“This is story 1 of 9 of my Tatay’s Series. This is my way of honoring Tatay’s life and legacy. It wouldn’t be right if I DIDN’T give him his own series and avoided writing about his passing all together. But I’m also aware that this is something I need to do for myself – to put my grief, anger, and emotions all out on the table, instead of distracting myself with work and other things to avoid the reality that he’s gone.” -Marinelle, LoveYourzStory
*I had the honor of writing my Tatay’s eulogy. This is an edited version of the original*
“Our Tatay, Jacinto P. Cabillo, was born on July 3, 1923 in Agoncillo, Batangas, Philippines. He was the third child out of six siblings. As a young man, Tatay helped his family raise chickens, pigs, and cows.
In 1950, he married Concepcion “Conching” Tagle, and together they had 8 children: Lilia, Peping, Luz, Delfin, Cris, Roland, Salvie, and Merlinda. After 15 years of marriage, Nanay Conching, who was 36, passed away during childbirth along with their 8th child, Merlinda. Tatay was widowed at the young age of 41, and was left with 7 children to raise on his own. From eldest to youngest, his children’s ages ranged from 14 to 2 years old. His in-laws, Tarcela and Ricardo Tagle Sr., stepped in and proposed the idea to adopt all 7 children to bring them to America for a better life.
At first, Tatay was hesitant. But he knew that he couldn’t provide for all 7 children all on his own, so he agreed with one condition. Tatay believed that Roland and Salvie were too young to join their siblings in the States. He feared that they wouldn’t remember him because they were 5 and 2 years old. He wanted the two youngest children to keep him company because he was worried about his mental health – dealing with the loss of a wife and now his children. So the 2 youngest children stayed back with Tatay in Batangas, where they lived until 1974.
In 1967, his 5 eldest children left to immigrate to America with the help of their Tatay Ricardo and Nanay Tarcela. It was a bittersweet decision for Tatay, but he knew sending his 5 eldest children to plant roots in the States would be the best decision for the generations to come. The saying is true, it really took a village to help raise the Cabillo children. Tatay and the 7 siblings are forever grateful for the sacrifices and help they received from their grandparents, aunts, and uncles after the passing of Nanay Conching.
After 7 long years, Tatay finally reunited with all of his children in 1974 when he arrived in San Francisco. Everyone in the family had to make a lot of sacrifices and do their fair share to make a living in America. To provide for his family, Tatay worked custodian jobs at Riordan High School and Treasure Island. He was also a flower picker in the city of Colma, which was very on brand with his love of nature.
In his long life, Tatay enjoyed exploring the Bay Area, spending time with family, and of course, going back and forth to the Philippines. Even though he was in the States, his heart always remained in Batangas. And on July 18, 2000, Tatay married Adeleida “Tita” Cortiguerra in Pasig, Philippines. From that day forward, Tita never left Tatay’s side. She cared for him and was at his bedside as he took his last breath.
Tatay lived 98 long and beautiful years. He had the support and love of his children, wife, and family every step of the way. The Cabillo’s are truly blessed to have had Tatay for as long as we did. He had 16 grandchildren, and was fortunate enough to be around while his grandchildren had children of their own. Tatay’s legacy will forever be passed down to the 8 great grandchildren that had the privilege to meet him, and the future generations to come.
Tatay will always be remembered for his signature Rayban aviators, hats, and impeccable swagger. You’d most likely find him sitting on the sidelines of family events observing and finding little things to do to play with his great grandchildren. Tatay always found a way to connect with each great grandchild, despite the language barrier. He was a man of few words, but when he did speak, he did so with intent. He knew exactly what he wanted.
Before the pandemic, Tatay longed to go back to the Philippines and live his remaining days in the country he grew up in and forever loved. Unfortunately, due to a volcano eruption, Tatay’s flight to the Philippines was canceled, and shortly after, the pandemic hit and borders to fly overseas were shut down. Tatay never got to return back to the Philippines, but our family is grateful that we were able to spend the remainder of his life with him here in the Bay Area, despite the pandemic.
Tatay passed away on Thursday, July 15, 2021 at 6:10 PM peacefully in his bed, accompanied by Tita and family. When our family was sending news to Tatay’s extended family in the Philippines about his passing, they had a surprising revelation to share that brought peace to our hearts. As his soul left his body in South San Francisco around 6:10 PM, a blue colored bird entered his house in the Philippines around the same time. Family members who are residing in the house couldn’t get the little blue bird to leave, and luckily, they recorded it. We were all at a loss for words. He finally made it back home.
Tatay, our hearts are heavy to know that you are no longer here with us physically, but we are overjoyed to know that your soul is back in the Philippines. We will miss you, our bi-monthly Sunday dinners, watching animals on TV, and seeing your face light up when you received gifts. Tatay’s wish for his children, grandchildren, and future generations to come was this: To have unity in the family and stick together. We love you, Tatay. We promise to live out your wish.”
As we get closer to Halloween, it’s only appropriate I share a spooky encounter that happened a few weeks ago…
I’ve always believed in the paranormal. Since a young age I’ve been interested in the after life and what happens to us when we die. I feel like it’s either you believe in ghosts or you don’t, and it’s hard to find people that are inbetween. It’s safe to say that I 100% believe in the paranormal. I enjoy watching TV shows of people telling their real life experiences. I get so engulfed in it, but at the same time I spook myself out. It’s one of those things where I think it’s so fascinating, but I just hope nothing creepy ever happens to me – unless it’s a departed loved one of course.
I believe that people can communicate or give signs even after they pass away. To me, things like dreams, little coincidences, butterflies, a song playing during a significant date, etc, could all be messages from the other side. I know there are people that agree with me, but at the same time I know there’s a huge chunk of people that think I’m out of my fucking mind. And I’m okay with knowing that there is a 50% chance that half of y’all think I’m a lunatic. To me, knowing a loved one is still having your back and is somewhat still with you is cool. But the ironic and funny thing is – I’m easily frightened.
I’ve always wondered what I would do if I lived in a “haunted house,” since I am a believer. Christian, on the other hand, is not. I always tell him about dreams I have, butterflies being my “Mama” and “Tatay Celso” (my grandparents that have passed), the volume on the TV going significantly higher or lower, etc. He’s 100% a skeptic, so he would look at me with a raised eyebrow trying not to be rude. But it would beso obviously written all over his face that he thinks I’m trippin’. We have had multiple talks on multiple occasions where I give him a million different scenarios.
“What if our future house was haunted, would you believe me?!”
“What if I experienced things but you didn’t, would you take my word or you would think I’m being paranoid?”
“You better not treat me like I’m crazy!”
He’s the type that needs proof for everything. To him, and many others, things can be explained away as a coincidence or have a reason for what is happening. Christian likes to make sense of the situation before jumping to paranormal conclusions. I, on the otherhand, will see two butterflies and claim dead grandparents right off the bat. I guess a part of me always wanted to open his eyes to believe that there is some things we just really can’t explain away. And maybe – just maybe – I could change his beliefs of life after death. However, I didn’t think I would prove my point in our new living situation…
When we first moved into the new space, we were excited and getting used to the new living situation. It was weird for me because I have lived in the same house my whole life. But now, I was in a new environment, living in an old Victorian San Francisco house. I was so used to seeing the house in the daytime, that it was so weird being in the house at night. In fact, seeing the house in the night time without all the lights being turned off gave me an eerie feeling. I had to learn all the new noises and creeks of the floor and walls. I had to learn to be comfortable and not get scared off of every little thing. It was just a lot of change mixed with all the scary shit I would watch on TV.
The first couple of days, me and Christian would hear noises that we couldn’t explain away. Surprisingly, I was the one saying things like “it’s probably just the ____” or saying it’s because the house is old. And to add to the surprise, Mr. Skeptic was the one getting freaked out. I was surprised to see that Christian was the one that was more spooked from all the noises. I was a little scared, but I knew that it’s an old San Francisco house, and we weren’t used to it yet. I was shocked to see that the man who was certain he wasn’t a believer was suddenly having a change of heart. And to be completely honest, I didn’t play my usual scaredy-cat role because I figured, “Fuck, we can’t both be scared!” A part of me was really scared when he would say things like, “did you hear that? What is that?” But I didn’t want to acknowledge it, fearing that it would suddenly manifest into something bigger. Ignore, ignore, ignore, was my mentality.
What was the absolute cherry on top was when I noticed something had fallen off of the wall. It was in the morning, and Christian had already left for work. I walked passed the living room to get to the kitchen, got my breakfast and walked passed the livingroom again. This time I noticed it. The little foldable roof topper that connected to the wall was on the floor. This wasn’t unusual. The topper gets heavy and sometimes rips the 3M hook right off the wall. But this time was different. The foldable roof was neatly flat on the floor, and the 3M hook was still on the wall. How could this be? I touched the 3M hook in disbelief. How? The hook was about 1.5 inches facing up, there was no way that thing could come off on its own without the 3M hook coming off as well. But yet, the hook was still completely stuck to the wall. I asked co-workers and Christian later, and everyone had no explanation. No more ignoring – I was thoroughly creeped out.
To be sure and for some peace of mind, I invited my best friends to come over to help me sage the place. It was getting to a point where Christian and I were a little nervous everytime we heard something we couldn’t explain. Justine bought me a “palo santo” stick and a crystal, and we used the oven to light it. Justine and I went through every part of the house, saging every room, closet, and crevice, speaking words of positivity and affirmations that only light and positivity was welcome. All the while a pregnant Cam chilled in the kitchen typing out her pregnancy reveal post for Instagram and Shonalyn stayed in the livingroom staying on a roommate call that lasted about 45 minutes.
I don’t care what anyone says, it worked. I felt so much lighter after we saged the house. The house itself felt so much lighter, quieter, as if the air had been lifted. After that day, we didn’t hear anything that had us on edge. It gave us peace of mind. Over the last couple of weeks we have been getting used to the new living situation and most importantly, living with each other. We have been together for almost 5.5 years, and we know each other pretty well. But living together is a whole new thing. We now have the opportunity to see how each other really live. And thankfully, we could do that peacefully without thinking our house was haunted.
A couple of weeks ago, on a Saturday night, we were chillin in the room. I told Christian to light our candle because the house smelled like the dinner we just finished eating. Since we just moved in, we didn’t have any lighters or matches. So Christian used the school’s birthday candle that he lit with the oven to light our fragrant candle. Christian played Fall Guys with his brother on the PS4, and I was sitting hunchback hovering over my 20 pages of notes for Blog Post #60. Y’all remember how long that story was, so I was hard-core typing, trying so hard to write atleast 15 paragraphs by the time I fell asleep.
About 30 minutes into writing, I heard a toy going off in the next room. I got a little scared, since it was about 10:30 PM and the all the lights, except in our room, was off. I knew exactly what toy it was too. It was a toy structure that you could race 2 little toy cars down, and it made car engine / beeping sounds. I ignored it. I had 15 paragraphs to write, that’s equivalent to atleast 5 pages on Microsoft Word. I continued on with my writing. About 15 minutes later I heard the toy go off again. Just something about night time makes everything seem a thousand times scarier. Christian had 1 earphone on and was talking to his brother playing the game. Something in me didn’t want to acknowledge it, nervously thinking about what could happen if I say something and it keeps happening.
For anyone that isn’t familiar with “Fall Guys,” it’s a game that basically reminds me of Ninja Warrior but with 60 opponents. Your character is a little, short, chubby chode looking jellybean that you get to dress up in funny outfits. It starts off with you and 59 other people, and you have to complete an obstacle course. If you complete it in time, you qualify to move onto the next obstacle course. Slowly, people get cut off and you don’t stop playing until you lose or you win the crown, meaning you were the last one standing and won the whole thing. Christian has been obsessed with this game recently, and I know that it gets intense where he can’t immediately get up and do something if I ask. I bet other gamer girlfriends can relate *rolls eyes.*
Anyways, when the toy went off the 2nd time I was like oh hell nah. I was getting pretty sleepy, and usually when I set a paragraph goal for myself I always take breaks inbetween – which is honestly annoying as fuck of myself because I have to regain motivation to write again and stop messing around. So, I sprawled out on the bed and began to close my eyes and dose off a little bit. I heard the toy go off. I don’t remember which came first – if I told Christian about the toy going off before or after I laid down. But I heard the toy and got up immediately, wide awake no longer about to fall asleep.
By this time Christian was aware of the toy going off. At first he didn’t hear it, but then it started going off more frequently. “Oh yeah, I hear it now,” he had told me. He explained to his brother over the mic that one of the toys in the school was going off and he needed to turn it off after the game, but he couldn’t because he was still in the competition. In fact, he had the audacity to tell me to turn it off as he played. I refused. I was not about to confront whatever was making that thing go off on my own. We agreed to go together once the game ended.
But the toy was going off every minute. I don’t think Christian got how nerve wrecking it was for me since he had 1 earphone blasting the Fall Guys music and also hearing his brother. I got so anxious. “Do you not hear that?!” I frantically asked him. He told me he did hear it but they were still in the game. My heart was beating so fast. Then it seemed to be going off every 30 seconds! *engine turning on sound* *chuga-chuga-chuga-chuga-beep beep!* I was terrified.
“Christian!” I felt like I was on the verge of having a panic attack. All the while Christian is having a conversation with his brother about them barely making it to the finish line. My heart was beating so fast and his frantic “omg we’re not gonna make it!” type of dialog added to the anxiety I was feeling.
“Yeah I hear it,” he said inbetween talking to his brother, “Yeah dude one of the toys is going crazy right now.”
By this time there was no pause inbetween. The toy was going off repeatedly non-stop. I felt like crying. I didn’t know what to do. I was fucking terrified and felt like I was gonna go into fight or flight mode. Was I going to run in that room and see what was going on? Or was I going to call an Uber back to my parents’ house and get the fuck out? Waiting for Christian to be done with the game seemed like a lifetime. I wanted it to stop. I needed that toy to stop. Hearing the sound going off non-stop had me mentally fucked. I was so scared.
“Oooo! Ohhh! Fuck yeah! Yesssss!” Christian is yelling outloud, qualifying for the next round as his Fall Guy makes it over the finish line.
The upbeat tempo was making me anxious as hell. Everything from the toy going off non-stop, to Christian yelling and winning on the game, to me sitting there being over stimulated with all the commotion. When I thought I couldn’t get any more creeped out, the toy started to freak out even more. It went from going off non-stop, to being so frantic that it wasn’t even completing the full audio anymore. It went from *engine sound, chuga-chuga-chuga-chuga-beep-beep!* for what seemed like a lifetime to *engine sound, chuga-chuga-chuga-engine sound-engine sound-chuga-chuga-engine sound- engine sound, chuga-beep-beep!* As if someone impatiently had their finger on the button and was ringing it non-stop, so much so that the full audio wouldn’t play, and instead kept getting cut off.
It went like this for about a minute. My heart was pounding out of my chest and I really wanted to break out in tears. Meanwhile Christian is yelling in excitement because he just finished the whole game and won the crown. Finally! He could come with me to turn it off. Once Christian won the game, and he told his brother he was going to turn off the toy, the toy stopped going off. Just like that. We both got up and made our way into the dark hallway.
I knew exactly what toy it was, but Christian was heading the wrong direction. When he headed for the wrong direction, the toy went off again. Almost to signal, “hey, wrong way.” We looked at each other. I was more nervous while he was still on his adrenaline rush from winning 3 or 4 crowns just in that night. I turned on the light in the livingroom, but the room was completely silent. I knew what toy it was, but couldn’t get the words out of my mouth to tell Christian which one it was, as he lifted the cover on the toy shelves to try to find it.
“I don’t know which one it is,” he said.
As he looked through all the toys, I looked passed into the kitchen, which lights were still completely off. I peered my head at an angle, not knowing if I would see someone or something or… honestly I don’t even really know what I was expecting. But when I looked into the dark kitchen, I saw something glowing. The reflection in my air fryer showed something glowing blue. It all started to piece together. Blue glowing light? Reflection? That means it’s across? That means…. that means the stove is on? I stepped foot into the dark kitchen and quickly turned left to look at the oven. One of the oven burners were on. I gasped and turned it off.
“Christian! The oven was still on!”
“What?” He came into the kitchen. I angrily explained to him that he left the burner on when he lit the birthday candle to light our fragrant candle.
“I feel like whoever was making that toy go off was trying to tell us the burner was still on,” I said. At that exact moment after finishing the sentence, the toy went off again. *car engine, chuga-chuga-chuga-chuga-beep-beep!*
We looked at each other and I immediately took the toy and turned it off. I wondered if it was Christian’s grandpa, who passed away just a few months prior, giving us a heads up that we were about to burn the whole fucking house down. What initally had me scared out of my mind, suddenly brought me comfort, thinking if it were my loved ones, or one of Christian’s having our back from the other side. I wondered what would’ve happened that night if that toy didn’t obnoxiously go off that night. It was close to midnight, so we probably would’ve just went straight to sleep after I hit my writing goal and Christian was done with video games, without even thinking twice to go back into the kitchen. I look back and realize that the toy started bugging out once I took a break and started dozing off on the bed.
I truly believed whoever was responsible for making that toy go off, was looking out for me and Christian. That was something not even Christian the Skeptic could explain away. It seemed too much of a coincidence to just be a random occurrence.