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IMPULSES | Contemplations on love, regret, and life’s legacy

By Herman M. Lagon

As we gathered quietly to mourn and remember Tita Pilar Parreno last Sunday night, I found myself jotting down notes on my phone, deeply reflecting on the intricate weave of our existence. The somber atmosphere of Tita Pilar’s wake in a funeral home in Tanza, Iloilo City, brought about 50 of us in the room intimately closer, fostering a space for profound introspection about the transient nature of life and the indelible marks we leave behind.

Listening to the heartfelt stories of relatives and friends filled with gratitude and affection, I was struck by a significant realization: the actual value of our lives is not measured by our achievements or material accumulations. Instead, it is defined by the genuine connections we forge and the simple acts of kindness we extend. Each shared memory painted a vivid portrait of a life richly lived through subtle, loving gestures that collectively shaped a meaningful legacy.

This concept deeply resonated with me, echoing the principles of intentional living—a theme I encountered through a brilliant exercise in the Senior High School Philosophy of the Human Person class taught by my esteemed former colleague at Ateneo de Iloilo, Sir Rene Oquendo. Here, students were tasked with writing and delivering their own eulogies. This compelling exercise prompted deep reflection on the legacy one wishes to leave, thereby encouraging a life lived with purpose and intent.

As I sat there listening to the anecdotes and narratives about Tita Pilar, stories of lives like Dr. Eric F. Sharton’s, a Holocaust survivor who became a respected physician, similarly underscored the profound impact of resilience, empathy, and generosity. His narrative, shared at his own memorial service, illustrated how adversities can be transformed into a source of strength and giving, leaving a legacy enriched by an optimistic spirit and acts of kindness that are sometimes hiding in the vinyl of ‘tough love.’

These narratives not only inspire us to cherish every interaction but also confront us with the regrets of missed opportunities for kindness, connection, and, much so, forgiveness. In reflection, the weight of words unsaid and gestures undone becomes painfully apparent—moments when we could have shown more love or gratitude, yet let them pass by. This awareness urges us to seize the present with more warmth and openness, ensuring our future is free of such regrets.

They challenge us to reflect on the moments when we could have been more generous, more sincere, or more present. The story of Jesus, as told by his disciples, serves as a powerful example of a life dedicated to inclusive love and acts of kindness that challenge societal norms and uplift marginalized souls.

Faced with inevitable ups and downs, humps and bumps, and triumphs and trials, we are inspired to seize every opportunity—carpe diem style—to show kindness and compassion. We are urged to become catalysts for positive change, cultivating relationships that enrich both our own lives and those around us. Our smallest actions stitch together the legacy we leave, contributing to a broader matrix of humanity.

In honoring those like Tita Pilar, we are encouraged to uphold the values of compassion and kindness they so cherish. Inspired by their examples, we face the challenge of creating a legacy not of material wealth but of rich, enduring relationships and genuine connections that extend beyond our time.

As we contemplate the legacy we aim to build, we are reminded to view each interaction and decision as part of a larger whole, emphasizing community and connectivity. Through this lens and our everyday actions, we endeavor to craft a legacy of love and purpose, encapsulating the essence of a well-lived, life-giving, driven, and grounded life imbued with intention and heartfelt connections.


Doc H fondly describes himself as a ‘student of and for life’ who, like many others, aspires to a life-giving and why-driven world that is grounded in social justice and the pursuit of happiness. His views herewith do not necessarily reflect those of the institutions he is employed or connected with.


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