Saludo, Kapitan (salute, captain)
a poem by Isabel Novicio
"will you come with us to visit your lolo?"
i shrugged my father's question off with a grunt about my classes.
"I'll go on the next trip."
now, i sit on my way to your wake as the winds of agoo, la union sing their taunting breezes, "you're too late, anak. you should've come back sooner"
i know; i know i should've come back when i had the chance.
now you're gone, yet i don't know how to grieve.
how do you mourn someone you haven't made time for, in six years?
i didn't expect to shed a tear,
but as the navy set off the honorable gun salute, a wave of woe immediately overwhelmed me.
i didn't have to fully know you to love and appreciate you; that love has always been ingrained in me.
i remember you, kapitan, as a man who served and loved our nation, and in turn, who served and loved us.
now, all i can offer is my gratitude.
thank you for loving me in spite of the selfishness i chose over you.
every time i look at my father, i will be able to see you through his eyes.
thank you for giving me a family. like you, i have been gifted a father who has made it his duty to serve the country.
i know you are just as proud as i am of him, if not, more.
papa, forgive me.
i took your love for granted.
i thought you would wait until i came back to see you once again, yet we got the unfateful call that night. i refused to believe that you left without allowing me to smile next to you, one last time.
but i believe that you are at peace, therefore as am i.
your life was a full, colorful work of art; you did not waste a minute at all.
“we thank you and your family for the service your father has provided,” the officer whispered to my aunt.
thank you indeed, papa.
you dedicated 40 years of your life to our home. it is without a doubt that your place with our Father in heaven, as a respectable man, is secured.
i know you and mama have finally reunited, as soulmates always find their way back to one another.
i know that the first thing you did was dance together on the clouds above with the whistling willows and the sound of angelic tones.
the angels are happy to welcome another.
enjoy the sky, papa.
the breeze will finally allow you to fly freely, with one hand clutching mama's.
“mahal na mahal kita, papa.” i kissed the white lily and dropped it onto the soil you laid.
you are not gone for you did not desert us.
i know that you are with me, because my father has you as his guiding star.
although I do not have vivid memories with you, a piece of your soul and a drop of your blood proudly run their courses through my being.
My grandfather passed away last February 24th, 2021. When he passed, I didn't cry. It was only when I said my final goodbyes that it finally sunk it; God had called him back to be reunited with my late grandmother. My grandfather served in the Philippine Navy for over 40 years. As a military veteran, I watched the Philippine Navy pay an honorable tribute to him by offering 21 shots at a gun salute. As a writer, this will be my tribute to him.
Isa, or Isabel (she/they) is a proud 16-year-old Filipina. After living in Indonesia for 5 years for a posting, her family are now back and living in the Philippines. She plans to become both a doctor and a writer; her passion lies in both Science and Writing, thus she's made it her duty to pursue both. She believes that writing is an amazing way to provide platforms for both creative expression and educational awareness.
Cover Photo Source: De Windstoot