In Memory of Manoy Paulix Robosa

By Stephen Cenon D. Talla

In October 2011, I received a telephone call from Mr. Bong Sison, (one of the owners of the University of Nueva Caceres and the AMS Press in Naga City), accepting my application for the printing press’ production manager vacant position, which I intend to fill-in, in a letter I sent him a couple of weeks earlier. During that time, after eight years of working in a printing press manufacturing plant in Valenzuela City, I was jobless. My employer, a few months prior, decided to sell his business to one of the competitors. It was a mixture feeling of nausea, aloneness and loneliness. It was like the feeling I had when we left Baao in 1988, when my mother, Greta Dato, decided to uproot us in Baao to live instead in Pasig. Something was lost, something so dear.

Whenever I feel alone and melancholy, I would have this insatiable longing for Baao. I would dream at night of our house in San Juan, Iraya (where I grew up), my cousins, my 90s batch mates in St. Monica Academy, and the general mood of being there at the place of all of my being.

After a personal appearance and formal interview with Mr. Bong Sison, I started working in AMS Press, Naga City in November 2011.

Everyday, I would ride a bus early in the morning from San Juan, Baao to Sentro, to Buluang, to Pili and to Naga. Scenery of green farms of rice as far as the eye can see; and fog in the morning, almost blocking the road ahead. Fog, instead of smog. Being in Manila since 1988, and have dealt with one of the worst city public commute systems in the world, the working experience in Naga was a bliss. Especially when, at the end of the day, I would go home in Baao in the late afternoon. It was the dream.

Paulix Robosa with Luis G. Dato medallion
Paulix Robosa with Luis G. Dato medallion

I was in that state, on the way to Baao, one late afternoon, sitting on a bus, when someone poked my right shoulder. I glanced, a rather chubby guy asked me, “Ika si Stephen Talla?” It was Manoy Paulix Robosa. We never met personally, aside from the short chats in the social media (facebook was just starting back then), and he was older than me in SMA. When the bus stopped, and was almost emptied in Pili, I sat beside him, shook his hands, and started listening to his stories about Lolo Luis (that they have a group and were planning to unveil a memorial marker for the Baaoeño poet, and that he himself would carve the medallion); about the World War II events (almost in detail of his lolo being the chief of police when lolo Luis was the mayor of Baao); about the massacre in Agdangan; and about Baao, especially (then and now).

I was in awe by his passion and by his knowledge about our cultural history and heritage. His aura was contagious. He was both proud and modest of his being a Baaeño. I had the feeling that he was telling me everything at that short span of a bus ride. It was, if I may add, the shortest one-hour ride to Baao. We said our goodbye in San Nicolas, Baao. He got off the bus first.

Luis G. Dato Marker at the Baao Town Plaza

That was the first time (and the last) that I ever talked to Manoy Paulix. I went back to Pasig in March 2012 — such a brief stint of an employment. It was, actually, in today’s parlance “work from home” or a working vacation, perhaps. It was worth it.

Manoy Paulix Robosa passed away a few months after they unveiled the Luis G. Dato marker at the Baao town plaza.

Thank you, Manoy Paulix Robosa.

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