Galdino “Gal” Varona Sr.

The Freeman - - OPINION -

(This is part of the eu­logy I de­liv­ered on the eve of the in­ter­ment of my friend, Galdino Varona Sr.)

Ladies and gen­tle­men, friends, good evening. Who is a se­nior cit­i­zen? A se­nior cit­i­zen is a per­son who re­mem­bers events that took place many years or even decades ago but can­not re­call in­ci­dents that hap­pened quite re­cently like weeks or months. I re­mem­ber Galdino Sr., as a funny, pro­found, and emo­tional per­son in in­ci­dents that oc­curred decades ago.

Pare Gal was bril­liantly funny. He had a pe­cu­liar way of in­ject­ing hu­mor with­out re­ally try­ing.

I, as an old man, re­mem­ber Pare Gal led a team of Toast­mas­ters to Bacolod City for an an­nual speech com­pe­ti­tion. He was area gover­nor then. This was in 1986 just few months af­ter the EDSA Rev­o­lu­tion. The night af­ter the con­test, ju­bi­lant Ce­buano Toast­mas­ters gath­ered in a vir­tual round ta­ble cel­e­bra­tion and we had bot­tles of Johnny Walker Black and just one glass passed around. When the first glass reached Pare Gal, he stood up and said some­thing like: “To the Ce­buanos, the best Toast­mas­ters” and gulped the wine bot­toms up. I was seated be­hind him, not by the ta­ble be­cause my body com­po­si­tion and liquor are in­com­pat­i­ble. Yet, when the next rounds of glasses reached Pare Gal, he held each, turned to me and mum­bled some­thing I didn't com­pre­hend. As we ap­peared to hud­dle, he quickly poured the wine to the flow­er­pot ledged be­tween us.

In­deed, the flow­er­pot drank all the wine in the glasses. When we checked out of the ho­tel the fol­low­ing day, I saw the plant wither. I pointed it to him and said: “Please ask Johnny to pay for killing that plant” and he winked at me and whis­pered “Johnny Walker.”

Ladies and gen­tle­men, Pare Gal was also emo­tional. One day in 1991 my phone rang. When I picked it up I heard the caller say­ing “Pre.” But he paused for the long­est of times. I knew it was my dear friend, my Pare Gal. I could sense he was try­ing to con­trol him­self. The man I knew to be cool, calm, and col­lected seemed to be lost, dis­tressed. The sec­onds that fol­lowed, when si­lence be­tween us reigned, un­set­tled me. I felt some­thing ter­ri­bly wrong hap­pened. If only to fill the void with corny laugh­ter, I wanted to ask my com­padre how was the weather. But I held my mis­chievous tongue be­cause it was in­ap­pro­pri­ate. When fi­nally Pare Gal com­posed him­self, he said: “Pre, patay na si Papa but I don't know what to do. Please, help me.”

A vir­tual big brother ask­ing the help of a kid brother? That would have been unimag­in­able! But as the sit­u­a­tion called, I had a golden chance to demon­strate how I val­ued his friend­ship. I rushed to his side and aimed only by the de­sire to com­fort a com­padre, I took con­trol of the sit­u­a­tion, did what was to be done and man­aged the oc­ca­sion. When my work was fin­ished and the re­mains of his fa­ther, Sir Cres­cen­ciano, were placed in a spot ap­pro­pri­ate for the suc­ceed­ing cer­e­monies and pub­lic view­ing, Pare Gal showed the rarest of his smiles and gave me the tight­est of hugs.

To­day, Mare Raida, Christie, my god­daugh­ter Chinky, Jun, Eu­gene, Glenn, Dr. Eu­gene and Ma'am An­gelina, your beloved Gal and my dear friend no longer walks with us. We will miss his com­pany and lose his lead­er­ship but I am sure the Lord, our God, has a spe­cial place for him. God­speed, Pare Gal!

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.