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The Otap Story

The Otap Story -- Windell, 07/24/2018

I have always loved Papa's stories. Tales about his very difficult life in China as a young boy, of his struggles living the life of a poor young man in the streets of Manila, and as a homeless man who strived to pursue his desire to uplift life. Papa's life is truly a story of rags to riches, of poverty to wealth, of abosolute impossibility to reality.

The "Otap Story" happened many years ago, perhaps more than 60 years ago in the island of Cebu. I have shared this story with my children multiple times, and also wanted to share this with my nieces and nephews and to anyone who love a good Papa's Story. 


It is an old Papa's story, that is worth remembering and re-telling, over and over again.

One day, while Papa was waiting for the ferry from Cebu to Bacolod to visit his sisters, he chance upon some vendors selling pasalubong along the pantalan.  Being poor, I can only imagine how he would have battled the thought of whether "to buy or not to buy." His longing heart for his family, his sisters, eventually won over, for he finally decided to buy a bag of Otap.

Before disembarking, he asked the crew to make sure that he have enough time and was assured that it will take some time. With the assurance, he ordered and got his Otap, and tried to pay with a large bill. The vendor, who must have been on his early shift, did not have any change, so he asked Papa to wait, and hold on to the Otap while he ran and try to find smaller bills for changing his money.

It must have taken quite a while, for as Papa was waiting, the ferry horn sounded --- it was ready to sail. Still waiting for the vendor, Papa grudgingly decided that he better embark. When the boat started to sail, he saw from afar, the poor vendor frantically chasing the ferry. Papa wanted to roll the money and throw it to the vendor but prevented himself from doing so as he knew for sure it will just be wasted away. The ferry sailed farther and farther away westbound off the pantalan.

Alone by himself, I can only imagine how guilty Papa must have felt. How he must have felt for being poor and being deprived of food, money, clothes and shelter. He felt so bad and so sad the whole time. As he arrived Bacolod and presented the pasalubong to the family, (to the sisters and brother Fernando), and seeing them one by one took a bite at the very delicious Cebu Otap. He became even more guilt-driven and regretful. He never touched nor ate the Otap pasalubong, and never mentioned the story to anyone of them.

Many years later, we hear Papa telling us that sad story. I thought he must still have kept it a secret from his sisters and his brother. The short stories like the Otap Story, are life's stories that he experienced, some sad, some glorious.

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Dear Windell, thanks for sharing the Otap Story. I remember Papa telling me and 504 this story from many years ago, my memories of this story did not serve any better than your illustrations. Glad we can share this with our next generation. See you again this October 2018? --- 503, 08/06/18

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