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TIME chips away, ever so slowly, at the remnants of the old days, until all that remains is the new. The cycle never changes.

I believe all his Dabaweñyo peers, baby boomers and onward may have known or heard of him. He was definitely old school in his ways but always fun to be in company with. As a doctor, he was the subject of tales by some scaredy nurses who noted how “terror” (overly strict) he was in the OR during the early days. Some of his colleagues, who were also friends with my mom and pops, regarded him as the no-nonsense guy who called a spade a spade. Nonetheless, he was great and knowledgeable at conversations, eager to share and more so to listen. This, I would eventually discover later.

We always looked in awe at him when we were still young kids living at Ponciano Reyes street. Although he rarely passed by our house then, he was always resplendent and dignified-looking in those white, starched pants that were so much in fashion with older folkies of the 60s. He drove a Buick then, the type which in our college time, we called ‘the godfather’, as in the movie. In a way, he struck some fear among us lil’ kids in our family, especially when at my aunt’s request, he checked up on me one time when I had a fever. 

(He had dismissed it as non-serious and whispered to me, “Artista”, and then bid my aunt goodbye.)

Little did I expect that much later on, we would become friends, when we both belonged to the same tennis club along Magallanes. Save for the beers that our merry band regularly consumed during each evening after playing time, he was actually a secret aficionado when it came to wines and spirits. One time, when he learned I liked Jack Daniels, he confided that the best (if not the only) way to drink it was with ginger ale. Then he proceeded to instruct me to visit felcris at Sales street, a way off for their great cans on sale. 

Even while at this stage of our being friends and peers in the courts, he still remained my senior and mentor in my eyes. I was always reserved on how I managed around him, lest I be called a foul.

The last time I saw and briefly chatted with doc was when I went to the wake of Tita Rosie, his beloved wife. Some of our old tennis buddies were there and for a while it felt like old times again. Then slowly, I detected a faint sadness, betrayed in those wide eyes that during the early years, once instilled fear among nurses, awe in us children and respect among his peers and his tennis friends. It had been during this last time, he confided in me that now, what was he left to do? 

Not to worry dokie, your train has at last pulled into the final station. Rest easy. Your beloved Rosa waits silently at the platform.

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