“Write your sad times in sand; write your good times in stone.” – Bernard Shaw, an Irish playwright, critic, and political activist.
Today, I have a heavy heart and sadness writing my humble tribute to a long time friend, Michael Angelo Abaya Sotero (October 21, 1968-August 10, 2023). He was a refined activist during our student activism days in Manila. He was a feisty rainbow warrior of LGBTQ community.
I used to call him Myke, he was from the summer capital of Baguio city. I met him when he was then a humble journalism student at the Lyceum of the Philippines, Manila. His grammar was impeccable and he has a talent in drawing. He once gave me a pocket Roget’s Thesaurus with a handwritten dedication on it.
Myke was the youngest of his siblings. His father died when he was just an infant. His mother was then a banker working at the Philippine National Bank in Manila, now a retired immigrant in the U.S.
Myke used to stay in Kalentong, San Juan when he was studying in Lyceum where I also met his maternal grandparents. I had good memories in Kalentong with another friend from Baguio city and his cousin who was studying in De La Salle University, along Taft avenue.
In his house in Baguio City, I had a chance to meet Myke’s partner Jojo, from Davao city.
Myke opted to finish his college education in Baguio city where he embraced his sexuality as a gay person. From then on, his advocacy was to advance the gay rights in the Philippines. Since 2008, Myke was an active member of Ladlad LGBTQ Partylist in Baguio city and in the Cordillera provinces.
Myke was at the helm of his being a spiritual anchor of the Northern Sanctuary Metropolitan Community Churches in Baguio city.
The Ladlad Patrylist gave him due recognition that he took pride to be affiliated with the Baguio Aids Council, the Amianan Pride Council, the Ecumenical Theological Seminary, United Church of Christ in the Philippines, and the Sigma Kappa PI Fraternity- University of the Philippines- Baguio city.
His remains lie at St. Peter chapel in Baguio city, and would be cremated on Monday August 14, 2023.
So long, my dear kind friend Myke. Lux aeterna.
Last Friday morning, I felt sadness when I went to the St. Peter memorial chapel in Baltan street, Puerto Princesa city, to give a wordless send off to Sir Ryan as he would escort the remains of his good father, Mr. Enrique D. Lucero Jr. in far away town of El Nido, Palawan .
I could sense Sir Ryan’s sadness and pain for the loss of his father as his bereaved mother was solemnly waiting at their home for their arrival in El Nido by Friday afternoon.
His father had suddenly died last Wednesday afternoon while undergoing serious medical treatment at the Cooperative hospital in Puerto Princesa city on Tuesday because he had a severe stroke. Mr. Lucero was 61.
Sir Ryan, as I used to call him, was much younger than me but I give him respect by calling him Sir Ryan.
In the softness of my heart, I was touched by Sir Ryan’s lowly words when I read from his post on Facebook: “Lord, salamat po sa pagpapahiram sa amin ng isang mabuting Ama. Sana po mayaman siya sa langit. Kasi all his life, puro po sakripisyo ang dinanas niya para sa pamilya. I guess that’s his “call to holiness”. I beg you Lord, sana po patuluyin mo siya sa langit.”
In one of my readings, I encountered that the success of the father can be measured by how he nurtured his children.
Serving as a senior backstaffer to City Vice Mayor Maria Nancy M. Socrates, Sir Ryan holds a position of Private Secretary, a co-terminus one. He works beyond the required work hours set by the city government, from Monday to Saturday, and on Sundays, he assists on the radio program of the City Vice Mayor at the local radio.
Sir Ryan had first worked under the office of the Vice Governor Victorino Dennis M. Socrates before he was recruited to join in the political office of the City Vice Mayor.
I met him while he was an OJT in Manila. He was the only PSU student that I met actually in Malacañang as I was then a member of the prestigious Malacañang Press Corps.
Sir Ryan was a Mass Communications graduate of Palawan State University in Puerto Princesa city after his secondary education in El Nido town.
With the full support of his father, Sir Ryan was able to finish his college degree, and is in the good company now of City Vice Mayor of Puerto Princesa, and is a good father now.
In life, there is a passing of the torch and changing of the guards.
His father was a fisherman. So it reminded me of the “fish symbol”. The fish was originally adopted by early Christians as a secret symbol to identify themselves to fellow believers who were often persecuted.
The ichthys symbol or “Jesus fish” is a sign typically used to proclaim an affiliation with or affinity for Christianity.
Fathers come and go. But the sons have to take the torch and be the good guards in life.
Life goes on, Sir Ryan. I know that your father would be happy to see you being with good company. You can humbly tell your father who your friends are, and he will tell you what you are.
With that your good father carries an emblem of the “Jesus fish” that the Christian God would be happy to accept him in Heaven.
Last week, I attended to visiting two Malaysian nationals who came from Sandakan, Malaysia.
They were eyeing Puerto Princesa city for future investments.
My friend Mr. Mahathir Zulkifli Chong is the chairman of the Kaya Kinabalu SDN BHD company which is engaged in the business of palm cooking oil while Mr. Stephen Kong’s family is with the tire business in Sabah, Malaysia.
I told them to make a visit to the southern portion of Palawan and that they went to the towns of Sofronio Española, Brooke’s Point, and Bataraza.
I told them to see the newly built Buliluyan seaport where they dock their vessels from Sabah.
During their 3-day stay here, they hopped from one hotel to another.
So on Monday August 7, I told them to have a courtesy call to Vice Mayor Maria Nancy M. Socrates to have a semblance of their visit as they would be leaving on the following day Tuesday.
Their courtesy call was a short one because there was a regular session of the City Council.
“I am impressed with the Vice Mayor. I think she has no hanky-panky,” Chong said to me. I told him he was absolutely correct.
Then, I brought them to the office of the Bureau of Customs to check the tariff system of imported goods. Then we proceeded to the local office of the Philippine Ports Authority where I introduced them to my good friend General Manager Zaldy Ulson.
In everything, they were content and thankful.
We had lunch at Ka Joel’s restaurant. They were impressed with the ambiance of the place and enjoyed the food. When we were about to pay the bill, Mr. Chong realized that he had forgotten his cash money in the hotel, Best World Ivy Hotel along Rizal avenue.
I asked him if he was sure of it because he had checked out already and was about to transfer to Aziza hotel.
So Informed the front desk about what happened, I told the lady front desk that we were coming back to Ivy Wall from Ka Joel’s.
After we paid the bill for the food, we proceeded to the Ivy Wall. Upon reaching Ivy Wall, we were approached by the hotel staff who were cordial and respectful to the guests. They were assisted to the room where they had spent a night.
After a few minutes, Mr. Rene Suarez, General Manager of Ivy Wall, joined the hotel staff after checking with the hotel’s crew who performed the room cleaning service.
With the presence of Mr. Suarez, the money of Mr. Chong was returned amounted to P21,000 cash which he left under his pillow.
It was honest and good deeds of the hotel crew service. It was a truly admirable one. These two Malaysians expressed their thanks to Mr. Suarez.
They left Puerto Princesa city Tuesday and vowed to come back again in a few weeks for possible business talks.