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One of the best parts of my close relationship with Connie Castro Jackson's family was the privilege of listening to their stories. October was Filipino Heritage month, but I’d like to call it Grandpa Cherry’s Heritage Month. Allow me to introduce you to Connie's Filipino father, Cherry Castro.

Ciriaco "Cherry" Castro was a beloved and happy man who sang and danced whenever the spirit moved him. His was moved by his culture to work hard to do whatever it took to support his family, and he did so joyfully. In his earlier life, he worked in the fields, doing back-breaking labor. For example, harvesting asparagus required running crouched with a knife and container up and down the fields, cutting and gathering.

He lived out his later years in the Filipino Center in Stockton, proud of his heritage and a cultural belief that children must be trained toward mutual respect and community. He loved his extended family's and friends' children and treated them as if they were his own, which is what earned him the name Grandpa Cherry.

Cherry was a great cook. He made traditional Filipino foods such as adobo, pancit, lumpia rice, and the most delicious sticky rice dessert with coconut milk.

Filipinos, especially Grandpa Cherry, are notoriously slow drivers. He was ticketed several times for driving too slowly on the freeway. Connie, on the other hand, was ticketed more than once for speeding. Grampa Cherry always said, “Must be the white in her.”

Cherry lived his life primarily in the United States, returning to the Philippines to visit only once, with his wife Babing, who was also well-loved by the family. After he died, in the early 1990s, Babing moved back to the Philippines and cut ties. Connie's daughter tried to find her, but she has not been heard from again.

Connie talked about how she was Cherry's little favorite, his “Consing” who could do no wrong. She loved being with him and blossomed under his care. He let her know often he was proud of her and happy with her choice to marry Ray Jackson.

Please join with me in honoring Cherry Castro, a good natured, hardworking, well-loved man.

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