Like no other

Published January 7, 2021, 7:51 AM

by Gemma Cruz Araneta


Gemma Cruz Araneta

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.

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