My Father’s Legacy

December 29th, 2011

My father Joecon and Tito Raul where born on December 29, 1931. They turn 80 years old today. My father is older by 10 minutes. Both are blessed to have reached 80 and are in fairly good health, but age has still caught up with them, especially when it comes to their memory. My dad is having difficulty remembering all his grandchildren and in-laws. He would call my wife a different name each time.

Both my father and Tito Raul have had their respective achievements in life. Tito Raul would help my grandfather Jose Concepcion, Sr. build Concepcion Industries, Inc., which today is the only local appliance company that offers the leading air conditioners and refrigerators. My dad Joecon’s legacy will always be as the founder of Namfrel, and that he stood up against then President Marcos and risked his life, family, and business at that time. But to him it was beyond personal wealth; he wanted to help bring about real democracy which in the end will create wealth for the nation and its people.

Like the Man of La Mancha, his theme song is the Impossible Dream. And he sings the song with passion in some of our family gatherings. And just like my grandfather, Don Salvador Araneta, he shared the same passion and vision, for the Filipinos to believe that we can have a better place to live.

I went with him during those days when he started Namfrel. It was very scary that time. We had our own bodyguards, but I definitely believe that God’s protection was on him. I do not know how my father was able to involve many men and women to the cause, whose names are too many to fit this column. Millions of Filipinos joined the movement and would be called the Bantay ng Bayan.

After the 1986 Edsa Revolution, Dad was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. Though that is recognition enough, to Dad, the greatest achievement was to see millions of Filipinos enjoy true democracy, and that each and everyone may have a chance of a better life.

It’s been 25 years since Namfrel and the People Power Revolution happened. Yes, our country has moved forward and has become a better nation with democracy in place. We enjoy a Congress that is one of the most active today. To some extent, we have “exported” the principle behind a People Power Revolution, which until now is happening in many of the middle east countries.

I am reminded of all of what I have witnessed in my father’s life as I see him with my siblings and his grandchildren here in San Francisco. He has slowed down, and now he enjoys more time with his children and grandchildren, although he is still unable to remember their names consistently.

My mother complains daily about his constant filing of papers and writing down of notes, and of bringing a dictating machine with him all over to record conversations. But this Christmas, as my mom was giving her gift to my father, she gave a speech that floored all of us children: that in the 54 years she has been with him, she has never regretted a moment in life being with him and pledged she will continue to do so; and that he is and will always be her true love. Wow. My wife had to run up to the room as she cried. We all taped this speech. As an old couple, fighting becomes quite often. My father and mother are no exception, but in the end, their love for each other is a great inspiration to us. They still live up to the marriage vows they committed so many years ago.

When we face our God, he will not ask how much wealth we have created for ourselves. He will ask what have we done with the wealth we created, what have we done with the spouse He gave, what have we done with the children He blessed us with? These are all important and, I have to say, if this were a test, my parents would have passed with honors. In fact, my wife’s gift for my mom was the cheapest Louis Vuitton bag and my mom, in response, said she will have to go to confession if she accepts the bag. That is how simple my mother is.

I share this story to the readers of this Go Negosyo column hoping that my parents’ story will inspire entrepreneurs to look at the real measure of success in life. I have been inspired by my father and I am blessed to have followed in his footsteps through the advocacy of Go Negosyo. With the help of so many other entrepreneurs, whom, again, is too many to mention in this column, we can all see our country achieve real economic prosperity.

To my father Joecon, the Man of La Mancha, who lit the candle of hope, I hope that, together with Go Negosyo entrepreneurs, I will do you proud in continuing your legacy of giving our Filipino brothers the chance of having a better future. Dad, happy 80th birthday. You have made us your children proud not only of what you have done for the country, but also of your mentorship and living by example of what a father should really be. We love you.