By: Alex P. Vidal
“Don’t be dismayed by good-byes. 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 broadcast personality, Vicente “Danny Baby” Foz, which began in summer 1988, nearly ended one tragic evening sometime in November 1991.
Then 26-year-old Foz hurriedly left our hotel room at past 11 o’clock in the evening near the Luneta Park in Manila, sobbing.
On his way downstairs and outside the hotel, Foz angrily vowed to “avenge” the “cruelty” he got from our media 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 (In my entire life no one has laid a hand on me, not even from my brothers and parents),” Foz bewailed.
“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 sya (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 to no avail. I pleaded not to bring the matter to his brother and volunteered to help convince Ang to apologize to him and that we must keep the incident only for ourselves.
He pushed me away and hailed a cab.
I went back upstairs and told our three media colleagues, Mario Jara, Loui Vivar, and Ang I failed to stop Foz.
Before Foz left, a brawl ensued between Ang and Foz early that night. Vivar and Hara, both broadcasters in the now-defunct DYRP Radyo Agong, and the oldest in our group, did not interfere.
They allowed Ang to connect at least three punches on Foz’s face. I was in front of the two protagonists, but I was also a lousy referee; I failed to protect Foz from Ang’s rampage.
Before Ang vandalized Foz’s face, a misunderstanding ensued between Foz versus the three: Vivar, Hara, Ang.
The three wanted to drink the Chivas Regal given to us earlier that day by the wife of Police General Pedro Sistoza, a former Western Visayas regional police director, when we visited the couple at the Camp Crame in Quezon City.
Foz insisted the drink was Mrs. Sistoza’s “birthday gift” to him.
After a brief heated argument, Ang violently grabbed the Chivas Regal from Foz. He opened and drank a little of it. Vivar and Hara, stunned by the turn of events, did nothing and said nothing while Foz was fuming and protesting.
As the spirit of Chivas Regal began to raid Ang’s system, he suddenly launched a bare-knuckle attack and swarmed over the unprepared Foz. Everything happened so fast; even Manny Pacquiao could never dodge that quick and unannounced assault.
Meanwhile, while Foz was away, everyone (except me; I don’t drink alcoholic beverages) took turns in molesting that pernicious source of the night’s Armageddon.
After more than an hour, what we had feared most in that tumultuous moment came: Foz, his older “brother” (the Navy officer), and two other men in civilian clothes, arrived.
The three of us: this writer, Vivar, and Hara were speechless and looked at each other like we were involved in a silent film and 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 already drunk and laying face down on the floor unaware what was going on). I wouldn’t surrender a fallen prey to any wild animal with intention to swallow him whole.
As Foz, now composed and not anymore in chagrin, introduced his brother, the Navy officer, to everyone, he noticed a man on the floor, his tormentor, who was slightly snoring.
At this juncture, I gave Foz a silent but serious look in both his eyes like a hopeless and condemned person who is about to die by musketry. It read like this: “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 the handwriting on my mind. He skipped Ang. That eye-to-eye contact saved Ang; 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, 55, died at past 8 o’clock evening on Nov. 1 at the Don Benito (West Visayas State University) Hospital after several days inside 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.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)