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.

The Reluctant Musician of PAL…Eboy Jovida

The Reluctant Musician of PAL

…Eboy Jovida

By Apolinario Villalobos

Friendship is oftentimes forged on a common denominator. That is how groups of hobbyists are formed. We know of people whose passion is nature tripping such as birdwatching, mountaineering, scuba diving or simply trekking. Some are grouped as motorcycle riders or bikers.

When I just transferred to Manila from Tablas where I was assigned as PAL’s ticket/freight clerk to Manila to work with its Tours and Promotions Office, I met Eboy Jovida, a colleague who was assigned at the domestic airport ticket office. He was unassuming and full of energy every time he was sharing stories. His attitude was so contaminating such that, every time I talked to him, my problems just vanished.

The first time I felt that he was not an ordinary guy was when he got hold of a guitar and did some plucking and simple strumming while he was humming a song. With that, I became closer to him because of my love for music. Later on, I learned that he was also a flutist and was doing gigs in cafes and lounges in Manila and some hotels along Roxas Boulevard, as his side job. Much later, I also learned that he was adept in arranging musical pieces and even conducted choirs.

He was practically a guy oozing with musical talents, as he was into composing and singing. He was also a member of an acoustics group. I was then, expecting him to go places, especially when I learned that his group was becoming popular among the café habitués in Greenbelt Park of Makati City. I egged him to go on composing, especially, haunting tunes to jibe with his flute. The last time we had a serious talk that included my collaboration with him using my poems was when I visited him in their home in Cavite, during which we frolicked in the rain like children, when there was a sudden downpour.

Years have passed since our last meeting and I was surprised to learn that he tried his luck in finding a greener pasture in the United States. Though surprised, I understood his predicament in view of the cut-throat competition in the local music industry. The best memory that we in PAL have about him, was his conducting of groups of employees that rendered songs during special occasions.

The Philippines is a country of musicians. It is sad to note, however, that politics have also intruded the local music industry. Even singing contests are not free from its stain. Singers like Charise Pempengco became known as an international singer via an American TV program. She never had a chance of fair exposure while in the Philippines. The same is true with Lea Salonga whose singing with international caliber was given a better recognition when she joined “Miss Saigon”. Today, her name has become synonymous to the said musical play.

There are plenty of musical talents in the country, who just like Eboy Jovida, hesitated to assert his own, knowing that it would just go to naught. Wherever he may be, I wish that due recognition be given him so that he can have a chance to share his God-given talent.