Pao’s Adoption Story (I): The Colonel
It was a dusty Fall morning in 2010 in the Philippines. The streets of Manila were already tightly packed with street vendors, impatient taxis, and jaywalking pedestrians. The retired Colonel, a reserved man, quietly observed his fellow countrymen with pride and a certain regard. The traffic light was red, and he patiently waited for it to turn green. He surveyed the tightly packed neighborhood. It was the same neighborhood he lived and raised two children in for the past two decades. Trash decorated the streets, the buildings needed repainting, and chicken darted in between cars. It wasn’t Tokyo, for certain, but it was his home. He took pride in it. He was a decorated Filipino Colonel. He was proud to be Filipino.
The light had yet to turn green. He patiently waited as traffic started to pile up. A motorcycle pulled up next to him. The two men sitting on the motorcycle seemed to acknowledge the Colonel. They waved to him. The Colonel waved back. The Colonel was known to value his privacy, so it would have been rather unlikely for him to wave back to complete strangers.
The friendly exchange would turn deadly for the Colonel. Within a matter of seconds, the two strangers on the motorcycle pulled out their guns and shot the Colonel.
They revved up their motorcycle and disappeared into coagulation of Manila’s infamous traffic.
The streets were left in panic and confusion. The Colonel was dead. That day is always going to haunt my family. The Colonel was my uncle. The mystery behind his murder has not been solved. However, in retrospect, through this tragedy lies a blessing.
It opened the door to my past: my adoption.