Thursday, May 8, 2008



SOMETIME AGO on May 2007 while attending my first “regular” club membership meeting with the Cebu Mountaineering Society or CeMS after a hiatus of roughly 10 years, I first met this very active man in his early 60s when I was introduced to this current flock of members, comprising the old, the not-so-old and the new.

I am referring to none other than Mr. Rafael Tura, - Paeng or Tio Paeng, as he is fondly called (I would rather call him Sir Paeng right now) – who came all the way from Bohol to attend the meeting which was held then at the Third World Outdoors (TWO) flip-flop factory right below the Ayala fly-over together with Jon Consunji, Cankee Potamio and the couple, Loklok and Tata Caumeran, on board their mountain bikes.

Right there and then, Ramon Vidal of TWO began to “harass” Sir Paeng with a barrage of jokes and this rag-tag crowd of outdoor worshipers enjoyed, tickled to death, and loved the healthy repartee at that late late afternoon with which both gentlemen threw at each other. Soon Daddy Frank Cabigon, Lilibeth Initan and Andrew Flores joined Ramon's side. The tide of battle shifted to the advantage of Ramon and company, but Sir Paeng remained unperturbed and took all snipes gracefully, with a grin!

Watching from the sidelines, I was a bit amused and a bit bewildered at the same time as my long absence left me in a quandary on how to quickly adjust to this funny interlude which shifted away the attention from the formal discussions and I don't know whom to side whom preferring neutrality. Prudence kept the better of me as I decided to unleash my naughtiness later (at Sir Paeng, perhaps) at a later date and time letting this moment to focus on immersing back with my old club and acquaint better the roster of personalities ringing this lively group. Sir Paeng's arrival, at least, killed the ennui and the seriousness that were drawn on the faces of everyone in the meeting.

Later on, I learned that Sir Paeng just got inducted last 2006 as a full-fledged member and even while still new, everyone noticed his leadership qualities earning him votes to assume as CeMS vice president behind Rosebelle Daculan in 2007. A rare feat indeed for a new “kid” in town from Mabolo.

His active lifestyle led him to places where only eagles dare at the summits of Mount Apo in Davao or of Mount Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia; to the vowels of mother earth in Suhoton Cave in Samar or riding the foaming crests and rapids of Macahambos Gorge in Cagayan de Oro City. Along the way he touched many lives with his good-natured gestures of kindness and gained numerous friends off and on the trail with his wits and with his enthusiasm. He is quite comfortable to be with whether it be sharing the microphone of a videoke machine, as a biking buddy along a slippery bike trail or even just walking along with you as you hurriedly go to a CeMS meeting.

Throughout the many months that I rejoined CeMS, Sir Paeng attended almost all club activities and meetings. I get to observe him firsthand during the 2nd TWO Orienteering Cup held in the Babag Mountain Range last July 2007; at the Christmas '07 camp in Gaas, Balamban; in Matutinao, Badian and in Compostela last February 2008 and during the signage project in Mount Manunggal just this March.

It was in Nug-as, Alcoy during our year-end climb last December, that I get to work closely with Sir Paeng preparing a group presentation during an impromptu program. Sir Paeng did his best there. He got his prize – cooking breakfast for the whole group – with a wide grin that extended to us all.

Sir Paeng never ceases to amaze me in all aspects of his life, though I did not have the opportunity to know him better of his personal life, still he was too good a man, vim and hearty, to leave this present world onto the beckoning reward that his Creator prepared for him. There are, I think, too many good things that he is capable of doing if given the chance to live to a hundred, but who am I to question Sir Paeng's Creator? I am, but a mere mortal thinking of mere mortal thoughts.

I thought it was not yet his time when Dr. Abe Manlawe assured us in his text message last April 15 that Sir Paeng is okay and in an alert condition when he left him in the hospital. But, alas, Sir Paeng did go on his way, in a state of grace, last April 17, to follow the trail blazed before him by Sir Joe Avellanosa, Mme. Penpen Luego, Sir Roy Tabanao and others. We will have our prayers to guide you on your way Sir Paeng and you tell them the new tales you hear and saw while you were here and maybe someday, when our time will come, you'll hear newer tales from us.
Your memories will never be forgotten and, surely, there will be memorial climbs dedicated for you in the near future, you can be assured of that. In the meantime we will all miss you, friend.

Godspeed and see you soon on the trail...

Document done in OpenOffice 2.1 Writer, Trebuchet MS font, size 12.

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