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  • Dan Albert S. de Padua

Letter To My Younger Self

Dear Duffy,

Before anything else, do not ever be embarrassed by your childhood nickname. It’s part of who you are, and you will never be able to escape it anyway. It sounds pretty dumb, but it’s better than the other names your evil older sister coined for you.

Next, your sister is not evil. You will discover this later in life, but I’d like you to know it now. She convinced you to rub siling labuyo around your mouth probably only because she wanted teach you about excruciating pain and temporary disfigurement. You might say you had the same thing in mind when you—accidentally!—broke your brother’s arm in a game of cowboys and Indians. Who’s the big bad sibling now?

I think you’re in elementary school and it’s the early 1970’s for you. (Enjoy the music, by the way. It doesn’t get any better.) I know once in a while you worry what the world will be like when the millennium changes over. Well, I can tell you that humans haven’t made first contact with any aliens yet, but Star Trek-style flip-type communicators have already come and gone. Neither do we have to deal with zombies yet, except on something called social media. But I’m really not writing to reassure you about your future. I’m writing you to help me with mine.

You’re going to regret not taking your piano lessons seriously, for example. I guarantee that practicing the piano is more important than watching Batman on TV. There will be many Batman movies to watch when you get old, but if you don’t learn to sight read music when you’re young, you won’t get a second chance. Then, when you retire and want to learn to play the saxophone and open up a jazz bar, no one will believe you.

On the other hand, please don’t join that singing contest with your school buddies. The utter humiliation you will suffer will make it impossible for you to sing in public ever again. Going to karaoke places will be very boring for you unless you order crispy pata, which brings me to the next important item.

You’re a scrawny kid now, but believe it or not, you will be obese by the time you hit your forties. A couple of things for you to note here: 1) Don’t give up playing tennis when you get to college even if you really aren’t that good; and 2) Know that crispy pata is not love, no matter what Jericho Rosales might say later. Both science and barber shop men’s magazines have conclusively determined that it is not possible to turn fat into muscle. Worse, once your abs are encased in fat, it’s extremely difficult to make those abs visible again. Like Derek Ramsay I eat a lot of canned tuna, but let’s just say my bod is still far from super.

All kidding aside, writing this letter to you is supposed to help me reexamine my life, clarify any regrets and discern whether any paths not taken are still worth exploring. After nearly 500 words, it seems the regrets are minor, and in spite of them, I really wouldn’t want to have lived any other life. I can’t play any instrument, I can’t sing and I’m fat, but I’m happy.

Yeah, kid, you don’t need to worry so much. Your life will be good. Not perfect, but really much better than good. Let me draw a picture for you: One afternoon in your near future you will try to impress and ingratiate yourself with a group of girls by bringing them some buko salad that your mom made. However, you will trip, fall, spill the buko salad all over yourself and make a huge mess on the floor right in front of them. At this point, you will think the world has crashed down around you as well, and you will believe you can never show your face anywhere again. Indeed, it will be very embarrassing, but you should just pick yourself up and shake it all off because the upshot is you will marry one of those girls. You don’t get the last laugh, because you never get the last laugh with her, but you will often laugh together.

Hmm, but I also don’t want to give you the impression that you can sit back and do nothing, content in the knowledge that life is good and will continue to be good. You need to struggle to get this good life. You study hard now, but you and I both know that you spend a lot of time daydreaming. You need to spend more time making the dreams come true. Procrastination is a real problem for you. If you put off to tomorrow what you can do today, when tomorrow comes you will write yourself a letter saying you wished you had done everything yesterday. This quantum physics loop folding time and space back on itself can get pretty confusing.

Ok, let me take a last stab at crafting one clear lesson for both of us to take away from all this—

Do everything humanly possible to achieve your goals, but always remember that where you are is where God wants you to be. In short, work hard. Don’t worry. Be happy.

Your self,



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