A Better Tomorrow

Cosme Padua, Tony Padua
My Dad was the caretaker
of the Philippine ambassador’s residence
for several decades
but the day when he seemed
to take the most pride
and joy in his job
was when he said had
something he wanted to show us
on the top floor.
My mom, my brother, and I followed him
up the steps to one of the bedrooms,
maybe it was the ambassador’s
own room. My Dad looked
at us, paused, and then
clapped his hands twice,
which made the light
in the bedroom go ON.
This was at least a decade
and a half, probably two,
before The Clapper went on the market
in the mid 80s, so to us
this was fresh and amazing,
to clap your hands instead
of flipping the switch,
like we were living in a world
out of science fiction;
and my Dad laughed
and smiled, so delighted
and proud he could show us
this glimpse into a beautiful future.
And I walked back down
the stairs feeling like
I’d skipped ahead
to the next grade in school,
leaving behind
all the other kids
whom I knew would
always be more
American than me.

-Jose Padua

The photograph was taken circa 1960: left, Cosme Padua; right, Tony Padua.

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