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Bicol Mail’s Big Boss



Hindsight, there was something amiss with the universe last week. Why? I was supposed to get a kitten who looks like my cat who died a long time ago. Her name was Flappy and she was around about the same time I began to write for Bicol Mail, the region’s best edited and the only regional newspaper.


When my older brother Jesus Antonio Junior passed away, she consoled his children in the most special way she best knew how-- just by being there. She had the most beguiling golden-eyes. The new prospect looks like her but has azure-eyes.


Unfortunately, that never came to be, the seller was a no-show. I arrived at the agreed time and waited for an hour and a half but not even his shadow was seen. So, I spent pet hunting on Facebook Market Place once more. I saw a white feline of Persian breed and the same azure eyes, however to my chagrin they do not accept C.O.D. mode of payment. To protect my funds, I never send finances to strangers.


Then, lo and behold, somebody from Libmanan had a kitten available for sale. Fluffy arrived at my gate-step in the early Friday morning of last week. She is a Persian kitten with grey coat and golden-eyes.


The name Fluffy was taken from the 1990s movie While You Were Sleeping. The Persian cat starring in that film surprisingly had grey fur! It was a long time ago so I had forgotten how she looked like. The only vivid memory about the scenes between her and Sandra Bullock’s character Lucy was that she called her rich kitty. Well, she lived in a posh apartment and wears an expensive collar.


Perhaps, it was purely coincidental that our big boss Nilo’s family hails from Libmanan. Maybe, Fluffy is a gift from the Big Boss so that I shall always remember. His son told me once to never forget Bicol Mail. I would be gone in an instance or two, in much the same way as James Bond in the epic release-- Quantum of Solace. He delivered the line, “I never left.” when Q asked him if he was still with them.


Moreover, writers are artists. And artists are poor. Parents, most often than not vehemently discourage their children to pursue careers in acting, singing, painting, and a plethora of other creative fields. In the U.S.A. writers and journalists for that matter are subsidized by trust funds from their affluent family. An example would be the prolific writer Ronan Farrow, the son of Mia Farrow and filmmaker Woody Allen.


Most of the artists are really poor, case in point, Vincent van Gogh. He sold only one painting in his lifetime. Albeit his iconic contributions in the Arts are historic and legendary. It was his brother Theodore van Gogh who supported him until his last breath. Boss Nilo, yes we called him boss, (even his sons did) was like Theodore van Gogh. Why?


Well, you know the answer to that question already. He supported many Vincent van Goghs here in Bicolandia and beyond: to infinity and to the golden frontiers. He taught me the value of Divine Providence. He made me believe in something. My brother priest would always announce to the world that he is just a glamorized beggar. And, Boss Nilo would always smile because I was among the few that were not in his charity list or the Vincent van Goghs of Bikol Literature.


He would tell me that I look like an artist. Well the anglicized word for artista. He was old school. In this beatnik age, he emphasized many intrinsically virtuous values. The value for time (meeting the deadline), the value for honesty (free of libel lawsuits), and the value for character (uphold for freedom of the press and its role in information dissemination in society). He would jokingly call me pordiosero rico or to say that in English would be one who prays to God for providence and it reminded me again to pray the Lord’s prayer, wherein the line of supplication goes… give us this day our daily bread. Yes, as I mentioned earlier-- Divine Providence.


Once he gave me a boxful-sachets of coffee. The only reason I could think of as to why he gave me that was, the brand is Jimm’s. That is one of my nicknames-- a no-brainer. Although I could not tell him that I do not drink coffee.


Notwithstanding, he was generous with his words of wisdom and encouragements. One time I went back to the head office to edit a typographical error. He said people would not be harsh with judgments. It may be just one spelling or two. That showed me not to sweat the small stuff. It encourages us to let go of things that are not important in the grand scheme of your life. Because there is a tendency to spend plenty of time, energy, and effort, over insignificant matters.


True enough in my latest column I committed one typo. I, inadvertently, missed typing e at the end of non. I had goosebumps upon reading that, I felt Boss Nilo’s way of saying goodbye. James do not sweat the small stuff. On my way to visit his remains, I read two departed persons with the same name Cielo. That is heaven translated from Spanish. When I paid my last respects to the boss, another soul’s name was Celeste in a funeral march That means heavenly in Spanish. A trifecta of heavenly signs. The boss is in a much better place.


The parting words that are embedded in my mind were on his emphasis of the relevance of my work. Boss Nilo encouraged this writer to keep on doing what I do best because he was able to get good feedback from my readers. They would perennially ask whatever happened to your writer. And, Boss Nilo characterized them as young impressionable students eager to learn and be inspired.


As a bonus, I hope that this would resonate within the depths of your soul. Whenever we would be watching movies, the soundtrack is always apt to the scene. I was at the Avenue Plaza Hotel before going to the funeral mass at the Basilica Minore. The background music playing was Eric Clapton’s song Tears in Heaven. Time can bring you down. Time can bend your knees. Time can break your heart. Have you begging please. Begging please. Beyond the door. There’s peace, I’m sure. And I know there will be NO MORE tears in heaven. Amen.

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