These I Remember

Bae and I were planting seeds. She was digging the hole, I was dropping two seeds per hole. Once I dropped three seeds and tried to recover the extra one. Then came the hoe almost severing my middle finger. I never seen her cry so hard. I miss her.

It was one of the longest afternoons. I left Camambugan to study in the city. I would be staying with my paternal grandparents until my family got settled. The train ride took my father, my brother and I from the province’s sunlight to the city’s darkness. I was too young to leave home but old enough to pursue who I wanted to be. The wages of life.

It was my graduation from elementary school. I was an honor student. I should wear a tie, a long sleeved shirt with cuff links. My cuff links were not a pair. My father said, no one will notice. The emcee called my name, I went up the stage and my father pinned me my medal. All I could think of was that my cuff links did not match.

High school was a test. No, correct that. High school was an agony. Four years could not have gone quick enough. Zits covered my face prompting classmates to call me “buwan”. I had four friends. When everyone was steady dating, I was at the market helping out so I could continue to go to school. Graduation relegated me to the last honorable mention even if my grades proved otherwise. Leading a student walk out one afternoon did that. The only satisfaction was my being awarded the best writer in English and Pilipino. My shining achievement. The one I really cared about.

I just won the 2nd Prize in the Tula category of the Rector’s Literary Contest. One of my Engineering Course professors called me to her office and congratulated me. She also questioned if I am in the right course. I did not know. Never received the award, whatever it was. I reported to the Philippine Military Academy April 1st, 1973. Some awards, I was bound not to receive, deserving or not.

She was the most beautiful girl I ever saw. A refreshing sight in a sweltering afternoon. “Midnight Rainbows for Marilou” started the courtship I still enjoy up to now. A courtship, I will pursue to the very end.Thank you for looking my way.

That December day was for tears. She left with all the uncertainties of the future with a promise I cast to the wind. Only God knew. It was only God I could entrust my fate to. To suffer but not to forget. To long but never to give up. In the darkest of nights, there would be the lonely star to keep the hope. Until one day, she came back. I was alive again.

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A Bright New Day for Philippine Sports


After an eternity of ineptitude and dismal performances, Philippine Sports is given a reprieve. For 13 years, Peping Cojuangco had ruled ruthlessly over Philippine Sports, tinkering with it the way he pleased, treating it the way a spoiled brat would abuse an unwanted personal toy. As President of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), he wielded the power to make or unmake athletes and sports associations. Sadly, his reign would be riddled with charges of corruption, favoritism, manipulation and incompetence. Last Friday, February 23, in an election forced on the POC by a Pasig court ruling, the amiable Boxing head, Ricky Vargas, finally ended Peping’s inglorious reign of terror. Athletes and sports lovers of the country are rejoicing. For today is the start of a new era for Philippine sports.


A fresh new start for Philippine Sports!!! (Inquirer)

We were proud champions in the South East Asian (SEA) Games in 2005, the year Cojuangco took over the reins of the POC. From that much-acclaimed position, Peping would lead the Philippines to its darkest, most difficult, most disappointing times, freefalling to 6th place in the next Games in 2007. By 2013, we would garner the lowest position ever in the regional event, landing a pitiful 7th in Myanmar. The list of dismal performances goes on and on, but surprisingly, Peping would be able to survive these nightmares. Until yesterday.


Let’s rally behind our new set of sports leaders and our athletes. (Inquirer)

Speaking for the first time as POC President, Ricky Vargas talked wisely about reconciliation and making changes for the athletes. During Peping’s time, sports had become very divisive and controversial. Many National Sports Associations (NSAs) had 2 organizations; one propped up by Peping and the other vehemently anti-Peping. Much energy was wasted on the negativity and the political struggles, as opposed to the actual action in the sporting arenas. Much of the resources were funneled to questionable activities administered by the ‘old boys club’ identified with Peping. Many athletes simply retired or migrated, in disgust over the clear mishandling of Philippine sports. Even the selection of the Philippine representative to the International Olympic Committee was mired in controversy with Peping’s daughter, Mikee, taking the post after the retirement of Frank Elizalde. Ricky’s present task then will be challenging, as he deals with a sports leadership that used to be nothing but Peping’s virtual rubber stamp.


Going for Gold!!! (3 Golden Smiles)

But this fresh start is precisely what the country needs. The clamor is for a leadership change that will pave the way to the dismantling of Peping’s Mafia in Philippine Sports. The need is for a sports leadership that will be focused on the athletes’ development, and not on protecting turfs and on perpetuating the leaders’ stay in power. The demand of the times is for patriotic and dynamic action, youthful vigor and modern methodologies to replace our antiquated systems which were run by senior citizens with their senior moments.

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Carmaggedon at our Precious Destination

Carmaggeddon 2

The words “bumper to bumper traffic” and “road congestion” have developed an affinity to places in the Philippines from the infamous EDSA, to Escario Street and Mango Avenue in Cebu City and Pozzorubio in Pangasinan.

It has been extended now to include Kennon Road and Loakan, as was experienced recently during the Homecoming week in Fort del Pilar. Minimum travel time from Manila to our precious destination was at least six hours extending up to ten for some, eliciting curses and bringing out the worst in a great many among us that could not wait and “counterflowed” to get up there faster.

With the alumni Corps strength estimated to be around 7,000, not counting former cadets and associate members – all being able to afford vehicles and bring them to Baguio for this annual event, it is anticipated that this will be the dreaded nightmare tradition annually, causing concerned alumni to begin thinking of alternatives to how to reconfigure Homecoming Week.

Social media was rife with postings on what to do and how it could be done, however a great many miss the entire point – the frustration can be mitigated if considerations can be made for alumni over cars going inside and outside of Fort del Pilar.

As my good friend, Cavalier Buddy Resurreccion 78 accurately pointed out several years ago, it’s all about “moving people, not vehicles”.

It’s likened to a huge volume of water that has to be pumped out of a large reservoir, using a 1/4 inch hose and expecting the reservoir to be empty in less than an hour. It’s unrealistic.

If we followed this guideline, we would have less frustration on the roads and more of the good memories to share with fellow Cavaliers both on and off the Borromeo Field during that yearly event.

Brilliant suggestions ranging from a managed pool of buses packaged for Loakan bound passengers coming from Manila for several days emerged – thus eliminating a good number of vehicles carrying only two to three passengers, and freeing some more road space.

Scheduling a bus transfer system from pickup points in Baguio to Fort del Pilar and back, and prohibiting individual vehicles – except for the guest of honor and entourage as well as organic PMA personnel will further free more road and parking space in Academy grounds.

The great ideas were discussed freely and quite a few made very good points, specially another good friend – Cavalier Proscoro “Bruce” Mundo 98, formerly of the Navy and now a consultant urban planner with excellent academic credentials – suggesting sound methods and resulting in getting dragged into the PMAAAI planning board for the Homecoming week by Cavalier Resty Aguilar 78.

Unless we are willing to make it happen, this is what we’re going to have to face every year and we’re going to continue to gripe endlessly about it. It reminds me of what my mistah, recently retired Cavalier Augusto “Jun” Marquez, Jr 84 said – if, the Baron gave the command “Pasa Masid” and I, as squad leader of the first squad, first platoon, Alfa Coy, gave a command to my squad saying “walang kilos!”, hindi maka parada ang Corps!”

That’s exactly what’s going to happen.

So let the Corps march. And not ride for hours on end, wasting fuel, generating frustration levels to the point of being dangerous.

(Photos courtesy of Cavalier Bob Yap 82, whose patience was mitigated by taking these pictures while waiting on the roads.)

Carmaggeddon 1

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32 years have passed. Memories have dimmed, characters have disappeared, causes have blurred, even doubts have surfaced. EDSA not only changed the Philippines. It changed the world. But perspectives are as permanent as the shifting sand, always at the mercy of the waves, the wind and the currents.

Rex Robles was RAM’S spokesman and media conduit. From beginning until the end, he was in the thick of it all. Here are eleven questions, snippets if you will, of once upon a time.

Edsa Memories

1. Thirty two years after People Power 1, what memory stands out the most, what memory you will like to remember the most and what memory you really will like to forget?

The civilians standing up to the tanks. I have an account in Bulletin Today (probably out by feb 21 or thereabouts).

I will remember the most our meeting with PFM (read BT article).

Everything is good to remember. Part of my life’s tapestry..

2. What is your role in EDSA? Greg Honasan? Boy Turingan? Red Kapunan?

Mainly as spokesman. Propagandist if you will. I tried to give RAM a unique face. I coordinated with diverse groups in media and study groups (Asia Society) and think tanks (Hudson Institute). Military attaches (Singapore, Indonesia, Japan, Korea). Met with bipartisan committee from US Congress. National Public Radio, who gave me a number to call in case I needed to broadcast anything about our reform efforts.

In depth background with regional Bureau Chiefs: Time (Sandra Burton, Bob Stewart} Newsweek (Melinda Liu}, Far Eastern Economic Review (Rodney |Tasker, who developed an escape plan for me from my detention cell at the Phil Navy HQS Roxas Blvd). Connections with Pentagon desk (Mary Tai), Col William”Bill” White, of East Asian Affairs and low level desk people who were contacted in person by Ltjg Alex Pama. (We used a conference in Argentina to mask a detour to Washington.} These “low level” deskmen were key to presenting a clear image of the RAM to US top brass all the way up to Reagan.

Local news editors, Letty Magsanoc (Inquirer), Max Soliven (Star), Ninez Olivares,(Tribune). Young fledgling reporters (Jessica Soho, Jarius Bondoc, a gaggle of woman writers (Shielah Coronel, Glenda Gloria….}Makati Business Club; Opus Dei,

For my role in Edsa, read my BT account.

The acknowledged leader of RAM was Col Tirso Gador {‘66} until he died in a training exercise a few months after.

Greg and Red were a team. Greg was tactical commander and Red handled intelligence. Tthey planned to breach the palace together. Red monitored radio transmissions about vote manipulation to the Comelec computer managers at the PICC which led to the famous walk-out by operators led by Red’s wife, Linda.

Greg and Boy Turingan (overall Chief of Staff) were the organizers with Boy T doing a yeoman’s job keeping things in order, to include finance and logistics. We were getting high powered firearms and other weaponry from Israel, Singapore and UK (————————-). Friends from Hongkong provided us with scramblers for our radios.

3. Who hatched the idea of a military take over against Marcos?

The plan was not for a military take over. It was to enter the palace, take custody of the President, and announce the takeover by a Transition Committee preparatory to an election. Members of the Committee would not be allowed to run for any public office. This was explained to Peping Cojouangco and Ramon Mitra in a meeting a few says before Edsa.

4. What is your opinion of Enrile’s memoirs?

JPE’s Memoirs was controversial in the part where he describes the ambush of his convoy. I was out of the country when this happened. I was an advanced Mechanical Engineering student at the US Naval Postgraduate School, graduating in mid 1974. I asked Tirso about it since he was duty adc when the ambush occurred. The portion of the vehicle where Enrile was supposed to be sitting was peppered with bullets. Tirso was sitting in front and the driver described themselves as deathly scared. (Putlang putla daw si Tirso, who sustained minor scratches}.As security precaution, Enrile was that day riding in another vehicle in the convoy.

I think what happened was SND’s men were anticipating an attack. Because days before, DND security led by Greg and Tirso staged a commando raid on the lair of an assassination squad earlier identified by AFP intelligence. The whole team was wiped out. Before that, there had been a bitter exchange beween Imelda and JPE at a palace meeting. Afterward, PFM called Enrile aside and warned him to be careful because “some groups” were out to get him.

My take is that during the press con at DND where Enrile and Ramos declared their withdrawal of loyalty to the president, Enrile decided to throw in the story of a staged assassination to bolster his case, but this version later worked against him.

But that’s only me.

The rest of the memoirs makes for fascinating reading. Nelson Navarro, who spent months cloistered in Menado, Indonesia to edit the book told me that he must have taken out at least 30% of what the author actually wrote.

5. In the aftermath of RAM, what went right, what went wrong?

RAM did not agree that the site of Cory’s swearing in would be club Filipino. They preferred the DND ceremonial hall where the withdrawal by JPE and Ramos was announced. Enrile himself vetoed this suggestion, saying that Cory would sooner or later need their help, anyway. But pursuing their own plans, Cory’s advisers had her ignoring the pledge of power sharing with Doy Laurel and the prior agreement to form a transition council. The blunder was to allow Cory and her clever minions to have their way.

6. Considering everything that has transpired from the day Marcos was toppled to the election of Duterte, will you do it again?

#6 is a leading question. The takeover of the yellow horde caused the country to march back into a marcos era without marcos but with the new elite gradually consolidating power without regard for the country’s welfare. From hind sight the military should just have allowed the country to learn its bitter lessons. If I had to do it again, it is to do it with people who would go right ahead and execute a takeover. Then if we fail, even after initial successes, then we really have only ourselves to blame.

But I always was an advocate of non-intervention. I agreed to join RAM on naïve notion that if we can force Marcos to step down, that would facilitate the entry of legitimate civilian groups and restore a democratic regime.

7. The opposition is pushing for another EDSA to get Duterte out of office, do the circumstances warrant such? Having participated in the successful overthrow of Marcos, what will you say to those who desire so?

The push for another Edsa is a pipe dream, pursued by those who enjoyed their halcyon years of unbridled stealing. Edsa was unique in its circumstances (please read the BT article).

8. What do you think of Marcos’ burial at LNMB and how the people’s perception of his presidency has moved from despicable to admirable?

The burial was just and proper for an erstwhile commander in chief. The swing in attitude for some is caused by the total mishandling of the issue by the yellow horde. They overplayed their hand and are consequently forced to defend a weak position.

9. How will history remember Rex Robles? How does Rex Robles want to be remembered?

History has eyes that can only see the past, but at the right distance. There comes a time when the focus becomes clear. Even only 60, 70 years from now, I don’t expect or hope to be remembered. I am not big at leaving footprints in the sand. Only to live life as best as I can, being of help to some, maybe, and a joy or inspiration(?} to my grandchildren whom I totally adore.

10. Who of the characters of EDSA will you still stand with after all these years? And who will stand with you still?

I have weekly breakfast meetings with Ram old guards, Felix Turingan, Jake Malajacan, and other septuagenarians. I look forward to those meetings and relish the time with them like an old fogey should. I stand by them.

11. What advice do you have for those who will like to change the world?

There is a saying, If you always aspire to do a lot, you may end up doing nothing. Be satisfied with the small successes and don’t forget about love. It is a blessing that we should all share.

If you plan to post this, please use discretion. I try not to talk too much about certain things, but sometimes that cannot be helped because of the need to make people understand. The relationship with the US is a sensitive area for me. Especially after Stanley Karnow made Edsa look like a brilliant US success in his book “in Our Image”. He spent several hours interviewing me and a dozen U-matic tapes. But he largely downplayed the role of the military (read his summary of events at the end of the book).

Rex’s narrative in Manila Bulletin :…/i-was-an-eyewitness-to-this-dramat……/ram-leaders-meet-president-marcos…/


We are now practically a generation away from that uniquely Filipino event known as the EDSA Revolution, and yet invariably, memories come flooding back as naturally as the ocean tide on a warm summer evening.
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The Cadet Corps Online


This week is Homecoming Week at Loakan.

Sir Dan Jimenez 77 sounded off an appeal to members of the Corps to change their profile photo to one of themselves as cadets.

The response was quick and viral. And very heartwarming. It was as if the Cadet Corps started appearing from all over and I was hearing the “attention call” faintly in the background. It was good to see my classmates, upperclassmen and underclassmen post images of themselves when their hair was shorter, their midsections trim and their uniforms immaculately pressed and shining where applicable.

All over social media, photos of the Corps in formation or otherwise started appearing, along with anecdotes of incidents that would not have been recalled had they not been recounted online.

Yet it was the old photos that rekindled the fires inside, bringing out a nostalgia that we had thought had been buried deep already.

Once again, I felt the need to brace up properly and conduct myself accordingly.

It had that effect on me as well as many of my other friends online who did so.

Where we are now is largely due to choices we made then, circumstances that influenced them and perhaps, destiny. While a great many lived out their careers in uniform, many others as well either left Loakan in civvies or hung up their uniforms much earlier.

Yet we are all the better for it.

This week in Fort Del Pilar, a great many of her sons and daughters will be riding vehicles across the plains of Luzon, hurdling the mountains of Baguio to reach their precious destination, the Philippine Military Academy. There,they will inhale the scent of fresh pine needles, walk through familiar pavement, visit old haunts, lament the destruction of the old barracks and look forward to the parades and seeing the other members of the Corps during their respective “times”.

And come back down to reality, refreshed, infused with another dose of what it felt like to be a cadet once more – when the environment was more ideal and it was possible to harbor idealistic goals.

Happy Homecoming to all the Cavaliers setting foot once again on Borromeo Field.

Academy, O hail to thee!

(Photo courtesy of Dado Enrique 83, the Class First Captain and Regimental Commander)

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I’m Back!!!

Hello there, sports fans!!! After a month’s hiatus, I’m back! Like the sun after the dark of night, I’m back. Like a wave after the ebbing tide, I’m back! Like Gen Douglas McArthur wading to the shores of Leyte, I’m back! Like a plebe ordered by his upperclassman to resign, hell, no, sir! I AM BACK!!!


I’m Back!!! Ay, apo, andito na ko!!!

And what a great time to be back! Late last year, we witnessed the glitz and glam of the UAAP cheerdance competition. We ooohed and we aaahed at the non-stop drama as Ateneo emerged as the UAAP men’s basketball champions. We marveled at the shocking San Beda upset win for the NCAA cage crown. We cried for joy at the 2-win streak of the latest edition of the Gilas Team. We got our almost daily dose of unpredictable NBA action. And we gave a collective sigh of relief as the PBA teams finally got their acts together. And yes, there seems to be some development in regard the move to oust Peping Cojuangco from the POC!!! Indeed, the sports gods have been kind enough to favor us couch potatoes with a feast of tricks and treats to whet our insatiable sports appetite. Bon a petit!

The changing of the guards at the UAAP cheerdance competition was unexpected. The National University juggernaut had dominated for the past 4 years; and they were gunning for a golden opportunity to tie UST’s unequalled string of 5 spectacular championships from 2002 to 2006. That said, the NU Pep Squad came ready to shock-and-awe as the first presentor at the full house MOA Arena.


As always, the UAAP Cheerdance Competition is a great crowd-drawer. (ABS-CBN)

But the jinx of the first performer seemed to have cast a spell on the erstwhile-invincible troupe. From dauntless to doubtful, the NU performance tumbled with a spate of errors. From masters to mere mortals, they meekly exited the mat. Giving the rest of the teams the confidence and the audacity to perform with wild abandon. Unheralded Adamson, whose best finish by far was last year’s 3rd place finish, joins the prestigious ranks of UAAP Cheerdance champions.


A first-win ever for Adamson. (Arvin Lim)

Then, we feasted over the much-ballyhooed UAAP men’s basketball finals between arch-rivals Ateneo and La Salle. Indeed, it was a treat not for the faint of hearts. It was Ateneo’s system against La Salle’s mayhem. For foreign flavor, it was Ateneo’s Baldwin against La Salle’s M’Bala, It was the blue sky against the green forest. The crowd was loud, and the cheering merry. In the end, Ateneo got the crown, while La Salle could only frown.


Ateneo celebrates after finally copping the UAAP Basketball crown. (Inquirer)

And we still hadn’t had enough. In the rival NCAA cage league, a rampaging Lyceum quintet, unbeaten for 18 games in the elimination round, found themselves facing the grizzled champs, San Beda, for the title. Needing just 1 more win to clinch a glorious season, the Lyceum Pirates found themselves banged, bamboozled and badly beaten. The San Beda Red Lions, proud champs in 10 of the last 12 championships, banked on their championship experience and a solid defense to etch out a monumental drama-of-an-upset. From cheers to tears, the Lyceum Pirates simply unraveled. For the Red Lions, it was steady pacing, patiently learning and peaking just right on time for the games that really mattered.


San Beda displayed the mettle of champions, coming from behind to beat a heavily-favored Lyceum squad. (Inquirer)

The newest edition of the Pilipinas Gilas scored 2 dazzling wins over Japan and Taipei to land in a tie with favored Australia in the ongoing Fiba World Cup Asia qualifier. After an inglorious run in Beirut where the team got blown out embarrassingly by South Korea, the twin wins are an encouraging morale booster for the country. Here’s hoping that the year 2018 gives Gilas the right breaks.

FIBA Gilas Pilipinas vs Chinese Taipei

Jason Castro led the Gilas Team to 2 coveted wins in the ongoing FIBA Eliminationion Round. (Rappler)

The PBA season is underway. It is hoped that the snaffu that led ultimately to Commissioner Chito Narvasa’s unceremonious resignation will simmer down quickly. Indeed, it was a tumultuous off-season for the PBA, after Narvasa approved what was clearly a one-sided trade for prized rookie Christian Stanhardinger. But there are new players and new alignments that make this season quite interesting. Despite the brouhaha, we just have to move on, folks.

And finally, in the wonderful world that is the NBA. There is never a dull moment, what with the new format for the All Star Game this week, and the mammoth overhaul of the Cavs’ line-up after a spate of losses early this year.

For the All Star Game this weekend, Lebron James and Steph Curry were named the 2 All Star Game captains in the new format after getting the most votes in their respective conferences. And – using ordinary pick-up style gym match-ups – the 2 captains get to choose who they want to play with in their respective teams. This refreshing format will see exciting new line-ups where fans’ conference loyalties are thrown out the window.


Going back to the regular season, the merry mix-up of marquee players, plus the arrival of this latest batch of upstart rookies, makes for more excitement. There is unpredictability, there is great innovation, there is dazzling speed and fearsome flight in every game they play.

And so, to my fellow couch potatoes, there is so much for us to look forward to this year. So bring out your popcorn and pour out the beer. Bring out the pompoms, the bullhorns, the gear. Keep the folks happy, so they won’t mind your mess. Make yourself comfortable, and don’t mind the rest. For the best is yet to come. And yes, you do have fresh batteries for the remote, do you?

Don’t you dare change the channel!!! (Pinterest)
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Ghosts of My Christmas Pasts

There is something in the cold, in the shortened days, in the long clear star-studded nights that makes one remember the fallen leaves of the past. In all the merriment of the coming Christmas and the anticipation of the new year, to look back seems not only natural, it is a reverent tribute to what can be no more. So the mind wanders before it forgets, the heart poignantly cradles before it discards. Ten days before Christmas, the ghosts haunt again.

1. We live time according to stages. In infancy, minutes if not seconds dictate what must be done. Feed the baby, change the diaper, put him to sleep. Wash, rinse, repeat. Then days come with schools and play dates. Not too long, the teen age years of awakening and self actualization bring forth the new person. Then he goes away to college and comes back on breaks, changing each time to be on his own. Then one day he graduates, finds a job and seasons pass for holidays to dictate that yes, it is time to visit home. If only for a while.

2. December 24th was always the busiest time at the market.It was also the time I would gather my brothers so we could spend Christmas eve with my parents and the rest of my younger siblings. The jeepney ride would take over an hour with sleepy commuters hauling their Christmas presents while carols tried to give meaning to Jesus’ birth. Christmas was not easy on the poor. The stark difference of haves and have-nots was glaringly more unmerciful. It was a realization that the past never buried, that the hurt never forgot. Tears flowed freely on Christmas days.

(5 days to go)

3. The letter was waiting when I got home Christmas eve. It was supposed to break the silence and to bridge the distance. Most, it was to keep the hope alive. Uncertainty and doubts had reduced the fire to dying embers. I did not have to read the words to know the contents. Jesus was born on Christmas Day to give hope, to offer salvation, to give peace, to affirm love. I had always felt the purity of pain on Christmas. A pain that memory would refuse to let go.

4. I just wanted two six shooters with a holster. I did not care about new shirts, new shoes or new pants. I wanted to appear the meanest and the baddest sheriff in town. At 5 years old, I just wanted to rule the world on Christmas Day.

5. The Simbang Gabi also referred to as midnight mass was a time for teen-agers to show off their their brand new duds and to scout for “steadies”. I stayed late with Tata Vener so he could finish my bell bottomed jeans. He finished it just as the sun rose. As the church bells signaled the end of the mass, I watched the faithfuls head for the “puto bungbung” and “bibingka” stands. I watched my contemporaries laughed and exchanged glances in a flirtation called youth and life. With empty pockets and empty dreams, I just watched. Youth was never my time. I was never young.

6. The upperclassmen had left. Fort del Pilar and the Philippine Military Academy, were all ours to rule and enjoy. We, the plebes, were kings of barracks! No parades, no inspections, no Academics. Just food, sleep and sports. Would we go back to civilian laxities and disregard 8 months of military discipline? Surprisingly, reveille and taps made sure we did not. The traditions of the outside world did invade our disciplined existence. Yes, there was the midnight mass, the “arroz caldo” after wards and on Christmas day, we marched to the Cadet’s Chapel and just like the rest of Christendom, bowed our heads in gratitude and full faith to remember the birth of Christ who would deliver mankind from sin. From far away, I missed those I love as the cold of the mountains hummed “silent night, holy night”. The wages of the life I chose and was destined to live.

(one week after)

7. Gift giving was a tradition Marilou pursued with conviction. Each child must have the same number of gifts. Twelve days of Christmas were counted with gifts being opened. Then they grew up and the gifts waited under the tree until they came home. Still the number of wrapped presents remained equal. The child regardless of age, never grew up.

8. There was something in solitude while in a crowd. To be an island was a choice. The mind would defy reality and believe its own. In Sinta’s, Jo’s, Andrew’s and Coco’s absence this Christmas, the heart sought the refuge of the past. They were missed sorely, a missing almost akin to pain. But the hidden smiles buoyed what the present could not deny. Love ruled the past, the present and the future.

8. Another Christmas past, my dearest would post. The decorations came down yesterday, kept and would be put up again in 11 months. Hopes were raised for a completeness only loved ones could fulfill. The ghosts would go to sleep but would surely awaken with the first carols and the last falling leaf. I would refuse to count how many more Christmases before the last. Still mortality would make reminders in painful creaky joints and wrinkles more permanent than time. As must be, the dwindling numbers made days like treasures. What was scarce could only be of utmost importance.

9. Jesus was and is and will be the reason for Christmas. The ghosts that haunted would come and go and would decay with age and fading memories. I had believed in Christmas when hope almost faded and desperation ruled. I had sought refuge in tearful carols and wishes of good tidings. I had trusted strangers’ kind smiles and peace to all mankind. Christmas would be past but like the kid who would never give up, I would look forward to the one down the pike with all the expectations of love, of happiness and yes, “of good will to men”.

Christmas would be forever.

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