Monthly Archives: March 2014
“The past is always tense, the future perfect.”
― Zadie Smith
The future is near. Man’s consciousness may already be saved and preserved in what today we refer to as USB. It could be installed in his descendant and life moves on perpetually. Ageing which has been believed as natural cycle would be seen as a form of sickness that could be treated. Life would go on as one pleases. Death would just be a term which can only be found in the dictionary.
Science would just be a transient course to study the past and religion would be relegated only as ritual to provide color and fashion on every culture. There will be no restrictions in traveling from one area to another, from one country to another since the planet will just be one country and travelling would only imply moving on from one planet to another.
There will be no more war since everyone is concerned in understanding climatic challenges. Politics will just wither along the way since administration is given to microchips already. Every aspect of life will be governed and digitized leaving the creative part of humanity free to express itself. Crime will be understood in the context of its effect and not on the penal provision that would affect the offender.
Prisons and other detention facilities like government offices will be phased out. Nobody would compel anyone, nobody will exploit everyone. Every activity will be conducted business like and fairness will rule the global economy.
Schools will be organized in what we know today as laptops and lessons on gregariousness can be found in malls and market places. Education will be rounded and holistic and everybody will be enjoying learning and inspired unwittingly to be literate.
Poverty can be addressed not through lip service anymore. Distribution of wealth and life sustaining supplies will be conducted by computers already, through mathematically programmed formulations.
Sickness will be a historical reminder on the frailty of ancient mind. Health will be the hallmark of everyone. Vices will proliferate not as threat but as incentive for an exciting lifestyle.
Books will still be there but would evolve in several forms. Life would almost reach its perfect state.
But there is a drawback however in reaching this stage. There will be a massive resistance. There will be forces out to retain the present situation, there will be powers to maintain status quo. The world will be divided and a monumental upheaval would commence. That would signal the start of World War III!
Physicist Albert Einstein, the man who discovered the process that led to the development of Atomic Bomb was asked before what he thinks of the future. He said, “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”
Machiaveli’s The Prince spelled out the ways and means of preserving power. Robert Greene wrote books on ways to achieve and advance power. John Maxwell inspired readers and leaders with his works on the definition of power and in enhancing it. And there are scores of books, tracts, treatises and audio visuals including clips from youtube extolling power as the be-all of every act. That it must be the result of any effort.
And why not. It is in power that wealth, control, rule, command and everything almost wished for in the material world can be generated. Power is that magnet that attracts more clout, more influence, more strength. Power begets power. Every activity of modern man seems focused in acquiring power, be it in science, philosophy and religion. As the saying goes, “to the victors belong the spoils.”
Those considered power less on the other hand are the bums, slaves, prisoners and the great unwashed. They live along the fringes, almost alienated and completely ignored. Life does not revolve along the stream of powerlessness. That at least is what is contemplated in this side of the universe. To live means to have power.
This of course is pure conjecture, a fallacy so to speak. Power, real power, is never earned nor learned. It comes as a matter of reality on one who bears the qualification of humility. Power resides in simplicity. Those who never claim power or those who do not concern on power are the most powerful.
A character in Umberto Eco’s novel The Name of the Rose in responding to his Franciscan superior about his celebrated status quipped “I am praying hard to be forgotten.” That was a definitive statement that virtually reflected his superiority notwithstanding his wish to be debased and sullied.
The Papacy under Pope Francis even highlighted this concern during his first day. He asked his flock to bless him rather than go to the extent of summoning the heavens to bless the people. That was statement enough signaling that power is not what it seems as everything. It is actually in consciously losing power that is most desired and even more exciting.
Without a preconceive notion of power, man is left on his own. Adversity seldom, if at all, visit one who is shorn of power. Steve Jobs confessed that “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Socrates, the philosopher’s philosopher even went further when he said that “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”
Living, leading and expressing contentment do not revolve around power. It is not even a prescription for a fruitful promotion in rank or recognition. Worst, there is suffering in power.
Life therefore is not about seeking and imposing power, it is more about losing it and feeling complete. Ironically, those who never sought power and would even consciously deny it are the ones esteemed and remembered perpetually.
I am wondering how come some of my friends have no account yet in Facebook. I am still conjecturing also why some of my friends have no email address yet. At a time when there is such a thing as cyberspace, it is only the youth that predominates it and only a sprinkling of the generation getting through it that preceded the now generation. It is as if the former generation has already vanished although in reality they are still a part of the living component of the planet. Why the silence?
It has been said that for anyone today to be called literate it is not enough to know the rudiments of reading, writing and computing, more than anything else, one must know computers too. There is even a law on electronic communication and lately what has been known as the controversial cybercrime on libel.
In other words, living or functioning within the realm of cyberspace is no longer sci-fi contemplation. It is a reality already. The drawback seems to be one of choice. There are those who do not wish to be initiated on anything new. That it is a burden to learn another trick. That learning would have stopped right after the last unit in school has been earned. That everything which precedes introduction of something new is strictly for the youth and that by choice, anyone who has breached the golden year has no more right, much more so, no more zest to understand what goes beyond contemplation.
I have a friend who would rather confine himself with what he has known before. Those computers, even operating cellphones, are already alien to him. He would rather watch his children, even grandchildren, tinker with something digital rather than force his mind into it.
I would likewise suspect that most of those classmates I had in my grade school were also suffering from the same predicament. There seems to be so many sentiments in the past that they do not intend to move on to the next level. There seems to be so much significance in the past that they would rather resist change. There seems to be a fixation with the comfort zone that there is no need to move around. That while technology improves, nay, advances the excitement of life; it is however saddled with tension and pressures. And these are components that would rather inhibit anyone faced with the consequence of or perhaps a dilemma of adding learning, of discovering something new in favor of a settled situation.
It is of course different when one discovers cyberspace eventually or be stunned to discover that one is already in cyberspace.
My entry into the elite batch of section one during my elementary days is still shrouded in mystery. While it is true that all my classmates were the brilliant, superior kind, it is therefore understandable for them to be there. It is not tradition but grades mattered. Not only were my classmates the studious type, they are also clean, prim and proper. They looked better, handsomer, prettier, what more can be asked for. They had the looks and the intelligence. There was no way for them to fall. Their projections meant success already. They can even challenge the gods of luck and they would still succeed. There was one thing which Section One had one thing in common for its members, they had the charms and they were leading a charmed life. As for me, I personally do not have charms, except when I got it belatedly during my adventure days in college. And it is not even the charms I was referring to which my classmates earlier on enjoyed, my charms was more like an “anting-anting” pa.
I still could not even get the logic as far as schooling in grade school was concerned. There was this Durian Elementary School, a public school. And then, across the street, the Quirino Elementary School, was also another public school. Why two public schools in virtually the same spot? Anyway, I was enrolled in Durian for my first grade. The flooring was still dirt and soil. When it rained, the soil becomes muddy and the classroom becomes a veritable playground much like how the primitive conducted their primal learning during the Stone Age. But I had fun. I could not forget the girl I was seated with always, Fourdeliza Javier, she would always be in her best Sunday dress. I also could not forget the boy whose hand I envied for its dexterity in drawing human figure. I remembered befriending him, Art Galindez, so that he will not fold up the paper where he drew fantastic figures. From there, I would also spend a considerable time duplicating his art works, copying comics and finally, coming up with a master piece—Superman in skirts!
After, well graduating, from Grade One, my mother transferred me to a newly built, newly painted school across Durian—- THE Quirino Elementary School. It boasted of a sprawling campus and in my estimation before, a “state of the art” home economics building and a “high-end” canteen, featuring my favorite snack—macaroni soup with sprinkling of milk. I dreamt of staying in the canteen if only to get ahead of the cue for that heavenly soup. I would earlier on try myself to be an entrepreneur so that I could have the necessary added allowance for a third helping of the soup!
In Grade Two, I would get to know the most beautiful, the prettiest girls in the campus, the Irma Navera, the Lorna Diaz, the Susan Villafranca, the Azelvita, the Flourdeliza, the Fe, the Belen, the Maria Lourdes, the Pacencia, the MaryAnn and so forth, all of them. They were all lumped in my classroom. I would also have the privilege of having as classmate during that formative period, the brightest and the most active boys in the sprawling ground of the school. I was blessed to have this stimulating group of young boys and girls as my classmates. I could not recall how I competed with these crème of a batch. I do not even remember an instance if I passed the quiz or exams. All that I can remember was when our teacher would regularly announce, “get your one-fourth sheet of paper for quiz!” I could not even recall if I have read something. But what I could not disregard was the pronouncement that if anyone is caught speaking Tagalog, there will be a fine. I do not even remember if I opened my mouth during that period because of the prohibition!
Then Grade Three. It was only in this period that I had a complete grasp of what was happening in my academic environment. It was also during this time that I was able to read a book cover to cover! Although as early as my kindergarten years I could already read, it was only during my grade 3 year that I was able to remember I have used such skill. It was also during this period that I became aware of how great my classmates were. I became conscious too on their intellectual preparedness. While I never had any concept of what gender was, it was during this time that I learned I was a boy. This I learned the hard way after some school bullies would drive me crazy for their antics. I was virtually the smallest, give and take a few of us, the youngest too and the most vulnerable whenever there were muscled, hefty and aggressive senior boys who would shake me down during recess time. It was also a reawakening for me to carry a bladed weapon for my defense. That was confidence building. With something glistening in my pocket and letting the bullies peek on it, I would literally be respected.
In Grade Four, I was like most of my classmates, behaved and disciplined. We knew where we should begin. We knew also when time was up. We were a bunch of saintly children, inhibited to express anything juvenile. The only behavioral excesses we could display were during field days. It was however very unfortunate that my parents never allowed me to join “Bravery” programs in scouts. I was a Boy Scout only in paper. I envy the Elmo Abad, the Elmer Gloria, the Alfredo Tabayoyong, the Benjamin Velasquez, the Edgar Javier who were all poster boys for youthful, scouting adventures. Not only were they the favorite crush of all beautiful girls in the campus, they were virtually the idols of the passive sector, including me.
In Grade Five, the great divide had been defined. The boys were really boys, the girls were really girls. The boys were given plots in the garden to maintain. The girls were sent to Home Economics. I envied the girls because I also wanted to be in the Home Economics building where the food was! In the garden, we have to wait for the vegetable to grow. It was only during field days when we would be all in one batch.
In Grade Six, I would miss some of those fellow “farmers” in the school garden. Only a few boys would be included in Section One. It was predominantly composed of girls. I could only play second fiddle to girls and almost at the bottom among boys. The girls were all scholarly. The boys were all adventure. I could only see myself as appreciating how the girls could memorize vast tracts of poetry and how the boys could be impressive in their vocational artworks. It was also a period when I have to be secretive to my parents, embarrassed at the thought of presenting to them my card with low grades. I had no rancor however. What can I do in the first place? I happen to belong to a Batch considered legendary in terms of beauty and brains. I could only enjoy being in their shadows. That for me was the most memorable.
I am in a quandary whether to believe in the Bar Exams or not. I have been in the prison service longer than any career personnel in government that I intend to retire anytime now. As a prison officer, I have had a number of occasions to meet lawyers of various stripes—those in private firms, those in government service, those in uniformed institutions, those in the academe, so on and so forth. I have had several instances when I would tangle with them point by point. At the end of every session with this chosen specie, I would have my notes ready for my impressions.
Sadly, I could only scribble unfortunate expression of sadness on their intellectual state. I have as yet to talk to a lawyer discussing a case with meritorious competence in the field of law. I have as yet to meet a lawyer with the caliber of a Salonga, or a Diokno, or a Santiago. They are seasoned lawyers and Bar topnotchers to say the least. But Bar passers nonetheless. A barrister may have been the same in terms of their outlook and bearing assuming that Bar Exams is an indication for qualification and competence.
For the last few years, there were a number of lawyers who qualified by virtue of their passing rates. The Bar Exam surely separates the grain from the chaff. But is it really? I have been privileged to have as close friends lawyers who landed near the top. But their works are not that impressive if landing near the top would be a gauge at all. On the contrary, I would also be recipient of works by non lawyers, those who never made it in the Bar, but whose intelligence are comparatively higher and whose writing skill more superior. I would even dare say that given the same debating field, the non lawyers may even exhibit an edge.
That would bring the whole argument to a standstill if passing the Bar is a requisite for competence in the practice of law. Not that it should be stricken out. Not that the Bar has no merit at all. It is a parameter, an indicator of preparedness actually. What I would banner is the way the test papers should be treated.
For a time, there is a few percentage of passing. Is it because the takers are not at all prepared? Or, their papers not seriously appreciated. Let us remember that those who are correcting the papers are in their twilight years already and therefore can easily tire, given the timeline on which to immediately come up with their response. A mathematical exercise may prove revealing. Assuming there are 5,000 test papers to correct. If the correctors are given three months (90 days) within which to complete and send their corrected test papers back with grades that means a daily grind of 55 test papers. That means 7 test papers an hour or 55 test papers for a stretch of 8 hours. Further on, that implies that for every test paper, the corrector is given 8 minutes within which to read and appreciate the answers given by the examinee. I just wished that my computation is faulty.
My point is this. If our examiners/ correctors are that enthusiastic in appreciating the answers of examinees, my firm belief is that there will be more passers or the percentage may spike to a height which our countrymen would welcome. We need a lot of lawyers and most of those who are taking the Bar are schooled properly and competent enough to serve the social needs of our countrymen.
One is never greeted daily with an offer to work for free. But here was this instance in the past when someone volunteered to be one among several crews I hired to construct my house. The workers knew that I only have bare resources to make do hence there was this so much care in the manner of using materials. We cannot stand to spend more than what I had budgeted for the purpose. And because I was stingy in my resources, someone offered to work without pay. “Just feed me.” was the only requirement and it was a practical one.
And so, I marked this man silently as one of my real friends.
When my cottage was completed, he asked if he still could stay to assist. Again, he never expected to be remunerated at all. All that he asked for was merely a small space where he could stay within spitting distance from the house which I resided in. He merely wanted to be called a trusted man. He merely wanted to be known as my ally.
In the community where I established my residence, I had a reputation for kindness, benevolence and well, brilliance. My record as a prison official spilled over to the community. Prison work and community service had been an advocacy I was committed to be involved in. Anyone therefore with a knack for public service would rather get through me, get near me or volunteer to be with me if only for the cause I was espousing.
I used to work alone. Well, I chose to do things all by myself. I never wanted nor prodded anyone to work for me. If at all there were those who milled around me, projecting an impression that I had a number of recruits, it was never my choice. It was these people who wanted to be helped, who wanted to be assisted, whose needs they sought from me. I operated as if I was an entirely complete person and because of that, some people thought that they could ask from me some surpluses or excesses which they could tap to sustain their deficient needs. They were all welcomed.
If I had so much, I would generously share. If I had nothing coming, a sincere smile would do. All those around me would partake of anything, be it a morsel or an amusing story. Both of which could already fill up their day. I know because if they were unsatisfied or bored, unrequited or disgruntled, they could just pack up and stroll away. There were no contracts or agreements anyway. But people flock to stay nonetheless and I had no stomach to drive them away.
And so this fellow, this volunteer worker of mine, Jojo Viray chose to reside in a small hut outside my gated cottage, within my entrance corridor almost exposed to the main street. I had plots of vegetable plants on which anyone can pluck for a simple viand. Jojo was sharing this area with another volunteer worker. Technically, they were on their own. I had no predators or enemies not even any competitor to guard about and so they were merely tasked to maintain the garden from where their comeuppance may be derived.
It was a full year of self sustaining activity. At times, they were conscripted to maintain my own garden but generally, they had their small areas to concentrate on.
One dimly lit afternoon however, while Jojo was stretching after a routine farming chore, a bungling person crept into his area, aimed a firearm and shot Jojo mercilessly until he splayed dead on the orchard. I was somewhere that time and when I was informed about the incident, it was a puzzle, almost bizarre.
Those hits were only done on “important” personalities. Jojo was merely a dirt farmer. The manner by which he was taken down partakes of an activity or involvement with big time syndicates. It could be drugs or anything lucrative to merit death as penalty for those who would transgress its discipline. But Jojo would never qualify even as runner because he had no credentials for it. Before Jojo volunteered to work in my small farm, he was a pedicab driver. He never knew any work at all and for quite a time, he was unemployed. Assuming he cornered some enemies sometime past, he would have been stabbed by a bar-b-q stick or hacked by a rusted pipe. He could have been poisoned or pushed in the highway. Yet he was like a bemedaled soldier or a controversial politician when he was murdered.
He must have known something, or witnessed some kind of an incident for which an instant rub out was a necessary move. But it would once again boil down to the same analysis. Why an expensive bullet and not something that befits a lowly man.
Crime today is no longer that simple anymore.
For the last few years and even at present, my mode of transportation from Manila to Mindanao is through the air. I have virtually earned a lot of flying hours that I could proudly compete with the flying hours which my son and all his classmates earned in the flying school, that much.
I never had any jitter even if during weekends I would watch intently what National Geographic would analyze on the topic of Airplane Crash Investigation. The docu clippings were of vintage quality. It would never happen and if at all, it would be very remote.
The case of 9/11 in US was chilling but in my mind, it could never happen in a developing country.
And then something happened a few days, well, a week ago. A big jumbo commercial jet (Boeing 777) with 239 passengers on board suddenly disappeared in thin air!
That instance made me apprehensive about boarding planes. Not that I am scared of flying but my family, friends, acquaintances even countrymen who are dependent on air transportation will all be subject on this form of nightmare. Disappearing while on flight, where all radars are opened and virtually satellites above the planet are monitoring as if the world is on CCTV and finding or recording nothing befuddles the modern mind. We have already discovered the smallest, the most infinitesimal particle in the universe, defined antimatter and yet we could not locate a jumbo jet, the size of a football field, hovering a few thousand meters above our head!
This is no sleight of hand. I would not even indulge in claiming that magicians tried to make some kind of trickery through illusion or misdirection of this magnitude by waving a kerchief abracadabra style. There were several theories, even incantations from shaman just to determine where the giant aluminum bird is and still nothing concrete has ever been laid down.
There are still mysteries in this world which science could not fathom yet. In US, the entire security landscape has been designed to cover almost their entire atmosphere of the country, not knowing that a low tech and low approach would have been used to attack its central business district. In the case of Malaysia, there are around 26 countries pouring out their technological expertise to assist in locating the missing plane. That means that analysis is conducted from the top. Why not start something from below. Not as low as what the shaman would suggest though.
We still have lapses despite advancement of technology. We have as yet to find cure for cancer and HIV. We have as yet to formulate a humanistic standard that would address the final end for war and conflict. We have as yet to develop a scheme that would equalize distribution of wealth, that poverty would eventually be eradicated, injustice nipped at the bud and exploitation reduced to fiction. Man is still far from attaining the ideal, well, not necessarily an ideal state but something proximate to what we intend to be in the future.
These lapses at times are expressed in gaps in technology. Hence, even a missing giant could still be something that confounds whatever has been achieved by mankind as far as his knowledge is concerned.
Last night I had a dream, and it was disturbing. Good it was only a dream. The day before, I was so surprised that a protégé, one whose work I really appreciate and admire, one whose work I could easily compare and see similarities with the works and style of writing of judges, one with a depth of mind and exuding with analytical ideas , would not pass the Bar exams!
Well, there are historical precedents that things happen. Shit happens as the saying goes. The late Senator Claro M. Recto flunked his first Bar exam; but he topped it in the succeeding year. The late Senator Jose W. Diokno never had a formal schooling in Law but after he was permitted to take the Bar, he topped it. Opinion writer Ramon Tulfo in his column (Inquirer, September 4, 2013) wrote that former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez also flunked the Bar but was admitted after passing the next year. The former Ombudsman was also a former Justice Undersecretary, one of the most amiable and cordial, who later became Officer in Charge of the Department of Justice before she was appointed as Ombudsman. According to Tulfo, Gutierrez’s classmate in Ateneo, former first gentleman Mike Arroyo also flunked but later passed the Bar. Arroyo, had it not for his relation to the former President, would have been a success story in the business world.
Previously, the High Court issued a circular on the so called “Five Year Strike Rule.” This meant that a successive failure to pass the Bar exams five times would render any applicant for the Bar to be disqualified in taking another chance thereafter. However, according to the Supreme Court, this rule would be lifted to favor those who wanted to take a chance to be a barrister later.
Going back to my dream, I saw myself struggling with fellow classmates reviewing for the Bar. Actually, I finished my legal education but my job as prison official never afforded me time to review, much more so, any time to take the Bar. In three successive years when I was supposed to take my leave for the Bar, prison administration would assign me to various penal establishments one after another. I dropped the idea of taking the Bar all throughout. It was only in my dream that I would pursue it.
There I was haggling with my peers until someone from my circle would approach me to join a Fraternity. For me it was just a waste of time, it was just a juvenile antic, an expensive proposition, an adolescent plaything. But there was another reason: to pass the Bar exams! My peers were intrigued. They convinced me that the Fraternity had influential and well-connected members in the political and corporate world. Fraternities are like gangs, when they need something, they just get it, nothing in between, not even laws or arms are obstacles to hurdle. They have the muscle and they can have anything they want. Fraternities like mafia are sworn to “omerta” and operate almost the same. To be a member therefore is a key to success.
The leader of the Fraternity convened my peers and explained that the legal profession is an exclusive club. It has its own language taught formally in school. The same can be said as far as the manner, projection and even in the way it would relate to the courts of law. No one can breach the bar in court unless one is a member. That is how exclusive, how elite the legal profession is. And only a favored few can get through it and more, to be high up in the ladder of the profession, one must pass and be a placer. The Fraternity will see to it that its members get through sweetly amidst difficulties and with flying color.
Of course, passing the Bar requires years of study, of burning the midnight oil so to speak. Another course would be to join the Frat, join a study circle, be initiated with life on the brink and one is just lucky after the final rites, if he is not physically burned.
My fellow reviewees were all convinced. They got materials for review; some swore it was easy to review if they already know the questions. Beaten black and blue and sworn to be slaves, they had the advantage even of attaining whatever they wished for as far as placement in the hierarchy among those who would pass it. I was not there with them because in my dreams I was nowhere.
Came the bar exams and they pass it. I was nowhere too in the list because in my dreams I was somewhere watching everything and had never done anything at all. When I woke up, I was in a state of stupor and hunger. I realized then that I slept without having my dinner.
I checked my cellphone and a text message appears, “ANY INSTRUCTION, GRANDMASTER?”
Gilbert Miranda never invented anything except stories he made up to please his wife. He led a very typical life much like those in the community where he resided. While he dreamt to be a successful engineer one day, he never reached it for practical reasons. For him there was no need for a diploma if one is already adept and skilled. But his skills did not take the form of genius. It never even became extra ordinary to merit some kind of award. He was merely a notch higher in the department of industry and punctuality. Gilbert was Sonny to most of his friends, especially those he rubbed elbows with during his elementary days.
To a nation struggling for survival, for a spot in the sun, Sonny never mattered at all. He was even ignored in the community where he belonged. He was just a common man, a pedestrian so to speak.
But Sonny was a good friend, a very patient guy. He enjoyed the company of his former classmates. He was bookish sometime past, quite resourceful and would even feign sickness just so he would not be bothered by his friends when reviewing for a quiz. His efforts gave him that advantage. He would rather show the mettle of what he learned than wait for the school to declare it.
At a time when he was supposed to haggle with semestral units like his contemporaries, he was already gainfully employed. And because he had a job, the next thing necessary was for him to have a family of his own. He married ahead of his peers. He was easily the toast of his company. He was young, industrious, dexterous and disciplined. For a number of years, he was living the life of a charmed person.
When his peers graduated and started hunting for employment, he was already making something. He may not have arrived yet in the corporate sense but he was almost there. Meanwhile, his peers were catching up. They were slowly crawling and warming up. The succeeding generation was just behind. But expertise entered the picture. The junior workers were more technology savvy and digitally oriented. They had the schooling, the credentials, the high definition exposures. They barged into the corporate world and aggressively pushed those with lesser credentials. Sonny was one among those side swept in the process. Sonny had no benefit of receiving a diploma and that was what floored him down. He was forced to resign at a time when he was about to reach the top. There was just a glut of eager graduates with similar persuasions like that of Sonny. And this youthful entrants were cheaper to maintain.
His former classmate was there when it happened and he was immediately rescued. He was given another task but it was in (Davao Penal Colony) based in a far flung province of Mindanao. He could not bear the thought of leaving his family for a stretch of time. He merely spent a couple of months in the area. He wanted to be physically close to his loved ones. He bided his friend eventually , folded up his work, and then flew back to his community of orientation, back into the embrace of his wife and kids.
And so, he began to trek in another dimension, this time back on the starting line. Meanwhile, his peers had already overtaken the obstacles of challenge, had proven their mettle too and about to take greater challenges on top of their respective organizations. Those who rose instantly diversified and founded their own businesses, others left the country for greener pastures. The pressure of domestic requirements and the tension of seeking fiduciary succor through work had a telling mark on his health. He was diagnosed with hypertension and that would virtually, with fledging supply of costly medication, disturb his performance. In no time, he would suffer one mild stroke after another until finally his health would deteriorate. For a time he could no longer bear the travails of recuperation, seeing his family forced to eke for a living. The wife would likewise be enjoined, late in life as it were, to look for some work to keep their skin and bones together. Worst, they were also sustaining the medical and physical needs of their children, one of them physically disabled since birth.
It was then that his classmate, his closest friend would lend a succor. Sonny was facing adversity in capital letters but pride dictates that he must have to bear it alone. His neighborhood friends however were still fledging except for a handful of former classmates. But his requirements would increase as his health condition would worsen.
One day, sometime ago, three years to date to be exact, Sonny would succumb. He died of complications brought about by high blood pressure. He departed at the age of 58, leaving behind his wife and three children, all grown-ups already.
There was no fire and brimstone, no drama and hysterics during the time of his internment. His community remained normal. When he was buried, not even the heavens showed any sign.
But as his closest and best friend, I grieved fervently at his passing.
Call it what you may but for a bunch of us in the above picture (courtesy of a classmate- Ms Fe Paca-Taduran), it sure is a great (in my own personal view) spot in memory lane. This is proof that we once had a wonderful moment called youth, blissful, innocent, exciting and delightful. How I wish I could put a name on everyone, identifying each of my classmates, but I had this so called artist syndrome (I just invented this ailment though hoping that it could find a niche in medical journals) on poor recall of names and anything numeric. I know their faces even how they stand and move, but I could barely remember their full names.
I would just start with what I have. Our class picture, the graduating class which pride itself as premiere composite group or Section One has five rows. If I would blindly believe what my mother used to tell me about Section One, it is according to her the composition of the best and the brightest in the graduating batch of Qurino Elementary School. Hence, I never even thought that, for once, I had that chance to belong to an elite company! Next time around, Deped abolished the sectioning because it is discriminative. Instead, names of flowers and plants, whatever, were used to designate groupings.
On the basis of the above class picture, I occupied the front row with Efren Barba. I had a minute recollection of Efren except that he was scion of an Ilocos prominent clan. He used to be a champion soap box derby contestant that time. In my case, at that time, I used to watch and follow the series of Lagalag and when it was serialized in movie starring Eddie Fernandez (father of singer Pops Fernandez) I copied everything he projected. Since Fernandez was an action star and I was the non-violent type, I merely imitated the way he puffed his hair!
Second row on the picture, from the left seated, I could only identify Belen Maglalang, the class valedictorian. How she made it on top, I was not aware. Could be that I was busy creating noise at the back while she was reciting. Second to the left, followed by Flourdeliz, my seat mate in Grade 1, and Eva, whose mother Mam Sabares, our class adviser beside her. How I wish to recall the names of my classmates onward up to the last row, I know them for sure but their names are at the tip of my tongue! My apologies to my classmates whom my memory skipped due to, perhaps, incompetence.
Third row standing, oh my, memory gap once again. I could only remember Irma Navarra and Fe Paca.
Fourth row standing, boys turn. The elder guy must be the teacher aide. Beside him is Elmo Abad (a practicing lawyer.) Once I contracted his legal services, ayaw ng court na ako mag defend sa sarili ko kasi. All the lawyers I sought do not like the idea that I would prepare the legal brief at sila na lang pipirma. They want that they would do it. I disagreed. I got Elmo because I was able to convince him to just sign on the defense that I have prepared. We won. Fourth boy after Elmo was Elmer Gloria. I forgot the two big guys kasi they were the class bullies that time although I could count on few instances when they bullied me. It was okay though since I never felt I was bullied at all. I was small but my grip was strong since my hands are dexterous in Arts, besides I am also ambidextrous, kaya I can squeeze any neck with little effort on any hand. And of course after them there was Gilbert “sonny” Miranda. He departed a couple of years ago. Sonny was one of my best friends. Next to him is another friend from Pajo street and another from the same street is Alfredo Tabayoyong, a feisty kid and already masculine in his deportment.
Last row were the bigger girls, the leaders, our conductors. Here comes my memory gap again. Sixth from the left, there was Azel. For me she was more of a teacher. I reckon her warning more than our adviser when I find myself noisy and listless. Third girl after Azel was Lorna, my crush since Grade 2, the apple of my shy eyes.
In all, we were 39. There were 28 girls and 11 boys. The girls were more studious and intelligent than the boys, well, all boys except for Elmo whom I would look up to at that time as a model. He was very active on all fronts, be it on boys scout, extracurricular, gardening, everything. In my case, I was oftentimes reserved preferring the company of my mother at home, helping in the kitchen and tinkering with paints in our back yard.
And then we graduated and went separate ways. How I wish to recall all the names of my classmates.