THE STAUNCH RESOLVE OF GIL CAROLINO TO SUCCEED
AND PERSISTENCE TO BEAR ORDEALS
By Apolinario Villalobos
The first time I saw Gil Carolino was when I joined Tours and Promotions Division from an outlying initial stint in Tablas station (Romblon) upon employment with PAL. Our offices were housed in the same building, the PAL Administrative Offices Building (today, PAL Data Center) at the NAIA Terminal 4. Our offices were later transferred to the 5th floor of the Vernida Building along Legazpi St. at Greenbelt Park of the Makati Commercial Center. His simplicity was such that he would regularly wear casual attire most often, instead of the long-sleeved barong tagalong or polo barong that other managers did. On weekends when we reported for overtime, he would come attired in running outfit and it was only later did I know that he was maintaining weekend running regimen as part of his regular workouts for marathons.
His ringing voice and laughter would break the monotonous air in the office, making his person standout in a group despite his lanky physique. He belonged to the so-called “ Paloma Boys”…the brains behind the conceptualization of the airline’s domestic operating policies, and who were often convened by the late Ricardo G. Paloma. With him were the former PAL President, Avelino L. Zapanta, Joe Clemente, Ed Guatelara, Jovy Jovida, Vic Bernardino, and Bert Aguirre. Later they were joined by the younger set of “Paloma boys” such as Gary Cruz, Guy Cruz, John Fortes, Reggie Constantino, Edgar Lim, Harry Inoferio, and those who were summoned occasionally from their stations.
After earning his CPA, he joined Philippine Airlines as an Accounting clerk. Not long after, in 1972, he was absorbed by the Marketing Department, becoming the youngest manager in the whole organization of the airline. To sum up his phenomenal rise from the ranks, he headed: Domestic Marketing Planning, Corporate Budget, International Sales Administration, Marketing Support and Customer Relations, and finally as Regional Vice-President for Southeast Asia and Australia which he held for 6 years until his early retirement at a young age of 51 in 1998. His wife was already bedridden due to rheumatoid arthritis since 2009 when he retired.
To keep fit at 69, he still plays whole court basketball three times a week. During his younger days, he was a full 42-kilometer marathoner, during which he participated in the prestigious Honolulu Marathon in 1980 and 1981. He was also an active member of the PAL bowling team, played in the inter-department basketball tournament, as well as, coached the Market Planning basketball team.
Only during very rare occasions such as “reunions” that our paths have met, thanks to Nora Jovida who sacrificed her widowed time to be at the center of our pool. It was when the story of Ed Guatelara’s story came out that their group which I have intruded became more cohesive. It became known as “Kitakits Group” whose sole objective was to provide assistance to Ed Guatelara who is bedridden until now due to complications. The group attracted the attention of other sympathizers so that in no time at all, its effort was enhanced by other donors to the cause, such as Dave Lim, Tina Bacaltos, Gladys Cruz, Walter Pollentes, as well as, the Manila Domestic Station and Cargo groups.
What amazed me was the regularity of the assistance sent by Gil despite his having a family problem which is attending to Linda, (Atty. Erlinda Salvacion, recipient of a plaque of Recognition for her outstanding achievement in the practice of Law, from CJ Artemio Panganiban) his wife who has been bedridden since 2009 due to the paralyzing rheumatoid arthritis. Only few of our colleagues in Philippine Airlines are aware of this. He confided one time, that despite the depletion of their conjugal fund, his faith in God has not wavered. The SSS disability pension of his wife has done a little for their sustenance, though, his pension which is less than eight thousand pesos a month provided a little more for their daily survival.
It was only when I read comments of Gil to my facebook blogs about the struggle of the impoverished people did I know that he, too, went through the same harrowing experience. In another comment, he narrated, his disappointment as regards the inutility of the government to come up with policies that would lessen the burden of the people, as he recounted how their family would toe the line at the Philippine General Hospital hours before the sun rays broke the horizon, in order to be ahead of the rest, in their desire to avail of the government’s health program. In another comment, he narrated how he and two siblings would walk their way to their school, the UP at Diliman, Quezon City, from their home at San Andres Bukid, Pandacan with only coins jingling in their pocket for fare…not even a single centavo for a piece of candy to momentarily stave off hunger. Meager food would only fill their grumbling stomach when they came home from school….after a good six to seven hours of fasting!
Despite all those trials until today, Gil is thankful to the Lord that he and his wife, just before she got sick, are able to provide their children with enough to see them through their future, foremost of which is their education, as they got nothing else to give them as their legacy. The couple’s children are:
- Millicent (Miyen), a successful CPA, married to Elmer Lobusta, and both blessed with children: John David, 14; Anna Therese, 12; Mary Catherine, 9. Miyen and Elmer are chapter Heads of Singapore Couples for Christ, while their children are members of Youth for Christ and Kids for Christ….the whole family serves during the Mass.
- Kristine, married to Joseph Eric Mendiola, a computer technologist and team member of Japan’s hybrid car program, and blessed with children, Karmina, 15, who can read and write the Japanese Hiragana and Kanji alphabet; and, Jose Enzo, 11, an American citizen for being born in America.
- April Ann, married to an Indonesian, Denny Han. April is a product of the Philippine Science High School and Ateneo from where she graduated with the course, Management Engineering and had an initial stint in Indonesia where she met her husband during one of the assemblies of the Singles for Christ. Their children are Tala Elizabeth, 4, considered a miracle baby being born prematurely at six months, thereby spending almost 3 months in the Neo Natal ICU…now a bubbly child, she attends nursery in Singapore with no trace of the harrowing experience as an infant. The youngest is Yumi Gabrielle, 16 months.
Worth quoting from Gil is his life’s guiding inspiration as it makes him believe that …”we draw strength from everyone…and what keeps us going is also our strong and unwavering faith in the Lord….that we keep the trust, knowing that HE knows best….that we might be beset with problems and trials almost endlessly, but we never should never despair because we know that God loves us…we should try our best to fend off anxieties…as, God is our shield”.
Asked how he would like to be remembered, he said, “I would like to be remembered as someone who will sacrifice my own comfort to be able to give happiness to others”. He further added, “… people see me as “kuripot” (tightwad), but they just don’t know that I try to save every centavo I can because I want to give something to anyone whenever they come to our house for help. I don’t want to see them unhappy – poor relatives, poor neighbors, poor parishioners, poor countrymen, who got struck with calamities year-round. Had I not sacrificed my own comfort, I would not have had anything to give them. And, I could not have managed my beloved Linda’s monstrous medical needs – as I would not want our children sacrifice for us…for as long as I can still manage it.”
Until now, Gil is inspiring those who know him since PAL days….and that includes this writer.