Making sense of endings.

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.