Roses and Sport

ROSES AND THORNS - Pia Roces Morato (The Philippine Star) - January 15, 2021 - 12:00am

The time has finally come for my family and I to say our goodbyes to our dearest Nonong. Those who truly know me, also know that my cousins and I fondly called our grandfather “Sport.” He never wanted us to call him lolo, abuelito, or grandpa. He just wanted us to call him Sport, and Sport.... was our champion. He taught us so much about life, war, survival, mischief and love. Our Sport was a full fledged romantic and up until his last moments, he still managed to give us ladies a proper kiss on the hand.

Our childhood memories were filled with food and adventure. We celebrated life through food with our grandmother and lived life with adventure through our Sport. It was the ultimate combination and the right formula to balance our lives. No matter the season, whether it be in sadness or joy, we always, always, convened in our grandfather’s home.

Our Sport was the best storyteller one could ever know. Even his own brothers would attest to this. I thank my other lolos, Anding (the original author of the column Roses and Thorns), Pipo, Ding and Marquitos for all their stories as well as our titos and titas who fondly called him “Tito Handsome.”

Our Sport was one of the wisest and most knowledgeable man we knew. He taught me so much on heritage and culture, on places in the Philippines that I never even heard of and, most of all, on the way of life that covered a hundred years of blood, courage and resilience. All this came from a quiet, unassuming, ultra charming and simply loving man. I will never forget my last formal date with my Sport. It was the opening of Casa Roces and next to the President at that time, our Sport was the guest of honor. My date (Sport), picked me up in his crisp barong and smelling like Polo Sport. Although traffic was heavy, there were just too many interesting stories to hear to pass the time away.

Once, and at a time when I was suddenly going through tremendous fear, I asked my grandfather if he ever felt scared, he simply told me, and with great conviction, “no tengo miedo de la vida o de la muerte” which means, “I have no fear of life nor death.” Our Sport after all was a guerilla war hero and his words turned my life around and eventually, I joined the Philippine Army.

There was a time when greeting cards were the norm and my grandfather never failed to send one every year for birthdays and holidays, including special occasions along with P200 – up until I was in my late twenties. It didn’t matter; it was never about what we received when it came to our Sport. It was always about the love we felt from him and truly, it was felt. My grandfather was beloved. Nothing was more important to him than making sure everyone he met always felt special. This is why he will always be remembered. Love begets love as Sport always says. Amor con Amor se paga. We will never forget you, Jose Miguel Roces. Give a kiss to our dearest Abu from all of us. Salud!

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