It was September of 2002. Those of us in the President’s Council were sent to attend the annual Catholic Educators’ convention. The convention was held inside the Xavier University campus in Cagayan de Oro City.
You have to understand; these conventions had lectures and conferences, but they were still annual get-togethers for school administrators to make new contacts and rekindle old ones or just a convenient excuse to get away from the stresses brought about by managing schools.
In fact, anyone who has been to these conventions will attest to the fact that you cannot beat the sister madres to the nearest malls of the host city. No kidding! The malls, in fact, become seas of religious habits as the sister madres bargain-hunt for pasalubongs for those left behind in their school communities.
At ang gagaling ng mga sister madre sa sikuhan where bargains were concerned…
All I am trying to say here is mga madre na ‘yun. We were also humans; and while there were those who were prepared to snore through each and every session, those of us in our small party were not averse to sneaking off if the topic in the published convention program was not particularly attractive.
As things happened, the UAAP basketball season was also really heating up. In fact, on the afternoon of the second day of the convention was scheduled a mouth-watering encounter between the DLSU Green Archers and the Ateneo Blue Eggless, este, Eagles.
We took a look at the program; conveniently decided that the afternoon’s fare was something that would be of little benefit to us; and made sure we would be back at our hotel rooms in time for the titanic encounter between two of college basketballs greatest rivals.
You have to understand, Cagayan de Oro was – and still is – Jesuit country. The nearest bastion of the green and white was in Iligan City about two or so hours away. Indeed, because listening to lectures was only a mild source of motivation, I even managed to arrange a visit to one of our schools in Iligan along with a very attractive side trip to the fabulous Maria Cristina Falls.
But on this afternoon of live college basketball, we knew we could expect no sympathies from the locals. I do not recall much of the game itself. What I do recall is that the Eagles were tearing the Archers apart. And with every shot that went in, celebratory cries of approval could be heard from within the hotel from those who – like us – were also following the match on television…
There was this one particular player – a point guard by the name of LA Tenorio – who the Archers could not quite handle. I remember that every time that he scored – or made an assist – I swore at him with invectives that would, if the sister madres heard me, make them sternly wag their fingers at me in utter disapproval. Mortal sins!!!
I swore, anyway! #&@^*@ Tenorio!!! Ikaw na naman!!! @*#@!#@ Tenorio!!! Tama na!!!
I think the Archers lost that one!
Let us now forget all about that game and fast forward to a couple of years later when I met up with the rest of the family for the annual All Saints’ Day visit to the Floral Garden.
We lit our candles at Mom’s tomb and said our prayers; and before the rest of the family rode back to Manila, we all thought we would drop by Shakey’s when it was still located at that site in front of what is now Robinson’s Place.
We were just going through the sort of idle talk that families rather tend to indulge in when Sonny, my nephew, offhandedly mentioned that he knew LA Tenorio – the basketball player – from his elementary basketball days in Don Bosco-Makati. In fact – Sonny related – LA’s grandmother, seeing his surname on the back of his jersey one day in Don Bosco, approached him and asked if he knew a Remy Torrecampo.
“Lola ko pô!” Sonny replied. And, therefore, my Mom…
Then, she happily introduced herself as second- or third-degree cousin of my mother. She even referred to my Mom as Ate Remy. She also introduced herself as LA’s grandmother.
I then proceeded to tell the rest of the family about this day in Cagayan de Oro City a couple of years back when I was vehemently swearing at LA in a way that anyone with green blood running through his veins could be expected to do during a game when the Archers were being methodically dismantled by this pint-sized point guard.
Patay… Pamangkin ko pala ‘yung minumura ko…
We all had a good laugh about it. Honestly, though, how was I to know? Mom was from Nasugbu; but I grew up in Lipa. I knew the Titas and the Titos and the pinsans from Mom’s immediate family. Could not say the same about the second- and third-degree relations…
A few more years later – after LA had graduated from Ateneo and started to play for a Philippine Basketball League (PBL) club – I was quietly working on a project one summer afternoon at my old External Services Office when I heard somebody – a woman – come in and ask the clerk at the desk, “Sino pô bâ dito si Mr. Torrecampo?”
Hearing my name, I got up and approached the front desk. “Ako pô! Sino pô sila?” I politely asked.
“Ah, ikaw pala ang anak ni Ate Remy!” She introduced herself as LA Tenorio’s grandmother. I knew we had a PBL game at the SENTRUM that afternoon; but I had not realized that LA’s team was playing.
After the obligatory pleasantries, I walked with her to the SENTRUM where – as it happened – LA and his team-mates were already warming up. I was introduced to a few relatives from Nasugbu who had come along to watch LA play – and I honestly did not really know anyone of them.
The lady I was with also called LA over to introduce us, and I could only lamely say, “Kasama mo pala sa school si Sonny (my nephew)…”
I never let on that I was swearing at him like he was the devil incarnate one sultry afternoon in a hotel room in Cagayan de Oro City…
[For those who do not know, from Don Bosco-Makati, LA Tenorio went to high school at San Beda-College in Mendiola. I asked his grandmother if the boy was approached by DLSU. Yes, she admitted, he was. But those who approached him, she intimated, promised that – as a basketball player – he could expect to breeze through college. That alarmed LA’s family, who preferred Ateneo because those who approached him from that school warned that he would be treated as an ordinary student like everyone else. I naturally tried to ask who approached them from DLSU and said that what they were told could not possibly be true. The grandmother – my aunt – did not say who did.]
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