four siblings (down to three now; Uncle Boy has since died). By contrast, mother herself needed no extended wooing. She even wrote an effusive (open) love letter that he, then a radio DJ at a local station called DZYT, read on-air. He proposed to her shortly after that, and they got married in Saint Peter’s Cathedral, Tuguegarao. After the wedding they moved to Manila, where we, their four children, were born and raised. Mother found a government job, which she had to quit several years later; meanwhile, father worked as an advertising executive. Sometimes he let me tag along to his meetings and we’d drive back home in the old red Corolla listening to a Johnny Mathis record. Mother didn’t—doesn’t—drive. When I was nine, she, being very spontaneous, came in a rickety bicycle to fetch me from school. Being very proud, I refused to ride with her and decided instead to walk home, with mother in her print blouse (for which she had a penchant) still pedaling alongside me, inquiring in the wonderful way that mothers have how my day went and what sort of homework I had to do.

I think that a decade or two from now, when I’ve grown much older, I’ll look back and consider these memories as some of the loveliest in my life.

Also, when I was little, we usually celebrated the tenth of April by going on swimming vacations out of town. My favorite one was in a wonderful beach and golf resort in Cavite called Puerto Azul. I think the resort still exists, but it’s probably a different place now. Anyway, I was roomed in a nice suite with my older brother Francis and my sister Lourdes. (Josemaria, who must not have been more than five at the time, slept between father and mother.) I remember ambling dreamily down the hotel lobby every morning to meet everyone for breakfast. In the afternoons, I took the sweetest pleasure in the country club goodness of the place and innocently thanked God for the love that had brought my parents together.

Together they have stayed. Frankly, I cannot imagine being married to someone for thirty-six years. There are times when I cannot imagine being married at all. It’s definitely not going to happen in the Philippines, where a conversation about same-sex marriage is still likely to be met with raised Catholic eyebrows. Things may change—don’t they always?—but probably not soon enough. I remember that when I came out to mother about six or seven years ago I buried my face under a pillow. It was difficult. A few days later (even though she already told him) I came out to father; we were at Burger King in Welcome Rotonda and for most of that talk I was literally just staring at the chocolate sundae, crying. At the time I was totally ashamed, because I knew it would make my parents extremely happy if I could marry a girl, have kids, bring these kids up the way my parents brought us up—but all this was something I’d never be able to do. My love story was necessarily going to be different from theirs.

Of course, this doesn’t at all mean that I am inclined to consider their example less admirably than if I were straight. Everything I ever learned about love, I learned from my parents, Eduardo and Editha, whom I hope you will join me in wishing the happiest of anniversaries and the most indissoluble of loves.


  1. Lovely! Felicitations to your parents!

  2. What a beautiful love story! I do wish Eduardo & Editha the happiest of anniversaries! They sound like people who followed their own hearts, and who would want their son to be true to himself, too, and find the path, which brings you joy and peace and happiness.

  3. Wow Miguel Bassig, lovely tribute I really hope you find your love story one day and live as happy as your parents. Your partner will be a very lucky guy.



  4. I may have found the guy, and I'm luckier than him.