Jokes louder than walnuts breaking, an “H” in a name, and an Ibalon child of tomorrow

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Each time I look at the pictures of Dr. Ramon Ray G. Rayel and his wife Bessie , I can’t help recall our days in UP Ibalon and Molave Residence Hall in Diliman campus. Things are far better now for my cardiologist-buddy who travelled the world to go to Philadelphia, PA, Nova Scotia, CAN, Iron Mountain, Michigan and a bit later settle to a beautiful place called Clearwater, Wisconsin.

From the Philippines to Australia, to Canada, and the United States, Dr. Rayel has been hot in the business of taking care of the heart. A self-deprecating humorous guy from Polangui, Albay who knows by rigid training the workings of the fist-sized pulsatile organ in the chest, Ray throws jokes louder than the pop of champagne and the sound of cracking walnuts in a charcoal grill. When he plays sports, he shoots the basketball right at the goal to win.

With that stubborn curly hair on his head, Ray watches, listens, and patiently dispenses remedies at the heart’s murmurings. Like a one-man charitable institution, he helps all those who come to him with problems, including those who need treatments and those requiring some baring of the soul.

His best contribution to the world however is nothing less than the cute and cuddly little Bea, Ray’s youngest kid in the brood of three who delights us with her big smile, fashionista sunglasses, and that kiddie backpack (see photo.) It is something we like to see the pixie angel do for her doting parents. By a stretch of imagination, I thought she may look like her loving grandma, the late Lourdes G. Rayel.

Coming to New York a year ago, little Bea proves to be a child of today and tomorrow. Nimble, smart, and delightfully inquisitive the girl with big round eyes and a budding sense of humor is a joy to watch. As I relish looking at her sit comfortably with her parents in their warm and cozy living room, I have to thank God for taking good care of the family who makes me and all Ibalonians happy and proud.

A true friend who taught many to rein over their personal devils, conquer health difficulties, look ahead, and appreciate life’s unexpected complexities, Ray gifted me with a name which to this day I respond to like a poodle. His generous counsel before I took trainings in UP-PGH, SUNY Downstate & NYU Medical Center became part of my decision to be a pathologist—for which I am very thankful.

The only wise advise Ray gave me which I rejected (I’m sorry Ray!) was to put an “H” on the spelling of my nickname. Shown to me in a crumpled paper, I thought it was “elegant” with the concurrence of Drs. Arnel V. Malaya, Mario B. Genio, and Julius A. Lecciones who excitedly insisted it would make the eyes of other Bicolanos spin. They expected the “H” would make me popular and the Ibalon girls would swoon. But there was a hitch. The spelling couldn’t bear the persona of their buddy: the slow itinerant “promdi” (from the province) of Naga, Camarines Sur! =0=

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