Love is Sweetest…the second time around (for Sol and Rod Retaga)

Love is Sweetest

…the second time around

(for Sol and Rod Retaga)

By Apolinario Villalobos

I saw Sol first along the highway outside our subdivision many years ago and was impressed by her dusky beauty, always smiling, yet. I did not know that she was our neighbor. Later on, because of our homeowners’ association, we became close, especially because she was also active in our projects just like me. What impressed me was her being down-to-earth, easy to get along with and most especially, her husky singing voice that she can manage to fit any style. I learned that she was working in a bank, but found still later on that she also moonlighted as a lounge singer.

She was a picture of happiness and contentment with her husband, Rey and their two children. But it was cut short by her husband’s death during the early part of the 80’s. Despite the loss, she moved on and took the misfortune as some kind of a challenge. From then on, she worked harder as a single parent, with her mother lending a hand.

Nobody knew about her colorful love life until she got married again, this time to Rod, a former classmate in third year high school (Jose Abad Santo High School/Arellano University – Pasay City).

Sol shared that Rod was her best friend in high school, and who provided her instrumental accompaniment every time she sang in their programs. The intense love for music made Rod decide to pursue his musical career after graduating from high school. At 18, he joined a band that had contracts abroad. Rod decided to pursue his studies in 1975, during which time, the two met again, although Sol was already married to Rey, her boyfriend of 8 years.

Since 1986 Sol had been helping her alumni association organize their annual reunion, by tracing the whereabouts of their former schoolmates. In 1999, for the 2000 Grand Reunion, while checking directories, she came across the name of Rod’s brother. Instinctively, she requested that the information about their reunion be relayed to him. She even wrote to Rod but got no reply. Then one day, she received a call from Taiwan and found out later that it was Rod who divulged that she just got divorced from his Taiwanese wife. He had three kids.

From then on, Rod would call and they talked for five to six hours. He was still with the band, performing in clubs and other joints, while she was still connected with a bank in the Ayala district of Makati City. As fate would have it, she decided to resign from the bank and joined Rod in Taiwan. Their common denominator was love for music which made them decide to get married, for which Rod was given the blessing by his children. As for Sol, her two children who have families of their own, were more than glad that they were getting a “brand new father”. Their marriage was very simple, no fanfare. They just wanted to tie the knots in public, among friends and relatives on hand, to show how sincere they were for the belated vow. That was in March 24, 2001.

Rod and Sol are still in Taiwan singing together and bowed to do it for as long as their God-given talent will allow them. Life can be mysterious, at times….and with love, Rod and Sol proved that it can be sweetest, not only sweeter, the second time around.

Man’s Inhumanity to Man

Man’s Inhumanity to Man

By Apolinario Villalobos

In the Old Testament, it says that despite Moses’ plea, the king of Edom refused passage to the band of Israelites through Kadesh in the course of their wandering in the desert (Numbers, Chapter 20). History is repeating itself, as lately, some European countries refuse passage to refugees/immigrants on their way to countries that are willing to give them refuge. Some parties are even questioning their status whether refugees or immigrants. Will that matter, especially, as lives are at stake? The two mentioned cases are just classic example of man’s inhumanity to man today!

No question about it…greed is the root cause of all the inhumanities that have taken place in the days of the old and still are happening on earth at this very moment. Such desire is what can be found beyond the line of satisfaction. Survival should have been enough to spell satisfaction, but the hideous side of man most often brings out greed which is oftentimes masked with compassion.

When Spain embarked on a spree of colonization, in which the Philippines was not spared, she brought forth “religion” as the reason – to spread Christianity, in particular, Catholicism. As soon as the cross was firmly planted, the sword followed. In the course of their “spiritual effort”, centuries-old cultures of natives have been replaced with Catholicism which even during that time was already facing insurmountable questions that resulted to schism or division. Opposing natives who refused to give in were systematically eradicated in the name of “God”, when what the missionaries presented to the natives were also paganistic rituals, only using statues with different faces.

When the Americans took over the stranglehold of the Philippines, the same fervor of masked compassion was shown, but this time, democracy was used followed by evangelization of Protestant missionaries. The “assimilation” had a high price as what happened during the time of the Spaniards – death to the defiant natives.

Practically, the whole face of the planet is not only pockmarked with inhumanity, but is practically, denuded by its many forms foremost of which are exploitation and corruption. It has come to a point that survival of the fittest has become the norm of life again, despite his having been “civilized”.

In the African continent, the prevailing force, ISIS, are razing down archaeological landmarks that have been painstakingly preserved as manifestations of man’s intellectual superiority. Villages of the weak suffer the same fate as human occupants and fragile homes are devastated without mercy. Refugees who trek over mountains or brave the ocean squalls are refused passage to friendly countries. And, in Asia, greed of a once dormant country, China, has systematically jumbled the once tranquil setting with its garrulous territorial claims.

For all these injustices, who will pass the judgment? On earth, the man-made United Nations seems helpless and inutile. Man is then, left with nothing else, but the Ultimate Judge whose verdict may, yet to come…