My past has been quite present, lately.
Mr. Mercado, founder of Basic Advertising, the man who used to throw me into various metaphorical bodies of water with a beatific smile and high hopes, passed away eight years ago. His family invited us to his death anniversary mass, followed by dinner, last Friday.
It’s been many years, but I can still see him wiping the tears away after I presented a tvc script for Caritas Manila. (The commercial went on to win second place in a global FCB creative competition. We received a congratulatory fax from a group of Filipinos working in the FCB head office, which touched me more than the crystal paperweight we got in the mail a week after.) I remember how he swatted us from one organizational model to another; his notes on kaizen and TQM; even how impatient he became when I would argue, defiant little acorn that I was.
He packed me off (together with a few others) to Radio Veritas to help with its relaunch, me with only two years of advertising experience and no broadcasting background whatsoever. After I resigned, he called me to say he might have a job for me – in Indonesia. I stayed there for two and a half years.
The man had a habit of introducing change into people’s lives, of believing first and asking later. It was good to have an evening to remember him, and to realize I owe him more than I ever managed to thank him for.
We buried my grandaunt yesterday. She looked so young in her coffin. She wore a royal blue dress with ruffles at the wrist, and they laid a blanket of white flowers across the glass. One memory swims up from the haze of my childhood. She is dusting off boxes in their library, and she sees me clutching a battered, yellowed Speedball lettering booklet her children have outgrown. She tells me I can bring it home if I promise to take care of it, and I promise.