Friday, August 31, 2007

Lines To Remember 2 (A Country's Malaise)

"Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high:
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
by narrow domestic walls;
Where the words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into
The dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening
Thought and action-
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake."
(From Gitanjali)

(an abridgement of an earlier post)

I can understand necessity as a strong motive that got us into the morass we are in. The motivation of a hungry stomach, the shivering cold of the homeless, the exaggerated sense of gratitude of sycophants placed in undeserved positions, those in close proximity, relatives and cronies scrambling at crumbs like remoras clinging to a shark, those under some kind of duress and those overly paid doers of the unthinkable deeds on behalf of the big ones of both the opposition and the administration. While these do not mitigate their acts there is at least an iota of an explanation for their behavior.

How else could one explain the loyalty of a coterie of supposedly good and honest men who are given high posts or the loyalty, however evanescent, of the corrupt military.

Then there is the Media. It is lamentable the way they have succumbed to the lure of the lucre. There isn’t an hour on prime time where you don’t hear the playing up of rumors and the unsubtle goading of media personalities to fire up the emotions of the rabble. Media in their advertising blurbs unabashedly declare how virtuous and courageous they are in airing without fear and with impartiality the current events; but aren’t these just readings of scripts in press kits provided by partisan groups?

They are purveying hellish heralds that would make Goehring’s Nazi propaganda look amateurish. The forces of the dark side have harnessed the best and the brightest of our communicators. It has not spared the brightest sons and daughters of our advertising community. They have lent their expertise to forward the cause of the damned.

More than ever I am now convinced that robber barons are descended upon us. I am enjoining the young and decent, the still uncorrupted to fight and if you cannot beat them don’t join them but flee to climes where you can raise your children in an upright way, where heroes are truly deserving of emulation, where the corrupt rich are shamed rather than idolized.

I see little hope. Given another ten years most of our precious young would have joined the legion of damned or if they are not able to join they would be wallowing in the misery of poverty or be a part of the hunted underground community of the upright, the decent, and the respectable.

Lines to Remember 1 (Impermanence)

“What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower,
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind,
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering;
In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.”
(from "Intimations of Immortality From Recollections of Early Childhood")

When we look at today’s progress we are awestruck by the quantum leaps most technical fields have taken and the astounding cultural heights achieved by human endeavor. We may remark, like the Renaissance man did, when he basked in the glory of early inventions and in the flowering of the arts during his time “…how great man is, how beautiful in aspect and how noble in purpose”.

Yet, this is but a collective comfort which benefits selective individuals or groups of individuals, a hedonistic and self centered view. At an essential level there doesn’t seem to be much to cheer about since decline seems to be the nature of all things. The moment we are born starts the trek towards our demise; from womb to tomb as they say. The impermanence of things looms ever so large and we often despair in its shadows.

I find solace in the classic lines taken from William Wordsworth’s “Intimations of Immortality From Early Recollections of Childhood”. While it accepts the inevitable inconstancy of life it reminds us that the human mind does prevail over all.

For whatever it is worth I have taken the liberty to reprint these classic lines which stirred me in my youth and console me now. I know that this is but a puny effort, a pail of water in the vast ocean of its renown, but by chance, it can remind those who may have forgotten and make aware those who have not read it before.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Maria Cristina Neighbors - The Gerozagas

The Gerozagas

It was seven thirty in the morning and Mang Kiko walked about the veranda which was almost filled up with wooden racks used in drying up the silk screened posters of the night before. He touched the black print of one and felt for any sign of moistness. He then touched it once more this time with more pressure to see if it smudged. Contented with his inspection he began to take the posters from their drying racks and piled them neatly on top of each other.

In a few minutes the kids in the neighborhood will come knocking and bring their colored posters done the day before and collect their measly fifty to eighty centavos worth of coloring job which Mang Kiko paid. Once paid they would get a few more posters to color for the day.

Mang Kiko was into the silk screening of posters used as learning aids in classrooms. He would silk screen the line drawings of Philippine flowers, insects, local fruits, animals and sometimes maps of the various Philippine islands. Once the black and white drawings have been rendered the figures were colored by a water based paint. The finished products were delivered to schools and school supply stores.

On the side of the veranda was a small clearing reserved for the mahjong table. It was a moveable location that depended on the wind direction of the day and at the time of day. His house was beside the estero and wind that wafted coming from the open sewer can sometimes be so bad smelling, enough to suspend play for a few minutes to transfer to another location in the veranda. It was a question of staying beside the estero where most of the time it was breezy and the stench bearable or go to the farther end of the veranda and go through rearranging some of the drying racks to give space for the mahjong table.

There won’t be any need to move the mahjong table he thought as he surveyed the estero surface. It rained the night before and the debris and the flotsam that usually dotted the surface of the estero were not there. The estero was flowing strongly and it promised to be a fine day, a day with out much stench and without the sordid sight of accumulated garbage.

Mrs. Godinez will soon be there for the mahjong. She was very prompt as she timed her leaving her sari sari store five minutes after Mr. Godinez had left for work. After a few minutes from the time her husband had made the turn towards Espana she would proceed to the Gerozagas to secure a seat for herself in the quorum. Her husband was against her playing and the last time he caught her a scandalous confrontation that spilled out in the street happened. From then on Mrs. Godinez would post an early warning boy towards late afternoon to alert her should Mr. Godinez be home from work early. She would compensate the boy with a bottle of softdrinks and a "mamon" for his trouble.

The house of the Gerozagas was one of the two houses at the end of Maria Cristina. The other one is the Roman residence. Both houses are by the estero which marked the end of the eskinita.

Before the Gerozagas, two other families used to occupy the house. The first one were the Concepcions and before the Gerozagas, the Ahorros. I have not ascertained which family owned the house because it was possible that one or two of them were just renting it.

Mang Kiko was the head of the family. I have a vague memory of Mrs. Gerozaga. All I can remember was that she was always at the mahjong table in the veranda of their house playing with a regular group of housewives and sometimes with some of the younger guys in the neighborhood. Pete, my brother, would play with them at times. We used to invest part of our weekly allowance on Pete who excelled in the game and invariably won whenever he played with this group.

The oldest of Mang Kiko’s children was Nena who was married to Fred Fernando, a young lawyer and the son of the owner of a botica in Trabajo St. The two other children were Mario and Julia.

Mang Kiko provided employment to most of the kids in Maria Cristina. He would pay us on a piece meal basis for every poster that we have colored. For the more adept, carving the silk screen was a higher paid chore. The prices he paid depended on the complexity of the drawings and the number of colors to be used. The prices would range from twenty centavos for the simplest poster up to fifty centavos for the more intricate designs such as flowers and the Philippine map.

Almost every kid in the neighborhood would have painted one of the posters of Mang Kiko. It kept us out of mischief and helped augment the meager allowance we had for school. You could say that it was a blatant and opportunistic use of child labor but on the other hand for kids with nothing much to do during weekends it was a veritable source of money for a movie in the Mercury theater and cool treats in the Sison ice drop factory farther down Trabajo St. It might even have helped some of the kids in the neighborhood to develop an appreciation of colors in the art of painting as well as hone their technical skills in drawing. There is no way of confirming this. I haven’t heard of anyone coming from Maria Cristina who made a name for himself in the art world. But then one never knows.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Maria Cristina Neighbors - The Garchitorenas

The Garchitorenas

The Mercury theater occupied a whole block from Trabajo St. to Maria Cristina and its side fronted Espana Boulevard. This movie-house was an integral part of my development when I was growing up in the Sampaloc district of Manila.

Being the bigger street, Trabajo, was where the lobby of theater was situated. Alongside Espana were four wide fire exit gates and on the Maria Cristina end were the exit doors of the toilets which were opened only during emergencies. As a young boy I would sneak in with the help of Ising, the “takilyera” who was a friend of my older sisters. There were times that I would be able to get in for free in what was referred to as “a la berde”, a free for all that happens when somebody shouts “fire!!!” causing movie goers to stream out of the emergency exits then back again when the furor died down. This happened at least once a week.

The movie-house was three houses away from our Maria Cristina residence. I remember as a child I could hear the sound track of all the movies that were being shown from my bed. There was gunfire as good guys and the bad guys get into a confrontation, the William Tell overture as the blue coats save the day for the westward settlers who have formed a circle of Conestoga wagons staving off Apache marauders. What was memorable was the music from Broadway shows like Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Carousel, Oklahoma and other popular Broadway musicals.

The owner of the movie-house was Mr. Garchitorena, a Spaniard married to a Filipina. I have long forgotten how they look like. What has remained in my mind was they were a corporeal pair. They have three children the oldest was Henry, followed by Serafin and their youngest was Rose.

Henry was into designing lamps and had a shop in Ermita named Henry’s Art. Ermita was not yet the hell hole that it is now. The neighborhood boasted of some of the elegant houses with small but well manicured front lawns. You could still see vestiges of its past glory with well kept old houses in the Remedios circle and in the immediate environs. It’s proximity to Dewey Blvd. (now Roxaz Blvd.) made it popular to tourists and through the years of catering to all sorts of foreigners it deteriorated to become the red light district of Manila.

Henry had a beautiful daughter, Helen, who was popular with the younger set of Manila society. She graced the covers of magazines and would appear on television talk shows whenever Manila’s debutantes were featured. My last recollection of her was in my wife’s fashion house in the David Gan building in Shaw Blvd.

Mike Gan, a son of the owner of the building is married to Rose the youngest among the Garchitorenas. We were quite close and we used to go out for social occasions and for black jack sessions which Mike organized with his other friends. Mike was a likeable fellow. He was easy going and would sometimes get into naughty capers. My friend Bobby Kraut was his professor in de Lasalle in Marketing and Advertising referred to him good naturedly as a “son of a Gan”. Rose and my wife Alma got along famously and for a while stayed as close friends until she had to give up her businesses in the David Gan Bldg. after failing to recover from a fire that gutted her shop.

Serafin, nicknamed Egie was the middle child. He was my classmate in Instituto de Mujeres supposedly a school for girls but allowed young boys in kindergarten. Taking after his parents, Egie was big and tall. What was memorable about him was his mellifluous boy soprano voice. Even as a young child he would sing with much confidence and gusto the songs Amapola and Amor. Later on Egie would turn professional. The last I saw of him was when he performed on television as a guest of Pilita Corrales.

Their house was right beside ours. We were separated by a low concrete wall and a Macopa tree. They sold their Maria Cristina house and were among the first to leave the neighborhood. It has been a long while since I have seen any of the Garchitorenas.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

College Days At Random (early sixties)

During my college days I remember getting into a fight in Quiapo. Jing Montealegre together with Jun Molabola and I just finished a few beers in one of the small restaurants along Quezon Boulevard near the Times Theater. I had a 7:30 class in Humanities and would just have enough time to negotiate the distance to the University gates and would probably be in time for my name to be called at roll call. Both Jing and Jun didn’t have classes anymore at that hour and would be proceeding to the Radio Room in the Science Building as was their usual wont. The Radio Room was the office of Sarah Joaquin, the head of the Speech and Drama Department. The room was used as a place for doing play rehearsals, a hanging out place and a place where the drama guild officers discussed projects and forthcoming activities.

As I hurriedly stepped out of the restaurant I bumped into a tough looking young man who was playing cara y cruz by the sidewalk with his friends. He lost control of his toss and the coins went tumbling and rolling a few feet away from where they were squatted in a huddle. He did not listen to my instinctively blurted apology; instead he grabbed me by the lapel of my shirt with his right hand and threw a punch with his left. I parried his lunge but got my cheeks grazed with his watch. Not letting go of his hold on my lapel he was down on his haunches and was poised to deliver a follow up blow when all of a sudden his right hand grip loosened and the wiry body crumpled on the pavement floor. Jun hit him on the nape with a karate chop that needed no follow up. He went out like a light. At first the rest of the guys stood up from their huddle to get into the fray but seeing their friend slumped and Jun putting on a menacing karatedo stance, they slinked away one by one into the interior of small shops in between restaurants, department stores and movie houses. Jun was a blackbelter in Karate, a graeco-roman wrestler and an amateur boxer for the university. He looked formidable and intimidating with his cauliflower ears, scarred brows and knobby fists.

Jun, who was used to brawls in city streets pushed Jing and I forward and told us to walk briskly and not to look back. He will take care of the rear. We could not stay a bit longer. He knew that the guys will regroup, probably armed, will come back to assuage their hurt pride and wreak vengeance on us.

The moment we crossed Azcarraga we knew that we were home safe. The university entrance with its guardhouse was just a few meters away from the corner of Azcarraga and Quezon Boulevard. The security guards who were mostly students belonging to the martial arts and boxing teams of the university were friends of Jun and I was acquainted with quite a few. Some of them were my classmates while others were nodding friends from my hanging out in the security headquarters with my friend Rollie whose father was the chief of the security forces in the school.

The following day the radio room was bustling with activity. There were two plays that had finished its casting and were now at the phase were the cast were throwing lines as early preparation for staging. The first group was a small one and they found a place at the far end of the room after the tv set, while the other group a much bigger crowd sat in the sofa and the side chairs near the door.

Job Montecillo was directing the play “Incident At A Graveyard”. In his cast were Waldy Carbonell, Lynette Siapo and I think Nelson Padilla was in it too.

I was with the play of Lorraine Hansberry “A Raisin In the Sun” with Amiel Leonardia as director. I had a minor role as George Murchison while Chito Avelino and CielitoPilar played the lead roles of Joseph Asagai and Beneatha Younger respectively. We were going quite smoothly until Chito had the case of the giggles. He was delivering the line “You’re breaking my mother’s good china…” which sounded like “…breaking my mother’s vagina…” he got himself into this laughing rut and we had to skip to the next act because there was no way he could go on with the line.

Jing had a role in Job’s play but he was nowhere around. Conspicuously absent too, was Flo. Flo, was one of the more mature ladies who hang around the radio room. I think she was secretary to an admin department. She was a fixture in the room together with Sonia, a lady who taught English and who was madly infatuated with my Humanities professor, Jes Cruz; and then there was the department secretary, Nicky, Miss Goody Two Shoes who was confidant to all.

Flo was never away from the Radio Room and Jing to be not around for initial play practice was unheard of. I was the least surprise because I knew that there was something going on. Flo was quite the experienced woman. She, at that time, was rumored to be in dalliance with one of the university biggies. Jing was the easily seduced little lost boy with mestizo charms who sang protest songs like “…they’re rioting in Africa, they’re starving in Spain; There are hurricanes in Florida; and Texas needs rain…” to put on the radical chic effect which was cool at that time.

Job was the president of the Drama Guild while I was his vice president. It was surprising that they voted me into that position when I was not a Speech and Drama major. I just hang around the Radio Room for the lack of place to go and also to be around a pretty thing who started appearing in the radio room. Alma San Juan was newly transferred from UP and had just enrolled in FEU for a Speech and Drama course. I was not into Speech and Drama but every now and then I would be given a role in a play only because there wasn’t anybody else. Job was a very responsible person who truly deserved to be president of the guild. I was glad he was the president because I didn't have the ability nor the inclination to do things for the Guild. He was also a serious student of Drama. Job who was a Cebuano was a good singer who sang Sinatra songs and was also adept, like most Cebuanos, at playing the guitar.

It was a great time to be a literature major in FEU. Despite its checkered reputation for academic excellence the Institute of Arts English Department at that time boasted of having literary luminaries like Jose Garcia Villa in their faculty. Villa who was also known as Doveglion, dove-eagle-lion because of his literary prowess that soared and roared bravely in Philippine literature with his avant garde verses and “comma-tose” (an unfortunate pun) poems. Villa was among those who recognized the genius of Nick Joaquin and helped Joaquin's first access to literary limelight. Another literary lion who taught at FEU at that time was Greg Brillantes, brilliant raconteur and master of the written word whose pieces like “The Distance From Andromeda” shone brightly underneath the Philippine literary firmament. The short story was the genre of competence for him. Other short stories like “A Mission for Heroes”, “On a Clear Day in November…” and “The Cries of Children…” will etch his name deeply in our literature. He taught short story writing in FEU.

Another slightly less heralded genius among the literati was Dr. Benito Reyes who taught Oriental Literature at the Institute of Arts and Sciences at FEU.
Dr. Reyes wrote the lyrical “Moments Without Self”. I was so inspired by him as he introduced us to Asian mystic and religious literature like Ramayana, Bhagavadjita, Zend Avesta , Mahabharata and the Panchatantra. Through him I became aware of the vivid imagery of the writings of India’s literature laureate, Rabindranath Tagore. Reading a few lines from Gitanjali and I was a captive for life of his work. Later on I would discover Khalil Gibran and add him as one of my idols.

Dr. Reyes said that the world abounds in beautiful literature and it would be enough if one were to concentrate on a few well chosen works and really squeeze every little juice of enjoyment from them. I remember him encouraging us to do this. In fact he posed a challenge to our class that if we were to memorize the “Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam” in its entirety we don’t have to attend his class but appear on the last day and recite the Rubaiyat. Just one day in his class and we get the passing grade. I passed up the challenge because there was so much to learn in his classroom and I could always refer to the printed Rubaiyat at anytime if wantedto learn and enjoy a few stirring lines.

One fellow who took up the challenge was Jing Montealegre. After Dr. Reyes made the proposition, Jing stood up and said “…you’re on. See you in three months”. I did not witness the recitation myself but my classmates said that Jing recited the Rubaiyat not in the classroom but in the faculty room of the English Department where he was given an ovation by the faculty members who were there at that time.

It was a nice experience. It was as if you were touched by a god. To be in the classroom with these special personages was an experience that would stay on for a long time. However, in retrospect, I find that it did not do much for me except for having been awestruck and starstruck for some moments. I don’t remember having completed my classes with Villa nor with Brillantes for it seemed that they had the privilege to be inconstant with their classroom appearances.

One can understand that much of their time was sought after by so many and appearing in the classroom in FEU was the least that could compete with the other options they had for their time. And so it goes. I was quick to lose interest after their consecutive non-appearances and dropped out on them to pursue other more interesting in-school endeavors.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Butterfly That Stayed

He peered through the small crack of an unfolding chrysalis and had a glimpse of a pervasively green world awaiting his emergence. He was feeling a bit encumbered by the humid enclosure and his still to be unfurled wings was wrapped by a fragile gossamer thread which in any instant would break and allow him to struggle out of his dim and cozy comfort into the dangerous but exciting world of bright lights and frenetic flutters.

As he eased himself out of the dried hatch, his left wing pushed out to a stretch that was amazingly far and, now, gaining more confidence he did the same to his right wing. The slightly moist new wings quivered with clumsiness and with impatience. It was an impatience to become a glorious and delicate symmetrical pair of wings that would allow him to cavort with a hundred others who have emerged at almost the same instance in the flower garden.

He did seem much like the others and despite the grace and agility by which he flitted from flower to flower it was something that got lost in the uniformity of the choreograph-like movements and in the sameness of shimmering brilliance that white butterflies exuded as a bunch on a sunlit garden.

But he sensed that he was different. Sure, he was a beautifully emerged white butterfly but so were the others. He knew that on the day that he came out as a butterfly he would be destined to do a singular act. He would play a role that the others despite their resplendence would just watch in envy.

He was born in a butterfly farm. Together with hundreds of other butterflies they were being farmed and sold later on to grace all sorts of celebrations. Today they were off to be a part of the funeral rites of an important person. He was a celebrity, a good husband, caring father and a doting grandfather. In his lifetime he had been well known and loved by many not only by fans but by those who have been close to him as family, as business associate, as benefactor and as a personal friend.

Butterflies are representations of the Psyche or the soul and in the rites they were to be released to signify the freedom of the soul from its mundane shackles. It is not only for this significance that butterflies are used they are also an awesome yet solemn sight as their fluttering whiteness blur the air in exuberant flight.

At the end of the mass he was released from the paper cocoon that held him up to the right moment. He felt an ecstatic relief to be suddenly freed from the harsh paper cocoon and seeing the others flitting in groups and others unable to get their bearings with the sudden burst of freedom flew erratically in singles, some alighting in the candelabra, some in the coiffures of grieving ladies and then some on the pews.

He hovered for a while amidst the swirl of white butterflies. Then he sensed a powerful presence that held him and that he knew it was him. He willingly surrendered his body to him. In an instant he was him and he was nothing.
He has fulfilled his act of kindness. He gave his body to become the vessel of the soul of the departed in order to console the grieving widow with memorable last moments with the beloved.

The white butterfly stayed on with the casket. It made the trip from the church to crematorium. It perched steadfastly at the head of the casket despite well meaning shooing-aways from some members of the grieving kin. When finally they had to bring the casket to the crematorium chamber the white butterfly skipped and alighted on the index finger of the widow as if in reassurance that he is with them through all these trials and would continue to be by their side in the coming years.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

"Good night sweet prince.."

My brother Pete Roa died less than a week ago. In death as in life he was one who dared to be different. At his death bed he talked with Boots, his wife, and gave out instructions on how the last act of his mortal drama would be blocked, what scenery would serve as backdrop, the dramatis personae to be on stage as the curtains fell and the kind of music that would that would be scored in the grand finis. Pete did not rage against the dying of the light, he was thankful for having been made aware of its coming for it gave him time to prepare for his destined personal appearance with his Lord and Maker

Being the youngest boy in a family of five sons and three daughters I was volunteered by one of my sisters to do the eulogy on behalf of all of them. Ostensibly outranked it was seconded by a chorus before I could produce a suffused and dissenting whine.

It had been four consecutive late nights that we had gone through. All four nights have been spent chatting with friends and relatives and waiting for opportunities to sing for Pete accompanied by Arminio. Pete’s favorite piano player, Arminio had long years’ acquaintance with him, He played the piano at Auberge Philippines, an eating place in Washington which Pete managed during the early eighties.

On the day of the cremation I woke up feeling a bit heavy, a condition brought about by a pesky asthmatic grating in my chest and the tiredness that has began to assert itself after having only short sleeps in the last four days.

There wasn’t time to prepare a well thought of piece for my brother. I woke up at nine in the morning and the mass preceding the cremation was to start at eleven. I searched my mind for anecdotes which would be worth relating and some lines or a famous quote that would be appropriate for Pete.

Recalling the picture collage which showed photos of Pete during his boyhood and his early career in radio and television I picked up a few as starting points for my remembrances.

What follows is my best recollection of what I said in my Eulogy.

I am Eddie Roa, a younger brother of Pete. There are eight of us siblings three of whom are girls and five boys. Pete is the sixth in the family, a position in the family that would not bear any special psychological significance unlike those of being the youngest and the eldest. But Pete did not need any of these usual familial order advantage to be special. He was Pedro N Roa, God’s special child and in his youth a prince of a boy to our elderly relatives from Cagayan de Oro and Cavite

Being younger than him I would be the recipient of his generous nature as I was at the farthest end of a long chain of hand me downs. As the youngest the last buck stops at me. Kidding aside, Pete had been most generous to me specially at the time that he was reaping success as a young television personality and I was cutting my teeth in advertising.

I remember Tio Anton Cosin, mayor of Tagoloan, a town in the outskirts of Cagayan de Oro who was married to Tia Iling, my father’s older sister. Tio Anton is the stepfather of Dongkoy Emano, formerly congressman of Misamis Oriental and now mayor of Cagayan de Oro.
Every time he comes to Manila for a vacation the first person he would look for was Pete. Pete was his favorite nephew who would serve as his guide and factotum during his stay in Manila.

If any one of you would recall the photo of Pete in the collage that was set up during the wake you would have noticed the caption Senator Pedro Roa typed out on the picture. This was Tio Anton’s doing. He had the confidence that Pete, someday would become a senator of the land and had put his bold prediction in black and white.

They have had several capers together. An unlikely pair, Tio Anton almost sixty at that time together with Pete who was a preteener would get out of the house early in the morning and would proceed downtown to go to the Mayon gag-shop in Raon and pick up the latest booby contraptions such as leaking drinking glasses, hand shake shockers, fake animal and human droppings and others which he would bring home to Mindanao to bedevil his friends during parties.

One incident that would always be a part of his remembered capers with Tio Anton was the time that my uncle convinced Pete to accompany him to Inday theater, a place that was notorious for holding sleazy shows known as “burlesk” at that time. Pete stayed outside the theater and waited for my uncle by the Santa Cruz Church. There was a commotion at the lobby of the theater. People were rushing out of the doors by the hundreds. What had happened was the mayor of Manila “Arsenic” Lacson conducted a raid. What was remarkable was how Pete was able to get the old man out of scrapes and that he had taken him back home unscathed.

Another picture in the collage that brought back fine memories was that of my Mom pinning a medal on Pete. I recall how proud Mom was as she mounted the stage in the old Ateneo “sawali” auditorium in Padre Faura. My mother who was a stickler for discipline and a tireless nag on our study habits was seldom rewarded for her efforts and Pete having given her this honor could not do anything wrong henceforth.

The performing arts was Pete’s passion. He excelled in drama and in the course of his association with this artistic endeavor he had produced, directed and acted in several memorable plays. His being a student of speech and drama was just a convenient expression of what his school activities were. He never attended a single classroom but would have much more to say and do about drama than most of his professors. Sarah K Joaquin, the grand dame of Philippine theater at that time recognized his talent and fully supported Pete’s seeming casual regard and non scholarly practice of the art.

Less known to people was Pete’s genius in the art of the Dance. Pete appeared in several dance presentations at the CCCP. He was a prodigy of the master dancer,Lucio Sandoval. In his high school years he choreographed a full length musical drama which was successfully presented by the FEU Girl’s High School.

His terpsichorean skills resurfaced as he hosted the first Teenage Music Dance program in Philippine television, Dance-O-Rama.

The Roa family is better known in the blah world of numbers. Our areas of competence are in mathematics, statistics and actuarial sciences. My father together with my uncle and two of his sons were all actuaries. The actuarial society of the Philippines then only had seven members and four of them were Roas. Even I myself, to the surprise of my father, ended up playing the numbers game, so to speak, as a market researcher. I do not intend to demean this trade but even my father joked about its low key nature. A favorite joke was about the definition of an actuary and most people at that time would say that an actuary is a repository of dead actors. That's how obscure their trade was.

One significant contribution that Pete made to our family I think was his having put the family name from relative anonymity into something more memorable. He added a tag of glamour and excitement on the family name which was of course enhanced even much more with his marriage to Boots Anson.

Pete, us your siblings would like to express our love and our pride for having had you as a brother. Thank you dear one.

I would like to send you off with a phrase coming from your favorite Shakespearean drama, Hamlet. In the words of Horatio I quote…

“Good night sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!”