By Alex P. Vidal
“Courtesy is as much a mark of a gentleman as courage.” – Theodore Roosevelt
I FIRST met then 30-year-old Police Maj. Marlon Tayaba in 1998 when he was the chief of the Iloilo City Mobile Group, where I saw him frisk suspected lawbreakers even in the La Paz bridge during the night operations.
He was close to our Sun-Star Iloilo police beat reporters Ednalyn Belonio-Diamante, Ruby Silubrico, and other lady reporters from the radio and TV.
Tayaba was tough and swashbuckling when dealing with law violators and criminals, but meek and mild-mannered when in the company of Iloilo reporters, who admired his low key personality.
He raised his voice only on the ruffians and rascals while on duty, but spoke to anyone he met like a school teacher when he’s off duty.
Tayaba was one of the most courteous and soft-spoken police officials who served in the city and province of Iloilo.
If he wasn’t wearing a police uniform, Tayaba could be mistaken for a college student or a Mormon who knocks on the door to give free copies of Bible and prayer literatures.
Tayaba wasn’t publicity-hungry. He was a silent type and seldom opened his mouth in conversations but attentive and always alert.
His accomplishments became known only because he had lots of friends in the media who reported them even if they weren’t front page materials.
He was a darling of the press because he treated them like his friends and classmates.
While other PNP officials hankered for publicity in order to expedite their promotion, Tayaba never kowtowed to anyone in the press in order to get special attention.
The more he earned positive remarks in the press for a good accomplishment as a cop, the more he would seclude himself so that the friendly press wouldn’t do a follow-up and prolong the well-deserved plaudits.
I lost track of Tayaba when he and other selected PNP officials went to the United States for a “schooling” in the early part of year 2000.
We were connected again when he sent a “friend request” on Facebook seven years ago. He used another name.
All that I heard and read about him thereafter was his sterling exploits as “Col. Marlon Tayaba” and as director of the Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO), where he earned the trust and confidence of then Iloilo Governor Arthur “Art” Defensor Sr., father of incumbent Iloilo Governor Arthur “Toto” Jr.
I only learned that he passed away on February 16 at the Iloilo Mission Hospital after a long bout with colon cancer, the second most deadly form of cancer after lung cancer.
He was 52.
Based on his accomplishments and performance, his death should be considered as a big loss to the Philippine National Police.
Rest in Peace, Colonel!
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)