Melanie’s toast for Lolo’s 80th  Birthday
Hello, everyone.
Thank you so much for coming out today to celebrate my dad’s 80th birthday.
As I look around this room,
What comes to mind is “it takes a village”
It’s something my friends and I say to each other
As we chip in to help one another
With school pickups, drop-offs,
After school shuttling
All sorts of stuff that needs to get done in life
As curveballs of
Work travel or deadlines occur,
Or winter storms, stomach flus, colds
So now, I look around and see all of you
I want to thank you for being OUR VILLAGE HERE
You are the network that we love and rely on
You keep our family going
And healthy
And safe
And loved
And laughing
And celebrated
And vibrant
So thank you for that.  Thank you to each and every one of you.
Cheers to you
To Dad,
When I was thinking about what to say today
I Thought about a small speech I gave at your retirement party
It was fine
I thanked you for lots of “big” things
My education
Stock market advice
Big llfe experiences
Appreciation for the arts
Social justice
Some big lessons
I want to Thank you for a little moment
That means something big
You may not even remember
I was somewhere between Griff and Bex’s age.  Prob 1st grade
Assignment at school  — “what do you want to be when you grow up?”
Went home to think about the assignment and talk to you about it
Turns out – my first choice was “croupier”
And then the next was “toll booth collector”
There was some silence
You may have stifled some bemusement.
But you said, of course – you can do any of those things. 
For a year.
Many points stuck with me from this conversation.
1) It Wasn’t WHAT  I was  “going to be” (although I knew you really wanted me to be a doctor or a lawyer.
It was HOW you responded
The UNCONDITIONAL love and support you gave.
You helped me to articulate WHY those things might be interest to me.
Something about “meeting new people every day
and “enjoying math”
…but anyway…
2) Another point being
This was one of many instances throughout my childhood,
and ultimately throughout my life
where you, as my dad, let me,  as your child, have a voice
speak my mind, let me work through my thoughts
didn’t dismiss them as “silly” or for being “just a kid”
You took moments like these to teach me
I could do whatever I wanted
Be whoever I wanted to be
— not in a haughty “I can do ANYTHING you can do” way, but  meaning I could be whoever I wanted to be, and it would BE OK WITH YOU.  You would always be proud of me.  You would always love me.
AS long as whatever I did, I did with
With meaning
With Passion
With Integrity.
It’s one of those big
That I’ve always treasured, and I continue to learn from
And I try to practice it daily
And hope upon hope to able to successfully impart to my children
So, I come back to today
80 years
8 decades of life lessons
big and small
you are a human
a friend
a father
a brother
an uncle
and a grandfather
that I truly love and respect and am so thankful for.
And I’m proud to raise a glass today to toast and commemorate this incredible milestone with you.
I love you.



March 18, 2018 –  The Day of the Celebration
Notes On A Fourscore Celebration

My present is your presence and your presence is my present. The language of Shakespeare is wonderful because it allows one to tweak words in different ways and come up with the same meaning, it is so malleable. Welcome all.

Why do we celebrate birthdays? I will probably get a dozen different answers, depending on the age of the responder, in short the answer is age dictated. Birthdays to the very young like our two grandchildren Griffin and Beckett, and their cousins Chris, Jomar, Dylan, Bentley and Emma Lily means ice cream, cakes, balloons, new toys and fun. The other day Griffin said something that I thought is cogent, he claimed that he is sometimes difficult because he argues he is at a difficult age; he is between ten and teen while Bexy my co-“Februarian” celebrant is just happy with no hint of worries when he turned 6. To the teens it may mean dancing, dates, an outing or just hanging out with friends. To the forever young a quiet dinner for two at a special restaurant with dancing optional. To the seniors it may just mean the yearning desire to remember shared memories, or the stealth wish just to be remembered or to bank more memories of a beautiful day, like today, with family, extended relatives, relatives-out of respect and friends. It is for all the latter that today together we break bread.

Who started the celebration of birthdays? Does anyone know? Actually the celebration is pagan in origin. The pagans believed that in the special events that mark one’s life there lurk some evil spirits that must be expunged. If this belief rules then the White House needs to celebrate birthdays twice a day, every each day continually. Furthermore the celebration symbolically and ceremonially involves the lighting and blowing of candles, again to blow away the evil spirits. The White House instead of nurturing and allowing 10,000 blossoms to bloom, currently expends its time chasing incessantly 10,000 candle lights to extinguish.

Since the candles needed a pedestal to perch on, so enters the cake, the cake is baked and the blowing of candles is born. (I made the last one up) Historically, however because it is pagan in origin, Christians shunned it until the 1700 when birthday celebrations are accepted in Germany.

Fourscore is a nice chunk of time isn’t it? But TIME travels… fast, continuously and always in one direction, mainly forward. It waits for no one. The minute that just went by is not retrievable, or even the second, or a nanosecond. You can’t go back in time, you can only look back at it. When I am alone in my thoughts I ask, “Where did all the time go”? My fourscore spans FIVE generations of Sys, of which three are amply represented here. I have an only uncle in Shanghai and he is 100, he is the last of the second generation.

My brother Dorland, and sister-in-law Pin live here and without them Milan and I can’t snow bird annually our way to Vegas, they have been pivotal to our stay in Vegas in every which way. To both our profound thanks and deep gratitude. But it is also evident, that my brother proved to be the more prolific one. He and Pin are the parents to five, grandparents to 12 and great grandparents to two. About 50% of the faces you see today belong to them and vicariously Milan and I make some small claim. Through the years I have seen the younger generations go thru their babyhood, childhood, teen hood, college, career choice, marriage and parenthood. This panorama is etched in my years and I feel the richer.


On a separate note, what is the etymology of Lolo. Lolo means Grandpa and is universally used in the Philippines. I always thought it was Spanish in origin, it may still be, but Spanish people do not have it in their lexicon. I theorize then that while the etymology may still be Spanish, probably from the word Abuelo meaning grandfather. I suspect Lolo is derived from the last syllable of abuelo, and because children who just start to verbalize tend to iterate the last syllable of a new word they hear, thus Lolo came about along with Lola which is for grandmother. As for how Chiapo came about in our family it is yet another story and I will let my wife explain that.

With that I thank everyone for sharing this day with me. Special thanks and appreciation to the eloquent speakers who spoke on a subject that wants in eloquence.

Date: February 5, 2018

Delivered: March 18, 2018

Venue: Canaletto Ristorante Veneto

Piazza at the Venetian/Palazzo

Las Vegas, NV