LEARNING of Nong Ponsing’s passing through a post of journalist Edith left an emptiness deep within.
Nong Ponsing or Alfonso Fernandez is a pianist, who accompanies singers in piano bars. He was President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s pianist, and he would be at After Dark and in the President’s media parties when he was still mayor. But I first met him and sang along with him in this bar frequented by my billiard buddies, retirees who would hang out every night along Ponciano Reyes Street, a bar called Zambalo.
They’d take turns with Junie and Raul. While Junie and Raul would just let me be and play for me only when I feel like singing, Nong Ponsing would request me to. But then, he’s an amiable kuya, how can you resist? He’s very good at accompanying you, no matter at what note you want to sing your song, his ears and fingers synchronized.
He was always there, it just hits you hard that you didn’t even notice he has grown old and passed on.
The day before, while walking aimlessly in the neighborhood mall, I was observing old folks. Long before subdivisions sprouted in the northern areas, the main residential areas of Davao City were all towards the south, where potable water came aplenty. This means, the old subdivisions are in this area, along with it, the old folks. They were young when they settled in, they just grew old with the times.
Some were assisted by relatives some assisting each other, a few I recognize but can no longer recall the names, and this once sprightly and handsome politician, all of them old.
That made me ponder on growing old as well, and praying that I remain sprightly despite the age. That will mean making a lot of lifestyle decisions, but then, we all know life. We’ve had fit, health-conscious, and active friends who did not even reached the age of 50 before passing on. God only knows when our time is up, but we can always make growing old a little better through a more positive lifestyle to ensure that the diseases that debilitate and make old folks suffer long before death will not be ours.
While waiting for my turn to buy fresh juice, an elderly lady heavily leaning on her shopping cart arrived and looked at the menu long and hard. I wanted to give way, to let her order first since she was obviously finding it difficult to stand, but she was taking so long, the decision on whether to give way or not was taken out of my hand by the server who decided that she can serve me first while the lady decides what to get.
As I was about to leave with my buco slush, she enumerated the fruits she wants for her juice and said, “Balikan ko lang ang order ko ha at mauupo ako, masakit na ang mga paa ko (I will just come back for my order. I need to sit down, my legs are aching).”
I watched her as she ambled away, pushing her cart with her weight, and wondered how she lived while she was young. That was before brain freeze made me gasp for breath, long and hard.