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I have been contemplating paying tribute to my Dad who passed away in June 2022, but I’ve been occupied and it has been hard to start a move since he died. In this essay, I want to share his final wish and might start developing this as a story screenplay to eventually produce this as my own film.

After fighting with many illnesses, fixing a broken family and reuniting with his siblings for many years, my Dad, Camilo Jose passed away . With his new wife, Tita Aleli, transferring from one state to another, my Dad’s final wish is that he returns home forgiven, with a peace of heart – to bring his ashes to his hometown in Baybay, Leyte. Due to health protocols and the strict paperwork, it took almost a year to finally bring his ashes home. On March 15, 2023, I was able to join my Tita Aleli, my Dad’s siblings in a burial ceremony in Leyte to fulfill his last wish.

My Dad was born and raised in Baybay, Leyte. After studying college he left his hometown and worked in Manila and abroad for a greener pasture. To make the long story short, he met my Mom in Manila and I had two siblings, they separated when I was 10 years old. He work abroad and had a new family there.

While it’s hard to make his story closer to reality, I am trying to make it as simple to understand as possible. I believe that he will guide and help me in telling a great story thru a film that is coming from my heart, and his soul. Right now this is how I summarise his journey, where I envision to tell thru cinema.

Story: After fighting his illness for many years, Camilo Jose passed away – it had spread to his organs and began to fail. With his wife Maria Aleli, living in different countries, Camilo’s final wish is that he returns home forgiven – bringing his ashes to his home island. Camilo and his Dad Jose Ardiente are not in good terms because Camilo chose leaving his hometown over farming the land.

Timeline reference: July 2019 Dad came here in Philippines, and it has been more than 20 years since we’ve seen each other. He was able to meet my wife and kids, and my in-laws in Cavite. We were able to celebrate our birthdays because we’re both July celebrants. He was happy to see his siblings in Valenzuela, in Baybay and he also went to Davao. Stayed for a few more months then he left on the same year.

Me, My daughter Adi, Cindy, Daddy, Tita Fe, Mama & Tito Rey

June 5, 2022, Daddy passed away in Las Vegas. I learned it thru Tita Fe, his younger sister. I can’t explain the feeling because I can’t be with him immediately.

March 15, 2023, Tita Aleli brought home his ashes in Baybay and fulfill his final wish to be with his parent’s tomb (Lolo Jose and Lola Pilar). I travelled to Leyte to attend his burial and to witness his final remains.

I wish I can turn back time and spend it with him, specially now that I have two kids.

Growing up as a kid, my Dad would always bring me to cinema and we’ll watch Superman movies. In my interview with EU Ambassador Luc Véron, that was the first that comes to my mind when asked about my childhood.

With my Dad’s guidance, I hope to make it a memorable film for him in the future. I miss and love you Dad. I will make you proud in heaven. Happy Homecoming and Thank you so much for everything.

This story is an entry to COMCO Mundo’s “UNMASKED: The COMCO Mundo Write to Ignite Season 3”.  The initiative aims to pull and collate powerful stories from the Philippine blogging communities. “UNMASKED” aims to explore how each mask is a person brimming with hope and wonders to share with others, as well as why it is important to tell their inspiring journeys in life. The “Write to Ignite” Season 3 is made possible by COMCO Mundo League of Enterprises, with airasia, Babyflo, PHILUSA Corporation, Century Tuna, Licealiz, Lamoiyan Corporation, Rémy Martin, and Uratex Monoblock as brand partners.

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