For Leonilo “Neil” Doloricon
By Victoria Doloricon-Roque
Earlier this year, I asked Pa if he wanted to do, as a teacher, an online course about linocut prints (since I myself loved learning from online courses especially during this pandemic). I thought this as a nice platform to not only showcase to people his art but to learn and understand the process and to know what goes through the creative mind of Leonilo Doloricon as an artist. I was so into the thought of really coming up with an online course and proposed to my Pa, that my sister, Kat would be the person to film it. As I was discussing this, he looked at me and gave me his usual smirk and jokingly said, “Baka naman bumaba reputasyon ko niyan ah.” He then with the calmest voice but with the biggest smile said, “Na-nominate kasi akong Professor Emeritus (UP).” I was already extremely proud of him for who he was at University of the Philippines but for him to be nominated with this high of a recognition is beyond words.
For those unfamiliar with this recognition, the UP Faculty Manual defines professor emeritus as a title for life and is conferred upon retired faculty members in recognition of their exceptional achievements and exemplary service to the university.
My father and I would always have this back and forth inside jokes about our personal achievements. I would brag about my simple achievements, while he would again give that same smirk and just simply share with me his achievements and accomplishments (that for me would seem impossible to achieve) and we would laugh. He would always win of course. That was who he was to me.
My father loved sharing stories of himself to us. He would forward to me art critique articles of him, videos of him being interviewed, and smile at how many people appreciated and shared his editorial cartoons. The last video I watched was the “Ep4 mARTy TALKS: Neil Doloricon”. I remember telling him after watching the video that I didn’t know he did comics before. But then again, I remembered being the one assisting him to fax his editorial works to Kabayan and to call them to make sure if they received my papa’s drawings. He smiled and said, “Those were the days.” I would share with him my insights on everything he would share with me, but many of those he said in the videos/articles were too profound for me to understand. (LOL)
When I was little, I watched my father do his oil paintings at the living room. I would sit beside him excitedly and he knew, gusto kong makisawsaw. He would always worry that I might damage his masterpiece. His technique to keep me busy was to tape a piece of paper beside his canvass for me to scribble on instead. I remembered he once told me, “Anak, wag mo sanang gawin ito. Gutom dito.” I didn’t understand what he meant at that time but I always happily did my scribbles, which I considered masterpieces as well. Looking back on his statement, it not only made me understand the struggle it is to be an artist but how passionate my father was in his craft as he persisted in doing it considering all the hardships along the way. We are not a rich family but we really never felt the struggle that he mentioned. He was our bread winner and did all of his work while juggling his graduate studies, taking care of his mom, our relatives who stayed with us and, of course, us.
One time at his office, when he was still working at The Manila Times, he ushered me and kuya to an empty table and gave us bond paper and pencil to get ourselves busy while he finished his work. One of his co-workers passed by and he saw my drawing and he said to my father, “Aba, mana sa tatay.” I looked at Papa and he looked at me back with the biggest smile. This memory remains with me to this day. In fact I carry it with pride and I felt the inner artist in me when I was to select the course I would take in college. He suggested Architecture because he knew I could draw. But he was frank enough to tell me my skill set then were not Fine Arts standards.
To prepare me for the college entrance exam, he taught me to draw objects in isometric and I practiced for days prior to my exam. During the exam, I remembered handing my drawing and I was proud of myself for having followed my father’s advise of an isometric made out of a combination of shapes. Until I saw my seatmate handing his work as well of a perspective of a building, complete with tonal values and shadows, that is. Luckily, I passed.
My father is my hero, the person that I looked up to very highly in just about all aspects of life. He would be that person I seek advise from. I would get easily hooked at a wide range of things to do. Whatever catches my interest at that given time, I would zoom in on it and share it with him to seek for his approval. From reading books / articles, playing the piano, playing the guitar, doing watercolor / painting and even cooking. Him, being good with both music and arts, would be that person I talk to regarding these. I would forward him recordings of me playing the piano of a simple musical piece, hoping he would be able to distinguish what music I played. It would be the same type of conversation with painting. He would always give me tips on how I could improve. He used to criticize me strongly when I was in high school. Recently, he would patiently tell me, “Mangopya ka ng artist. Tingnan mo paano nila gawin. Doon ka matututo.” He kept reminding me to not aim for prizes but to find my own belief and it would guide me along the way.
My Papa’s studio was this big space upstairs next to my bedroom. I would always be reminded that it would be morning already whenever I hear Carlos Santana and Norah Jones’ songs blasting on the radio and Papa playing the drums along. After a song or two, he will go back to painting.
My Papa was emotionally attached to his pieces. When I was in college, I saw one of his prints being displayed for sale in one of the computer shops in UP Shopping Center and I told him about it when I got home. He got so upset and he kept asking me to describe in detail the exact art piece that I saw and he wondered who would do that to his artwork. Honestly, I regretted telling him about it because of how bothered he was with the whole incident. He put so much passion in his work and treats each work of art as a treasure. In fact, he was hesitant to give an artwork of his to my then boyfriend, now husband, Mikko’s family because he was afraid of what may happen to the artwork if we were to break up. This stems from a bad experience way back when an art piece made by him was given by my Lola to a close friend. The two later had a falling out and, to get even with my Lola, the close friend burned the art piece. Papa put so much time and love into his craft and to see someone else destroy it hits him to his core.
Another interesting story about one of his artwork was when I handed my father’s sketch of Macario Sakay to my professor, to the latter’s great delight. When my professor requested for discounts on Papa’s prints, my father gladly agreed.
I will miss his cooking. He is our personal master chef at home. He always used to make me cold cut sandwiches he called gourmet sandwiches in high school for my baon. Our Sundays would always be a feast. Mornings, he would cook halaan and shrimp, which he himself would finish off as he was the only seafood lover at home. In the afternoon, I would be in charge of the barbecues while he would make his favorite red sauce spaghetti.
Papa would willingly sacrifice himself for us. He would literally offer everything that he had just for us to be happy. Kahit yata paa niya, ibibigay niya para lang hindi niya kami makitang magdusa. I never felt the burden because he was always there for me when I needed help. When I had a growing cyst in my neck earlier this year, I was so afraid as to what it was and how I would be able to pay the bills if my situation worsens. He told me that part of one’s income from will eventually be spent for our health. That’s life. He actually offered money, which I declined. I was so ashamed of myself for complaining about everything while he never hesitated in offering help.
It’s hard to be away from my family and my father would always that person who I would call initially for comfort almost daily. Whenever I feel anything or whenever there’s some news I would love to share, I would call him immediately. He would almost always pick up and be glad to hear my stories even though he would be busy doing some other things. My father and I would have long conversations together about everything going on in life. No matter how bizarre, outrageous, insensitive the topic is, he listens and he gives his views. Pero, minsan, tatawanan ka muna niya, especially when you are serious. Lahat ng seryosong bagay, to lighten the mood, gagawin niya munang biro. I always run to him whenever I doubt myself and he would always be there to comfort me with his wisdom, hoping it will put me in a right path. I also remember, in high school, I asked him why he didn’t go abroad to work. He told me he didn’t want to be away from me and the whole family. I always felt safe because I knew he would always be around for me and the family.
The intense pain I am feeling right now as I’m writing this is immeasurable. I desperately want to call him now to tell him I’m feeling extremely sad. But I realize he was the reason for this sadness.
Reality is hitting me hard, because I know from this day onward, the person on the other side of the line of this phone call will never pick up.
Pa, Mama, Kuya and Kat are so grateful that you are our father. I hope you will have eternal peace. Don’t worry about us Pa. We will take care of each other. Nagawa mo na at nabigay mo na lahat!
Hanggang sa muli, Pa. Mahal na mahal ka namin. #