In a few days, we will mark the 10th death anniversary of my best friend Abes. I wrote this piece in 1996, a few weeks after his tragic death. It’s been ten years but there are still times when I would still catch myself whenever I would find myself in a fix wondering what Abes would say or do in that situation.

In remembrance of his 10th death anniversary, I am posting this ten-year old piece.

Abes, wherever you are, I do miss you my dear friend.

We can all feel bad about losing money to a pickpocket, or belongings to a fire. We can all feel bad about losing a bet or an election. Losing is always a painful experience no matter what, perhaps because it makes us come to terms with the fact that nothing in this world is ours forever. Nothing in this world is finite. Eventually, everything comes to an end whether we like it or not. Losing jolts us to the painful reality that everything we hold dear is borrowed and therefore cannot be ours forever.

The painful thing about losing is that most often it comes unexpectedly, suddenly. Unless one is a born loser, losing is not something one wants to aspire or prepare for so that when it happens, one feels that wrenching pain in the gut as if something that has been a large part of ourselves has just been ripped out. And in its place, there is nothing now but a big gnawing hole that makes us feel incomplete.

We feel bad about losing because in a real sense, we just do not lose material things or warm bodies, but a large part of ourselves. Every single possession, every experience, every feeling, every single person we love, all these occupy a space in our lives.

I lost someone very dear to me recently. His name was Abes and he was my best friend. He was one of the those people who was a born "giver." You know, the type who would give away the shirt on his back to someone who needs it more. He was always giving something away – shirts, favors, his time and energy. I am not exaggerating.

The most painful thing about losing Abes is that we lost him quite suddenly and unexpectedly; and under very tragic circumstances. He was a victim of man’s inhumanity, of extreme cruelty. He was a victim of a foul play. Perhaps a frustrated hold-up attempt. Perhaps a vendetta. Perhaps. Nobody knows for sure what really happened. His wounded body was simply found one morning in a grassy knoll in the heart of Quezon City. No leads, no witnesses, nothing.

One day he was a warm affable person. The next day he was cold body inside a box. Just like that. It did not matter that the man was barely 30, that he had a bright future ahead of him at PAL, that he had just bought a house for himself and his family, that he had parents and siblings and friends whose lives would never ever be the same again without him.

The questions scream for answers. How could anyone snuff out someone else’s life in just a few slashes of a knife? What kind of a person offers a deaf ear to someone’s plea for life? Why would anyone want to hurt someone who did not have within himself the ability to inflict harm on another human being? What kind of a society it is that breeds criminals, that allows killers to hunt the streets at night and stalk victims?

As in the movies, the questions merely shatter the stillness of the night. There are no answers forthcoming. At least not yet. His death is being investigated by the NBI. I do not want to think that my best friend would end up as just another statistic in the police files.

But frankly, there is not much to go by. He had no known enemies. There was simply no reason for him to get killed other than the fact that he was on the same road that night when someone with unspeakable evil in his heart. In the end it is simply between him and God.

In the meantime, we grope in the dark trying to find our way around this world without Abes. It is like waking up the day after the dentist pulled a tooth – you go through the day trying to find the tooth where it used to be and feeling very uncomfortable in the process. In time you get used to it. The loneliness becomes a part of ourselves.

In the meantime, we grieve not just for a dear friend, but for everything that could have been.
Goodbye Abes. Rest well, my friend.


Serendipity? While surfing the net I came across a tribute written by Celine Lopez for her best friend Joel Tantoco who passed away recently.


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