My first lifetime started on Butler Street in November of 19__ as the pride and joy of Manny and Sandy Dizon. Manny was a pro boxer who became a neighborhood icon thanks to the advent of television in homes throughout the country. He settled into a job with the Coast Guard once his boxing days were over and found an apartment where we lived until the mid-60’s after my sister Lea was born.
My grandparents, only one of whom I ever met, had the necessary credentials to produce two such offspring who, in turn, spawned an individual such as yours truly. Teodulfo Dizon was born to a captain of the Spanish Army and his wife who were stationed on the Philippine Islands at the turn of the century. After the collapse of the garrison during the Spanish-American War, my great-grandparents chose to remain in their home in the city of San Pedro. While attending grade school, Teodulfo took on work as a houseboy at the local US military base which had replaced the Spanish garrison.
In my novel Generations II (unpublished as of this writing), I portrayed Grandpa as a card-playing, womanizing slickster, which was not very far from the truth. He was unquestionably a cunning opportunist. He made a strong connection with Colonel Sibley and his family, and when they got reassigned to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, they offered to take him to America and he didn’t think twice. When I went to visit him in 1973, he was teary-eyed with regret that he never saw his family again. Regardless, when he got to San Antonio he became a prominent figure within the Filipino community, having known most of those who migrated there. He had the foresight to organize a social group, the Filipino-American Society, which named him as their president. The Texas Heritage Society in San Antonio features my Grandpa in their downtown museum to this day.
(To be continued...)