So long, JAD!

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“Walking library”, “Bob Dylan”, “The renaissance man of Mabalacat” – these and more exemplify Jose Angeles Dayrit or simply JAD — the name ‘tibaks’ (activists) of the 80’s will never forget.

Friend, mentor, leader and lover. The tall, bearded, curly haired, always on his cap and jacket, arms filled with thick books —that was JAD.

To have lived a life for 75 years, congratulations Lo, it’s a hashtag life goals!

But this Tuesday morning, you left us, a week short on your 76th birthday this March 17.

“Family and friends, Lolo JAD has left us. His remains lie in state at St. Louie Memorial Chapel in Mabiga, Mabalacat. He will be cremated on March 14.”

I hope you’ll bring those priceless smiles with you into this journey to light. The same sparkling eyes we saw when we drove you home, to the Holy Angel University (formerly Holy Angel College).

You were hesitant to accept the invitation.

I visited you home from time to time reminding you about the event. I need to converse in English for you seldom speak in Kapampangan. Then you asked what’s the meaning of the word written on my ‘Wear Kapampangan’ shirt.

“What is ‘mapangayi’?”

“Ah..uhm.. it’s a Kapampangan word…”

Then you started talking about the Nepomucenos of Holy Angel as if those all happened yesterday. But you’re getting tired, distracted by the natural light, shortness of breath.

HAU was just in time.

The former Engineering professor made it back home after two decades through HAU president Dr. Luis Calingo and Center for Kapampangan Studies founder Robby Tantingco. There, you were conferred with the Crisostomo Pamintuan Lifetime Achievement Award (named after the first chief editor of Angelite, HAU’s publication).

It was another night of music and remembrance of how you greatly influenced the lives of your former students. And it will never be complete without Lolita Carbon of ASIN.

You almost forgot, “you have curfew Lo”. Muli tana pu Mabalacat (Let’s go home in Mabalacat).

Months after the tribute concert, you were on your sickbed. You no longer read.

Two years after, it’s your birth month again. Same familiar faces from the HAU event gathered again to relive stories about you – both for being great and weird.

This time at your wake.

Folksingers, KBM group led by former Clark Airport president Alex Cauguiran, media colleagues ‘ka-barrios’, my mentor Cecile Yumul, Lolita Carbon and others stood beside the lifeless yet younger-looking version of JAD. (The funeral parlor shaved his decade-old silver beard).

It was a celebration of life. A night of untold stories. The women you loved.

With only strings and rhythms, everything was impromptu. The old men and women there said you’re the ‘come what may’ type. And we are all sure, you’re smiling up there.

Like what veteran journalist Abel Madlambayan said at the tribute night, “Magkikita rin tayong muli, JAD. Nauna ka lang.”

Goodbye for now Lo! Masayang biyahe papuntang langit!