He would have been 109 yrs old today. Ambassador Emilio Abello Sr. I remember him as a smoker. I remember him always gathering people together, especially our family. We were always together because of him. And you notice it because when we passed away, the gatherings were always a way to honor him. And they faded away. The gatherer was gone.
I believe I’ve never seen him in shorts or in jeans. He was always dapper in his suits or in his pajamas with leather slippers. I will never forget how my Dad explained his growing up years when I asked him how Lolo was. He explained it this way: you could do what you want, stay up all night, he didn’t care…as long as you were there for lunch.
People always ask me why my name is Emilio VI but my nickname is Jay. Well, this is the first time I will publish this. My mom’s chosen name for me was Jaime Jose. And my nickname was going to be Jay. On the day I was born, the rapists of Maggie Dela Riva were either convicted or sentenced…on that same day and it was big news at that time. And one of them had the same name as what my mom chose for me. So she dropped those names and hung on to my nickname. And my mom picked my 2 grandfathers names–Emilio and Edgardo.
I’ve never introduced myself as Emilio my whole life up until 2006 when I lived in Chicago. And I actually loved it. People were calling me Emilio there. But here in the Philipines, people call me Jay.
I have very clear memories of my lolo. And it was only always in the periphery because he was always surrounded by people..family or other big men. Yes, they were all giants as I was a little boy from the province in Manila. He was what I would call a bigshot. He had 2 bodyguards and I remember them. And I would interview them about their gun. That to me was fascinating. Why would he have a bodyguard when he was a kind kind man was very intriguing for a child? He and my grandmother loved going to church and the grocery.
I actually got that habit from him. I love going to Unimart because of my lolo. It’s a me-time I always trace back to him.
My lolo was a great man may sound cliche but not this one. He was a great man. I only understand the word statesman because of him. They are a dying breed nowadays. I think I’ve always wanted to do great things because of him.