Brothers Bonifacio – Valentines Day

A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.
– Don Vito Corleone to Johnny Fontane, from The Godfather

L.O.V.E, it’s a mystery
Where you’ll find me, where you’ll find
All is Love, is love, is love, is love
– Karen O, All is Love from Where the Wild Things Are

Valentine’s Day
Contrary to what people might think, I actually like Valentine’s day. Growing up, my ever thoughtful mom used to put heart-shaped patterned goodie bags filled with heart-shaped chocolates, heart-shaped gummies, and other heart, cupid, rose, or some similar Valentine’s-cliche-shaped sweet. My brothers and I already had the best lunch boxes, we each had one cooler (Yes, a cooler.) of Ritz Bits, mini Chips Ahoy, some fruit leather (Which I used to refer to as Fruit of the Loom until I saw the underwear. You can’t chew on those, well, you can, but you’d look like an idiot.), milk in a pack (Of course we had to have milk.), granola bars, and on Valentine’s Day our treasure chest turned into a personal ADHD resource.

As if we weren’t hyper enough.

Valentine’s has changed for us now that we are older, such as Joe’s traditional car stalling when Carla and he celebrate Valentine’s. I think Tammy the Tamaraw is jealous that she no longer gets Joe’s undivided attention. I think it started changing for me the first time I gave a bunch of roses to a girl. I got the colors all wrong and gave her white ones because I wanted mine to stand out. Now I know that tradition matters more than color – so stick to red. But I’m sure she liked them anyway. Because she told me she liked me like crazy.

Or did she say she was crazy for liking me?

I forget.

It doesn’t matter. Everyone who likes anyone like crazy is crazy for liking anyone like crazy. If you found that confusing, well, so did I. But that’s part of the fun.

My parents seem to have warmed-up to our bringing females to meet the family, especially with Carla and Kristie around. At one of our recent dinners, my dad had reserved the seat next to him for Carla, for his new daughter, so that he could tell her to start calling her pop. He’s sentimental that way. Which is also why he watches Joe’s wedding video for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

It wasn’t always this way. I remember on one of my birthdays, my mom gave me a copy of Joshua Harris’ book I Kiss Dating Goodbye. I gave it away the next day. Christmas that year she gave me another copy. What kind of sadistic mom gives a book like that for Christmas??? I think I used that copy to build a camp fire or something. She then gave me a third copy on my birthday the next year with terrible acting, “Oh have I given you a copy of this?” “Um.. YEAH… for the past three disappointing gift occasions.” With me, they always had this idea that I only went out with females solely because of their looks. Which was absurd. All of them, and they’re not as many as my brothers make them out to be, were attractive, interesting, and incredible in their own different way. But I wouldn’t recommend my path to anyone, in fact, after witnessing Joe’s wedding, I’d suggest you emulate him, not so much so that you’ll bag an actress, but so that we’ll see how God works when we let Him. Ok I shouldn’t use the word “bag”, but you get the point. Besides, I prefer someone low-key and away from the limelight so that I don’t have to worry about getting photographed while I’m picking my nose or losing my temper on the tennis court.

February 14, 2010
Earlier today, the family, which is pop and mom, Joe, Josh, and their better halves, Carla and Kristie, and I got together for a home made Valentine’s lunch. Not to be undone, I invited my own friend from Japan who is also into sailing. I only realized later on that he was the same friend I brought to Christmas dinner when my mom mentioned it. Which prompted Josh to say:

“So, David. Are you trying to tell us something? Are you introducing him to the family?”

My brother is insane, and my other seemingly angelic but also quite as crazy older brother and he decided to pick on the remaining single brother by playing a twist to a family favorite game called What Would You Rather. This one is called David, Who Would You Rather End Up With.

Brothers: David, who would you rather end up with… K or I?
David: I don’t know them both.
Brothers: Just based on looks.
David: I don’t know how they look.
Mom: You don’t? K has nice legs.
David: Yikes mom…
Mom: Here. (Showing me a picture of K on her computer)
David: It’s blurry. I can’t see the detail. I like detail.
Mom: You like detail? Here. She has a nice necklace.
David: Like that matters when you’re married… More like, does she like classical music?
Brothers: Like THAT matters…

Brothers: C or H?
David: C.
Brothers: Woohoo!

Brothers: What about C or P?
David: Definitely P.
Brothers: What happened to C?
David: P is hotter.
Brothers: Woohoo!

Brothers: P or R?
David: R by far.
Brothers: Nice to know you still have some substance left.

Brothers: P or P?
David: P. Like I said earlier, she’s hotter.
Brothers: There goes the substance.

So the game went on. F or Y? C or T? P or Z? A or double X? Actress or business woman? Chef or athlete? Musician or writer? Old or older? (Note: The letters I put are random. They do not correspond to anyone specifically. Well, they do, but not logically but by chance.)

All this talk got me thinking, “Who is someone I can’t live without?” It didn’t take long for me to realize. Because if you were to ask me if I would rather be doing anything else, I would tell you no. I can’t think of anything I enjoy more than being with my family – even if I am the seventh wheel, and even if it means enduring another round of Who Would You Rather.

It’s always been clear, that having some-one to yourself doesn’t really matter when you’re surrounded by the ones who mean everything.

Besides, I’m saving up for a sailboat.

Brothers Bonifacio: Our Father’s Favor

I was wondering
Was I dreaming
But it’s true
Life’s unfolding
I’ll be growing
Old with you
Still many things unplanned
But take my hand
The future’s vast
Let’s make our love last
– Let’s Make Our Love Last (the song I wrote for Joseph and Carla’s wedding)

“I promise to constantly pursue you, make you feel loved and wanted… because you’re worth it.”
Sapster

January 28, 2010
The night before the wedding, while sharing our last casita with Joe before he clamped on his ball and chain, I asked him, “You sure about this? It’s not too late to back out you know?”

He just looked at me and shook his head.

January 29, 2010 – right before marching
Me: “Joe. This is your last chance. Once the music starts there’s no turning back.”
Joe: Shaking his head again.
Me: “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

So we marched. Like guards escorting a convict down his final green mile, we walked the sandy aisle. Then Pastor Steve administered his last rites, and before you know it pronounced the sentence: man and wife.

I’m convinced Cupid has us fooled. He isn’t a baby in Pampers with a mini bow and arrow. In fact, I think he sort of looks like General Rommel, The Desert Fox, and drives around in a massive tank. When that turret is aimed at you, it’s not to pierce your heart. It’s prepared to blow you away. Blow you away for good.

I’ve taken a few shrapnel wounds myself but Joe sustained a direct hit. The blast was so strong it threw him into a white suit and Korean bangs.

Seriously, my “non-showbiz” brother, Joseph’s wedding to his “showbiz” best friend Carla “Rica” Peralejo was amazing. I was so proud of my brother because he looked every bit the man that he really is, still slightly geeky with his Zoolander Magnum look, but also decidedly confident, and prepared to take on this responsibility. Most importantly he was a testimony of God honoring a man that has dedicated his life to honoring Him.

It was both an encouragement and a gentle rebuke to me.

Carla looked especially beautiful. I mean she’s pretty, everyone knows that. She’s an actress – she has to be. But the way she looked that day was something else. It wasn’t “hot” or “sexy” or “cute” or “pretty”. It wasn’t the kind that makes you think “Wow, Joe’s going to have one heck of a night tonight.” (Though that was probably in Josh’s mind.) This one was BEAUTIFUL – pure, unadulterated, un-manufactured radiance.

Before the wedding was over Josh and I had agreed, “Joe’s going to have one heck of a night tonight.” (“But you just said…” I know. I know. That’s what you get for growing up in a group of three boys.)

I heard a lot of hearts were broken that day. I’m not surprised. People like beauty. Carla is beautiful for obvious reasons, Joe, has a beautiful… um… mind?

A lot of hearts were also lit alive with love on that perfect day, in a perfect place, with a perfect sky, and a perfect breeze, when two imperfect people were perfected in love by a commitment to a union with each other and our Lord.

Thank Yous
The wedding was executed very well. Thanks to Pastor Steve (officiating minister, and really our third father: God, then Pop, then Pastor Steve), Teena Baretto (amazing wedding planner), the master storytellers Lito Sy (photos) and Jason Magbanua (video), Seren8 (music), Josiah’s (food), Tita Pin Antonio (renowned hair stylist and another close friend of the couple’s), Tito Gary Valenciano (song numbers), always a treat to have him, Donita Rose and Pastor Dennis Sy (hosts), and I must add Franco Laurel and Archie Castillo (who respectively sang and arranged the song I wrote). I’m sure I missed people but this isn’t really my job. Joe for sure will be thanking everyone when he’s not so preoccupied.

You understand of course. As he said in his own speech, he has to “conserve energy”.

I was actually surprised they showed up at the house yesterday. If I was Joe, and had a license to kill, I would fire away.

That’s probably why he’s the married one.

Anyway…

Joshua Strikes Again
Earlier before the wedding, my dad and I were trying to get Joshua to prepare for his toast. He couldn’t understand why he had to prepare anything when all he had to say was “CHEERS!”

So he thought…

When Paula, Carla’s sister, shared a well-prepared heart-felt message, Josh all of a sudden felt pressured to say something. So to buy him some time he did an impromptu dance that was followed by an incredibly funny impromptu speech. I can’t do justice to what he said so I’m hoping someone posts a video of his toast.

He ended his speech by toasting to “Beuwolf!”

Why? Who knows?

Josh and I are opening a Bestmen for hire business with Teena. This actually matches Proposals by David. Isn’t matrimonial capitalism beautiful? Back in William Wallace’s day all you needed was a guy and a girl, a priest, a horse, and a lake. Today, you have a billion dollar industry.

Next?
I get the thought process. My older brother gets married so it’s only logical that his direct younger brother is next. But that logic only works if age and birth order were the only criteria for eligibility. In reality both aren’t as important as, let’s say, shared values and same taste in music. (Seriously, the former is a need, the latter a want.)

I don’t know if this is true, but about 4628 couples get married every day. So there have been more than 12,000 couples who have gone next already, and if, let’s say again, I stay single for another 10 years, that would give us a formula and results of 4628 couples/day X 365 days/year X 10 years = 16,892,200 couples X 2 person/couple = 33,784,400 people next.

In short, I’m not next.

Changes
There’s going to be a few changes in our household. For one, there’s going to be more food in the fridge. Joe eats a lot. And my clothes won’t keep disappearing. Looking forward to that.

But we’re also going to miss Wyatt Earp aka King Arthur aka D’artagnan aka Simon the Chipmunk. I feel like a comrade in arms was lost – lost to matrimony, that great unknown where none come back the same – if at all.

The bar is really set high, now that Joseph “sapster” Bonifacio has joined the leagues of Lord Byron with his “I promise to constantly pursue you, make you feel loved and wanted… because you’re worth it.” I’m seeing his quote all over the place followed by statements such as “Can I clone you Joe?” “I’m waiting for my Joe.” “the Legend of Joe Bonifacio” and my personal favorites “Oh my Joe” and “Santa, wrap me a Joe I’ve been good this year.”

Ok, I made those last two up.

Being positive about it, we do gain something my brothers and I have always wanted: a sister. Finally, my mother has another female to plan tea parties and cross-stitch with.

Just kidding.

I have a sister now, and I love the thought of it.

Technically, Joe doesn’t have one yet. He’ll have to wait for 33,784,400 people to go first. Unless Josh surprises us.

Now I need a new title for this series. Bonifacio Brothers and Chick, Bonifacio Brothers and Female, Bonifacio Brothers and Wife, Bonifacio Brothers and XX Chromosome. It’s late. I don’t want to think.

Our Father’s Favor
My brothers and I, like many other children, have had to live under the shadow of expectations for most of our lives, such as spiritual expectations, moral expectations, achievement expectations, behavioral expectations, conduct expectations, financial expectations, relational expectations, and others, some of which we have placed on ourselves, but many of which just comes with being the children of my parents. I’ve struggled with the knowledge that given all my flaws there’s no way I can live up to these standards. I’m sure my brothers have felt the same at times, and maybe some of you have your own versions.

But standing at my brother’s wedding that day, watching a miracle called marriage take place, and it was a miracle, I felt our Father, Joe’s Father, my Father, your Father, our Father, impress in my heart, “Isn’t this greater than what you expected? See what I can do when you let me?”

And again, another humbling moment for this arrogant middle son. I thought to myself, “Yes, I see.”

So I’m reminding myself to forget the expectations, and release the criticism, to stop struggling and striving, and to remember to obey and to trust. Because even as I was brought down another notch in my never-ending need for humbling, I heard His voice once again in my heart say, “Then let me do greater things for you.”

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 joshuaahotmale@hotmail.com.

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.