Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Here's to RVA

One afternoon in the big firm where I used to work, I took a break from writing a pleading, and went to the pantry. As is common with all big firms, the pantry was the lawyers' haven. We had a fridge, cold water dispenser, microwave, toaster, and comfortabe dining tables and chairs. It's not much, but our pantry was where the lawyers could turn to their old selves again at the end or in the middle of a long lawyerly day. It's the place where we gossip about movie stars, and wonder whether we actually missed a career in basketball.

Ramonito V. Abarico or RVA (by tradition, lawyers call each other by their initials in law firms) was a pantry regular. He had a fellow young associate with him then, but his name escapes me now. RVA, a little overweight for his five foot four frame, had boundless energy. He was doing litigation in the firm, and was working days and nights because of a major case involving some of our bosses. He was the designated foot soldier, and he bore a big brunt of the work. But RVA knew when to relax, and that moment he was actually doing that. I noticed they were having bacon and pandesal for snacks. Nothing extra-ordinary there, except that between them they had about 400 grams of bacon. They cooked it on the microwave oven, and it smelled really good. It was soaked in its own oil (about four cups of it). It looked delicious, and the boys appeared to be enjoying it.

Flash forward to another day, same setting and time of day, but in this instance, the boys were introducing me to the wonders of Palm chili-flavored corned beef. The great thing about it? -- the chunks of beef (not minced) that it offered, and the chili flavor that makes you beg for more. I introduced it to my family, and since then, our breakfast was never the same gain.

Over these snacks, RVA and I talked about work and life strategies. He said he wanted to build a house for his young family. He had a daughter then while I still had two boys (I now have three boys and a girl). Partnership was not in our minds. It was just how to increase our take home pay. I told him I was making extra cash by referring clients to the Firm. We got fifteen percent (15%)for each referral. Not bad, if you're billing in the hundreds of thousands. He tried out the strategy for a while, and started to refer work to the firm. But he had other plans. Eventually, he moved to a firm, which reportedly paid bonuses in dollars. As for me, I decided to work for myself, and put up my own firm.

Two years ago, we visited him in his room in his new Firm. He said he was still doing litigation, and he had to travel back and forth to Mindanao. He looked as if was having a better time.

Last month, I blogged about December being the hardest month for a lawyer. Just thinking about it makes the hair at the back of my head stand. Why?
Yesterday, I got a text message that RVA died that morning from a stroke. He's barely in his 30s. I'm speculating how it might have been for RVA last month. Did he stress himself too much? Did he have too much of the holiday food? I guess, it does not really matter now.

Four months ago, I shifted to a low fat diet, lots of vegetables and fruits and only up to three ounces of lean meat a day. No bacons. No Palm chili flavored corned beef. It might be the best decision I made for now.

As for RVA, I've been thinking about him all day. He was a good lawyer -- a good man with good skills in the law. May he find peace in heaven.

(original post)


joyce said...

hi attorney!
my daughter's dad (i call him's rather politically correct hehehe), who's 39 years old now, had cancer of the parotid glad 5 years ago. his doctor told him that this is a rare cancer and is mostly due to smoking. but you see, he doesn't smoke...but considering the number of people around him who smoke like chimneys, most probably, gave him the second hand smoke. he's actually lucky to have survived for 5 years already and is on remission.

lornadahl said...

How sad. =(

I remember how often I procastinate plans of having a better diet. In fact, I fell victim to the lure of holiday bingeing since it's the "Season of Hope". Sayang, he didn't get to start anew.

rolly said...

I've always had bad eating habits and earned a few vices since high school. Now that i'm a little too old, i'm beginning to feel a lot of things. I've recently stopped smoking and drink very seldomly now. Hopefully my diet is next in line. I feel sorry for your friend and most especially his family.

bayibhyap said...

When we work at a deadly and merciless pace, often sacrificing sleep, we tend to indulge in enjoyable (but often very unhealthy) food. Psychologically we allow ourselves to be pampered a little more than usual to compensate for the sacrifice we have made to work hard. But prolonged stress and unhealthy food make a deadly combination. I hope RVA had adequate life insurance coverage to take care of the family he has left behind.

It sometimes takes a tragedy like this to wake us up to re-evaluate what we want out of life. And of course, to be more urgent in effecting a positive change in our lifestyles.

Anonymous said...

hoy aceron, pakitingnan mo nga iyong yahoo email mo at merong isang bagay na dapat mong aksiyunan pero wala pang nangyayari hanggang ngayon. pakiusap at pakidalian lang.

marvin said...

ok anonymous. sinabi ko na ikaw si Michael Quijano, a contemporary at Ateneo Law, and that you live in Mt. Fiji. But my theological views are still the same no matter how outdated you think they are. kumusta na?

marvin said...

Thanks for your comments joyce, Tito rolly, bayibhyap, lornadahl. RVA was interred today. He was 30. I'm 35 this year. Knowing that RVA and I had similar lifestyles makes me think that every extra day I have is a real bonus.

pam said...

Hello, I am Mon's wife. I just read your piece about Mon. I am very grateful that you wrote about him and how you remembered him.

Anyway, I just want you and all your readers to know that Mon actually died due to aneurysm and it was described by the attending neurologist as "catastrophic." I guess when God calls you, you will have no choice but to follow. I believe that is why Mon left so early.

And although I do completely agree that it is important for everyone to have healthy food intake/good diet and exercise, I just want to clarify that Mon, in fairness to him, was actually physically fit when the tragedy happened. He was playing basketball(almost everyday) from 6-8 am (at least) for more than two months already. And he was not able to over indulge himself during the holidays (thanks to my limited experience in the kitchen).

I just want to say that so that everyone will know that Mon had absolutely no fault on what happended. He was a very good person, a very loving father and husband.

Thanks again for your article.

marvin said...

Hi Pam,

Thanks for your post. I'm sure Mon i shappy where he is right now. And oh, by the way, it's really true, most of my best memories of Mon happened over those snacks in the pantry at the old Firm.