SOULSPEAK: Did you come visit me last night? Was it you ringing my phone from an unlisted number at such an ungodly hour?
Were you glad I made it to the first night Holy Mass and novena in your honor a few hours earlier?
I slept early last night, moments after the novena and after a few speeches by your friends about your life, your sense of humor, your kindness, your generosity.
For some reason, I was awakened by the strong aroma of brewing coffee that assaulted my nostrils. I couldn’t figure out where that scent was coming from. I was sleeping in our room, with full air conditioning, door and windows closed. No one was probably making coffee at 11 late at night.
I rose to pee, then went down the living room, where Cecile surprised me with her own story. She said that the ground floor had been bathed with the mysterious smell of coffee. She had to say a prayer.
In my mind, I thought of you. Was it soulspeak? You were probably happy I made time for your last moment on earth, and why shouldn’t I?
We had travelled this far and wide and have been through so much in our twin careers as PR and press.
And all throughout that long journey, coffee played an important part of our friendship.
It was always there to cap our lunches and dinners, whether they were at the GMA Network Executive Lounge or in some seafood restaurant in Davao or Cagayan de Oro, Iloilo or Bacolod, even as far as Hong Kong.
Remember how we loved our nightcaps at Blugre, that Starbucks-inspired coffee shop in Davao, where you made sure I would taste, for the first time, durian coffee?
‘’Kape, kape’’ was your standard invite after a good meal, or oftentimes, just to keep us, your friends, hanging out with you at the table a little longer. We would oblige, no matter if our pages back at the office still bore a gaping hole.
WONDERFUL HUMAN BEING: Our coffee time was precious, just like our friendship, to which I now have to say goodbye with tears in my eyes. You have done well, my friend.
On Facebook and during memorial services celebrating your life, all I read are words of thanksgiving, how you had touched lives, how you could have passed on more words of wisdom in PR and life itself to the younger generation, what a wonderful human being you were, in the words of your Ateneo grade school and high school classmate, Jim Paredes.
Thank you, Butch Raquel (died April 20, 2021), fellow media person and PR expert, so long and farewell! Until the next coffee break.