Carlos Moncada, Sr.

I LIKE questions. And I think all questions ought to be answered. Well, even if you don’t give a straight answer in words, at least there ought to be some kind of response. Just so the asker is informed, somehow, by gesture or body language that the question was heard and noted.

I like people who ask questions – all kinds of questions; as long as they’re honest and intelligent. Anyway, the question and answer dialogue, normally happens between friends. So, why should I worry?

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You see, it’s a kind of door. You open it, by answering or giving any kind of response. And the other person enters. Well, he makes some kind of a connection with you.

So, you’ll have to make sure first. Do a quick evaluation. Are you a friend? Can you be a friend? Something like that you know.

And also it really seems to me I remember people by the questions they ask. I mean, in this particular way, I get a better recollection of them, and the kind of encounter I had with them.

I remember one, for example. Alfonso. That’s his name. This happened 50 years ago. We worked in the same company. I was a section chief. He was my assistant. But we didn’t always have the same work schedule. His was assigned by me. Mine I decide and give to myself.

Anyhow, we went out of the office together that day. We were on our way home. We walked towards the jeepney terminal only two blocks away. We were about to cross the street towards the next block when he gestured towards the open door of a small restaurant at the corner.

“How about one bottle each of small beer?”, he said.

“Very good idea”, I answered.

We turned left and entered the restaurant. We found a vacant table, sat down, and ordered for two small beers. We were silently enjoying our beers. Nothing like chilled small beer to relax you after a day’s work you know. But he broke the silence.

“Let’s be completely honest about it” he said quietly.

I looked him in the eyes, raised my brows to express surprise, and studied his face for some clue as to where his mind was, and where exactly he was going. I wanted to blurt out some kind of response to what he said. But he spoke again.

“Do you really believe, there is a God?”, he asked.

“No”, I answered.

It was now his turn to be surprised. He knitted his brows at at me, his face registering annoyance. He inhaled some air, and straightened his back.

“I said let’s be completely honest about it. You’re joking”, he complained.

“I’m serious. I’m not joking.”, I said. “I don’t believe there is a God, because I don’t have to believe – I know there is a God.”

“Oh, come on!”, he exclaimed. “You mean, you’ve already seen God?”

“No. I haven’t seen God. I don’t expect to see Him.”, I said. “In fact, I don’t really want to see Him, at all. I don’t need to see Him in order to know He’s present.”

We were silent for maybe, one or two minutes, while we thought about our discussion. We had emptied our beers. So, we ordered for two more.

The beers arrived. We started drinking them. But he was still thinking.

“I remember a poem”, I said. “I mean, not the whole poem. It was a long one. I even have already forgotten the title. But I remember the author – Teodoro M. Locsin Sr. And I remember four lines in it – ‘Anything that you see is not God. To reach Him you have to enter into darkness. Anything that you hear is not God. To reach Him you have to enter into silence.”

“Let’s go.”, he said.

“Yeah.”, I said. “Let’s go. Thanks for the beer.”

He smiled at me, and we both slowly stood up. He paid for the beer, we went out, and walked one more block to the jeepney terminal.