“Don’t be dismayed by goodbyes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends.” –Richard Bach
My friendship with the late Iloilo broadcasting personality, Vicente ‘Danny Baby’ Foz, began in summer 1988 and nearly ended one tragic evening sometime in November 1991. A then-26-year-old Foz left our hotel room past 11:00 p.m. sobbing. On his way downstairs and outside the hotel, which was located near Luneta Park in Manila, he angrily vowed to “avenge” the “cruelty” dispensed by our colleague, Arsenio ‘Kamlon’ Ang.
“Sa bilog ko nga kabuhi wala pa ako nakatilaw sumbag bisan sa mga utod ko kag ginikanan—mabalos gid ko ya ‘Lex (Throughout my entire life, no one has laid a hand on me, not even from my brothers and parents),” Foz wailed. “Naglayas lang ako sa amon sa Romblon pero subong tunlon ko ang pride ko makadto ako sa utod ko nga Navy officer; balikan ko na sia (I was only a stowaway from Romblon but now I will swallow my pride and seek my brother’s help, who is a Navy officer; and I will return).”
I chased Foz and tried to dissuade him from leaving but to no avail. I pleaded for him to not bring the matter to his brother and volunteered to help convince Ang to apologize and to keep the incident to ourselves; he pushed me away and hailed a cab.
I returned upstairs and told our three colleagues—Mario Jara, Loui Vivar, and Ang—that I failed to stop him.
Before he left, a brawl had ensued between him and Ang. Vivar and Jara, both broadcasters for the now-defunct DYRP Radyo Agong did not interfere and allowed Ang to make connect at least three times with Foz’s face. I was in front of the two but was a lousy referee; I failed to protect Foz from Ang’s rampage.
Prior to Ang striking Foz’s face, a misunderstanding ensued between Foz and the three. The three wanted to drink the Chivas Regal given to us earlier by the wife of Police General Pedro Sistoza, a former Western Visayas regional police director, but he insisted the whiskey was a “birthday gift” for him. After a heated argument, Ang violently grabbed the bottle from Foz, opened it, and drank a little. Vivar and Hara, stunned by the turn of events, did nothing and said nothing as Foz fumed and protested.
As the spirit of Chivas Regal began to raid Ang’s system, he launched a bare knuckle attack and swarmed the unprepared Foz.
Meanwhile, while Foz was away, everyone (except me) took slugs of the Scottish blend and, after over an hour, what we had feared the most happened; Foz, his older “brother” (the Navy officer), and two other men in civilian clothes arrived. The three of us—myself, Vivar, and Hara—were speechless and looked at each other as if we were trapped inside a helicopter that was about to crash.
The first thing I did, as the entourage was entering the room, was to literally sit on Ang’s body (he was drunk and lying face down on the floor). I wouldn’t surrender fallen prey to any wild animal.
Foz, now composed, introduced his brother to everyone, noticed the man on the floor, his tormentor, was slightly snoring. At this juncture, I gave him a silent but serious look like a hopeless and condemned person about to die by musketry. It read: “Please, Dan, I beg you. Don’t point Kamlon Ang to your brother, for the sake of our friendship.”
For the life of me, Foz read my mind and skipped Ang.
That eye-to-eye contact saved Ang and it saved the group from what could have been a nightmarish night. More than anything else, Foz’s decision to cancel his rage saved our friendship.
When Foz died past 8:00 p.m. last Friday at Don Benito Hospital (now known as the West Visayas State University Medical Center) after several days confined to the ICU, the first thing I remembered was that crucial eye-to-eye contact.
For 10 minutes, I cried for the loss of a dear friend who had peace and pureness in his heart. Goodbye, Dan.
Alex P. Vidal, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo./WDJ