The Giving Cup.
Tony Oposa Sr, Surgeon Extraordinaire from the
Last May 16, Dr Tony’s brods of the Mu Sigma Phi gave him The Tony Oposa Cup in his honor, more formally called ‘The Dr Tony Oposa Testimonial Golf Tournament,’ held at the Camp Aguinaldo Golf Course in Quezon City. The Mu Sigma Phi is a fraternity of medical students of the University of the Philippines College of Medicine, founded ‘one fine October afternoon’ in 1933, so the website says (musigmaphi.com). Nobody seems to be able to remember the exact date. Reminds me of Alzheimer’s – the frat is 75 years old. Unlike the honoree – the man in red shirt in my photograph suddenly recognizing, pointing to and identifying the man behind the camera (me) – he turned 84 years old last April 1 (I greeted him, of course, ‘Happy Birthday, April Fool!’). His memory is clearer than those Mu Sigma Phi fellows, I assure you.
Because ‘he’s a jolly good fellow, he’s a jolly good fellow, that no one can deny!’ Those who came and paid their P2K tournament fee as a token of respect were Gaudencio Vega (Ticket #001), Willy Verzosa (002), Nick Salud (003), Ces Espiritu (004), Mike Galicia (005), Jesse Baylon (006), Rufo De Veyra (007), Silvestre Bello Jr (008), P Suppiah (009), Tessie Yupangco (010), Tommy Romano (011), Alberto Nepomuceno (012), Bobby Legaspi (013), Tony Oposa Sr (014), Bella Oposa (015), Jojo Arcilla (016), Juanito E Gementiza (017), Jaime Oposa (018), Tony Oposa Jr (019), Greely Oposa (020), Jojo S Santos (021), Leslie Agoncillo (22), Ed Jimenez (023), Ed Samonte (024), and Marlon Herrera (025).
Worthy of special mention in this event is P Suppiah, who came all the way from Singapore for the occasion, Lawyer honoring Doctor, his friend Tony O. P Suppiah is a barrister trained in
Not being a golfer myself, I leave out the statistics. Actually, everyone was a winner that day because we each received a gift from Dr Tony, if not material, virtual – a joke or two. Of the material gifts, several were copies of his autobiography, Give The Flowers Now! That reminds me of the verse I memorized long ago, ‘One Small Rose,’ part of which says, ‘I’d rather have one blossom now / than a truckload when I am dead.’ Dr Tony’s version reads in part:
What to closed ears are kind saying
What to hushed heart is deep vow
Naught can avail after parting
So, Give Them The Flowers NOW!
Now then, considering the honoree and the one giving honor, I think the highlight of the Tony Oposa Cup was this unsolicited words of surprising wit and wisdom from Suppiah. He said he had scribbled these words on the plane coming to
A few words before the flowers
A physician and surgeon is the flower of civilization. Tony is at his best at 84 and if he intends at that age to care and cure a woman, he must first feel her pulse to get the rhythm.
To know how to grow old is the masterful craft of wisdom.
Age is like love and cannot be hid.
In growing old, one becomes more foolish and more wise. Old men are only twice boys – so they are entitled to two girl friends.
Old age when crowned with honor enjoys authority which is of more value than all the sensual pleasures of youth.
No wise men ever wished to be younger.
Nothing is more frustrating than an old man heavy of years who has no other evidence of having lived – except his age. Such is not the case with Dr Tony.
I wanted to bring the flowers, but the Singaporean authorities at the airport would not allow me. (Laughter). I wanted to buy the flowers, but the Philippine authorities at the airport would not allow me. (Laughter). But I promise you, Tony, I will send you the flowers when I get back.
I wish you flowers for your perpetual happiness. And thanks for the invitation and for accommodating me. For some reason, my wife does not want me to stay in a hotel. Because I always get lost. (Laughter). That is, lost in thought. (Groan)
I, Writer know being lost in thought is the privilege of writers; I don’t know about Doctors and Lawyers.
Isn’t there a joke somewhere about who is the consummate artist, the Surgeon or the Lawyer, when reacting to errors in practice? I’ll revise it a little: The Brilliant Lawyer’s mistakes are splashed in the mass media while the Good Doctor buries them. (What about the Old Writer’s mistakes? I forget!)
Tony is some kind of Tiger of the Woods – he is a golf tutor. He must be good, but not by a long shot has he been champion. I’ve read his autobiography 3 times, and I don’t remember him claiming victory in one golf tournament or another. Perhaps in his next book?
His first book, Give The Flowers Now! is what attracted me to him in the first place. I didn’t know him from Adam, but he accidentally met at Wonder Island – a nice hotel resort off the City of Calamba and in the middle of Laguna Lake (visit this site for more details: http://calambabythebay.blogspot.com) – a friend of mine, Roman Romeo G Nagpala, and my Romeo appeared one day with a copy of that book, subtitled Memoirs Of Antonio C Oposa, I liked what I read so much that I insisted on borrowing the book overnight and didn’t put it down until I came to the last page, which was all photographs – the photographs remind us, the memories hang around in the air.
I emailed Dr Tony congratulating him on his book. My Gmail reminds me I got a copy of Tony’s book August 20, 2006 sent the previous day by LBC courier service. I wrote back:
You sent the copy on a memorable day, August 19, which is the birthday of MLQ who is known as the Father of the National Language. But the Cory Constitution (1987) changed the nature of the national language so that it is now based on all the Pinoy languages and not only Tagalog. The Tagalogs don't have the monopoly of intelligence. Goodbye MLQ. 'I never loved you anyway.' (A line from The Corrs.)
Note that the author of the book is Cebuano, and the Cebuanos and the Tagalogs have no lost between them when it comes to language. Note also that I am Ilocano, and the Ilocanos and Tagalogs have no love lost between them either.
I, Writer, Ilocano, speak for myself. ‘I had a lover’s quarrel with the world’ was what Robert Frost wanted to be written on his tombstone. I have a lover’s quarrel with the word the Tagalogs continue to foist on my country’s national language – I blame it on Manuel Luis Quezon, who maneuvered for his native tongue Tagalog to be the only lawful basis of the national language to be developed. Thankfully, the Cory Constitution of 1987 debunked MLQ and declared that the national language is best based on the many other Filipino languages, as well as foreign languages such as English, my favorite.
Nonetheless, to this date, the prevailing tribal mentality of government officials and scholars of the land is that the basis of the National Language of the
We are not world-class when it comes to thinking about language. Unlike us, Dr Tony is world-class. Tony Oposa, Doctor, Cebuano, speaks for himself. Or rather, his life speaks of him in volumes. He has shown the world that the Filipino using a language foreign to his nature, is at par with the world’s best. He was given the break by Dr H Glenn Bell, Professor and Chair of the Department of Surgery of the
And having achieved such honor, Dr Tony did something that moved me when I read it in his book and will always endear him to me:
He came back to the
He turned out to be one of the best surgeons we have ever had. Today, he is semi-retired and smelling the flowers, now and then actively directing the traffic of the remaining years of his life, as my photograph suggests. (To his left are his grandson Jaime and the boy’s mother Greely, the wife of Tony Jr, the one with the hat, paying. To the left of Tony Jr is Kitty, a sister.)
The son calls his father’s a ‘stream of consciousness’ book. It is; here is a sample entry, page 1:
Manalili St, Cebu City – 1924 to 1937; this was my home, born April 1, 1924. our home was only a couple of corners from my kindergarten, elementary, and secondary school – the Southern College, eventually, in the late 1950s, becoming the University of Southern Philippines.
Ormoc, Leyte – farm and City, during World War II years, 1942-1945.
Manila dorms during medical school days.
That’s 4 separate paragraphs. He, not the home, was born April 1, 1924. A surgeon’s own stream of consciousness – that’s how Dr Tony talks also. And that’s how he writes his emails. Staccato. And not chronological. Perfect for browsing.
That book came out in 2005, intended for the celebration of his 81st birthday. It had 2 Prologues, because Dr Tony could not decide which one he liked better. He was his own editor.
In that book of 200 pages of text (he did not number the photo album pages), there are hundreds of names written, many of them repeated. During that testimonial golf tournament, he said, ‘I am rich, because I have many friends such as you!’ Along that line of thinking, I present all the names meriting a line or two in his book, page numbers indicated:
Abagon, Mariano 85. Abalos, Ana 133. Abalos, Francis 133. Abalos, Jayjay 133. Abella, Pablo 17. Abes, Cresencio 134, 141. Abes, Gene 117. Ablaza, Sariel 111, 172. Abueg, Ric 52. Abueva, Teddy 17. Ador Dionisio, Saturnino 20, 21, 49, 143. Africa,
Baens, Alfredo 27. Baens, Hector 37. Baja–Panlilio, Herminia 26. Balasegaram, M 135, 136. Balce, Sofronio 16. Baltazar, Flor 172. Bañez, Hawthorne 117. Barbiero, Francesca 124. Barbiero, Mario 124. Barranachea, Eduardo 85. Barrera Sr, B –21, 116. Bartolome, Candido 33. Bastian, Flashy 35. Bataclan, Buddy 38, 85. Batista, Totoy 111, 172. Bautista, Ariston 22, 115. Bautista, Titong 38.
Cabaluna, Lorena 85. Cacdac, Fe 172. Cacdac, Manny 172. Caing, Digno 23. Calderon, Betty 108. Calderon, Jose 108, 109. Calderon, Lilia 109. Calderon, Norma 109. Camagay, Illuminada 85.
Damang, Teodora 52. David–Ruaro, Marilyn 113. Dayrit, Aurelio 70. Dayrit, Conrado 21. Dayrit, Manuel 21. De Castro, Braulio 37, 38, 85. De Castro, Estan 118. De Dios, Hilarion 100. De Jesus, Ramon 78. De La Cruz, Alan 52. De La Paz, Daniel 21. De La Pena, Art 75. De Leon, Gerardo 112. De Leon, Jimmy 173. De Padua, Cesar 23. De Reamer, Robert 45. Del Castillo, Antonio 23, 24. Del Prado, Cecilia 167. Del Prado, Jess 167. Del Prado, Manoling 167. Del Prado, Wilma 167. Del Rosario, Chito 52. Dhang Keng Wee 120. Diño, Benvenuto 23. Dizon, Frank 163. Dizon, Pacita 163. Domingo, Faustino 91. Domingo, Marangal 161. Domingo,
Ebert, Paul 81. Echavez, Abundio 19, 23. Edralin, Fe 162. Edralin, Max 162. Effler, Don 127.
Fabito, Dan 172. Felizar, Loreto 85. Fernandez, Erlinda 172. Fernandez, Maning 38. Ferreol, Ernesto 100. Firme, Constante 20. Florentino, Angel 21. Florento, Carmen 161. Florento, Jose 161. Floro, Rudy 172. Fores, Jose 61, 143. Fuentes, Johnny 38.
Gabuya, Rodrigo 86. Gaddi, Benjamin 78. Gaerlan, Delfin 23. Gaitos, Petronilo 115. Galang, Gonzalo 168. Galante, Maurice 42, 74. Garcia Jr, Gumersindo 25. Garcia, Arturo 19. Garcia, Enrico 172. Garcia, Enrique 23, 142. Garcia, Gumersindo Jr 40. Garcia,
Halili, Marlene 52. Hanlon, C Rollins 81. Herbosa, Ted 143. Hermosisima, Denciong 5, 25, 27, 164. Hermosisima, Lilia 164. Hernandez, Jose Joaquin 117. Herrera Jr, F 111. Herrera Jr, Florentino 112. Hickey, Robert 89. Hilvano, Serafin 35, 117, 118. Hinn, Benny 152. Horilleno, Emilio 24. Hughes, Esr 121. Hui Jr, Kenneth 128. Hui,
Ignacio, Pat 172. Ines, Carol 172. Inocencio, Ben 163. Inocencio, Dolly 163. Isaac, Herminia 85. Islami, Abdol 67, 89.
Jacinto, Cesar ‘Jack’ 139. Jacinto, Melchor 112. Jew, Jack 45. Jimenez, Tim 111, 173. Joaquin, Jose 118. Johanssen, Robert 45. Joson, Pakito 52. Juliano, Luz 112.
Kangleon, Ruperto 17, 31. Katigbak, Jose 26, 27. Katigbak, Lorenzo 143. Kennedy, Ely (Mrs) 52. Kessler, Bob 130, 169. Kessler, Shelley 130, 169. Kho, Mariano 100. Kid Vicente 35. Kim Boo 124. Kintanar, Josefina 17. Kuah, PC 124.
Lagdameo, Willie 120. Laico, Jaime 23. Laling (Dance Instructor) 12. Lansang, Esperanza 142. Lao, Cathy 169. Lao, Tony 169. Lapuz,
Mabale, Leo 117, 119. Mabale, Nelia 117, 119. Macasaet, Ching 86, 173. Macasaet, Evelyn 86. Macasaet, Romeo ‘Greg’ 86. Macasaet, Romy 86. Maceda, Jose 26. Mahathir, Mohammad 137. Majarian, John 46. Malabed, Momo 173. Manahan, Constantino 116, 165. Manahan, Tito 38. Manalo, Francisco 26. Manalo, Ponciano 26, 38. Manzo, Nap 38. Mapa Jr, Placido 116. Marcos, Pacifico 66, 100. Mayuga, Pedro 143. McCorkle, Horace 42, 74. Meer, Antonio 145. Mehta, Prof 136. Mejia, Agnes 49. Melendres, Fernando 117, 118, 143. Mellick, Sam 124. Mendoza, Johnny 17. Millar, Cesar 33, 38. Mimosa,
Obillo, Angelito 85. Ocampo, Carmen 85, 165. Ocampo Jr, Manolo 165. Ocampo, Manolo Jr 117, 165. Ocampo Sr, Manuel 117, 165. Ocampo, Geminiano 22. Ocañada, Epifania 13. Odi, Merle 85. Odon, General 134. Olaso, Ted 54. Ona III, Lee 172. Ona Jr, Leonardo 171. Ona, Tessie 171. Ona, Enrique 78, 171. Ona, Ike 141. Ona, Norma 171. Ong, Lisa 117. Ong, William 85, 117. Oposa, Canuto Reyes 6. Oposa, Esperanza 8. Oposa,
Queaño, Silver 54. Quinto F 116.
Racaza, Esperanza 161. Racaza, Simon 161. Raden Sjamsuhidayat 135. Rama, Nap 167. Ramas, Wilhelmina 17. Ramirez, Alfredo 89, 112, 143. Ramirez, Liwayway 85. Ramos, Jose 167. Ramos, Tes 167. Ramoso-Jalbuena, Julita 26. Recio, Ady 173. Recio, Porfirio 23, 112. Reeve, Thomas 121, 122. Remulla, Ditas 161. Remulla, Johnny 161. Reyes Jr, Pedro 24. Reyes, Benito 12. Reyes, Carmelo 26, 27. Reyes, Hernan 172. Reyes, Marita 49. Reyes, Victor 23, 40. Rigor, Benjamin 89, 90. Rigor, Violeta 90. Rizal, Jose P 142. Robles,
Tabanao, Ricardo 17. Tabuena, Luis 141. Tacata, Ida 117. Tacata, Ted 117. Talusan, Tony 38. Tamesis, Jesus 100, 143. Tan Ser Kiat 140, 140. Tan, Juaning 4. Tan, Nardin 4. Tangco, Ambrosio (8x) 8, 23, 59, 61, 62, 73, 78, 116. Tangco, Bosiong 38. Tangco, Colot 9. Tangco, Francisco 1, 116. Tecson–Ramirez, Josefina 112. Tenchavez, Clara 17. Tiansay, Betty 163.
Valenzuela, Victor 112. Vasquez, Antonio 23. Veidenheimer, Malcolm 84. Velarde Sr, Herminio 22. Velez, Luis 4. Velez,
Yambao, Carlos 22.
Of the 767 individual mentions of names, I found 162 name repeats, meaning there are 605 separate and distinct names in the book. There are 92 names repeated once, 16 repeated twice. The highest number of name repeats I found was 9 times, for Eufemio, George. They must share many secrets.
A few of those in the list have touched his life, and for which he cannot reciprocate even if he wanted to. And all of them have touched his life somehow. I would say half of those in the list Dr Tony himself has touched their lives dearly, as a friend and as a surgeon. In fact, he has touched the lives of so many other people, like me, that you cannot forget him even if you wanted to. He will list his many accomplishments since his first book in his next book that which he is writing; in this essay, I just like to remind him that when he has nothing else to count, to count his friends again – and again.