Remembering Roam Farol
…the “life of the party”
By Apolinario Villalobos
I remember Roam as a vibrant guy who was never out of witty and funny puns. A gloomy room suddenly would become alive with laughter and guffaws, a few minutes after his arrival. But there were times, too, when he was serious, and during these lulls we talked about politics in the government and the company. As I was still new in the company when he developed a trust in me, practically, I had zero knowledge of what was going on. I was lucky then, to hear many confided impressions and information from him while we were having short coffee breaks in the canteen. We called each other “pagari” (brother), and also, use it to greet each other in our emails.
When I transferred to another department, we parted ways as I was relocated to the company’s flagship office of Marketing and Sales International along Roxas Boulevard, while he stayed at Vernida Building in Makati, where the administrative offices were located. Months later, I learned that he “left” PAL. I thought it was a normal thing to do for a PAL employee who wanted to pursue a better career abroad.
About a year after he left the company, though, I received an email from a certain Roamfar@yahoo.com which I did not open as I was not familiar with the username, and for fear that it has got a virus. As the emails kept on coming, I finally decided to open one and I was surprised to learn that it came from him. I did not know then that he preferred to be called “Roam”. I excitedly asked him so many questions which he frankly answered, most of which made me furious. His replies contained painful reasons why he left PAL.
It took more than one year before I had the courage to prod him to write his memoirs and publish them in a book. He flatly replied that he cannot do it because he was not a writer, although, I could sense bitterness between the lines of his messages. I reminded him that he was the editor of PALiner. I assured him that if I was able to come up with my own book, the more that he can come up with one and a much better one, yet. Still he kept on saying no. Finally, I offered my help by editing his manuscripts or develop some based on information from him. The deciding coaxing words from me were, “you have to write a book to perpetuate your name, as you know anyway, that your days are numbered”…strong and brutal words that could have opened his mind, as he finally consented to the idea.
He emailed me his manuscripts which I promptly edited. Information that he sent by batches were given substance to become short essays. Finally, his book, “Vignettes On Board Asia’s First Airline” came off the press. From there, I pushed him to come up with a second series, to which he again consented. I gave him some ideas which he told me were interesting enough to excite him. A plan was made which we would further discuss when he will come home. I pictured him to be carrying a small oxygen tank because that was how he described himself every time he went out of his home in the United States – like an astronaut. Contrary to what I was envisioning, when we finally met, I found out that his small oxygen tank was carried inside a shoulder bag, making his need for it, not so obvious.
The coming home of Roam was an important element in the organization of the “Kitakits Group” whose other reason was the first planned visit to Ed Guatelara. It was a successful get-together which was culminated by a short visit to the group’s long-missed colleague. During the visit, I observed the depression etched on Roam’s face. I could not blame him, for how can one be not disheartened at the sight of a once big fellow, now thin and so emaciated, and who cannot even move on his own? Ed Guatelara was one of Roam’s confidante and a best friend in PAL. Every time Roam went up to the Vernida building’s fifth floor, from his office on the fourth floor, he would go straight to the room of Ed Guatelara for a mug of coffee and long talk.
During the visit to Ed Guatelara, as Roam and I had a chance to be together, he told me that he would like to meet with me for a longer talk about the second book which might include a short, sarcastic and funny script. I was looking forward to a text, facebook message, or email from him about our meeting. Unfortunately, what I viewed was the gloomy news about his demise sent out by Mai Jovida, the tireless “mother” and “ate” of PALers.
I will never forget Roam with the way he carried his slick daily office attire, quick gait, and easy smile, aside from the free cups of coffee every time we met in the canteen! See you “there”…pagari!