We Love You, Pepe

I woke up yesterday morning learning that my cousin, Joey, passed away. It is so hard to believe that this jolly, young soul left us. Before this unfortunate event happened, we were excited to see him again and his family as they planned to go home to Anda on the tenth of December. The last time they had their vacation in our town was two years ago. It was Lenten season and fiesta time. I remember how brave he was in biking the busy roads of our barangay as a massive number of tourists visited our famous white sand beach. If he was alive, he would borrow our bicycle and pedal like a local.

We call him Pepe. He was a sweet boy. When he talks, you can hear the sweetness in his tone. He was engaging in conversations. He loves to share his stories, and he is expressive. When he was three or four, he went to our house early in the morning and joined us for breakfast. After eating, he went back to our grandparents’ house where they stay and looked for his mother and asked her to cook ‘nojelt’, the food we shared with him. His mommy was puzzled about what Pepe was telling him. He started crying as his request remained unclear. We were asked about what the food he wanted and we replied, “Auntie, it’s noodles”. The mystery was solved and we laughed about it. He had a hard time pronouncing the -s sound. My sister and I were teaching him words both Filipino and English with the letter ‘s’. Our ‘tutorial session’ was filled up with his contagious laughter word per word.

Every time their family spends summer with us, swimming is part of our reunion. He was unafraid wading through the water. He was fascinated by the waves. I recall that he was dancing Gangnam Style as the waves approached us. He does not mind getting his skin dark as he can stay on the beach for a couple of hours. Moreover, he loves to play in the sand and build castles. I know he enjoyed his summer days with us.

When the pandemic came, he made sure that he could talk to our grandmother by asking his mom to have his turn on Messenger call. We saw his face get chubby. Even when he was transitioning to teenage life, he was still thoughtful.

Last week, we were celebrating as he got a special award as a seventh-grade learner. I was happy about his achievement. This teen could reach various milestones. His illness stopped him from doing more. 

Pepe, I am sorry if your Lola Titay, kuya Carlo, ate Chrisyl, and kuya Sunday cannot go to Valenzuela. You are in our prayers. Thank you for bringing joy to the family. We love you and we’ll miss you.

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