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Eulogy For A Friend From The Wonder Years

My friend Manolo Tinsay was born on a special day. December 25, 1967. December 25 is a day we associate with two major things. The birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ and, candidly, in this material world we live in, we associate it with gifts and gift giving.

Manolo himself was a gift primarily to his parents, being the first child to Tito Rudy and Tita Nora. What better time could a firstborn child come than December 25? As an elder brother, Manolo was a gift to Derek, Sasa, and Carlo. And as a husband and father, a most precious gift to his wife, Joyce, and son, Dominic Matthew.

While to me, his grade school classmate and friend, Manolo himself was both gift and gift-giver. Allow me to describe to you, the world Manolo and I carved for ourselves and what our friendship was like.

Manolo and I were close friends in grade school for only a span of 2 years. It was around the years of 1978 to 1980, when we were in Grade 5 and 6. I say 2 years only because eventually I had to move on and study elsewhere. But those 2 years were the fun years because that was the stage where we were in between being small kids and being teenagers. At that time we were the age of Manolo’s son Dominic. Some of you may recall the hit show in the 1980s called “The Wonder Years”. Well, to Manolo and I, 1978 to 1980 were our “Wonder Years”. The age where innocence is about to end and where real life discovery begins.

Our friendship took place in a time where life was simpler, less hectic, and less complicated than what it is today. Some of you can actually close your eyes now if only to remember that period in time when Bacolod had no traffic, when everyone almost knew each other, and our restaurant choices in this city were only Bob’s, Roli’s, Tita’s, or Silver Star Fried Chicken.

How we hit it off as friends is still fresh in my memory. I know it took place on a Monday because we were talking about certain events over the weekend. Since we got to talk, we happened to find out that we lived only 250 meters away from each other in Burgos Street and so we exchanged telephone numbers. 0917.....oops indi pa to gali uso ang cellphone. 2-81-77. Five digits lang ang telepono sato nga panahon.

Our joys as friends consisted in simple fun which we did not have to spend much for. All we needed then were our bicycles. Almost each Friday we would load up our bicycles in their yellow Ford Fiera and take it to La Salle Avenue where we would meet up with two other classmates who were already waiting for us. Dingby Ballesteros and Raymond Namin. From there we would spend the rest of the Friday afternoon biking around Capitolville.

Then on Saturdays we’d occasionally meet up to play tennis in Marapara where like clockwork after the game he would order his favourite hamburger with French fries on the side. Either that or we’d be watching Betamax movies at the Tinsay house, because at that time, we could only count around ten households in Bacolod who had a Betamax. That or, we were working on our science projects.

Oh how we miss those days when life was really care free. Thank you Manolo, not just the gift of friendship but the gift of all those precious memories of our Wonder Years.

And perhaps, one more gift you have given me which cannot be taken away....

Friends, Manolo was the very first person who taught me how to properly grip a golf club and how to swing it. He was my first influence to the game of golf.

As a result, there is not a single time that I have stood on a golf course without remembering my friend Manolo. Although we have never been as close as we were way back in 1979, each developing a new set of friends as the years went by, Manolo is constantly remembered for as long as my family and I are on the fairway. As I sent a message to Sasa the other day, the “wow” moment of it all was when I was caddying for my son in the Junior World Golf Championships. Physically, I would be in the middle of play in San Diego, CA but often times my mind would wander off to flashback the time Manolo and I stood on that mound in Marapara, learning to hit balls. It was very surreal as I would repeatedly catch myself saying, “daw sang san-o lang ato nga naga hanot kami bola ni Manolo sa Marapara and now here I am, grown up, and with a son playing for Team Philippines at the Junior World Golf Championships”. Indeed, Manolo’s gift to me and my family is priceless as golf is a key activity which allows us precious time to be together in this hectic world. Ang motto sang amon familya, “A family that plays together, stays together”.

So many things to thank Manolo for. It just saddens me that I was not able to convey my thankfulness while he was still with us.

For all of us who are here today. I just want to share with you what I may say, is Manolo’s final gift to you and me, his family and friends. Manolo as we all know passed away at the young age of 42. And the gift lies in the message that

Life is short; Time is borrowed; and that Tomorrow is not guaranteed to anyone.

The Bible even says in the Book of Psalms,

As for man, his days are like grass,
As a flower of the field so he flourishes,
When the wind has passed over it, it is no more;

As this gift of a message comes, we ourselves should pause and think of our preparedness for moving on to the life after this earthly life. When we come to think of it, regardless of our age and our health condition, all of us are in fact “fifty-fifty” so to speak.

Manolo, was prepared for moving on. I can identify a time wherein cousin Joebert Ramos and friend Juray Mora led Manolo in a prayer to commit his life to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Therein lay his assurance of salvation. That through the finished work of Jesus Christ at the cross, everyone who believes can receive God’s gift of eternal life. And so with Manolo being in a better place than us, it is only time that separates us from him.

Thank you for your gift Manolo. Thank you for your message.

We will surely meet again.

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