Brothers Bonifacio: The Light and The Life

Under the Mistletoe
Standing under the mistletoe, I look into her eyes. She had to be the most beautiful female in the world, more beautiful than all the past females combined, and without their collective weight. I ask her, “You do know what they say about two people under a mistletoe?” She smiles sweetly, leans in, and then suddenly, knees me in the groin.

The pain wakes me from my daydream. Time to get back to writing. In the spirit of the holidays, here is the Bonifacio Brothers Holiday Edition.

The Rolling Thunder
When we were younger, Christmas was the highlight of the year. I remember one early Christmas, when I was five or 6 years old, I received a GI Joe truck for Christmas. And it wasn’t just “a” truck, this was “THE” truck – it was the Rolling Thunder. The Rolling Thunder was more than three feet long when extended and came with its driver, codename: Armadillo, two huge missiles that had six mini-missiles inside it, a tank turret with two red missiles on each side, an opening ramp that allowed a scout vehicle to rollout, and a movable missile platform to kill those that managed to escape all the other weapons of destruction. Let me put it this way: If Chuck Norris was a truck; he’d be the Rolling Thunder. And if the Rolling Thunder was human it would be Chuck Norris, but not as hairy. We would sing the song How Great Thou Art in church and when the line “I feel the rolling thunder” would come up I would proudly whisper to my dad, “That’s my truck.”

Why Joshua Can’t Be Santa
From my best gift ever to the worst. A few Chrismases ago, my crazy younger brother, Joshua, thought it would be a good idea to give Joe and I something different, something exotic, something unusual for Christmas.

So he decides to give us nipple whiteners.

I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a nipple whitener. And why would anyone want white nipples anyway? That’s actually a scary thought: me and my dark complexion with albino tips.

It’s the sort of thing you expect from someone whose first email address was

Enough of nipples. I better nip this in the bud.

No pun intended.

My Dad’s Favorite Gifts
My mom has given me the best gifts my whole life. Of course my dad pays for them but my mom “knows”. This year I asked her if she could just pay for my insurance premium instead of a gift. Piece of advice: don’t ruin Christmas with stupid questions like this.

For some reason when it comes to my dad, or maybe because it’s my dad, my mom’s gift radar goes haywire. This has led to some very interesting presents, two of which were:

1.The telescope. I know movies, such as A Walk to Remember (which works better than Sleepasil), like to romanticize telescopes. We’ve had more than one telescope and I’m telling you they’re incredibly difficult to operate. Leave them to the observatories. So my mom gives my dad this huge telescope for Christmas, and my dad is practicing his best poker face – which has never been really good. A few days later we tried the telescope. I don’t think we ever took it out again. I think my dad gave it to the first science prodigy he bumped into.

2.The Magic Sing. The only thing magical about ours is that my mom actually thought my dad would be happy. My dad calls this my mom’s gift to herself disguised as a gift to him. I think he only used it once – on Christmas day – just so my mom wouldn’t be upset that he didn’t like her gift.

My dad is a lot simpler than most people think. One of his favorite gifts being a Man from Snowy River refrigerator magnet my mom found. And of course the best gift he’s ever gotten ever is my mom.

Well… God…

…then my mom.

A Christmas Lesson
You never really learn something, you never really understand, until you experience something first hand. The word experience comes from the experientia or the word “test”. And that’s what a lesson is, an experience, a test, that teaches you something through either proving or disproving something.

There was a time when my father had lost his business, we had to move into a much smaller house, had to get rid of our cars and really most of our stuff. Christmas, like for everyone else, was usually a big event for our family but this year we really didn’t have any money so the nicely wrapped giant boxes were missing from under a smaller tree, and the turkey was a big chicken with misplaced gravy (that’s another story). But even as we downscaled what Christmas was to me, God was setting up a backdrop for one the greatest lessons I would ever learn. He had to remove the trappings, the traps we fall into, that distract us from Him.

Having very little resources, my mom decided that our Advent would consist of a walk around our tiny village – which was one small circle. My brothers and I were complaining of the flies and having to walk, actually, I think I was the only one complaining. I was such a grumbler looking back. When we got back to the house we realized we had left the keys inside. We were locked out.
So there we were sitting on the curb, my dad, my brothers, me, and my mom, who was still trying to turn everything into a lesson.

I think Joe’s, mine, and Joshua’s minds were thinking “Be quiet”, “Shut up”, ‘Candy” respectively.

Then my mom said:
“Maybe this is how Joseph and Mary felt being locked out of every inn. Imagine what they were going through. And Mary was pregnant. This is what we do to Jesus when we don’t let Him into our lives.”

Years later to today, I still remember her lesson, but I think I’ve realized something deeper. More tragic than what we do to Jesus when we don’t let Him reside in our heart, is what we do to our lives – we leave it a dark empty shell with no light and no life.

This the great lesson I’ve learned, the Christmas message experienced first hand as a kid, that even as my mind grumbles at the state of my balance sheet, and worries at my evaporating cashflow, my heart rejoices in peace that the light of the world has brought me life.

Joe’s Car

I wrote this on December 19, 2006. I was 22 years old at the time, about a year after graduating college. So his car, a popular low-end model in the Philippines called a Tamaraw FX, is actually 15 years old by now.

My older brother, Joseph, drives an 11yr. old Tamaraw FX (and he drives it like a virgin Ferrari). It’s so old that there was a time he stopped locking the doors since he didn’t think anyone would steal it anyway. We had it appraised and found out it was worth a Big Mac and a stick of gum – just one stick! (Ok, that’s exaggerated. But you get the picture.)

But what would seem of little worth to many people, is our treasured Tamaraw. When you’re 22 years old, and you’ve had a car for 11 years (half my life!), you just get attached. Here are my top memories of Joe’s Tamaraw:

1. When we nearly died tumbling on the Edsa-Buendia overpass because Joe was driving at over a hundred on the curve – When the car settled down, Joe was hanging on top of me by his seatbelt and we had to crawl out the windshield. The roof was sunk, all the windows were crashed, and even the spare tire exploded, but Joe and I were completely untouched other than a glass bit on my leg and a sprained neck. Now here’s the best part, Joe hugged me as soon as I got out. (AWWWW) That’s the first time he ever hugged me. (AND THE LAST!) I called my dad and told him we got into a “small” accident. He gave me an english lesson on the word “small” when he saw the wreck. What I forgot to say was that it was “small” compared to the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. Oh well, miscommunication.

2. Joe learning to drive while visiting our lots in Forest Hills, Antipolo – I wouldn’t call the Tamaraw the ultimate golfer’s car or something for the country club, but I sure had fun watching Joe learn to drive on hills in that thing. Thank God for engine breaks.

3. When I nearly had a date – took this car to school, the Ateneo (don’t forget “the”), which is a school known for it’s selflessness and being poor in spirit (hard to be sarcastic without the tone), and a friend asked if she could ride with me. I found this weird because she has drivers, but strangely they’re all named “Manong”… Anyway… So by this time the Tamaraw was so shot up that it shook like crazy when you turned the ignition, and the A/C spit black water out at the front seat passenger. So walking to the car she asked me, “Do you want to have dinner first?” I said sure. She’s a pretty girl and smart too (a pretty AND smart female is not the same as a pretty smart one), and I was hungry so why not? A few seconds in the shaking spitting Tamaraw, and here’s what she said next, “I’m kinda tired. Mind if you drop me home straight?” I should have had a secret camera focused on her. It’s safe to say that ended her infatuation with me.

4. Joe’s MacBook gets stolen – Joe locks his doors now. Enough said.

Of Course There’s a Lesson Somewhere

So I’ve realized that the things that mean most to me are not the most expensive things, but neither are they cheap. They go beyond monetary and economic valuations. At the end of the day fulfillment is not found in being able to obtain the priciest things, but in discovering that what you have is priceless.

Price Tags

Think with me for a moment.

Let’s say the world was one big shopping mall, and you were in charge of valuation, how would you price things? What would a great life be worth? What about friendship? What about peace of mind? What about the feeling of sand on your feet? What would cost more, a successful career or a lifetime of rest? How much for a little silence? How much for an assurance of love? What would be more valuable to a child, secure finances brought about by working extra or a secure soul from more time with her parents?

Everything costs something but not everything is priced right.