We used to call him “singkaw” in an apparent reference to his twisted elbow after he fell down from the carabao he was riding when we’re in grade school. If the painful reminder of that fall were still prominent, the monicker would not dissipate — ever. Even when he is now a police officer whose in charge of 91 “able bodied soldiers”, as his recent e-mail would describe his troops.
Grecel is a man of gallant stance, loud, intimidating voice and affable, contagious laughter. Right from the start he had the leadership quality, showing off his skill as a neophyte troop leader of our Kawan 177 under Ma’am Papin in Grade 2. It was around this time when he lost his father, a policeman and probably his inspiration to do these stuff, to cardiac arrest. Couple it with the fall, and he was a skinny kid, whose elbow was cast and later subject to taunts of classmates and friends.
When bullying was common in our neighborhood, the only way to get around him was to scamper around and shout the word which only sparked his fits of rage chasing his antagonist.
He was my classmate in Grade five and the annual boy scout camp is to be held at Malagos, home to the Philippine Eagle. It was raining and he was absent for the past two days due to fever. But he surprised the class of Bougainvilla under Ma’am Alejandro when he showed up at the departure day, wearing the rosary as his necklace.
In high school, he was our Company Commander, a rung under the corps leadership of Aldrin, the Corps Commander, Adjutant Warlito, Logistics Officer Joanne and me as the Intelligence Officer. He could easily pass as the leader of the battalion but was instead appointed in the most influential post of all. He commands leadership among the two platoons of male cadets, who are his close friends off the pitch.
In college, he was a high ranking official at University of Southeastern Philippines ROTC corps, Davao’s consistent topnotcher at annual tactical inspection. It was 1994 when I was in my second year and a sophomore at University of the Immaculate Conception when our school scored a sensational upset over Rodel, Iga and the rest of the Ateneo de Davao ROTC, an intra-city rival. But when it was the turn of USEP, we got swept to third spot, after Notre Dame of Marbel coveted the cinderalla finish. When I asked John Elmer about the feat of USEP-Mintal joining their cadres of Obrero campus, he proudly told me it’s because one of our childhood friends was lording over the disciplined troops, ushering them to another top podium finish at the end of the inspections.
It was not surprising when he skipped Mechanical Engineering and went through a military school in the north. By that time I was in UIC as a programmer and I seldom hear about him.
Recently, I learned he was assigned in Maragusan, a town in Davao del Norte bounded by pristine ecological beauty and attraction to local and foreign adventure seekers. At the same time, it was known that many Communist rebels are in the area. Probably he was put there because he deserves such challenge.
And when he found time to search for something a few days ago, he found my photo online and got curious of what is going on. I immediately invited him to be the 15th member of our Yahoogroups. A day later he is officially a member of mintal_barkadas, joining us in reminiscing and keeping in touch.
Just as Apolinario Mabini was the brains of the Philippine revolution despite being a polio victim or Lance Armstrong withstood bouts with cancer to win his seventh Tour de France title, being “singkaw” was never ever a reason for Grecel to lead the 91 gallant men serving the country.
Welcome to the Group!