Au revoir, Dodong…

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Will this be the answer? A very encouraging news yesterday was that the United States Government has struck a deal with the medical company Pfizer for them to produce a vaccine against the pandemic that is decimating world populations by the thousands, with its victims falling also by the thousands daily. And who knows how many more there are in in distant places not accessible to the media, that has been faithfully following up the statistics on it? The deal is said to cost a whopping $1.95 BILLION, but what is that to a multi-billion (maybe more) economy like the U.S.?

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As for us natives of impoverished countries, can we also hope to be able to avail of such medication? But perhaps Pfizer may relent later on and produce it at lowered prices for countries like ours. As of now, it is not even sure yet how effective that vaccine will be, and if it can catch up with those already stricken by it. After all, a vaccine is supposed to be preventive, but for those already infected, nothing but a cure, if also discovered, will do. In the meantime, let us all be obedient citizens, comply with all requirements for our own protection, and, if possible, stick to the Number one, which is: Stay home.

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But another problem that this pandemic has brought is that it has led people to play the blame game, and not only among individuals but even countries as well. Americans are said to be blaming Mexico for allegedly bringing in infected people who could infect their people in the states where they settle. In our own province and city, there are some people who blame the returning overseas workers, or the LSIs, or Locally Stranded Individuals, for some infections that have taken place. But it seems our officials are doing their best to isolate and quarantine such individuals, except, of course, when they are able to come in and hedge the required testing.

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But it is good to note that the administrations of both Negros and Panay have agreed to allow entry to their respective borders. That is the humane thing to do because so many of our residents here are also relatives of people there, and need to commute or visit each other. Some even have jobs in both islands and need to travel back and forth and with the borders closed, how can they do that? This is no longer the times of poet Robert Frost, who, I think, was the one who wrote the line “Good fences make good neighbors”. Not in this day and age, of course.

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Ah, but the most heart-breaking news this week, after the loss of another very good friend the other week, was the demise of a very dear and generous friend, Dodong Bascon, who passed away Wednesday, 15 days short of his 87th birthday. Who is the person in Bacolod who had known Dodong, who would not be saddened by his departure, and miss his ever-smiling face and friendly manner? He was a very successful businessman but never the hard-nosed type for whom business is always business. Not Dodong.

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I bet few people remember that his real name was “Oscar” because he had always been Dodong ever since he migrated to Bacolod. I still recall the time when he opened the Bascon Hotel in the city, and how some people thought he would have a hard time since he was new and there were several other hotels here. They didn’t reckon with the friendliness and superior P.R. of the guy, who could charm anybody with his un-businesslike ways, and bon homie.

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And such charm soon captured the heart of one of Bacolod’s prettiest and “de buena familia” young ladies, the comely Menchit Gatuslao, and together, who could resist their public relations which was never put-on, but native to both of them? Personally, my sister, friends and I, also met many visiting people and made some lasting friendships through Dodong. When he had V.I.P.s or interesting people as guests, he would invite us to meet them. One of them was Annette Jamieson from Australia, now a regular visitor to Bacolod who became our treasured friend.

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When we started the DAILY STAR, he was one of our ardent supporters. And until he became ill with the ailment that took his life, he would pop up at the DAILY STAR office regularly at night, bringing foodstuff, that we always enjoyed and kept our energies up until the paper had been “put to bed”. Ah, we will miss Dodong, and we mourn for him with Menchit and their lovely children Tinto, Carmela, Tom and Marili, whose lives will never the same without him, and of whom he was very proud and protective. Au revoir, Dodong. We will all miss you!*

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