Horrible week

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Sunday, August 4, 2013


IT’S said that there’s no Latin translation for “horrible week,” unlike Queen Elizabeth II who once referred to 1992 as “annus horribilis,” or a year of horrors.

But that’s how last week had been to me, upon hearing about the untimely passing of two friends--Consuelo “Pet” Escaño-Misa and Oscar “Jun” Jereza Jr.

“Pet” might have been the fa­mily’s nickname, but it was how she was popularly known by, even among professional circles.

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In earlier times when travel to foreign shores or when US schooling was not commonly accessible, Pet studied in George Washington University in Washington D.C., the school well regarded for its law school and its graduate school of education and human development. Among its prominent graduates was the former US Secretary of State Colin Powell. There Pet obtained her master’s degree in Adult Education and Human Development.

I always had this deep admiration for Pet’s competence, abilities and skills as a human resources (HR) practitioner. But there at the Metro Cebu Water District (MCWD), I discovered she had this rare quality of intellectual honesty as well.

When management decided on a time and motion study, we asked Pet to handle it. She refused because it wasn’t her forte, she said, and referred us instead to industrial engineers.

The intellectual honesty was so impressive that we asked her to choose the industrial engineers and be the project head nevertheless.

Very perceptive she was, yet very tactful and discreet. Her eyes would smile when discussions were on people’s management style, or even moonlighting activities. But no negative comment ever came from her.

One manager was labeled “dictatorial” and old-school; she described him as “forceful and very persuasive.”

Nothing escaped her attention. When she conducted the first job evaluation review, we marveled at how attentive she was to details, and how patiently she listened to laborious explanations about how one position title’s tasks differed from another.

Just recently, a company asked whom I could refer to handle their O.D. concerns. I said I would contact the person just fit for that. Little did I know that Pet was in a Manila hospital’s ICU. Death claimed her at age 61. I will surely miss Pet.

My other friend Jun had just arrived from Canada and the US to visit their children and their families. He succumbed to a massive heart attack last Saturday afternoon.

I met him last two months ago when I was a guest speaker at the Rotary Club of Cebu’s weekly meeting. Nothing in his behavior prepared me for his sudden demise. He was his usual happy self, ever attentive to stories people shared at his table.

My memories of him, though, go as far back as summer ’61. He had finished the school year at the Ateneo de Manila University in Manila, and was spending summer afternoons in the campus of his family-owned University of Southern Philippines Foundation. There he met beauty-and-brains Lourdes “Odette” de Dios, an education student and campus leader.

Jun knew when Lourdes’s vacant periods were, and so knew when to time his visits.

Unsurprisingly, he didn’t go back to Ateneo. They made a handsome couple and we younger observers hoped for a lasting romance. When they married, we had our proof that good things happen to good people.

To Odette and family, our deepest condolences. We, too, will miss Jun.

(lelani.echaves@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 05, 2013.

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