On Saturday, February 23, 2019, lawyer Alex Castro wrote on her Facebook page a tribute to a taho vendor she calls Tatay Dong.
“I imagined myself saying those words to you as I was driving along the University Avenue this morning. Coming home to UP always meant coming home to everything I loved and cherished for eight years, including you. So as I drove around campus, I kept throwing glances at large crowds, or the places you used to frequent, searching for the great mantataho — my Tatay Dong.”
She then recalled how they both met.
“I met you when I was a wide-eyed freshie. We’d see each other at 7am every day, because you were stationed at the building I had my morning class in. We’d chat every morning over taho. Eventually, you found out that I’d always go to school with an empty stomach. So you made it a point to wait for me in the morning, rain or shine, with a fresh cup of taho, every single day for four years, until I finished my undergrad degree.”
Castro remembered how the 62 year old mangtataho gave her his only jacket to now whom he considers his daughter.
“One rainy day in December of 2009, I went to school without a jacket. I remember you were so concerned. So the following morning, you handed me a package along with my taho. When I opened it, it was your jacket. The one you were wearing the previous morning, and all the mornings before that. Your ~only~ jacket. You wouldn’t take it back, and the only thing you said to me when I tried to give it back for the last time is, “Nilaban ko na ‘yan, ‘Nak. Iyo na ‘yan.”
Now that Castro is a licensed lawyer, she was able to return the favor. She continued:
“Eventually, I was able to return the favor. I got you a new jacket for you to wear. You wore it with so much pride and such a huge smile the morning after, and all the mornings after that. Whenever your friends asked about it, you’d always say, “Bigay ng anak ko ‘yan.”
You were such a huge part of my UP experience. In fact, I can’t think about UP without thinking about you. I love you so much, ‘Tay. Thank you for taking care of me during all my years in UP. Thank you for always supporting me, whether it be in sports, campus politics, or law school. Thank you for always being there.”
She further narrated how they finally met each other again after two years.
“Fortunately, earlier today, word got to you that I was in UP. I couldn’t help but smile when I saw you rushing to the Sunken Garden from afar. When you saw me, you immediately embraced me and exclaimed, “I missed you!” It truly felt like a homecoming. You held me so tight, and finally, I was able to tell you the words you said you’d wait to hear from me — “‘Tay, may abogado ka na.”
I hope I made you proud, ‘Tay. You deserve all the love in the world.”
This story reminds us that “no one amount of kindness no matter how small is wasted.”
Castro’s post went viral since Saturday. It has been shared 26,000 times, received more than 3,000 comments and more than 100,000 reactions.