My parents garnered a lot of friends in our small town. People came to the shop, The TOUCH Tailoring, and asked my father, “Mr. TOUCH, would you please give us the honor of being the godfather of my child?” My father would say, “Why, sure, it would be my pleasure.” For it would not be proper to decline that offer. My parents and the other parents then became magkumpare (male) and magkumare (female). They became the best of friends, almost like family members. They went to each other’s house and it was the custom to serve your kumpare a few drinks of beer, whiskey, or rum.

My father drank a lot. Whenever we visited friends and relatives, there was always drinking involved. Once, we visited my aunt in Quezon City. My uncle, who was a seaman, offered my father one of his expensive wines. My father enjoyed it so much as it wasn’t often that he’d get a taste of an expensive wine. He’d had too much to drink that he passed out on the covered wooden swing in the front yard. My aunts thought it was funny and my mother even took a picture of him. My mother still has that picture in her photo album.

There was also this one time when my parents went to visit my grandparents in their house in Manila. As usual, he had been drinking. He was already quite drunk when they boarded the bus home. My mother told me that my father needed to go to the bathroom badly so they went to the back of the bus and he relieved himself there.

That was my father. There were times when he would be out by himself, come home late, drunk. He would pass out on the couch and wet his pants. When he’d wake up the next morning, he wouldn’t have an idea of how he got home the previous night.

We were in the car on the way home from church when I asked my mother a few years ago if she remembered when my father started drinking. She said he was already that way when she met him. When they got married and lived with his parents, my grandparents, in his hometown, my grandfather warned her about his drinking. My grandfather told my mother about this time that he hung my father upside down at the window when he came home drunk one night, hoping that it would embarrass him when people saw him like that the next morning. He thought that the embarrassment would make my father stop drinking. But it didn’t.

My grandfather even shared with my mother an old wives’ remedy. He told her to obtain the sweat of a horse and secretly pour this in my father’s drink. And this was supposed to make my father stop drinking. I asked my mother, “Well, did you?” “No,” she said, “how could I get the sweat of a horse? Besides, what if he caught me pouring it in his drink?”

So there you have it. Funny as these may all sound, it’s not like they didn’t try anything to stop him from drinking.