This book is written for my seven children and families, dedicated in honor of their mother, who wrote a “STORY OF MY LIFE” ending in her trip around the world with JoJo in 1970. Praise the Lord!
Today is Grandparents’ Day. Nobody among my seven (7) children, 15 grandchildren, and one great-grandchild sent me any greetings at all. Praise the Lord! The same is true with my wife, Maria, who has six (6) children, 16 grandchildren, and nine (9) great-grandchildren. Not one of them thought of greeting her or sending her a card at all. Praise the Lord!
Maria and I went to Mass at St. Paul’s Church, where we met Jojo, Nonoy, Chris, Noelle, Percy, and Jonathan. Not one of them greeted us as GRANDPARENTS. At the Fiesta of the Virgin of Penefrancia held by Bicolanos, we met Betty, Bing, Rudy, John, Jonjie, Jenette, and Bill, Betty’s husband. Nobody among them greeted us as Grandparents. Thanks be to God. (I Thess. 5:18)
My only consolation is that when the people attending the Fiesta were ready to eat, I was called by Attorney Bert Ruelo to say the grace, which I did. This honor given to me is enough manifestation of God’s presence in me. Not only on this occasion but on many other activities and programs we have I been called to Pray and say the grace. Praise the Lord!
The Philippine Independence Day, the PAAT membership meeting at Lopez Park, the Church of Jesus of Nazareth dinner on first Sundays of the month, and again during the PAPAG Induction Program on October 14, 1994, were some occasions where I was asked to pray and say the grace.
Mr. Ted Ona and Mr. Johnny Feir, both elderly and respected Pinoys in Tampa, remarked that I should replace Bishop Loreto after he resigned.
As a matter of fact I never greeted my grandparents on any occasion except when I visited them with my parents because they died before I was ten years old. Our only greetings then was to kiss the back of their hand and then receive their blessing by the sign of the cross in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. JBS
Three persons who I respect very much inspired me to write THE STORY OF MY LIFE. One of them is my cousin, CATALINO SIBAYAN. He was the most successful SIBAYAN on my father’s side for becoming a school teacher. His bicycle was a most treasured possession of his because he used it for riding to his school in Cabugao, Ilocos Sur. He was married to a school teacher and they had their honeymoon in our home in Bangued, Abra.
My mother advised me to ask his help if I needed anything after she died. (I never did.)
The other cousin of mine on the BRAVO side was Loreto Bravo. He came to U.S.A. and worked as a hotel employee, washing dishes, in California, went to school in UCLA and graduated as a BSE majoring in Art Appreciation, college professor.
My mother told me that he was able to go abroad by pointing at a shooting star and shouting “AMERICA!” Since then I watched for a shooting star but before I was able to lift my finger, it was gone. My ambition before I die was to see America.
After knowing my background as a self-supporting student, rising from the ranks to become a Captain and a Lawyer in 1950 at age of 32, ATTORNEY DALLAS ALBRITTON of Tampa encouraged me to write a story of my life, especially when he learned that I was once an Orderly of Major Dwight D. Eisenhower when he was a member of General Douglas MacArthur’s staff in the Philippines before World War II, in 1937 when I was a Corporal of the Philippine Army.
Just now, (10/4/94) at 11:30 P.M., OFFICER JEFF WHITNEY, Field Supervisor of ISMG (International Security Management Group), who came to inspect my performance as Security Officer (Courtesy O. is my designation here) suggested that I write a story of my life after he learned that I am 76 years old, still without any disability, and was able to survive the infamous Bataan Death March and a P.O.W. during W.W.II. I did not even mention to him about my three years’ experiences in Vietnam from 1965 to 1967 during the war there.
I told him that God has a plan for everyone. As a matter of fact, I cited the book of the Prophets as predictions of future happenings dictated to them by God as already planned or predestined by Him to happen, including the birth, life, and death of Jesus Christ and what He will say during His crucifixion.
And so I ask God to let me know what to write down in this book that will glorify His holy name.
With full conviction, knowledge, belief, and admission that God is the real source of everything, including my present health, life, and joy, I, therefore, dedicate this “Story of My Life” to Him for His glory, honor, and praise in thanksgiving for the many wonderful blessings He has showered upon me thus far.
I have outlined this fantastic narration of events in my life starting from my childhood, boyhood, manhood, etc., with highlights on important and significant events that are not common experiences of everyone to demonstrate how God works out His plan on my life up to the present date (1994).
To start with, just ponder on this question: How could the wishes of my parents be fulfilled at the same time in 1950 when I became a Captain as wished by my mother and when I became a Lawyer as wished by my father? Only God knows!
Never in the wildest expectations of my relatives, town mates, classmates, friends, or acquaintances could this happen when one realizes that the graduation suit I wore had to be paid by installment by my father, who was just a poor slipper maker in one of the poorest provinces of the Philippines, Bangued, Abra.
And so our neighbor, ex-Governor Bienvenido Valera said: “How happy could your father be now, if he were alive to see you as a Captain and also a lawyer!” I replied” “All from God, Tata.” (Tata for old man in Ilocano)
He did not know why my father wanted me to be a lawyer, but it was to be able to recover a portion of our property that had been annexed to his lot by his creeping bamboo fences towards our house. But what a sweet revenge; his daughter Juanita failed in the Bar Exam that we took together in 1949. He did not recall that as dirty kids he drove me and my brother from their front yard and did not like us to play with his kids, who had individual maids.
He did not know why my mother wanted me to become a Captain, the highest ranking officer in our province! He was then our Town Mayor before he became a Governor of the Province of Abra, Philippines.
Now with this as a prelude to my “Story of My Life,” I will start from my childhood days —.
This STORY OF MY LIFE is lovingly dedicated to honor my late parents and my late wife, PAT, who was my inspiration, helpmate, and who “went with me through thick and thin” in achieving all those things that were planned by God for us, and in gratitude and praises to God, to whom I owe everything in my life.
Jose B. Sibayan
Major, AFP, Retired
Survivor of the Bataan Death March,
Member of Philippine Bar since 1950
Retired Senior Paralegal O, Bay Area Legal Services, Tampa, Florida, U.S.A.
Vietnam Veteran, U.S. OPN. Mission (1965, ’66 & ’67)