I was the first born of three siblings , but the other two didn’t come until later on. Thus, I could probably say that like you, I was extremely loved my my mother Paz and my father Dominador Gomez. God had always been good to me, He predestined me to belong to good parents. It was not only that they could afford it because my mother was one of those rare women who worked as a stewardess during a time when it was not fashionable for women to work, while my father was a physician who was the chief of doctors of the Negros Occidental Provincial Hospital. Were we rich? Not really. But our lives were comfortable and content. It was not only the status that mattered, though I must admit that it did. What was essential was that both my parents had a deep affection for their faith. They were a God-fearing couple who lived their Catholic faith everyday of their lives to the best that they could even if there were times too when circumstances seemed to conspire against them.
For instance, my earliest memory was when I was barely three years old. I did not know the meaning of fear --- all I knew was that my parents were beside me and things would be fine, despite the bombs. Faith is infectious and there are no atheists in foxholes as they say. But it was the faith of my parents that gave me no fearful memories despite the war. I never even noticed that the war was over or I was too young to know that everything was normal once again. I recall my mother insist that I should grow up to be a find young lady and that meant ballet classes, which I loved. Maybe I was never an introvert really because I genuinely got along with other people even during my childhood years.
My father on the other hand was a voracious reader. He was an exemplary head of the family who encouraged me to learn to read to grow and learn. It was not exactly usual because after all, I lived in a province. It wasn’t the Manila scenario, but aside from ballet, there was the richness of culture that I learned to appreciate at a rather early age. It was not a case of obligated obedience which made me like culture and the arts, but rather because I genuinely loved it:)
Much as that, I also loved books. They kept me company and nourished my mind. The one book I cannot forget was from my Father – it was titled “Light of Many Lamps” by Lillian Watson. I still have a copy of that even now. It was a book which I would say tremendously influenced my life, my being, my spirituality because it is a collection of the most encouraging and soul moving first hand accounts of living individuals who left a good mark in this world. My parents were deeply spiritual and my father taught me nuggets for the soul, one of them being that everything in this world is really ephemeral.He also taught me that the best lives are those lived with a sense of equanimity, and how true I would find that out later in my life.
I have often wondered how a single book can influence a life like mine. Hence my surprise when I found out that the rather ancient book I still have still remains a best-seller several decades after my father have me my first copy. These are what people who own my same little book say about it. Like me, it has helped people in their deepest hours of angst and sorrow.
Everyone has a book or several books which profoundly influenced their lives. How true is it that the those who keep books as their "best friends" NEVER ever have the time to be lonely. Thus, learning how to read is learning how to live.