t was an early chilly December morning strolling along our neighborhood with Goofy and her aide-de-camp Katy. We cherished these walks because while most of our friends were still asleep, the soft flickering lights of the season brought a colorful hue to an otherwise dull early morning dawn. Katy closely stayed by my side but Goofy was easily distracted and would look suspiciously at acquaintances briskly walking in their jogging pants or shorts whom I’d greet with a “Good morning” or “Merry Christmas.”
The phone rang. It was a long distance call from Chris, a close friend and confidant. He was arriving in Manila early morning of New Year’s eve and asked if I was available for breakfast once he arrived. He wanted me to meet someone, an admirer of my work he had said. I shook off his flattery and said “If it weren’t for you I would just be enjoying my twilight years.” Anyway, I said yes to his invitation and we talked a few more minutes about this and that and so forth and hung up. Goofy was staring at me. I said, “It’s just Chris, nothing to worry about.” She understood, turned and walked ahead of me, Katy followed suit.
Chris was a very friendly guy with no hang-ups whatsoever and always ready with a wide smile whenever we would meet. In fact, I used to chide him a lot for his Facebook posts with that big grin on his face. His only setback, if you can call it that, was his open frankness using his true identity on any subject. Including the Church. This led to the expulsion of his whole family. His beautiful wife the daughter of a minister and former Finance officer at Central. They have two wonderful daughters and sons all former active choir members. Ironically, if not for this Church mess, I guess we would not have met nor would we be such close friends. He is also very close to Ka Erdy’s family.
I woke up at around 4:00 in the morning of December 31 to the taps of Goofy’s paw on my arm. She has this constant urge to tap me every time she notices me sleeping or taking a nap. And I say every single time, “Goof, go back to bed, I’m OK.” I guess she still hasn’t gotten over that sad time when our Rottweiler “Paul” her constant companion and protector passed away from old age. I had noticed her trying her very best to “wake” up Paul by pushing and licking his face. I picked up Goofy and tried to comfort her the best way I could. Though she had her own bed, every morning for two months I would see her going to Paul’s corner and just lie there. It was really a sad sight for all of us then. Fortunately, she has recovered.
After taking a shower, I dressed up and kissed my wife good-bye. “Where are you going?” she murmured. “Remember, meeting with Chris?” “Oh yes, but be home early, it’s New Year’s eve,” she groggily added. I said yes and quietly went out the front door. The trip to Makati took me an hour or so, parked in the basement of the hotel, then proceeded to Reception and asked the desk to advise my friend that I was there. After a few minutes, he came down, as usual with his “Tom Cruise” grin. We hugged, had a few laughs then showed me to the table. I ordered some waffles and noticed he wasn’t eating. “Dieting”, he said. “My friend’s still washing up, he’ll be down any minute, you’ll like him,” he said. So anticipating that we would be discussing the direction of the Church, we waited for his friend’s arrival before touching on the subject.
After one hour of chit-chat, his friend appeared with his wife I presumed. A very lovely lady. They both complimented each other. Then the introductions. (I’m sure Chris had planned this for quite some time. You could sense it in his grin.)
“Brother Antonio Ebangelista, I would like you to meet William Smith.”
I was dumbfounded. Who wouldn’t be. He extended his hand and said, “It is an honor to meet you. I am an admirer of your writings.” I shook his hands and noticed Chris winking at me. I managed to quip, “The privilege is mine, sir.”
(Aside from my wife, son, Goofy and Katy, no one else knows who I really am except for Chris. During our early days of friendship. I had an inkling that he could be in touch with the brilliant AE when the former’s site was compromised and after a few days someone was claiming to be AE. He said, “Bro, I doubt that the new author of the blog is really AE.” I didn’t push the issue because it was a personal thing and I respected that.)
This was the start of two men exchanging views, thoughts, and understandings all related with the Church. But basically it was me doing the asking and comprehending the thoughts of the man who started it all. Well, since I was formerly connected with Intelligence and Investigation, I wanted to be sure HE was the person I was talking to. I asked about his blogs, how he managed to collect all the info, his contacts, etc. He answered everything so clearly without an iota of hesitation. He trusted Chris as much as I do so our conversations went smoothly both ways. It was HIM alright, no doubt about that. I really have to hand it to Chris, he is one “hell” of a guy! Well, anyway, here are some interesting revelations you may be interested in with respect to the brilliant AE:
(1) Definitely, he’s not yet a senior citizen like me; a fast thinker and intelligent. Knows exactly what he is doing;
(2) His attitude and perceptions in life were molded by his loving parents. His love for his mother and father is without equal. You could sense it whenever our topic touched on Ka Erdy’s family;
(3) He was one of many picked up on suspicions of being the elusive AE or sympathetic to the cause which could never be proven by the Administration. Arnel Tumanan was also one of them but sadly retracted in return for favors from the church.
(4) Like so many before him he was also tortured physically and emotionally and when this didn’t work a bribe was offered – an initial deposit of half a million to his account which he declined. At this point I kidded Chris that if we were in his shoes we would have grabbed that offer and made ways to assist the cause in another way. But AE said, “Easier said than done when you think that the money is coming from our hardworking poor brethren with no food on the table.” That was a stunner.
God does choose his people well especially for those persons entrusted to do specific tasks. A less principled man would have surrendered a long time ago.
(5) There were two exposes’ coming which really caught my attention to which he described to as “tapos na ang boxing” but like the way he is, refused to release it until the documents were in his hands. I must admit that once this fact about the Church is revealed, the struggle may well be over. And we’ll be seeing bootlicking ministers and workers jumping over the fence. A huge garbage pile will be left behind to clean.
A mere breakfast turned to a five-hour exchange of thoughts and views running into lunch. It was the most memorable breakfast I ever had in my 60 years of living on this earth. Mark Twain once said –
“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”
I think I now know why.
a Angel, this is the pin you gave me when our locale was blessed with your visit to officiate our homily a few years back. It was after the bilangan when I accompanied you down from the office when I asked.”Ka Angel, kung maari lang po, baka puede pong hingiin ang pin ninyo?” I’m not sure if those were the exact words, but I remember you saying, “O, sige,” then you unclipped the pin and gave it to me. Then I said, “Salamat po.” Ang pastor na kasunod ko at ibang mga Maytungkulin ang bulong sa akin, “Lakas ng loob mo, nahinge mo ang pin niya!” I remember and treasure that moment up to this day. In fact, I wear that pin every time I go to church.
A Very Happy Birthday po, Ka Angel. Kaunting pagtitiis na lang po at matatapos ang lahat ng ito. Best regards din po kay Ka Tenny, Ka Lottie, Ka Marc, at sa inyong buong sambahayan. Mag-ingat po kayo. Kasama kayo parati sa aming mga panalangin sambahayan. Maraming-maraming salamat po.
ust in case some of you Administration bright boys are into some wild ideas, here are some other pins I personally requested from the corresponding minister to which they voluntarily obliged (after some persuading). You can ask them of course.
From left clockwise –
(1) Given to me during a service in one of the locales in Metro Manila by the Pangalawang Tagapamahalang Pangkalahatan then Ka Eduardo V. Manalo;
(2) From the ever-popular Arnel Tumanan; and
(3) Bienvenido Santiago, who was then one of the most respected ministers in the Church.
Oh, I still have so many more but I wouldn’t want to preempt the Unlad on producing more pins.