Archive for the ‘Arnel Malaya’ Category

More Holiday Photos of UP Ibalon & Friends

January 8, 2009

Dr. Fems Espinas-Paladin in Manila

UP Ibalon’s virologist extraordinaire Dr. Fems E. Paladin goes back to Manila from her cave in the World Health Organization (WHO), Geneva, Switzerland to take time with Ibalon pals Don A. Salvosa, Dr. Arnel V. Malaya, Sabu Sabularse and wife Mary. Sorely missed are all Ibalonians including Middle East-based Dr. Nestor RA Valenciano and Dr. Ramon Ray G. Rayel who is the United States.

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AdeN-CSI HS’73 in Los Angeles, CA and Naga City

Photos of a merry get-together of spritely CSI HS’73 ladies Gene, Ellen, and Emee in some beautiful places in the West Coast. With them are their supportive spouses and children.

Back home in Naga City are the Golden Boys of Quiborak (GBQs)with Marive Roco (CSI HS’73)and Fr. Antonio de los Santos, a classmate and spiritual adviser, based in Calabanga, Camarines Sur.

In a rarely seen food grab—taking precious moments of unity, affection, and fun, bubbly CSI girls show pure happiness in being together.

Iggi Camacho in USA

GBQ Iggi Camacho breezes through California with fellow AdenHS’73 classmate Walter Mendez of Baao, Camarines Sur. Iggi comes to the Northeast to meet with other GBQs—Ely Mabeza, Tong and Chi Pilar of New Jersey and Totie Mesia of New York on January 13, 2008.

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Dr. and Mrs. Lino & Josefa Mercurio

From Atlanta, Georgia, USA, Lino, and Jo send this exciting wintry holiday greeting and photo of their recent outdoor skiing trip with their children. Former residents of Buhi, Camarines Sur and Naga City, the UP Ibalon friends plan to attend the Bicol National Association convention slated in July 2009 in New York.

Dr. and Mrs. Renato & Megs Oracion

Happy holiday cheers from Rene and Megs in Odessa, Texas. Originally from Manila, the affable dermatologist and his Ilonga wife send their interesting photo taken during a much-needed vacation in Egypt.

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UP Ibalon Bicol Sends Christmas Peace & Love to the World

December 25, 2008

To Everybody,
I am sending my warmest greetings to everybody this Christmas 2008 and may 2009 be a better year for all. God bless
.—Edna Fatima

Malipayong Pasko!—Mighty

Gusto man daa maki celebrate ning x’mas sa kagharong saka nagpapamati na kuta na bako gabos karne ang handa tanganing may maitatao saiyang tunok ning sira. Wishing You and Your Family a Joyous Christmas—Carmela

Wishing you and everyone else a Merry Christmas and a great New Year! I’m intrigued by that cat in the window. ‘musta ka na man tabi? hahaha…. Hello Wilms, Ika daw… Thanks for the pat on the back! Just google up Ibalon Bicol and go to older posts. Happy holidays!… Thanks a lot,Totie and Andy. I’m just as happy to join you in trying to push our blog to greater heights. Happy holidays to you and everyone!—Bambi

Merry Christmas to all, Mwaah!—Wilma

Sarong Maogma asin Tuninong na Pasko para sa Gabos!—Ona

Merry Christmas! May the Lord keep you and your loved ones safe, prosperous, healthy and safe in 2009! And may you experience always the comforts of home, wherever this may be.— Benny, Ruth, Benje and Monique Rayco

MALIGAYANG PASKO SA INYONG LAHAT
AT SA INYONG MGA MAHAL SA BUHAY!— Jess

Sa gabos,
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
—Leny

Para sa gabos, Maogmang Kamundagan! Pagkamoot ang regalo ko sa gabos. Magpadagos man lugod sa 2009 ang grasyang nag-aabot satuya gabos maski nasa tahaw kita kan pangkinaban na krisis.—Pit

Siring man saindo gabos, kinda Carmela, Bambi, Pit, Mighty, Momok, Dan, Miles, Arnel M, Ray, Butch, Bingbing, Annelee, Rose, Abet, Sabu, Asena, Penny, Darius, Totoy, Delen, Ann, Jess, Mickey, Andy, Amy, Zards, Sammy V, Benny, Arnel A, Ona, Eden, Vines, Min, Gods, Fems, May…..Basta si gabos! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!—Totie

Hello Dear Friends!
The spirit of Christmas is in the peace, joy and hope that it brings. May it touch your heart today and always. And may the good Lord shower you all with more blessings.

PS: Bambi! Dont forget to drop by our house when you go home this Christmas. We don’t reside in Mayao anymore — dun na kami sa old house namin in Ilaor Norte. See ya! Merry Xmas sa gabos! Medyo mag-ogma na habang dai pa marhay nasipa an krisis sato. Next hope I hope we will have a stronger org and a better website.—Mickey

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year sa gabos!—Miles

As we celebrate the true reason for this wonderful season, we reflect on the blessings we received this year and we rejoice in the thought that caring people like you have touched our lives, individually or as a family, in more ways than one.

May we fill our hearts with the music of love and may we all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! —Gods, Julie and Thia Lanuza

MALIGAYANG PASKO AT MANIGONG BAGONG TAON!— Arnel, Josie and Tintin

Happy New Year to All—Dan

“Best wishes to the whole family!”—Zards

Happy New Year to All—Momok

(Photo Credits: CarmelaLapic; StephenC/ photoluluguy; StephenC/ Photoluluguy; Photoluluguy; Cjerogel; Photoluluguy; StephenC/ photolulguy)=0=

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UP Ibalon Bicol Sends Christmas Peace & Love to the World

December 25, 2008

To Everybody,
I am sending my warmest greetings to everybody this Christmas 2008 and may 2009 be a better year for all. God bless
.—Edna Fatima

Malipayong Pasko!—Mighty

Gusto man daa maki celebrate ning x’mas sa kagharong saka nagpapamati na kuta na bako gabos karne ang handa tanganing may maitatao saiyang tunok ning sira. Wishing You and Your Family a Joyous Christmas—Carmela

Wishing you and everyone else a Merry Christmas and a great New Year! I’m intrigued by that cat in the window. ‘musta ka na man tabi? hahaha…. Hello Wilms, Ika daw… Thanks for the pat on the back! Just google up Ibalon Bicol and go to older posts. Happy holidays!… Thanks a lot,Totie and Andy. I’m just as happy to join you in trying to push our blog to greater heights. Happy holidays to you and everyone!—Bambi

Merry Christmas to all, Mwaah!—Wilma

Sarong Maogma asin Tuninong na Pasko para sa Gabos!—Ona

Merry Christmas! May the Lord keep you and your loved ones safe, prosperous, healthy and safe in 2009! And may you experience always the comforts of home, wherever this may be.— Benny, Ruth, Benje and Monique Rayco

MALIGAYANG PASKO SA INYONG LAHAT
AT SA INYONG MGA MAHAL SA BUHAY!— Jess

Sa gabos,
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
—Leny

Para sa gabos, Maogmang Kamundagan! Pagkamoot ang regalo ko sa gabos. Magpadagos man lugod sa 2009 ang grasyang nag-aabot satuya gabos maski nasa tahaw kita kan pangkinaban na krisis.—Pit

Siring man saindo gabos, kinda Carmela, Bambi, Pit, Mighty, Momok, Dan, Miles, Arnel M, Ray, Butch, Bingbing, Annelee, Rose, Abet, Sabu, Asena, Penny, Darius, Totoy, Delen, Ann, Jess, Mickey, Andy, Amy, Zards, Sammy V, Benny, Arnel A, Ona, Eden, Vines, Min, Gods, Fems, May…..Basta si gabos! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!—Totie

Hello Dear Friends!
The spirit of Christmas is in the peace, joy and hope that it brings. May it touch your heart today and always. And may the good Lord shower you all with more blessings.

PS: Bambi! Dont forget to drop by our house when you go home this Christmas. We don’t reside in Mayao anymore — dun na kami sa old house namin in Ilaor Norte. See ya! Merry Xmas sa gabos! Medyo mag-ogma na habang dai pa marhay nasipa an krisis sato. Next hope I hope we will have a stronger org and a better website.—Mickey

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year sa gabos!—Miles

As we celebrate the true reason for this wonderful season, we reflect on the blessings we received this year and we rejoice in the thought that caring people like you have touched our lives, individually or as a family, in more ways than one.

May we fill our hearts with the music of love and may we all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! —Gods, Julie and Thia Lanuza

MALIGAYANG PASKO AT MANIGONG BAGONG TAON!— Arnel, Josie and Tintin

Happy New Year to All—Dan

“Best wishes to the whole family!”—Zards

Happy New Year to All—Momok

(Photo Credits: CarmelaLapic; StephenC/ photoluluguy; StephenC/ Photoluluguy; Photoluluguy; Cjerogel; Photoluluguy; StephenC/ photolulguy)=0=

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The MDs Of UP Ibalon Of Earlier Years

November 15, 2008


In my four years in UP Diliman covering 1974-77, the UP Ibalon produced 19 Doctors of Medicine or an average of nearly five per year. I can only offer two explanations for this. One, the best and brightest of Bicolano students were then in Ibalon. And second, since it was martial law the students were not keen to take up Law (In fact only one of the 110 or so members of the organization in that period took up Law but he happened to become an abogado de campanilla: Atty. Joel Cadiz).

The Charter Batch produced 5 M.D.s. They are:
1. Delen Padilla-de la Paz, our nominee for the Diamonds in the Rough award, who specializes in Community Medicine. She is connected to the Social Medicine Unit of the PGH. She is active in many NGOs and causes and you can sometimes see her on TV as a street parliamentarian. A Manila native, Delen lived in Legazpi City for six years, enabling her to learn Bicol. Her husband Boying is a surgeon at the PGH.
2. Totie Mesia, a now-retired pathologist based in New York City, debilitated by a chronic illness. Currently, he is specializing in Journalism. But you can still easily ask him about health matters. Bako lang an mga gadan an aram niya. Totie is a native of Naga City and it is obvious in his writings that he loves Naga more than New York.
3. Ray Rayel, a cardiologist based in Wisconsin, noted for his rollicky humor and friendly manner. He can easily make his tense patient relax by spinning joke after joke until the BP drops to normal. Ray is the proud son of Polangui, Albay.
4. Eden Lao, our long-lost surgeon who reputedly married the Olivia Hussey of Naga, beating many Atenistas to their dream girl. Eden hailed from Iriga City.
5. Joey Jaucian, who soon left for the US after his studies at UP-PGH. Joey is a native of Ligao City.

Ibalon Batch 75-A produced three doctors. They are:
1. Arnel Malaya, the current Dean of College of Physical Therapy and the Chair of Rehabilitation Medicine at UERM. Kun makulog an kasu-kasuan nindo ay he can straighten it out. Also see him if ever your son or daughter enrols in UERM. Arnel hailed from Iriga City
2. Julius Lecciones, once connected to the company that markets Depo-Provera (because he has many children daw), he is now the Medical Director of the Philippine Children’s Medical Center. A TOYM awardee, he is a pediatric oncologist publishing so many papers. A living proof that someone born at the end of the world can rise to the top. Marhay ta natukduan nin Bicol ninda Ray and Totie kaya nakalaog sa Ibalon (ta palibhasa nag-abot sa Molave na an taramon Cebuano ta taga-Pio V. Corpus,Masbate).
3. Nips Valenciano, who practices medicine in the Middle East and going by a linked article it seems he is active in the Filipino community there. Nips is a native of Buhi, Camarines Sur.

Ibalon Batch 75-B produced four doctors:
1. Andy Gimpaya, a former government doctor in Samar, he is now specializing in Computer Programming and Net enterpreneurship. He is our beloved website administrator. Lani Palencia told me that when Andy came back to Naga bako man daa medical practice an binakal ni Andy kundi tennis practice. You can also go to him if you need construction materials or if you need some Web or Net services.
2. Amy Goleta-Dy, a pediatric oncologist based in St. Luke’s, you can also come to her if you need wellness products and you will even be helping indigent cancer patients who are beneficiaries of the products she helps market. Her husband is a surgical oncologist at St. Luke’s. Amy’s hometown is Bula, Camarines Sur.
3. Boy Remo, an internist who practices in Missouri, and who is a frequent visitor to his hometown of Goa (and a townmate of Andy). It seems Caramoan Peninsula is his favorite destination nowadays.
4. Eden Borja-Fernando, our very gracious host and sponsor who is a renowned obstetrician-gynecologist in Naga City. Her base is the Plaza Medica. I was advised that she wants no higher praise than this. A resident successively of Siruma, Tinambac and Canaman, Camarines Sur. She is the one to see kun mangangaki an an agom nindo.

Ibalon Batch 76-A produced a lone doctor in Susan Princesa-Mallonga who is based in Vancouver, Canada but who shuttles and works here now and then so that their family won’t lose their Philippine roots.

Ibalon Batch 76-B produced four doctors:
1. Annelee Badiola-Lojo, an obstetrician-gynecologist connected with Las Pinas Medical Center and a Department Chair. An eternal Ibalon supporter whose Naga house is always open to Ibalonians, she is well-liked by everyone. A frequent visitor to Naga, it seems her recent haunt is New York City. Her husband Rommel, an Ibalon friend, is a surgeon.
2. Abet Guballa, an opthalmologist in Medical City and the Section Chief for Comprehensive Opthalmology in that institution. A sometime Naga visitor we hope he can set up a clinic in his hometown in the near future so that those with eye problems need not go to Manila anymore.
3. Ningning Joson-Villanueva, a practicing pediatric cardiologist at the Davao Doctors Medical Center. Her husband, Dr. Noel Villanueva is my nephrologist. Siyempre may istoryang Bikol pag nasa clinic ninda ako kaya napapanganga su ibang pasyente. She hails from Naga City
4. Pat Litam, a hematologist practicing in Ohio. He is a native of Naga City.
(Puro daw taga-Naga ining apat. Garo nag-orolay.)

The two batches of Ibalon in 1977 produced two doctors:
1. Ed Lim, an allergologist-immunologist based at the PGH and a section chief in that renowned institution.
2. Godo Garcia, a graduate of the UP College of Medicine, he now practices in the US.

Ten of the 19 are members of our e-group.

Additionally, there are two other Ibalonians who are familiar to us who are also doctors and just junior by a few years to them. Dai ko sinda inabutan sa UP but I know the first:
1. Penny Robredo-Bundoc, the Department Chair of Rehabilitation Medicine in PGH. A native of Naga, she is the sister of Butch and Mayor Jesse Robredo, two figures familiar to us. Her husband Pipo is a spine surgeon at the PGH and a TOYM awardee. Penny is also a member of our e-group.
2. Imelda Torres-Reyes, a UP College of Medicine graduate is a practicing pediatric cardiologist in Naga City. She was the first to detect something wrong in Pitoy’s angel.

An masasabi ko puro totoo saka maboboot na tawo an mga doktor ta. Never be afraid to approach them. Iistoryahan pa kamo ki kadakol. Puwede man na online.

They are also Ibalon’s pride.

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

September 14, 2008

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=

The Ibalon Children

July 16, 2008

Alas! James Baldwin was right about children when he said:

“For nothing is fixed, forever and forever and forever; the earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock. Generations do not cease to be born, and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have. The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.”

I was in New York University Langone Medical Center psyching myself up, casting away worry while I was in the hospital. That was before I got my boost of two units of PRBC’s—irradiated packed red blood cells, blood type O pos, E-, K- Fya- Fyb- Jkb- S-, and CMV-.

Like before, the nurses complained of the blood bank’s difficulty for a compatible blood type. Vicious antibodies were wrecking my red cells. Testing and matching were hard. But I was unwilling to dwell on that. Instead, I quietly stared at the cerulean reflection of the shimmering East River below, 14 stories down my window, feeling the joy of that bright sunny summer day.

Before the Benadryl and Tylenol pills hugged my senses to sleep, I was miles away, dreaming of wonderful things the world had shown me. I was able to put my illness at the back of my head. I rested comfortably at the onset of the transfusion like the guy in that very old movie, Soylent Green, except, I was there not to die, but to pursue life.

Buried in my reverie, I had my laptop in front of me. I got emails streaming after the right electrical outlet kept the machine running. The one from Gods Lanuza was particularly interesting. He sent me a very late birthday greeting which was more than compensated by a few attached beautiful pictures.

My Ibalonian pal showed his latest family picture with wife Julie Surtida from Vancuover, BC. Thia, his special little girl was with a profusion of blooms. The field of spring tulips was breathtaking. Looking at them, I felt I wasn’t in no immediate need of blood at all. Their fiery red color quickly bathed my pale ailing RBC’s to life.

From Manila, Dr. Arnel V. Malaya and his wife, the former Dr. Josie Canlas, sent me the picture of their only daughter Tintin, another Ibalon angel who lives in Katipunan Road, just a stone’s throw from UP Diliman Campus. In her yellow blouse, cute Tintin looked so innocent and smart like the budding little lady next door. She was a toddler, barely able to rise from her crib when Arnel and Josie showed me her picture a few years ago.

In a separate file, I looked at the picture of 7-year old Andre Mesia-Romano, my nephew who arrived from Florida with her mom Annie a week ago to visit me. I wished I had Andre’s boundless energy and sharpness of mind. When he knew my laptop’s audio wasn’t working well, he handily fixed it so he could show me his favorite videos. The smart little boy from Jacksonville’s Trinity Grade School reminded me of Garrison Keillor’s loving thought about children:

“Nothing you do for children is ever wasted. They seem not to notice us, hovering, averting our eyes, and they seldom offer thanks, but what we do for them is never wasted.”

Close by in Long Island, New York there was this picture of Bingbing Badiola’s little Brandon with loving dad Dave. I remembered Mommy Franz Badiola and her Ibalon brood in a recent reunion: Annelee Badiola-Lojo, Adolfo (Totoy) Badiola, Monette Septimo-Badiola etc.—and their families.

Then, I dug into the calmly family picture of Dr. Yasmin Paje in Canada (see top photo.) One of my favorite Ibalon dames, Min exuded her grace and maternal instinct to the hilt—far more than the mothering and deanship she showed us when we were in UP. Her three smart children, including only boy Alfonso, had grown so fast under the care of Poppa Joel Banzon, the doting father of the brood.

All the photos made me impervious against fear and doubt. I went home strong and energized after the procedure. It was good I had that small cache of pictures which I wanted to show you in this wall. I recalled them all—those who continued to touch and brighten the way for UP Ibalon’s next generation. =0=

A Hurried Comet Blazing In The Night Sky

July 6, 2008

Thirty years after the fatal shot which took his young life, UP Ibalon recalls Floro E. Balce. Those who know and love him ponder on the evanescence of his time, the greatness of his sacrifice and the humanity of his dream. They pay tribute to Ka Manding, one among the heroic braves who died in the pitch-blackness of the night— of yet to be won battle, before the sun comes up for a better day. The noble cause he embraced remains contentious—that which draws others to learn and admire his lofty path. –Totie Mesia

In an ill-descript spot along EDSA highway in Manila, there is Bantayog ng mga Bayani, a memorial of remarkable human beings whose lives are weightier than the heavy stone on which their names are engraved. Etched on a simple black slab of concrete is the name of UP Ibalon’s Floro E. Balce, a Bicolano hero who died from gunfire which blew an excruciating rugged hole on his belly, leading to his agonizing death. It happened in July 30, 1978, in Tigaon, Camarines Sur on his birthday.

A man of strong principles and unbridled dreams, Floro was my roommate at Molave Residence Hall in UP Diliman. He was a bright idealistic electrical engineering (EE) student, a National Science Development Board (NSDB) scholar from Daet, Camarines Norte—- my indulgent friend and math mentor in the dorm.

In the same room with us was Larry Ajel, our buddy from the Ilocos who dreamed to work in a hospital as a medical technologist. Larry shared our provincial plebeian background. He was our big brother who taught us the urbane ways of the campus. His stay however was cut short by a decision to migrate to America.

Rudival Cabading was another roommate. The rambunctious guy felt the state university wasn’t his piece of cake, so he moved to the Philippine Military Academy (PMA.) He became a military officer who never saw me stepped out of our dormitory to become a physician.

Bakit dito sa UP, ang mga estudyante, nagsasalita ng Espanyol?” I recalled Floro asking me on our first day of school inside the Arts and Science (AS) building. Feeling my way on the unfamiliar ground, I was as naïve and perplexed as he was.

“Why? What did you hear?” I asked.

Que hora es,” he said with a spark in his eyes.

Having survived his early years in UP, my soft-spoken buddy transformed into an assertive, knowledgeable, and brave gentleman. But he kept a low profile, humbly sharing his private thoughts with the people he knew and trusted.

He also trusted me, but perhaps, he didn’t feel it was a good idea to let me know too much of his leftist leanings. His linkage with the New People’s Army (NPA.) was something I suspected, but I didn’t ask. The guy had this palpable intolerance against injustice which was nurtured in campus. I knew he was opposed to the corruption of the Marcos, drawing him to join protest marches and rallies.

Had I shown enough sympathy for his cause, he might have led me deep into the sanctum of his beliefs and the core of his convictions. Yet, he was considerate, respectful, and even protective of my own safety. He didn’t want me to be distracted, for he knew I was hell-bent to become a doctor.

We talked about poverty and inequity when we were supposed to be focused in our studies—if not fiery hot, pursuing girls in campus. Setting aside school work at night, we discussed social issues that otherwise wouldn’t have bothered the care-free college students we knew.

At semester’s end, there was silence that pervaded the dorm before the residents left for the school break. For us, nothing triggered so much adrenaline release and worry when the last days of class wore on. The teachers were sternly aloof and the final exams they gave were difficult. We were all preparing for the killer tests that would dictate which way we’d go in our studies.

“How was your exam?” I asked Floro after he took his test.

“I submitted my blue book empty,” he said wryly. “I didn’t answer any of the test questions. They were hard. I wrote my teacher to explain why,” he continued.

That worried me. In my mind, if he failed the test, that meant he’d lose his scholarship; at worst, he’d be kicked out from the college and be forced to return home to Bicol. I would not see him again just like some of my friends who drifted away from college.

Convinced by his honesty, the teacher gave him a chance to retake the test. It was hard for me to believe that there was such a teacher in UP who would be so kind to a troubled student. I knew I needed such kindness too. While Floro fought to keep his scholarship to earn an engineering degree, I was in rabid pursuit for higher grades to get me into medical school.

But life seemed to have taken a different turn. The social cause he pursued was eating up his time and he started acting as though finishing college wasn’t that important anymore. Although he returned to the dorm late from meetings with people I didn’t know, it never crossed my mind that he was mulling to go full-time as Ka Manding in the NPA movement.

I was with him for so long that I’d quickly recognize his low-toned voice if he called me from heaven. In ROTC, we bonded together in that green military uniform and combat boots during practice marches, lectures, and GT’s (graded tests.) We belonged to a jolly platoon of fellow-Ibalonians with Ray R.G. Rayel, Julius A. Lecciones, and Arnel V. Malaya. Our group’s tail-scout, Floro guarded our backs during a bivouac. He was our loyal sentinel when we took surreptitious rests under the cool shade of acacia trees.

I still kept the image of Floro as an active student catholic action member (UPSCA ) waiting at the dorm door for our Sunday mass to hear the socially-charged sermons of Fr. Unson in the campus chapel. Gratitude was on his face as I lent him cash sometimes when he didn’t have time to travel to far Bicutan to pick up his NSDB stipend. His steady gaze was transfixed on my face, as he pointed on social issues at Mrs. Rodrin’s cottage during our lunch together.

In a soiree, we had a good laugh donning our sartorial best at the alumni center, sipping cold beer to be with the most beautiful Bicolanas in campus. In a fond conversation, I naughtily poked on a pretty Ibalonian Rebecca Espeso wearing that orangey ethereal “kulambo” blouse which made Floro twinkle.

“Magayonon!” I whispered on his ear. He reacted with those jerky convulsions on his shoulder; his elated radiant eyes were as thin as the coin-hole of a lucky slot machine. He chuckled loud as though I heard Brad Pitt laughing somewhere.

A fine human being who truly cared for the poor and the disadvantaged, Floro was a hurried bright comet blazing in the night sky. He was fast on his trail to let the world know of his mission. Martyrdom he must do, for he couldn’t wait to hear more of the cries of the poor without doing something.

In Molave, my friend, the shining gem in the sky had this old alarm clock, a brother’s gift, he told me, which sounded like a time-bomb. He laughed in earnest when Mario Genio, another Bicolano and I kidded him of the noisy white clock.

I borrowed this funny time piece to wake me up at midnight in order to study. When the alarm rang, I thought I saw Floro’s shadowy figure in that rickety chair fronting his table, deep in thought, as if something heavy was in his heart. I wondered if God was there speaking to him by his side. Maybe that moment was his epiphany. In the pitch blackness of midnight outside, it was his time to illumine the sky. =0=