THE VELVETEEN RABBIT

March 26, 2010
By: 
tasyo
By Edna Z. Manlapaz
Co-Founder of ACELT with Fr. Galdon
 

 
           Every person leaves an iconic photograph of himself in the memory of those who know him. For most of us, it is this: a tall man of large build, a broad face framed by a receding hairline, a ski slope nose and a wide smile.
             He was a man larger than life, literally. At over six feet, he towered over the groups of people who always seemed to be around him, whether they were giggling schoolgirls or straitlaced matrons or young Jesuits.
             He seemed always in motion, walking briskly as he moved from one place to another. Father Galdon inside a classroom, wowing the freshmen and scaring the seniors; Father Galdon crossing the campus, a pile of books on one hand, a rolled up umbrella on the other; Father Galdon seated at his office at   the University Press, editing a manuscript for Philippine Studies; Father Galdon celebrating Holy Mass in this very same college chapel. And yes, occasionally, Father Galdon seated at a table,holding in his hand a glass of ice cold margarita.
             A tall man of large build who was always on the move.
             This was Father Galdon, as we remember him, from his glory days, some two/ three decades ago.
             But during these last 15 years, this large built man became alarmingly thin and fragile; this dynamo of a man became increasingly immobile. Until at long last, his body assumed a fetal position on a hospital bed, unable to move or speak. Those of us who visited him in the infirmary at the Jesuit residence often left in shock, unable or unwilling to believe this was the Father Galdon we knew. 
             For all of us here this evening who even for a moment share this disbelief, allow me to recall one of Father Galdon’s favorite stories.
The Velveteen Rabbit is the story of well, a velveteen rabbit who has been given to a young child as a toy. In a nursery crammed full of toys, many of them shiny mechanical gadgets, the velveteen rabbit feels insecure about his place in the young boy’s heart. He seeks the counsel of a much older toy. Here is the excerpt, the one that Father Galdon always read out aloud to all his students:
 
  What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day. . . "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"
 "Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
 "Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
 "Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"
 "It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."
 
            Those of us who knew Father Galdon and loved him, REALLY loved him—we understand, don’t we?, And that is why he will always be for us, REAL