The first time I saw him at Café Havana, he did not look as if he had five daughters, 11 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren – perhaps the latter were not born yet. nevertheless, I would not have believed that he was already a grandfather. He cuts a lean and mean figure of someone who has taken sports passionately all his adult life. I also knew that he had retired from the stressful but lucrative world of advertising where he was considered an innovator, if not a pioneer. He must have written good copy, idiomatic and grammatically correct, judging from the quality of articles contained in his latest book.
The second time we met, he gave me a book of poems combined with photos of himself on a motorcycle. What a mystifying combination, I mused. Somehow it brought to mind Che Guevara, but I found out soon enough that the poems were not political in nature. He never told me that he is an eminent member of the United Poets Laureate, an international association of poets who meet twice a year. A lady cousin who had also met him in Café Havana ( I introduced them) grabbed the book of poems from me and has not returned it to this day.
He, Gil Yuson, is like no other simply because there are fewer and fewer people like him who acquired a liberal arts education, and from a Jesuit school at that. In those days, a liberal arts diploma was very precious because any school worth its salt was dedicated to molding enlightened human beings, rather than creatures with extremely specialized interests. One can tell from Gil’s articles in the Seniors’ section of the Daily Inquirer (which are compiled in this book) that he is a voracious reader and that his booklist is abundant with topics jumping from the pitfalls of federalism to the duties of a good citizen, horrors of climate change to effects on our sanity of the pandemic and its subsequent lockdowns. Civility and the lack of it, ample advice to seniors on how to enjoy life are also well-explored. I am so glad he took time out to write about civility, an eroded norm, a value ignored.
At this point, the reader must be wondering about Café Havana and how and why Gil and I met there. When my mother, Carmen Guerrero Nakpil, turned 80 she began complaining that all her friends were dead and that she no longer had anyone to talk to. Mommy was exaggerating, of course, she loved to do that to put me in a panic. So, I organized lunches for her and her friends, introducing younger people I knew she would like. I called it the CGN Press Group. Twice a month we had lunch at the Café Havana, Greenbelt 3. The owner, Larry Cruz (may he rest in peace) offered bottomless wine and a long table with a proper tablecloth and large cloth napkins ( special request of Mrs. Nakpil). When Mommy passed away, The CGN Press Group decided to continue meeting in her honor, and that was when Gil Yuson joined us. Mommy would have enjoyed his old-world manners and his conversation.
For those who do not know Gil Yuson personally, let me give you an idea of his scintillating ideas which you can mine in his book: As most seniors, he is fascinated with Gen Y’s ( or is it Z?) dexterity with hi-tech gadgets, language manipulation, connectivity and lack of it, and wonders what 2050 will be like for them. Gil is deeply concerned about climate change, the economics of traffic congestion, corruption in government, the importance of being honest, of integrity. His memories of his student days are endearing and I love his family stories, specially the one about his youngest daughter getting married.
The book is PERSON, FAMILY, SOCIETY by no other than Gil Yuson.