Sir Chief

I read somewhhere that if you want to live forever, all you need to do is break a writer’s heart.

Now, I’m nowhere near a writer but yesterday morning my heart was broken. I was mindlessly scrolling through my newsfeed when I saw a picture with the words “in loving memory”. It was a familiar face though I haven’t seen him in two or three years. I got emotional because he was still young and he died too suddenly. The culprit? Acute pancreatitis. Common name? bangungot.

He was the head of security in my college alma mater. I actually don’t know his name, just the familiar face in polo and black slacks who always roamed around the premises, walkie talkie on hand. Friends who have shared the news in their timelines said he was called “Chief” but I don’t remember ever calling him that. Just a simple “Sir”.

He was especially kind to dormers. Sometimes strict, but kind. At night he stations himself at the Malvar gate to wait for the pasaways who try to get in unnoticed (only those with passes signed by Sister or the caretakers can enter through Pedro Gil gate). He’d remind you the curfew and what time it already is with a frown. Whenever I went home past curfew he’d give the same reaction. Of course he’d always let us in because there are all sorts of things around Malate at night but I got told off maybe twice or thrice.

The next day, when you pass by each other on the corridors, he’d smile at you the same way. There’s none of the “ito yung kagabi” look. It’s as if he already forgot what happened.

At 17, I remember thinking how professional he was. Sometimes older guys just creep you out especially when they act too familiarly and joke too inappropriately. But him? He never went beyond what his duty called for him to do. He did nothing more than smile or frown or scold (with a few words in between and occasional ghost stories). He busied himself with one thing and that was security.

I’m not patronizing him. I very much know that a person can show different faces to different people. I don’t know anything about him outside the gates of university. I’m not sure if he is a good husband or father (i think he is!) or friend or human being in general. May be he has a criminal record for crying out loud. But that doesn’t change the fact that he is part of my fond memories from back then. He occupies a very small part but it’s pleasant nonetheless.

I’m not sure why I’m writing this. I guess I just want to show that a little kindness goes a long way and that people whose name you don’t even know can touch you in some way. This brings to mind the truth that EVERY SINGLE LIFE has value. God loves us all the same.

After 7 years, I know your name now and I’m sure I’ll eventually forget it in the future but at least I can say:

Rest in peace, Sir Dario Buenaventura!

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