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Home Sections Obituary-Memorial Park Remembering My Dad, Hermilo V. Rodis
Remembering My Dad, Hermilo V. Rodis PDF Print E-mail
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Sections - Obituary-Memorial Park
Written by Rodel Rodis   
Thursday, 17 June 2010 09:22

 

By Rodel Rodis

 

A TV reporter asked me over the weekend if I would accept an appointment from President Noynoy Aquino. The question triggered a memory flashback to a day 44 years ago when my father received a personal phone call from then President-elect Ferdinand Marcos whom my father had campaigned for in the 1965 presidential elections (I supported Raul Manglapus). The call was about a presidential appointment.

 

Editor’s Note: Despite this editor’s more-than-a decade of adversarial differences with Rodel Rodis and his fellow national executive officers of the NaFFAA, we requested permission to reprint this tribute to Rodel’s Dad. We will also include this article and some of Hermilo Rodis’s pictures in a forthcoming book about Filipino Fathers. For more details about the book, please click on this link, Readers Are Invited to Send in Contributions for the Coming Book, “Wisdom of our Filipino Fathers (Without Apology to Tim Russert)”


That night, my father discussed Marcos’ offer with the family over dinner. “The president wants to appoint me as Commissioner of Customs”, he told us. At that time, my father had just started his own insurance companies, Sterling Life and Filriters Guaranty, after years of working as the highest ranking Filipino in the Philippine-American Life Group of Companies (above him were Americans earning more than triple his salary for doing less than a third of his work).

After a family discussion, my father made up his mind. The next morning, he called Marcos to thank him for the offer but regretfully informed him that he could not accept it. “I cannot afford to raise my family on the salary of a Commissioner of Customs,” he explained.

I often wondered how long Marcos must have laughed when he heard my father say those words. The post of Commissioner of Customs was a coveted prize as businesses would pay a king’s ransom to pass their goods through customs by paying little or no taxes to the government.

B ut my father, a devout Catholic, would have none of that. He would refuse bribes and, if he accepted the appointment, he would live on the paltry salary of a government official. He was also worried about what would happen to all the employees he hired in the two insurance companies he had just formed.

After Marcos stopped laughing at the reason my father gave him for declining the post, he looked at his list and appointed the next person on it, one who, unlike my father, had actively sought the appointment. He was my father’s friend and classmate at the
Arellano University Law School, Juan Ponce Enrile.

Enrile went on to be promoted as Marcos’ Secretary of Defense before and during the martial law era, got elected to the senate for numerous terms after that, including another reelection this past May, and is one of the wealthiest senators in the country. And he can thank my father for his good fortune.

But my brothers and sisters, all eight of us, can also thank our Dad, who passed away in 1996, for our good fortune.

I recall a conversation I had over lunch in
San Francisco about 25 years ago with “Tito Mel”, a close family friend whose home we often visited when I was a child. Tito Mel lived with his family in a mansion in Forbes Park that was luxurious compared to the tract one we lived in at Philamlife Homes.

Tito Mel told me over lunch how much he envied my father as he expressed regret that none of his four children ever finished college, not one even coming close, he said, while my father made sure all eight of us graduated from college.

As Tito Mel spoke, I remembered how much as children we envied his Forbes Park mansion and how we wished we lived in one, without realizing then that by making sure we all had a college education, my father was building even better mansions for all of us.

On Facebook, I recently became friends with “Thirdy”, whose full name is Manuel Abanes,
III, a college student in Manila. He had asked to be a Facebook friend and because his name sounded familiar, I accepted his request. Yes indeed, he wrote, he is the grandson of Manny Abanes. I remembered Manny as a young poor farmer’s son from Sorsogon who migrated to Manila in search of work when my father hired him as our family driver.

My father sensed in Manny an honest, industrious, decent man who just needed a break and he gave him one. My father sent Manny to night school, paying for his tuition and college expenses, as he lived in our home and worked days as our driver. When Manny finished college, my father hired him to work with his insurance company in a branch in the Bicol province. That was the last time I saw Manny because soon after I left for the
US.

Thirdy told me that his grandfather did very well in business, got married to a wonderful woman, and raised four children who all went on to finish college, one of whom is a nurse in New Jersey. According to Thirdy, Lolo Manny has told all his kids and grandkids that they owe their good fortune to my father, Hermilo V. Rodis.

June 20 is Father’s Day here in
America, a day when I will fondly remember my father as I gratefully do every single day of the year.

(Send comments to Rodel50@aol.com or mail them to the Law Offices of Rodel Rodis at
2429 Ocean Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94127 or call (415) 334-7800).

 



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Last Updated on Thursday, 17 June 2010 09:56
 
Comments (2)
1 Thursday, 17 June 2010 16:39
Hi Rodel:

The true story about your father is melancholy and moving. His pure integrity and wisdom in declining a Marcos coveted appointment produced a successful and satisfying life for him and his family. I wish I had a father like that, but his life was cut short by a hell of bullets coming from the Japanese army in 1944 when I was just 6 years old. Every Father's Day, I envy (in a positive way) those who have the fortune of growing up with caring fathers like you. At least, my brothers and sisters are proud of our father's heroic sacrifice to protect and defend our nativeland. Happy Father's Day to you, my friend.

Martin Celemin
2 Thursday, 17 June 2010 18:26
Thank you, Martin. In you as a father, your father lives. Where he is up there, he is as proud of you as you are of him.

Rodel

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