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By Manuel L. Morato

What I dislike most about the Coronavirus pandemic is the desensitizing of feelings about death.  Some people seem to get “used” to it, suppressing emotional response.  There are those who seem to have the attitude of dejavu as if it fits to the saying: “one of those things.”

Lately, I have lost good friends that should have lived for some more years; at least till after the Covid 19 pandemic has left us so we can go back to normal, normal in a way that we could pay more respects to our faithful departed.

About eight months ago in November of 2020, we lost a close and dear friend, Fely Abaya.  At about the same time, I lost another friend, Dr. Cosme Naval.  What we deeply regret is the fact that we do not get to know on time.  It’s always after the burial that we find out.  For some reason or another, news just do not travel fast anymore.  For valid reasons, maybe.  But not for anything, news must be shared immediately for the power of prayers, for the repose of the souls of the faithful departed is actually the most important we could offer to those who’ve lost their lives, more than wreaths of flower offering.  There is nothing more powerful than the power of prayers to God Almighty.

We in particular, lament the passing away of two grand ladies, Zenaida “Nini” Quezon Avanceña.  Aside from the closeness of my father to her father, President Quezon, on my part I grew up with her brother, Nonong Quezon, travelled to Spain together with my family with Nini and Nonong who was then a seminarian in UST with another close friend of ours, Father Ruben Lumapas.

Our trip to Spain in the late 1940s was planned by my father and mother out of sympathy for the tragedy that Doña Aurora, daughter Baby and Nini’s husband Philip Buencamino who perished in a mistaken identity of the Huks at that time, on their way to Baler.

My father was supposed to be in the same car with Doña Aurora, but he had to beg off last minute because a son had to be rushed to the hospital the night before departure that morning.  My father was then the first Congressman of Quezon Province, which at that time included the first district including Baler where Doña Aurora’s entourage was headed to.

After that ambush, my father decided to take Nini and Nonong to Spain with my family to somewhat help them lessen their grief.  Nini recently passed away at the age of 100 years old.  A God’s blessing.

* * * * *

Just shortly before Nini passed away, another grand lady passed away at age 93, Celia Diaz Laurel, another friend, very charming and friendly.  And now, just a few days ago, my childhood friend, Agustin “Ting” Bengzon, passed away at age 84(?).  Before this pandemic happened, we would eat out together in different restaurants in the Makati area to make it more convenient for him.

I could honestly say that Ting was my best friend since our teenage years at the Ateneo in Padre Faura.

My father was a very strict but kind man.  He was a strict disciplinarian but with a big heart.  My curfew was exactly 7 P.M. for dinner with the family, every night.

Ting and I would just call each other by phone, for he too, had a strict and disciplinarian father, the late Chief Justice Cesar Bengzon, the First Filipino Justice to be a member of the International Court in the Hague.

Ting, like me was also not allowed to go out at night.  We were similarly disciplined by our strict fathers.  That in a way, bound us together.

I am particularly saddened by his demise for in him I found a sincere friend more than a brother.  We were soulmates in a way that we empathize with each other like true brothers.

His wife, Elisa del Mundo, a niece of our late outstanding Doctora Fe del Mundo of her famous hospital, Children’s Hospital.  Doctora Fe was also a good friend of mine.

I attended the mass at the San Antonio Church in Forbes Park, yesterday, Sunday at 4:00 P.M. where Ting was also laid to rest.

Together with my parents, I will include them all for the repose of their souls in Heaven with Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Trinity and Our Blessed Mother, Mother of God.

I promise to pray for them everyday so they may all rest in peace together with my father and mother, and all my loved ones.

“You are gone 
But for us you never left
God has you in His Keeping
We have you in our hearts.”   

For comments and suggestions email at mlmorato@yahoo.com