Whenever he wanted something, he would just get up and go. That’s my Lolo!

Published April 7, 2021, 1:12 AM

by Christopher James Tantoco

This Royal Duty Free COO recalls travels with his grandfather on the occasion of the latter’s 100th birthday

CHEERS TO SUNNY DAYS Lolo Benny in Langkawi in 2012

Growing up with Lolo was very exciting, never boring. In summer, he would always take me with him traveling. Lolo taught me a lot in those trips, always around Europe, Sotogrande, and Franklin Lakes. More than teaching me, he showed me.

Lolo’s morning and evening routine was always the same. He would begin and end the day with meditation, but in the middle of that, he would live life to the fullest—eating good food, spending time with family and friends, and going on adventures. Lolo was very spontaneous. Whenever he wanted to do something, he would just get up and go. Lolo really lives life to the fullest.

More than teaching me, he showed me. He really lives life to the fullest.

He always told me to dress up. Growing up, I was always a T-shirt, shorts, and slippers type of person. One day, he took me shopping and basically changed my whole wardrobe. Just a few weeks ago, he called me out on not having a collar on my shirt for Sunday dinner. Even at 99, he would still call me out. I like it because it shows me that he still cares. I would agree with the dressing up. Showing up is different for me. You have to be deliberate when you show up. During lockdown, when I did see Lolo, I realized he wanted my full attention. He didn’t like me on my phone or doing something else, so I changed. I only see him when I am completely free so I can give him my full attention. Lolo says, “50 points for showing up, 40 points for dressing up,” but I don’t agree that what you do is only 10 points. That would be 90 for me. Haha!

The most important guideline Lolo has taught me is to always do what is right, even if the “right” is a hard decision. One time, I needed to make some tough decisions. I contemplated long and hard. I knew what I was doing was right, but I knew there would be a lot of people who wouldn’t be happy. Lolo told me “this isn’t a beauty pageant.” As it turned out, it was the right move.

One time Lolo told me that oatmeal was his secret to secret to long life. He used to eat oatmeal every day, but nowadays, he has scrambled eggs, jamon, bananas, raisin bread, and a decaffeinated coffee. I haven’t seen him eat oatmeal in over a decade, so I’m not sure. The other secret, Lolo said, is his passion for life. You can see this in how he lives. He loves to live and the thing that keeps him going is his family. Sometimes, he randomly says to me, “You know why I’m so lucky? It is because of my family! I have a great family!” 

Another thing is that he loves to travel. When he could, he would. You could see his passion for life when he travels. He is always curious. One time he was looking at a magazine and saw something on Alaska. The next day we were booked for an Alaskan cruise. That’s my Lolo. Never a dull moment and always curious and learning. I don’t think I could have asked for a better Lolo in the world.

The author is COO at Royal Duty Free.