My Road to Success By Louie Magbanua

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Louie was born on a warm, sunny day on September 23, 1987. He was born in the basement of our house in Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe Street in Makati. A noisy street full of jeepneys and tricycles passing by. He was born by mom, and delivered into this bright world by grandma, a well-known registered midwife in our community.

It took twelve hours to huff and puff the little wolf out from mom’s tummy.

I remember coming home from school to run and see him. I, his oldest sister, was a high school student, and as soon as I entered our door, the older members of the family told me the good news: at last a boy was born.

The only boy in a brood of four.

I remember seeing him the first time. A brown-skinned baby with big eyes and curly top. He was very cute. A male version of Betty Boop.

And those big eyes and curly locks easily charmed and unarmed the older ones.

My mother had been longing for a boy for the longest time, and now, at the age of 35, her prayers were finally answered.

She named him Louie Dominic. Dominic, after his father and Louie because our youngest sister Sabrina wanted to call him “Brother Louie”. You see, he was born in the eighties, a time when the group Modern Talking could be heard singing the pop song Brother Louie in every radio station.

So Louie he became. And we used to sing the song to him:

“Brother Louie, Louie, Louie

Oh she’s only looking to me

Oh let it Louie she is undercover.”

Louie loved the song. For him, it was his nursery rhyme.

We were a big family who lived in a big house that was built in the 1960’s. Grandma lived with us, and so did an uncle, plus several helpers and adopted college boys. Since he was the smallest member of the household, he was the boss. He bossed us all around. I remember all the adults from ages 18 and above adored him and let him do as he liked. He was a sweet and naughty kid. His energy was limitless.

But like all siblings, we fought like cats and dogs. It was mostly a single boy against three girls in a fight. He would get his way, and we girls would feel envious and attack him with tickles. In the beginning he would feign strength and shout that it didn’t tickle him a bit. But after a few seconds he would burst in tears. “Waaaaaah”, his cries were loud enough to reach grandma’s ears wherever she was in the big house – may it be in the attic, the garden or in the backyard.

“Why is Louie crying?!” grandma would say, with an angry and concerned tone.

“They’re hurting me!” Louie would answer.

“Stop hurting that poor little boy. He is hardly half your size! Stop now at this very moment,” grandma would say angrily.

Immediately, the tickle attack would stop, our anger burning within us. But at the same time, we were glad to give him a bit of torture.

Louie would run behind grandma and hold on to her dress. When mother, who was municipal health doctor, came home late in the afternoon, he remembered our trespasses and made sure that mom knew about it, too.

Since Louie is the only boy in the family, and the youngest sibling, he was spoiled as a kid. He used to get his way in everything, and we, the older sisters, could only shake our heads and sigh. If he wanted a toy, his parents would work hard to buy it for him. If he wanted to do something, he would be allowed to do it. He never had to help clean the house or wash the dishes or do an errand.

Somehow, some people may believe that spoiling a kid with so much patience, love and attention can turn the kid into a brat. But Louie has not turned into a brat at all.

As he grew up, he has turned into a loving young man, very loyal to his parents, caring towards his mom, and protective towards his sisters. He is very thoughtful and helpful.

I guess he is one of the reasons I now pamper my own child, too. I saw what too much love for a kid can result into.

The only thing that didn’t change is his funnyman role in the family. As a kid, he loved entertaining us. He still does, now when he’s 20-something. He jokes around, tells us weird and funny stories, makes up silly song lyrics (which are highly entertaining. I especially love it when he plays music. He can play the keyboard very well. He has been musically trained since he was a young boy. I used to give him some money so he would play for me, or teach me play a musical piece. Coming home would not be complete without hearing Louie play at least one song.

Did I mention that he won Yamaha’s national champion when he was ten years old? Mom says that he plays musical pieces according to his feelings for the moment. In that way, she knows also when he is in a sad mood…

Louie started schooling when he was five years old. He went to Genesis Montessori in Guadalupe, which is just a tricycle ride away from our house. He was a smart kid, but he was downright lazy! He refused to write, so when answering quizzes, he gave the answers by mouth and his teacher would write it down for him. I’ve never known anyone who has received such a privilege in school. But he was tough and stubborn to the core, you could hardly force him to do anything.

The only one he was scared of was his dad. Just the sound of his footsteps in the doorway would make him nervous. Instantly, Louie would turn from the spoiled brat into an angel.

But his dad only returned in the evening after work. So Louie was the boss at home the whole day.

He went to Lourdes School in Mandaluyong from elementary to high school. He would often be third best in class. But he refused to write until he was high school. So his nanny, Ate Mila, wrote his writing exercises for him. She wrote what she dictated. Already then, he knew how it was to have a secretary.

But much as he lazy when it came to writing, he was very enthusiastic when it came to money-making. He sold pieces of paper – when his classmates forgot to bring theirs. He sold at one peso per paper. His classmates would whine and complain, but his teacher took his side saying:

“Then don’t buy his paper. We are still having a quiz. It’s your fault you often forget to bring paper.”

Helplessly, and with a moan, his classmates bought from the paper businessman.

As a boy, Louie was not the type who would tolerate a bully. One time he got into a fight with a bigger boy. He hit back. He would also take the side of other boys who were bullied.

He would not allow his toes to be trampled on, figuratively and literally speaking.

Louie passed all years in school without writing notes. Yes, his notebooks were empty. It would have been better for mom not to have bought those notebooks at all.

He didn’t like reading and writing. But he listened very well and remembered what the teacher said.

Much as he showed no interest in the academics, he passed college entrance examinations in Mapua engineering – to my mother’s surprise! He even got a high grade in the entrance examinations in math in the University of the Philippines. What pulled him down was the writing part of the test.

Louie ended up going to college in La Salle University in Manila. But he had a problem with his lovelife, which almost brought him rock bottom.

Now he is studying at De La Salle Saint Benilde, specializing in information systems.

For the first time, it felt like he found meaning in his life. He burned with passion for computers. Finally, he found his niche.

The year 2014 will make him 27 years old and a graduate. He plans though to continue his studies.

Life to Louie means friends and family that he trusts. His relationship with mom is special. They are good friends. He is open to her, is not afraid to tell his feeling or thoughts to her. He knows that no matter what, mom will always love and understand him. She will always be there for him, standing by his side. And for this, his loyalty towards her is great. He follows her as often as possible to assist mom when she goes out shopping and doing errands. He drives for her and carries her shopping bags and other packages. However, he does make sure that she hears it when he whines, “I am hungry”. Well, that’s the cue for a huge merienda.

Growing up with sisters has made him into a gentleman who understands the mood swings of the female gender. He can joke with us a lot, but he senses when we are extra sensitive, and avoids confrontation. I guess that’s being compassionate and sensitive towards the needs of others.

He also respects the rights of women. I guess growing up with tough women made him realize that women are just as good and tough, we just come in a different form and package, but the content is the same.

He holds his older sisters dear. He tags along with us when he can. What he does for mom, he extends to us, too. But of course, we also have to know the cue when it’s merienda time. “I am hungry”, he says, and we have to make sure there’s food in his mouth within 15 minutes.

What happens when he doesn’t get the bribe of merienda? I really don’t know. We never dare make him hungry. Not because we are afraid of the consequences – for there are none, he hardly gets angry – it’s more like we want to see to it that he gets his reward for being such a patient brother.

Just imagine, four women shopping at the same time. And add two more women: my shopaholic aunt and cousin, too. I mean, that’s almost like having a test of patience for a human being, don’t you think? In fact, I do not know any other man who can exhibit such patience in a shopping mall.

When Louie was a little boy, he was a scaredy-cat. He was afraid of the dark and of nocturnal creatures that can lurk in the hidden corners of our house. He could imagine aswangs like manananggal, tiyanak, tikbalang and ghosts waiting to catch him. He used to cling onto my mother and cry, especially since we, the elder sisters, loved scaring him.

I remember introducing Halloween to him when he was a toddler. My mother dressed him up as a tiyanak, with diaper made of cloth and horns. He was very cute. We let him enter a dark bedroom, then lit a flashlight and then we appeared before him as different scary characters: a hunchback, a vampire and ghost. He was scared to death! Somehow we felt guilty that that Halloween night made him into the scaredy-cat that he was…

But that changed as he grew. He is not easily scared anymore. He has instead turned into a careful person- He chooses his friends well. He does not easily fall in love and break his heart. He hardly goes to places where troubles abound. He does not even drink or smoke, as he is conscious of his health.

He looks and thinks twice before leaping into something.

Right now Louie is not seeing anyone. But let me tell you about my brother and the way he sees love…

Louie idealizes relationships. He is hopelessly romantic, puts a woman up to a pedestal and gives everything he can to his partner. In one hand it can unhealthy for him. But I guess it’s because he just wants to treat his women well, just the way he has been trained at home.

For him, women are sacred. Women – with mom as an ideal – should be protected, cared for, and pampered. To the best of his ability.

That was his downfall once. He fell in love with a girl who abused his kindness. So when he realized how bad he was for her, he tried to break off with her. But when he did, she started messing up his life.

It was an experience he would never forget. That experience made him pay dearly. And he went off-balance. But his good friends and stable family life helped him find his balance once again.

A single horrible romance did not change his view towards women, of course. But that made him more delicate when it comes to romance.

He may look now as though he cannot form strong attachments, but he can. It just takes time. He takes things slowly and carefully. You see, it takes him a while to fall in love, and once he has fallen, he is in it for the long haul. He is committed, loving, dedicated and faithful.

How do I know these things? As I have earlier written, Louie is open to us. While some men may find it hard to discuss their emotions, Louie does. He tells us about his broken heart, his wishes and longing…

Hopefully, the right partner will come along. Someone with high moral principles who will not take advantage of sensitive Louie.

But how to attract Louie? Forget the make-up and sexy clothes. He has simple and conservative taste.

He will love a woman for her mind. Gorgeous bimbos do not attract him, at least when it comes to serious relationships.

I guess it’s because he grew up with four intelligent women. There are after all two doctors, a writer and interpreter plus a journalist in the family. And add a dentist for an aunt and another doctor for a cousin.

And I swear, anyone who becomes his partner will find him amazingly loving and protective. And he does not get angry easily. It will take a lot of errors to anger this boy. And when apology is said, he easily forgives. But that doesn’t mean he forgets. For he has such a strong memory.

Among his close friends is a pretty and simple girl called Meg. A girl with a golden voice and kind heart. She seems the one that our family wants Louie to fall for. But that’s not up to us to decide. Hehe.

Louie likes to communicate in a humorous manner. I guess it’s because he cannot bear a dull moment. He cracks jokes and sees the world in a funny way, and makes sure we understand his humorous way of thinking. He is good at creating interesting spice.

He is a tad timid, but he is welcoming and hospitable.

He hates arguing so he shows that he does not agree with his facial expression or by leaving the room. You see, if he has strong feelings, he usually keeps it to himself. And he tends to prefer the company of others who are similarly reserved.

Louie is down-to-earth. What you see is what you get, with no sugar coating.

He takes no effort in jamming with a popular crowd. Nor showing himself off and have a busy nightlife. He hates loud and crowded places.

He is practical and does not like spending money on impractical things, and spending time with unworthy people.

So at night, while many young and single men are out dating or trying to attract women, Louie is often at home studying – or playing his computer games. He prefers his quiet bedroom to study and play slash work.

He loves computers and everything about it. It took him time to find out what he really wants in life, and now that he has found his niche, he makes sure to understand it to the fullest.

Speaking of work and computers – I have never seen him so devoted to anything else. He loves any task that has to do with computers. He seems to study in great detail (Or is he just faking it?). I think that that is the first and the last thing he does daily – work with his computer.

But what else does Louie do besides studying his computer tasks in detail and playing computer games or going around in shopping malls with the dominant women in his life? According to mom, he likes cleaning his room. Eating. Playing the keyboard.

He also enjoys drinking cola and eating Doritos at night with his buddies such as Meg, Val, James and Jorens – at home! Our home in Guadalupe has become his and his buddies’ headquarters. There, they do projects together, among others, music video with catchy (and funny and silly) lyrics written by Louie.

From what I’ve heard from a telephone conversation between my mom and aunt, Louie is very loyal to his friends. They tell him their problems, and he listens carefully and gives pieces of advice, when asked for some.

He also enjoys serving as nanny to his niece.

Louie is also a devout Catholic. He goes to church with his family every Sunday and is a member of the League of Eucharistic Guardians. That means, he guards the Eucharist in the tabernacle in the church. As a member of the group, he also prays for the priests – that they may be loyal and faithful to their obligations, that they may be steadfast in the faith, and that they may overcome challenges and problems.

In February 2013, Louie got very sick. He got acute appendicitis. That means his appendix got swollen and he experienced extreme pain. He underwent an operation and stayed a week at the expensive Saint Luke’s hospital in Global City. The family spent half a million pesos for him. His parents took turns withdrawing money for him. His sister, who is now a doctor, was always by his side.

Because of his sickness, their European trip was cancelled.

Because of that, he became even more religious. He prays to his patron saint Padre Pio, or Saint Pio (Pius) of Pietrelcina, who was a catholic priest from Italy. He was born Francesco Forgione but was given the name Pius when he joined the order of the Capuchins, an order of friars, which is among the offshoots of the Franciscans. He became famous for bearing the stigmata – marks in the hands corresponding to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus Christ.

Padre Pio died on September 23 1968. September 23, the day Louie was born.

Louie is down-to-earth, but he is meticulous when it comes to his appearance. He does not care much for bragging the latest trends, but he is neat. You’ll hardly see him having a bad hair day or dressed in sloppy clothing. He takes a shower several times a day, to smell fresh. And he frequently exercises.

As a sister writing this, I honestly cannot ask for a better brother.

I also see how he treats my daughter, his niece. He pampers her the way he had been pampered as a kid. With much respect, love, patience and attention. Just imagine, he dressed up in mom’s dress just to please her – since she wanted to make Tito Louie into a princess. When they took a picture together – Louie in mom’s dress carrying little Tuwa – they looked almost like “mother and child”. We had a good laugh looking at that picture.

Or what about the almost endless way of entertaining my energetic kid. It takes a huge amount of endurance to keep playing with a small kid, you know.

Why is he so nice to the little one? I guess it’s his way of passing on the love and warmth that was shown and taught to him as a kid.

After all, Louie was once a spoiled kid. Now he is spoiling mine.

Patience, obedience, and forbearance are words that don’t fit young Louie. In fact, stubborn and naughty are the two adjectives that can sum up his character as a child. When he was just a few months old, one can’t force him to do something that he doesn’t feel like doing. If he doesn’t want to sleep, no amount of cradling, singing and rocking can put him to rest. I have never seen a child so resolute about keeping awake. Ask any member of our family if there is something naughty they remember about Louie when he was young and sure enough you will be given many stories about his adamant mentality.

Don’t get me wrong, Louie is not an inconsiderate spoiled brat like Harry Potter’s cousin, Dudley Dursley, when he was growing up. He could be utterly obstinate, but this was only because he had a mind of his own. If you want to sway him to your side, be ready to give him an irrefutable explanation.

One time, he told me that he got into a heated argument with a schoolmate about the taste of fried chicken from Texas Chicken, a popular fast food chain back in the day. He said that he strongly argued that the chicken served there was dry and tough to chew. I then asked if he had already tried the food at the restaurant before and he said no. He just knew that the chicken was no good because his mother told him so. When asked, our mother facetiously explained that the restaurant was called Texas Chicken because they serve meat from fighting cocks -- which are locally called Texas and have a reputation to be tough as nails.

Every time I remember the story, I can’t help but smile not because the incident is funny but because it is a classic example of Louie’s unshakable trust in his family. After this, everyone in the family was more careful about explaining things to Louie. We realized that he trusted us to tell him the truth all the time.

One quality that endears people to Louie is his thoughtfulness. He knows what to say to people who are feeling down and he’s always ready to lend a helping hand to those in need. His grandparents adore him because he doesn’t skimp on giving those hugs and kisses. He’s also not ashamed about providing assistance to the elderly in the family or even carrying his sisters’ bags. When he’s available, he will not say no to running an errand for his mom or accompanying his sisters to go shopping. But after all the errands and shopping are done, we make it a point to reward Louie with a feast. He just feels annoyed or betrayed if he doesn’t get treated to a plate of dim sum or even a piece of donut.

Louie’s journey to adult life has been colourful. He had his share of highs and lows just like everyone else. For instance, he has fallen madly in love and got hurt for it. But the good thing that came out of it was him learning from his mistakes. He’s now a mature young man with a bright future ahead of him. He may have already learned the value of patience and perseverance, which are very helpful when designing computer programs and writing codes, but some things never change. He’s still as stubborn and naughty as ever.

    • Evelyn R. Santiago

I asked my friend if she could write an autobiography for me, knowing so well she would not turn me down. It may have been a few months or even a few years since the last time I saw her but I know we have this bond that we cannot explain.

I told her I went back to college after a few years of being MIA. Realizing what I really wanted to do with my life and of course getting the courage to go at it, again. A thousand years ago during the pre-historic times. I was a Big Fat Boy (hahahahahaha) who only knew one thing and that is to play around and have fun.

From early childhood to my adolescent years I really don’t have too much memory of it (since my friend who's writing this doesn’t really know much about my childhood). Looking back I realize that I just came to know myself so much better when I started college. I got into DLSU and took up EcE. So much for that I didn’t even know what I was getting myself into. However, the funny thing about college is that I really didn’t remember the lessons I learned inside the four walls of my classroom but What I remember is the faces and experiences I had within my brief stay in that campus.

There was once an experience I could never forget (or my friend who's writing this cannot forget, either way you can edit it... :)) we just finished our 1st term in college. I hardly knew anyone. Heck! I didn’t even know who I was at that point, but I knew a friend needed my help. Needless to say I offered my help good thing her parents came around and let her continue with school, but that was when I realized that I was a giving and compassionate person. (I’m not blowing my own horn... since this is not for me). It wasn’t brought up as often as I wanted it to be (hahahahahahahha) but I know it solidified my presence in her life.

Time passed by, sometimes I’d get to see her sometimes I didn’t it really didn’t matter at that point since we had different interests. (And she really wasn’t a chick... a pig maybe but not a chick! nyahahahaha) One time we were classmates and she went to our place and she became a family friend though not the one who'd physically always be there. After a while I lost my wits and didn’t talk to her, she kept bugging me and wanted to know what really happened. Since she trusts me that much, she let that slip but of course I know she's still wondering. What really happened to me how I lost the weight, if I really just left La Salle or if I was really sick?

A message or two will be exchange in a year, sometimes we set a date to meet up but never follow-through. I went back to college, did what I love. Open up a new chapter in my life that does no longer include mediocrity and laziness. I did things I never thought I could and achieve things I never thought I would.

My life does not end here... there would be a lot of things left unwritten, a lot of chapters waiting to unfold... but so far I did what I can for myself and for the sake of the people who trust that I will be a great man. Maybe not yet now... or maybe just in writing...

    • Janina Galan

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