“I was born after Ahia. There were 7 seven of us. Bong was the fifth and only son. I came 2 years after him. As you can see he has always been surrounded by girls since he was young. Ahia Bong was a beautiful person both inside and out. I remember the many valued and meaningful roles that Bong has played throughout our lives together. Given that we were the closest in age, I ended up being his default playmate and partner in crime. All our horseplay were definitely not for a girl or the faint of heart for I was his sparring mate for Kung-fu and Karate. I was not much of a challenge but I guess the reason he loves sparring with me was that I never gave up and my “cleverness.” I’m sure he won’t forget the times “nabatukan sya” when he was in his most vulnerable position –watching basketball.
Ahia was both brains and brawn. We would always play intellectual games like chess, Chinese checkers and Master Mind since we were kids. I had always hoped those brain exercises rubbed off on me somewhat. We got separated in high school but reunited in college. We were together living in the States where we both studied. Being my Ahia, I got demoted from sparring mate to the roles of cook, maid, and “labandera.” I remember how Bong would rush me to iron his clothes before every date. In time, I had to pass on this role to his loving wife Julie. Julie is the best! After graduation, Ahia Bong returned to work for the family business while I chose to strike out on my own and extend my stay in the US. Ahia Bong was a comfort for our mom and dad. Knowing Ahia was there made me feel that it was OK for me to extend my stay in the US after college. When I returned to the Philippines I realized the challenges he was facing. Bong wanted nothing else but to prove himself to my father but as the heir apparent, not everyone wanted him to succeed. That’s the sad fact. Still, Bong never gave up and in his own way tried to do his best despite the forces that waged war against him. Despite all attempts of many parties to derail Bong, he never kept a grudge against these people. He was never a vindictive person. That’s the kind of heart Bong had.
When I joined the family business I saw how Ahia wanted nothing else but to continue the legacy of our father. And in the past few years, all of us saw how he tried to make things work for everybody. Since college, Bong wanted that everything be “maayos” despite our peculiar family situation. Very few of you know but my brother goes to Baclaran every week to pray. I know having peace and harmony for our families are in his prayers. He passed away at his peak working on making things “maayos” within our families. His ways might not always have been perfect, but his intentions were always pure. I now pray and ask, may his death not be in vain. His most fervent wish was for peace and harmony for all of us family members. As rumors go around these days about how things will be divided, my appeal to all sides who believe in our father’s legacy is for us to see and do things differently. This is not a time to start planning on whose side you will be, but on helping our families unite once and for all. Someone said, “What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.” Bong dreamed of stitching all of us families together in one united, peaceful whole.
I strongly believe his dream of peace and harmony is a good dream for all of us to share. Let’s not let his dream die with him. Together, let’s honor him by taking his dream and turning it into a reality. Ahia, I know you are watching all of us and I promise you that we will not give up in continuing your efforts. Rest easy, Ahia. Till we meet again. You always told me I GOT THIS. Now that you are leaving us behind, I want you to be at peace. Do not worry about Mom & Dad, Julie and the kids and all your loved ones. WE GOT THIS. I love you and miss you so very very much.”
Eton Properties is the real estate brand of the Lucio Tan Group, one of the biggest business conglomerates in the Philippines. Its foreign counterpart, Eton Properties Ltd, is an established real estate brand in Hong Kong and mainland China. With an extensive land bank in strategic locations all over the country, Eton specializes in high-end and mid-income high-rise and horizontal residential developments, office projects, commercial centers and mixed-use township developments.