“We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:8
When someone dies [one who has dedicated his life to God], there must be a celebration for he is now spending eternity with his Maker. He is now in the best place one could wish for. He is in a place where mourning and crying stops. Where pain and suffering does not exist. As some would call it, “El Paraiso [The Paradise]”. But why is it this hard to celebrate? To be happy in his death? All I can do is mourn, be sad, and yes, cry [even as I write this blog].
It came as a shock. It was so sudden. November 8 here in Canada when I received the disheartening news that my High school Teacher, mentor, friend, coach, and inspiration has passed away. I was lying flat asleep in my bed when my brother waked me up and said,
“Kuya, namatay raw si Sir Noli.”
Shocked to hear the truth
Like what? I rushed to stand up, immediately opened my facebook to confirm the news, and all I read in his wall was, “Rest in Peace Noli Pontines”. How can this be? He was young. He was strong. It can’t be true. But then after contacting some of my friends in Manila, the dreadful news indeed was a reality. He died from kidney failure at St. Lukes Hospital. Until now, i can’t forget the shock I had in my face when I learned of this sad news. The bad part of it all was that I am a thousand miles away from Manila. I can’t come to the burial see his smile for the last time. I can’t visit him in his final resting place and pay my tribute to a great man, a loving father, an inspiring teacher, a dear friend. It was November 12 (Manila Time) when he was laid in his final resting place.
I have to say, I am not that tight close to Sir Noli, but throughout these years, he has served as one of my inspirations. I was planning to invite him to my Bat Barakah (if ever I have one in Manila). He’s supposed to give me a funny, but challenging words of wisdom there. He’s supposed to be on my wedding day (if ever the day comes). But I guess, all he can bring on these days are his memories.
Four years of unforgettable high school days. I came into high school (the upper level class room) as a small (perhaps 5’3”) kid. I remember how scared I am of him. I mean, I’ve seen him scold at upper students when I was in elementary. That memory remained in me until my first year of high school. But I was wrong.
He was funny, encouraging, and yes, strict. I remember the time when I made an upper batch of mine cry because I insulted him to the core. I mean, we started a so-called “duck hunters association”, called names to him and his family, and many more (I’ve repented for those days). Sir Noli gave us a whole week of detention, no lunch. All we have to do is face our offices while everybody was eating and having fun outside our classroom. I consider that life-changing. Well to be honest, after that detention, we didn’t immediately stopped teasing this upper batch friend (well until now), but that taught me the lesson about discipline, about the boundaries of permissible and on going way too much, about friendship, about turning your life a 180 degrees back. Thank you sir for that.
He was a great coach. Three years, I was a basketball team reserve. Named as “The Great Scorer”, not that I make tons of baskets and win games for our school, but basically because I’m the one who keeps tally of the team scores on our practices. On my second year, I was reserve 14. On my third year I was reserve 13. On my fourth year I was supposed to be part of the team, but I gave my slot to a fellow teammate. I can’t stop but laugh at my basketball career (if there’s even one). But at the same time, it taught me another great lesson about servant-hood, about sacrifice. We are not always called to lead and be stars. Sometimes, we just have to play our roles behind those whom God had called to lead. I certainly was a role player in the team. I was called to defend. haha Such a cute role. Looking back at it, I thank God for that humbling opportunity. That certainly shaped my character a lot. Sure I wanted to be part of the team (I was so excited on my fourth year), but I guess the two years of being a reserve taught me so much about sacrifice that I prepared me to sacrifice my spot on my last year. Thank you sir Noli for that!
Oh and he’s also a scary coach. There was one time when he threw a shoe to one of the players because he was kinda pissed I guess. That was kinda hilarious at that moment, but definitely surprising to the one who was at the receiving end of the shoe. When he gets mad, he’s definitely scary. You will really learn your lesson. haha And then there was also one year when he made me coach the Junior Students Track and field team too. He believed and trusted me with such responsibility. He was a great coach, not just in sports but in life. Plus he shoots the ball well. The Alan Caidic of Marikina 🙂
Man of Purpose
Lastly, during our final year in High School, we had this early morning devotion where he asked us what do we think we would be seven or ten years from now. What our plans are and where we would be in life? He said that he would keep our answers (papers) with him and told us to ask him again after those ten years have passed. I was looking forward to the time when we would ask him again. But now that he’s gone, I guess I wont be able to find out what I wrote during that morning. I wonder where those papers are. But nevertheless, I will strive hard to be the best I can be in life, both in character and in actions. Thank You Sir Noli for that!
Sir Noli, thank you for touching my life the way you did. Thank you for the lessons you taught me, the skills you’ve helped me develop, the characters you’ve helped me attain, the talents you’ve helped me discover, and the memories that you shared with me. Thank you for your love, for being an inspiration, a coach, a mentor, a teacher, a guide, a disciplinarian, one that always encouraged me, a father figure, a leader, a man of God, and a friend. Your company will forever be missed, but your impact in my life will remain forever, until the time that I will have the opportunity to pass on to others the same kind of impact you’ve done for me.
Rest in God’s Loving Arms, Sir.