‘Father’s Doppelgänger’ by Ordoñez is a riveting read

Top photo is author and retired UP Prof. Dr. Elmer A. Ordoñez. On the right is a picture of his father’s biography.

Author and retired Prof. Elmer A. Ordoñez continues to teach at an advanced age; he does
so not inside a classroom anymore but through his posts on social media and his works.

He teaches both seniors like him and the young.

For the elderly, he gives tips on how to stay healthy and enjoy life, sharing his preferred
foods. The menus feature foods that are not exceedingly sweet, salty and fatty.

In a post on April 15, he said his lunch was bean soup with bits of pork, fried fillet of maya-
maya, tomato salad, brown rice, grapes, watermelon and tea/dark chocolate. The lunch was
prepared in accordance with a diet he had been following to stay healthy even now that he is 93
years old. He was born on Dec. 15, 1929.

He shared that he had also been taking VCO (virgin coconut oil).

He takes a short nap in the afternoon then goes for a walk, often accompanied by his dog,
near his home in a village in Imus.

Walking with his pet shows his being attuned with the times since having a dog during walk
has become a common trend.

As he walks he does not fail to notice the heron (tagak) in flight or as a splendor in the green
grass. He is captivated by the beauty of the late afternoon with the sunset creating a
breathtaking view of the western sky, an indication of his inclination towards the arts.

He experiences what ordinary people go through. In a post, he said, “Hay naku, sa wakas
ulan, balik sa t-shirt, wala ng AC (air-conditioning)— hanggang kelan?”

(Hey, finally there’s rain, back to t-shirt, no more AC —until when?)

In his posts, he shares a lot of information on the arts, culture as well as history. He has
written or edited some 18 books on literary criticism, social and political commentary, creative
writing and creative non-fiction.

He has received various awards including the SEA (Southeast Asia) Write literary prize from
the Thai royalty and the Ani ng Dangal Award from the National Commission for Culture and the
Arts.

Three of his books are about his family and himself: “Snow of Yesteryear (A Family in War
and a Sentimental Education)”, “Red Poppies on the Road” and “Father’s Doppelgänger”.

“Red Poppies” traces the author’s experiences from childhood to the war years, his
intellectual development, involvement in political struggle and retirement while “Snows of
Yesteryear (A Family in War and a Sentimental Education) deals with the past and the people
who had made an impact on the author’s life and outlook.

The third, “Father’s Doppelgänger”, traces David Espiritu Ordoñez’s origins and roots in
Villasis, Pangasinan where the elder Ordoñez was born on Dec. 26, 1890.

Elmer wrote it because he had written about Juban, his birthplace in Sorsogon, but nothing
yet about Villasis in Pangasinan.

In telling his father’s story, Ordoñez said he took on the name Elias, his “constant writing
persona, my Marlowe—the latter to gain aesthetic distance”.

He explained that he wrote about Juban probably because his mother Feliza Alindogan
Ordoñez was a natural storyteller, telling him stories about the place. His father was the
opposite.

David hardly talked about his birthplace or about himself. He was more the silent type.
But there was one name Elmer’s father and aunts mentioned: Ciriaco.

On page 10 of the book, Ordoñez says, “… I remember an aunt telling me that should I go to
Villasis, I would meet Ciriaco. Who is Ciriaco? I asked. She did not give me a straight answer, if
answer it was. She just told me my father had a twin brother who had died in an accident when
they were seven. She left it at that.“

Other relatives visiting them in Paco, Manila where the family lived always remarked he
looked like very much like his Papa.

“Hala, when you go to Villasis, Ciriaco might appear before you,“ his relatives would tell him
but would not say who Ciriaco was.

In this book, Ordoñez shows his ability to keep the attention of the reader who would keep
asking after reading it if there was really a Ciriaco.

He asked his father on his deathbed if there was really a Ciriaco but he passed without giving
an answer that would satisfy his son’s curiosity.

“Father’s Doppelgänger” is a book that a curious reader will probably go back to time and
again in an attempt to find out if there really is a Ciriaco, a double of the author’s father David.

It is also a book whose style could be studied by students intending to make a living by writing.

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