Archive for the tributes Category

Pulling a Rico Yan

Posted in Celebrities, goodbyes, Music, tributes with tags , , on October 12, 2009 by planetchuckie

 There goes another part of my childhood.

Stephen Gately, the former Boyzone member who made headlines when he came out as gay in 1999, died last Saturday while vacationing in Mallorca, Spain.  He was only 33.

 The circumstances surrounding the Irish singer’s death are strikingly similar to Rico Yan’s: (1.) He was last seen partying the night before; (2.) He went back to his apartment drunk; and (3.) He fell into a deep sleep from which he would never wake up. Sources found no signs of foul play and declared that he died of “natural causes”.  

 I was never a rabid fan of his vocals, ditto for his band’s remake-laden discography. But his voice was part of what made Boyzone distinct. It had character. Without him, the band might as well have been known as Ronan and Friends. Stephen was the face of Boyzone, yet at the same time, he also seemed to be its most fragile member – like he was reluctant to be in the spotlight. But that fragility translated into strength with the bold decisions he made in his career, from his lukewarm solo effort in 2000 to his subsequent foray into theater years later.

RIP, Mr. Gately. You’ll be missed.

He’s Like the Wind

Posted in Celebrities, goodbyes, movies, tributes on September 15, 2009 by planetchuckie

Patrick Swayze is gone, after his long, valiant  battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 56.

Patrick was the definitive heartthrob.

He exemplified masculine grace in Dirty Dancing, swept people away as the wayward spirit in Ghost, and surprised us when he wore tons of make-up as a drag queen in To Wong Foo.

And even in his final role in the short-lived TV series, The Beast, Patrick showed his dedication to his craft in spite of his deteriorating health.

He was, is, and will always be a modern legend. The likes of which we will never see again.

So long, Patrick Swayze.

We hope you had the Time of Your Life.

Ode to a Grandmother’s Love

Posted in Family, tributes with tags , , , on September 13, 2009 by planetchuckie

[NOTE: This piece was published as “Ode to a Lola’s Love” in Philippine Star’s Grandparents’ Day special. I always kept asking Lola in Heaven to help me get my first major writing gig. I never thought that her answer would be this literal. Miss you, Lola!]

September 10, 2009

Today is my Lola Perla’s birthday.

Today, she would have turned 85.

 It’s been more than one year since she went away peacefully in her sleep; one year since that rainy Saturday morning when we found her lying on her bed, looking so calm and serene in her deep, peaceful slumber. My heart was racing as I gently tried to wake her up, my voice trembling as I whispered her name. But through it all, I couldn’t help but notice her face, how it looked so incredibly tranquil, almost like a still pond. And that smile. That smile. She looked so happy and fulfilled, that I could not help but feel the same for her. It was then when I realized – and reluctantly accepted – that our beloved Lola Perla has passed on. She has joined God.

 Yes, it’s been more than one year, but I still feel as if she never left. Her soothing scent still lingers in the room where she used to stay; her smile still embedded in my mind. Every trinket in her bedroom oozes with vivid memories of her – the old ash tray which she stopped using at age 76, her Jergens-smudged deck of cards she played for her afternoon rounds of solitaire, a notebook which she filled from cover to cover with handwritten family recipes, and a sheet of paper containing the lyrics to The Nearness of You – her favorite song, and, for that matter, the only one she was willing to sing.

 It’s impossible to forget a kind, loving person like Lola Perla. She was a steadfast woman who, along with her beloved husband Zosing (whom I never met because he passed away a few months before I was born), raised seven exceptional children – five girls, two boys – in their humble Malate abode. In some ways, they were like Manila’s answer to the Von Trapp family, and in Lola’s case, she was both Maria and the Captain. She exuded warmth and affection, but she was also stern as a rock when the situation called for it. It’s no wonder why one of my Titas kept referring to her as “The Emotional Rock”.

 More importantly, she was a woman who took on a prominent role in raising me and my younger brother. She was my second mother in the absence of my father, and the devoted homemaker while my mother spent her long hours in the office. She would always wake up at 3:00am to cook our breakfast, and then wake me up at 5:30am to prepare me for school. And whenever I arrived, I always had a taste of her trademark strictness every time she helped me with my homework. I used to refer to her as my “terror tutor”. Since math was one family skill I never fully acquired, she never failed to guide me through every single equation.  Much of my elementary academic success, I owe to her patience and vigilance. I learned a lot from Lola Perla – the value of hard work, the power of prayer, and the importance of family, among many other things. She always kept reminding me, “Chuckie, your Mama loves you very much”.

 As years passed, she started to mellow down. She was no longer my “terror tutor”, but she was still every inch the “Makulit na Lola” we all came to love. She was the one who would always ask me “Anong oras tayo magsisimba? (What time will we hear mass?)” at the end of every week and “Pasado ka ba sa lahat ng subjects mo? (Did you pass all your subjects?)” at the end of every academic term. 

 I could go on enumerating my countless memories with Lola Perla, from the way she would firmly grip my arm for support while walking to church to her surprising familiarity with Britney Spears.  But one thing’s for sure, Lola loved our entire family more than any way that we could ever imagine.  

 Losing a grandparent is no different from losing any other loved one. It always begins with that sense of denial, followed by that ubiquitous period of grief, and – probably the most excruciating – that feeling of emptiness and void. But then, it’s also rather bittersweet whenever an elder member of the family passes on. We feel a sense of accomplishment of a life well lived, and a sense of legacy whenever a new member of the family is introduced. When Lola died, my cousin’s wife gave birth to a healthy baby boy. And just like that, our mourning transformed to joy, as we welcomed the newest addition to our already large clan.  It simply reminded me of what life essentially is – an endless cycle. With every inevitable end, there’s always a new beginning.  

 In moments when I really miss Lola most, I simply look back at one of the conversations we had when I was a kid. Lola, being one of the first people to tell me about angels, said, “You know, Chuckie, when I become an angel, I will keep coming back from heaven to visit you”, to which I naively answered, “OK. But Lola, I don’t want you to have wings”. And with a smile, she simply said, “Then I will remove my wings”.

 For years, I’ve pondered on the relevance of that conversation. But now, it dawned on me. Lola Perla never needed to sprout wings in the first place.

 She was always our angel. And I believe that she still is.

 Happy Birthday, Lola Perla! 


Posted in friends, goodbyes, tributes with tags , , on August 28, 2009 by planetchuckie

It was early morning yesterday when I heard the devastating news. Carlo “Coyki” Pabalan,  one of my closest friends in  high school, died of complications from dengue fever at age 23.  He had been in a coma for more than 24 hours, and last I heard, he was in dire need of a blood transfusion. But in the blink of an eye, he’s gone.

Coyki’s untimely passing couldn’t have come in a more depressing period. Just barely a month ago, we also lost another former batchmate Ramon “Monchu” Ordoveza, to sleep apnea.  Two lives. Gone too soon.

 In many ways, I considered Coyki my first high school best friend. He was one of my first textmates, and we had a blast talking about bad horror movies and absurd music videos. He also used to get me in a trouble a lot for  making me laugh like a lunatic during class. Coyki was a walking gag show.

It’s hard to fathom how someone bursting with so much energy would leave this soon. Coyki has touched so many lives with his humor and his carefree disposition, in the same manner that he has touched mine. And even if we’ve grown out of touch over the years, I still thank him for providing me some of my best high school memories. Coyki may not have been aware, but he taught me not to take things too seriously all the time, and that the solutions to some of life’s seemingly biggest problems are often  just a mere chuckle away.

 So, see you next lifetime, Coyki. And thanks. For everything.

Carlo Javier De Guia Pabalan

November 10, 1985 – August 27, 2009