in Serious stuff, my friend

My funny Facebook friend

To Alecks Pabico, who wouldn’t mind my jokes

Next to feigning sickness and alien abduction, the death of a family member or a friend is one of the better excuses to avoid going to the office.
This was exactly the reason why I was able to skip work for two days, however short and temporary.
I told my supervisors that a friend died and I was in quiet mourning (i.e., comforting my similarly-bereaved friends while drinking vodka at the wake on the sly).
In doing so, I accidentally stumbled upon one of life’s most well-kept secrets: to avoid work, have someone you know die.
But that’s not as easy as it sounds.
And in the case of Alecks Pabico, the very first Philippine Collegian editor I served, I would rather be a bundy clock boy and HR’s BFF than have him beat deadlines somewhere else.

Alecks Pabico's Facebook picture

Alecks, who calls himself Rastamad, shown during daughter Kaya's seventh birthday

Alecks was so loved that hours after he died on Wednesday last week, funeral arrangements were already being prepared by an ad hoc committee composed of his friends — an ADB consultant, a UP law professor, a litigator, and myself, a drunkard.
Although I fail to remember having to volunteer for such a responsibility, I took to the mission with much aplomb since it involved free alcoholic drinks upon its successful completion.
Moreover, it was my only way of paying tribute to Alecks, one of the gentlest, funniest people I have known (and I say that as someone who excoriates the living, the dead, and other half-dead entities whose only contributions to this planet are hot air and carbon emissions).
My task at Aleck’s wake, while easy, was both a curse and a privilege.
It helped me get in touch with other friends I haven’t seen in decades but it also emphasized that the instant reunion was brought about by Alecks’ demise — an eventuality that he was prepared to face even before he knew his time was up.
About a week before he died, he delivered a speech during a benefit concert held in his honor.
Alecks pretended to stumble on the stage, much to the horror of the audience. He then chuckled, poking fun at the audience’s worst fears.
During his remarks — which I missed by an hour — he also made light of his condition, just about the same attitude he exuded the last time he and I made contact.
Sadly, it was only through Facebook (though we did see each other in August when Collegian alumni held a separate dinner in his honor).
Two weeks before the benefit concert, he uploaded an image of the concert ticket and wrote a status message that said: “Look at what friends from UP Samasa are plotting, but with my consent, of course. To those whom I count as friends, hope you support the effort. Thanks!”
I was the first to reply and did so in jest. “What about your enemies? What will they do? :),” I said.
Alecks was nonplussed.
“Hmmmm, how about asking yourself that question? :-P”
Hours later, in the same status thread, he gave me a gentle reminder, something which I will never forget.
““Enemies” invoke a lot of negative energy. Dwelling on the negative only serves to defeat the event’s very purpose, which is to send positive, healing vibrations.”
So I said: “OK, smart Alecks. I’ll send you good vibes. :)”
Apparently, my online gesture wasn’t enough.
Goodbye, my friend.
Too bad we weren’t able to see each other one final time.
In any case, I’ll always remember you, Alecks — inside and outside Facebook.
Just promise to go easy on updating your status messages.

———————
Contributions for the family of Alecks Pabico are still accepted at http://onelove.chipin.com. All funds will be allotted for his family, wife Mira, daughters Marlee and Kaya, and son Giles.

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