A FRIEND LIKE NO OTHER – As far as friendship is concerned, I am not only skeptical and cynical but conscious and picky to have a friendly link with somebody, especially those I’ve never met in life.
I always consider whether there is a chemistry in our camaraderie, such as our similarity in attitudes, character, behaviour, and mentality.
A prime illustration of this was my friendship with Salvador Tiampong Defiesta,who was my classmate in BS Chemistry in Colegio San Agustin-Bacolod, and whose personality appears to qualify and fit my choice of a friend.
Apparently a cheerful person as vividly exemplified by his ever smiling bedimpled and baby-like face, Totong or Buddy as we fondly called him, was a friend like no other to many of us in our BS Chemistry class. His wit, wisdom and humor, down to earth and exceptional stories, characterized him as a friendly person, and influenced our closeness seemingly more than a twin.
Oftentines we ate snacks in the canteen together, discussing our lessons for the day, and would come to library to work out for our assignment jointly.
We would go to the chapel as devoted catholics and avid followers of St. Augustine, and share with each other our interpretation of the gospel, and some parables in the Bible.
Sometimes, he invited me for lunch in their house situated at Purok Punta Kapri.
Sometime in October 1975, while the M/S Sta. Florentina vessel of Negros Navigation Company (Nenaco) was navigating for Manila, carrying our group of Industrial Plant Tourists, Buddy and me couldn’t help but respond to the need of our female classmates who were encountering seasickness, and having hard time carrying their baggages.
While in Manila, we stayed at the Youth Hostel of Angkiko family, in Teachers Village, and similarly shared our pleasantries with some new found friends over bottles of beer, but Buddy contend himself with just a bottle, as his face got pinkish to red afterwards.
After our graduation, we split ways as we are destined to independently struggle in pursuit of our respective dreams of seeking greener pasture, unmindful of the need for us to undergo the chemist licensure examination.
I recalled Buddy told me he had worked in Paint Factory in Manila as chemical technician, preparing and mixing raw materials, containing some heavy metals like Mercury, Lead, and Silica, for paints manufacture.
Later he reportedly adventured in Middle East to work in a prestigious chemical factory until his retirement.
As for me, I enjoyed going back to school, teaching Chemistry, Physics, and Mathematics subjects to secondary students prior to working as Chemical Salesman and finally in the Sugar Laboratory.
As we both have a family of our own, Buddy and me lost track with each other, and never had the chance to meet personally after our graduation for quite sometime.
But thanks to Facebook, we met again through the chat page in Messenger, enthusiastically greeting each other, communicating as long lost friends.
Unfortunately, and with deep regret, I am saddened and shaken by his sudden death posted by his kid yesterday (evening of August 27, 2022, to be exact).
Shocking as it is, the unexpected notification about his demise caused me sleepless night and got upset, as it was almost midnight that I read it, and I was inside the Camping Trailer, parked in the Hecla Resort, about to slumber at the lower level of the double-decker bed.
Certainly, Totong may have gone to the second life and joined in the Kingdom of the heavenly Father, but his memory shall linger forever in my mind, and his friendship and kindness shall undoubtedly remain in my heart through the years of my life.
He was not just a classmate in BS Chemistry, Batch 76, but the best of the best friends I have, and a big brother, confidante, and partner in various endeavors and adventures, such as in undertaking our Chemistry laboratory experiments, accomplishing assignments, writing the thesis, and working together as laboratory apprenticee at Hawaiian Sugar Central.
Indeed, our ridiculousness, mischivousness, craziness, and sometimes childishness strengthened and fortified the friendship between me and Buddy.
In his message in my scrapbook, Buddy wrote “Let no thunder and lightning break the bond of our friendship”.
Absolutely my friend Buddy, wherever you are now, our friendship will remain intact and strong, and rest assured you shall be always in my Facebook Friends List forever, never blocked or deleted.
Rest in Peace Salvador Defiesta. Adieu!
KIND AUGUSTINIAN FRIENDS – Apart from Buddy, the friendship and kindness of some augustinians are similarly unforgettable.
Eduardo Casas, fellow ROTC officer, and himself a BS Chemistry student, had been my friend since my first year due to his brotherly care whenever I find it hard securing a food, got sick, and felt lonesome, as he would cheer me up with his jokes, and humorous stories.
George “Scott” Abueg, also a fellow ROTC Officer and a Mechanical Engineer, always invited me for lunch in their house, afterwhich he would play his guitar before me.
Scott was a favorite student of our teachers, Mrs. Elena Cuadra, and Mrs. Teresita Atotubo due to his proficiency in English, both in speaking and writing, that I idolized, paving the way of our intimacy as friends.
Indeed, Buddy, Edward, and Scott were the kind of friends with whom I have fondest memories that I shall cherish in life.
Their kindness was quintessential and worthy of emulation.*