2023: The year that was

by Admin-Phmp

Text and Photos by Henrylito D. Tacio

Twenty twenty-three (2023) will go down in our family history as one of the most memorable years.

Number 3 seemed to play a significant role for us. Let’s start with the sad notes first.

First, my father – Generoso Tacio, Sr. – died at the age of 86. He had a mini-stroke before. Last January 31, he finally succumbed to it. After he had an attack, we brought him to the hospital. But after a day of confinement, he died.

I was in the United States when I received a message that the son of my niece Meryl Louise and her husband Normel Lapinig died while in her womb. They named him Nathan Lucas and he was the third child of the couple.

A few days later, I received another message that my uncle Marcelo also had a stroke. He was brought to the hospital, but the doctor said the hospital could not do anything about his situation.

Yes, there were three deaths in 2023.

Another three events were international travels. My sister Marilou, who now settles in Florida as she is married to David Eplite, came home. She was supposed to go home a week before our father died but due to a change of schedule, she couldn’t go. But the good thing was she was able to attend the wake and funeral of our father.

My other sister, Elena, also lives in the United States. She wanted to come to attend the funeral of our father. But she couldn’t do so since she was sick at that time.

But a few months later, Elena finally flew to the Philippines and stayed for almost two months. She may have missed attending the wake and funeral of our father, but she was able to visit him in the cemetery where he was buried.

The third international trip was mine. Last September, I returned to the United States. The last time I was there was in 2018 yet. I really wanted to go back but due to the pandemic, I couldn’t go.

I flew via Philippine AirLines (PAL) – from Davao to New York. It was an early flight from Davao to Manila; it took us one-hour-and-a-half. The longest flight was from Manila to New York at 17 hours, non-stop. We had two meals and two snacks. I didn’t watch any movies, but I took some naps in-between those meals.

It was midnight when I arrived in New York. The queue was so long at immigration. But it was good there was an internet connection, so I was able to message my friend, Atty. Nicolas “Nick” Caraquel, who was waiting for me outside.

It was cold when I got out of the airport and there my friend Nick, one of the finest immigration lawyers in New York, was waiting for me. We took an uber to his apartment on Queen’s Boulevard.

It was good that he had someone cook food for us since he knew I would be hungry by the time I arrived at his place (the last time we had our dinner in MacDonald). Since I was tired from my flight, I immediately went to bed.

I stayed in New York for only a week. But it was a memorable one. Nick brought me one night in Manhattan, where we watched “Aladdin” on Broadway. It was my very first, although I had been to New York three times before. Indeed, it was a “new whole world” to me.

Jerick delos Cientos, the grandson of Ramon delos Cientos (the first governor of Davao del Sur), picked me up at the apartment where I was staying and took me to Harvard University in Massachusetts. It was a dream come true, too, since I was longing to see the place.

However, before we reached the university, we had our lunch in Connecticut, at the place where his family used to live. They have moved since then. With these visits, I had added two more states I had been to.

Jerick came back one night to take me to One World Trade Center – formerly called the Freedom Tower during initial planning stages – in Lower Manhattan.

I also had an opportunity to meet my three other kababayans: Tune Sonza, Luchie Arriaga, and Jeff Nique.  All three, although not at the same time, took me to some places in New York where I had not been to yet.

From New York, I flew to Sanford, Florida where my sister Marilou and her husband, Dave, are living. They were staying in an apartment since their new house is still being built. They took me to Disney World’s Animal Kingdom, and I had my first experience of an air show with Dave. Joseph Uy also toured me in some places in Florida, including a Jollibee lunch in Orlando.

From Florida, I went to my sister Elena’s place in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. One of the memorable experiences was going to Lake Superior with the Chase couple (Elena and Dan) and experiencing the lights at the Christmas Village in Duluth. And yes, I was able to visit a new state, North Dakota, where my nephew, Phil, was working.

I also won three awards in 2023. The first one was from Philippine Agricultural Journalists, Inc. for Water Story of the Year for my article which came out in EDGE Davao. Some of my science stories in EDGE Davao also brought me an Ulat SIPAG Award from Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development.

For my column which discussed the use of the methane from rice straw, the Globe Media Excellence Awards selected it as Best Column of the Year (Mindanao). It was twice in a row that I won the distinction. – ###

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