By: Maria Girlie Pascual
My brother Boyet, or “Diko” as I used to call him, was brother and sibling number two amongst my parents’ brood of six children, I being the third and only girl growing up in the small town of Malabon Rizal, where my father, Dr.Arsenio Cruz Pascual Jr. and his family, were from. My mom, Teresita Lorenzo Pascual was a “Manilena” with roots from Obando, Bulacan, where both of her parents were from, but grew up in the second district of Manila, in a sector of Blumentritt, close to Dimasalang and North Cemetery where they are now all laid to rest.
Boyet was the gifted one. Without a doubt, he showed the most promise of all of us. The eldest, “Docboy”, Arsenio Boy Pascual 111 was the favorite, I was the only girl, and the rest of the boys, all “Arsenio’s” were Brent the fifth, Bently the sixth and AA the seventh. Thank God I was not assigned a numerical value, but that’s another story. We were all born at the University of Santo Tomas Hospital where my father was a medical intern at that time, and where he graduated as a doctor, and were all baptized a the San Roque Church in Manila, not too far from where my mom grew up. We all stayed in Malabon Rizal, in my grandparents’ imposing Spanish style mansion by the river, on a 2 hectare property with a mini golf putting green, a grape vineyard, a custom ferris wheel and room to roam amongst the “langka” or jackfruit trees and play surrounded by local turkeys under the watchful eye of my grandfather’s German Shepherd. This is where we learned to play all kinds of sports–basketball, softball, bowling, learned how to bike, to fish, to play hide and seek in the dark and light of day, an ideal place to hone our skills and bond with each other and our cousins.
We moved to Caloocan in the 70’s when my parents had a house built at the University Hills Subdivision, and it was there that we became teenagers and faced the crossroads of adulthood. This was where, I believe, we lost our brother Boyet. He was a skilled illustrator, taking that skill, applying to, and getting accepted to the University of the Philippines in Baguio, school of Engineering. He transferred to the Diliman, Quezon City campus on his second year,switching to Architecture, but by that time, he was far into using drugs, alcohol and marijuana, a journey that began at the San Beda High School campus in Mendiola. We all thought it was a habit he would kick eventually, but sad to say, it practically ruled his life. Unbeknownst to my parents, as his siblings, we suspected it but never dared tell our elders. We were all young and busy with our own lives that we thought Boyet will surely beat his drug addiction since he aced everything in college. He graduated with a degree in Architecture at the top of his class, passed his government exam to practice his profession handily, and was always going for the next big deal with great ideas and a talent for the pitch. Sadly, his drug habits got worse, and this ended his career, his marriage, and ultimately, his life.
Boyet was an artist, a philosopher, a composer and an accomplished musician, an imaginative architect. He can play piano and guitar like it was an extension of himself, effortless and natural with his musical skills as he is with walking and talking. He had a lot of friends, was known and well respected in San Beda, easily formed friendships while he was in UP Baguio and DIliman, and everyone seemed to remember him for his innate intelligence, stature, and sadly, for his drug demons too.
Dear Diko: First and foremost, we are so sorry we cannot be there when you took your last breath, and I can only imagine how heart wrenching and lonely it was for you, as it is for us now, when we think about how you must have felt all alone when you passed. Know that you will be remembered for your talent and humor, your genius and your strength as we promise to be there for your sons, Zenas and Zap. ALthough our relationship with you has not been easy, we know that reuniting with our parents on the other side may just be the homecoming that you may have been searching for, and never found on this earth. Rest assured that we will pray for you, remember you with fondness and love, and miss you as the sibling we know God gave our family as a blessing, a reminder that life is fleeting. and that we will all leave a mark with those we have come across in our lives.
Finally, travel well and rest my dear brother. We hope that you are at peace meeting your Maker, and being reunited with family and friends in the eternal garden of the Lord.