My Special Friend

Makati City
11 September 2020

“A single rose can be my garden. . . a single friend, my world.”

-Leo Buscaglia.

If I missed out on friends these days, for not texting, sending greetings on special occasions and calling them when they’re only a touch away on my iPhone, I promise to make amends after Covid-19 is gone.
I am writing about friendship though I don’t completely understand what it means, for when my professor in Behavioral Science subject taught it, I was out with friends playing billiards.

“Don’t make friends who are comfortable to be with, make friends who will force you to lever yourself up.”

Thomas J Watson

Here’s the names on my ‘A’ list category of friends.

  1. Roy Manoloto, my college bestie, big guy from Padre Harada, Tondo. My protector, he’s my would-be big brother that God didn’t give to our family.
  2. Top elected officials in 1980’s and our SB secretary and staff were all my friends and I hope it was vice versa. But I have one special friend, retired supervisor and kagawad David Tacorda+. He was always ‘dressed to kill’, walking with military posture, and trusted and respected me. I was in late twenties and he was already seventy two years old during our time, serving people, the town of Virac and God.
  3. Eustaquio “Tucker” Surtida Arcilla+ was one forward-looking guy I met in my early professional life. He was the one who introduced me to the Luminous Mysteries of our Scriptural Rosary. He taught me how to practice the egalitarian principle, explained to a beginner in his career by one who was in the apex of success. To have good friends, you must first be a good friend. I have several more names from my ‘A’ list but let me write on them next time.

I was inspired to write an essay on friendship when good friend Amar from Pampanga texted me about the death of his bosom friend, Jose Jun Roman, last week.
Another source of inspiration is to know a person who suffered much but continued on living up to the end with gusto. If we must compare his struggles in life with ours, we’re sure to say he did suffer more than we did.
Jun Roman was a man of letters so with bosom friend Amar, who entered the door of literary life while still in high school as editor of their school organ as well as in college. We three have a certain affinity for music: we love songs of Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Cliff Richards and later Freddie Mercury. We experienced in our life’s journey rough and thorny roads which made us suffer pain and loneliness, yet we survived and again faced the morning sun standing.
Jun Roman and Amar (Prof. Almario Morales, former activist who taught for many years at Catanduanes Colleges and was part-timer at CSU, used to work at the Senate and is now with a law office.) were destined to become bosom friends.
They started young together learning the ABC’s of life in Pampanga. Learned and shared memorable experiences about the beauty of life.
I was shocked when Amar told me that Jun, for the last twenty five years of his life, lived on a wheelchair. He was knifed by a lone passenger on his way home while driving his passenger jeepney, the knife severed part of his spinal cord. That time Amar was working at the Senate and I would always find time to visit his bosom friend who was alone in Pampanga. Jun Roman’s wife was with his three daughters in Canada. Despite repeated requests by his daughters to join them, he refused, saying he didn’t want to become a burden. Later, the wife went home to take good care of Jun but died ahead of him due to cancer.
Again my favorite poem “Invictus” by W.E. Henley comes to mind: “Under the bludgeonings of chance,
My head is bloody, but unbowed.”
“True friends share in adversity, Fake friends in prosperity”.
He died Friday, September 5, of cardiac arrest and was cremated the following day sans daughters, sister and brother who are all abroad.
Friend Amar said, “He was more than a friend, as he was my only bosom friend and I will miss him. . .”
As we respect the dead and the emotion of a friend who lost a bosom friend, let us reflect on the significance of friend and death on our life. Like me a senior, I am racing with time

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