WHILE I was away, Eva Visperas, the Star newshen from Binmaley, Pangasinan, forwarded the following message to me via Viber. It came from Alvin Fernandez:
“The internment of Mayor Al shall be on August 16th, in the morning. We are deeply grateful to all, for the outpouring of love.
“Flooded po kasi ang Dagupan since yesterday.
“Sabay pa ng high tide.”
Alvin is the dentist-lawyer son of Mayor Al Fernandez, who had passed on last week at the age of 75.
Dagupan enjoyed an unprecedented economic boom when Mayor Al was the city’s Chief Executive for years.
But not only was Mayor Al brilliant in city management and business concerns. He was also adept as well at many other disciplines, sports being one Jake P. Ayson, Sergs Austria and Tony Sisante, to stage what other cities in the world would not dare touch even with a 10-foot pole—to use a cliche?
I refer to the 2000 World Junior Girls Volleyball Championships.
Egged on by Benny Gopez, then the hard-nosed president of the Philippine Volleyball Association, Mayor Al accepted the challenge and came out a winner to become an instant world celebrity in sports.
Dagupan not being a major city in the world made it to the global map of sports, thanks in huge part to Mayor Al’s uncanny ability to weld people together to work as one.
“What he did became an inspiration for other ‘small cities’ in the world to do what he did,” said Benny Gopez of Mayor Al’s breakthrough feat.
Mayor Al and I call each other “Buloy Al”—buloy meaning namesake in Pangansinense.
Buloy Al was that rare species who found it impossible to say no to almost any favor you would ask him of.
I’d say he could be the most generous immigration commissioner we’ve ever had.
A friend of mine was, for years, trying to become a dual citizen.
“Bring him at the Manila Hotel coffee shop tomorrow, Buloy,” he said to me.
I did. Right there and then, my New York-based friend, took his oath as a dual citizen before Buloy Al.
I was playing golf one time, and I received a call from a friend.
“My son was stopped just now by immigration because a namesake of his was allegedly a fugitive,” he said to me. “But they had different middle names.”
I called up Buloy Al.
In minutes, my friend’s son was released from the immigration holding area and was able to catch his plane for the United States that day.
“I will never forget your Buloy Al’s quick action,” said my friend.
A basketball official had been levelled with trumped-up charges by his foes, causing him to “lose” his Chinese citizenship; the poor guy eventually ended up stateless. Imprisoned even.
He had a crucial trip to make.
Buloy Al came to the rescue. He gave him a travel document.
“If he won’t come back, Buloy, tough luck for me,” my Buloy Al said to me.
The guy came back. And he got travel documents from Buloy Al each time he would leave.
These days, it’s hard to find a guy like Buloy Al. His breed is vanishing. Fast.
THAT’S IT This one absolutely cannot be denied: San Miguel Beer lost its Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup crown because Chris Ross, Marcio Lassiter and Christian Standhardinger, all famous scorers, ended up each with no points in Game Six to virtually allow Barangay Ginebra to run away with the crown-clinching 93-77 victory in the race-to-four Finals. Three zeros from three superstars. In a game with the title on the line. Can you believe that? It might have marked the first time that a trio of sure shooters in any team since the league’s inception in 1975 had bumped into a bad night simultaneously, as if they had a blood compact to do it. My, oh, my…Sol and I extend our family’s deepest condolences to dearest friend Ray Butch “Elvis” Gamboa, who lost his wife suddenly on Monday. The remains of Zenaida “Babes” Z. Gamboa lie at Loyola Memorial Park, Sucat, Parañaque, Premiere Chapel 3. An extremely serene woman, Babes was the epitome of harmony that was the enduring trademark of Elvis’s family. Babes will be missed, even as we are certain that Dear God has reserved her a patron’s seat up there to watch over her beloved Elvis.