Two of our family’s jewels had shone as bright as the stars recently. Our dear departed kin must have been overjoyed by the recent triumphs of our two family jewels.
On the home front, our nephew Jose “Hossie” E. Claro was honored last October 19 with the Catholic Mass Media Award (CMMA) for Best Opinion Column. Hossie’s mother, my sister Dorothy (Bayer Corporate Communications Regional Head, based in Singapore), told her friends on Facebook that Hossie’s Uncle Billy was more ecstatic over his CMMA achievement compared to her and her husband, Tito. That, of course, is understandable as it was your Chair Wrecker who saw the potential writer in Hossie and encouraged him to write for the Philippine STAR.
It was in January 24, 2004 when I spotted the potential of Hossie. It was the day when his elder brother Jan Lester got married to Mylene Santos and Hossie offered the toast to the newlyweds during the dinner at the Peninsula Hotel Rigodon Ballroom. Hossie being the last to trumpet his achievements, none of us in the family, as well as our closest friends, knew that he had developed the talent for writing and public speaking.
Hossie took his grade school and high school education (1989-2000) at St. Benedict College in Alabang and graduated in 2004 with an AB-Psychology degree at the Ateneo de Manila University. Like many others who studied under the Jesuits, Hossie seriously considered an Ignatian vocation. His is the heart of a missionary, preferring to teach to the underprivileged instead of aspire for the lucrative corporate job. With the talent he has, he could have been the head of an HR Department of a multinational firm but he opted to work instead in ERDA (Educational Research and Development Assistance) Technical and Vocational Secondary School, the Jesuit outreach program for the poor.
Hossie is the Teacher-in-charge of the Communication Arts Area of ERDA, in charge of supervising English and Filipino teachers, designing curriculum and program, regulating lesson plans, assessment and offerings of program. He is also an Assistant for Academic Concerns at the ERDA Principal’s Office. He assists the principal with Academic Concerns of the school such as reforming the grading system, evaluating academic policies and programs, and so forth. Hossie taught Filipino at Xavier University from 2004 to 2008.
He started writing for our YOUNG STAR Section in 2009 upon the prodding of his overbearing Uncle Billy. In 2010, he was moved to the Health and Family Section and it was his “Much ajeje over nothing” column for this section that won for him the CMMA for Best Opinion Column.
To be among the four nominated finalists — three of the four were STAR writers — for Best Opinion Column was achievement enough, I thought. It was the first time Hossie entered the CMMA competition. He was still a newcomer and wrote only a twice a month column. Winning the CMMA on his very first try surprised the entire family. We never doubted that our Hossie was good but we didn’t realize that he was that good!
After the CMMA event, Hossie sent me this text message: “Thank you for believing in me Uncle Billy. I am nothing without you.” My wife Meyang didn’t know about the text message of Hossie and was surprised and worried when she noticed tears forming around my eyes. For a moment, she thought it was caused by the severe back pains from my on and off bouts with spinal stenosis.
The other jewel in the family whose recent achievement we’re celebrating is Richard “Richie” McCaw, Captain of the New Zealand All-Blacks Rugby team that won last October 23 the 2011 Rugby World Cup. It was a momentous year for Richie. He became the first All-Blacks player to log over 100 test matches (games) and the World Cup was the only missing trophy in Richie’s legendary career.
Considered by the sport’s global community as the best Rugby player in the world, Richie is to Rugby what David Beckham and Michael Jordan were to Soccer and Basketball, respectively. Hailed as the ‘Heart and Soul’ of the All-Blacks team, Richie is certain to make the Rugby Hall of Fame. Many sports writers had doubted if Richie could still lead the All-Blacks to World Cup glory owing to a foot injury. It’s precisely during the most trying moments, when men overcome severe pain and adversity, when heroes emerge.
Richie’s great, great grandfather — Robert Trotter — was the brother of our great grandmother, Annie Trotter Macgregor. When I visited Scotland as a returning son in 1985, one of my “pilgrimage” sites was the Trotter farm in Garguston, the Muir of Ord, where our ancestors lived until they decided to migrate to New Zealand. Perhaps arranged by fate, John McCaw, Richie’s uncle, was also in the farm as a returning son and that’s how we were able to reconnect with our New Zealand kinfolks.
Mey and I have since visited Richie’s grandparents in Wanaka in the mid-1990s. Hossie and Richie met in 2007 when Dorothy brought her family to Christchurch and Queenstown in the South Island for a vacation.
Hossie and Richie — two family jewels that shone in their respective fields. It’s a moment to be shared.
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