The photograph was taken moments before Lito Gozum arrived with a gallon of Chivas Regal, to hastily replenish the even more hastily consumed bottle of Johnnie Walker Premiere Reserve that TG received from his boss for Christmas. Glenn composed the shot, set the automatic timer and joined the group in what turned out to be Mike’s Despedida.
There had been a comment made earlier about how these reunions typically develop--- how the same stories would be retold repeatedly as the night wore on, with the appreciation of the audience directly proportional to malt absorption.
Mike was in fine form. Robbie recounts correctly how ebullient Mike seemed to be that evening, how open he was, how invincible on that very last time we were together.
Together with Bobby Guevara and Quitos Bengzon, Mike and I were classmates in Prep B 41 years ago. During our Senior year in High School, Ron Salvador convinced me, Lito, Mike and Alan Sulit that Zoology was the most suitable pre-med course. Ray chose Biology and Ricky went via the Psychology route. Ron migrated to Canada.
Turned out Zoology didn’t “prepare” us any better for medical school but we spent the next 4 years in UP Diliman dissecting frogs, sharks and cats; snorkeling in coral reefs, collecting insects, fully engaged in the study of the animal kingdom. We had a lot of good times.
There appears to be general agreement in what we remember most about Mike: his smile and his unfailing generosity, unconditional friendship. Tolstoy claimed that the central revolutionary theme to Christianity could be found in Matthew 5:38 You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.
It was the most unnatural prescription even then but we continue to associate good people with those who practice this philosophy, regardless or even in the absence of religion. And to those blessed enough to operate in such rarefied company, it becomes easy to identify where all the grace, faith and fearlessness arise from.
I join all of you, from Oklahoma in celebrating Mike’s well-lived life. In the spirit of full disclosure, I admit to being the 4th and final figure of the Benign Boys of Baguio Band. Mabuhay si Mike! Maraming maraming salamat sa lahat ng iyong kabutihan. Pahinga ka na.