For my first-ever post on this blog, am reproducing below a piece i wrote for my friend Ramon "Monching" Aragon who passed in the early hours of September 16, 2008 in Bangkok. He was a co-op trainer for the National Confederation of Co-operatives (NATCCO) of the Philippines for 18 years. He was 48 years old when he died. His body was brought back to the Philippines on September 18, and he was buried on September 21 in Paranaque City, Metro Manila. He was a very dear friend of mine (he's the second from the right in the picture, that's me to his right).
Monching—a Man for Others
When I was first told that my friend (and everybody’s friend) Ramon “Monching” H. Aragon had passed away earlier that fateful Tuesday, my mind sought to find the right words to capture what Monching was in his life and what he meant to the many people that he had left behind—family, friends, co-workers, co-operators. My mind raced back to events and activities that Monching and I both attended when I was still a NATCCO staff, and other co-op events where we still met even after I had left NATCCO, and also to our daily interaction as co-workers, and later our interaction still whenever I would visit NATCCO and he would be there. And knowing if he were in the
Monching and his jokes
Monching was a man for others. He was there with his witty jokes if we needed cheering up. And even if we didn’t need cheering up (and we didn’t want him around, heheh), he would still be there, with his jokes. Most funny, others not-too-funny but which still made us smile because he always delivered his jokes with facial expressions and hand gestures that conveyed warmth, more of like big brother cheering us up. And Monching, the big brother, would always remember something in each one of his friends that would be his take-off point in making his funny pangungulit (persistent teasing) to us (like he would always ask me if I’ve already seen my house cat that I lost years ago, which, he surmised, had committed suicide or something). Of course, there was always his FPJ-style pose that was always patok (a hit) (FPJ was Fernando Poe Jr., considered the "Action King" of Philippine movies, who had also recently passed away). But Monching was never pikon (easily hurt) (except maybe when we gave him the “shower” joke). Whatever ribbing he got back from us in return, he would take it with a happy disposition. I remember in one workshop where Monching was one of the participants who were asked to describe their real selves, he admitted that he was always the happy-go-lucky type. And his friends couldn’t agree more.
It’s hard to remember moments where Monching was in a serious mood. He was a jolly person, and he always liked others to be happy, too. In fact, I can remember only two moments that he would be in a serious mood—one, if his friends would engage him in a conversation about corrupt government officials whom he absolutely hated and always wanted to feed to the crocodiles, and, two—if he’s talking about co-operatives. Yes, Monching was THE dedicated co-op trainer. It seemed that he was happiest when he was conducting a seminar or training somewhere, whether for a small or big group. And he was among the most knowledgeable, skilled, and dedicated co-op trainers in the Philippine co-op movement. Like he was born into co-ops and meant to be a conveyor of the good news about co-ops. Which could actually be the case as his younger years were already spent around a co-op in his San Dionisio,
Monching the co-op trainer/educator
When Monching was conducting a training, everybody listened. Not only because his booming voice actually commanded attention but also because one could feel that what he was relaying about co-ops came from his heart. Not too long ago, the Philippine co-op movement lost to a fatal illness Ms Alma T. Gabud, another NATCCO staff, who, like Monching, breathed and lived co-operatives.