This week, I’ve had to contend with two deaths, one private and one public. Such is life as one gets older, I suppose, that one has to face mortality ever more often as friends and contemporaries go into the sunset.
The public death, as one could easily guess, is Benigno Aquino III, more popularly known as “Noynoy” and “PNoy.” He was 61 — much too young in these days of interminably long life spans — and only ten years distant from my own. The news came as a complete surprise and I only stumbled into it while idly scrolling through my feeds.
What fueled the surprise was that in the past five years, after stepping down from the presidency, PNoy had practically disappeared from public view. Ex-presidents typically continue to play kingmaker and wield their clout among their constituents. Even if they don’t, they might weigh in on public matters or engage in some social enterprise.
Now that I think about it, PNoy might have said something about the current government’s handling of the West Philippine Sea, or the persecution of Leila de Lima, but…just silence. But such a course of action, I can definitely say, led to the least amount of public turmoil and as such, I would like to interpret it as a class act in an increasingly crass society.
The private death was of my friend A–. He was 55, even nearer to my age and thus hitting closer to home in many ways. We had many good times and many good laughs when I still lived in Manila. He was the nephew of my landlord and though he didn’t live in the same boarding house, he would visit often. This was more than twenty years ago.
It’s sad that sometimes this is how friendships go: we didn’t really keep in touch though we both lived in Davao these past few years. We met once or twice at gatherings and we talked about the good times; but with our lives and responsibilities diverging, that old spark simply wasn’t there.
In the back of my mind, I had always been meaning to reach out to him, to introduce him to my wife so they could trade recipes (because the man could cook) and to my mentor Dr. T– because he had many stories about old Davao. But with me it was always one excuse or other, and now, that moment is gone.