"Think where man's glory most begins and ends,
And say my glory was I had such friends."
- William Yeats
When I worked for Atlas Mining in Aroroy, Masbate I became an adopted classmate of batch '85 of Aroroy National High School (I graduated from a school in the capital town). Ernie was at first just one of the "batchmates" but we easily became bosom buddies and constantly went out together that those who met us for the first time sometime mistook us for brothers. We acquired each others habits, mannerisms, and after some time, not a few friends say that we even sounded alike. We lightheartedly introduced each other as "my lost brother" to those who asked if we were siblings.
I also became an adopted member of Ernie's family as I would stay, eat and sleep at their place everytime I went to Aroroy town (about 15 minutes away from the mine site), which was often. He also would stay in my place, the foremen's quarters of Atlas Mining, when he came to visit other classmates who were children of senior managers of the Mines. It was ironic that when he worked as Electrical Engineer trainee in Atlas, we seldom saw each other (except on days off) though we lived in the same dormitory because we had different shifts.
We visited Atlas Mines' Ladies Dormitory together to meet the girls and assess our 'prospects'. When we got home, we had a discussion on the ethics of calling single girls who were older than us "Ate" (a Filipino term used to respectfully address an older sister, relative, or any lady who's older) because he was too courteous that he profusely used the term to address even those who were only 3 to 5 years older than us.
Ernie's family owns a store in Aroroy which he manned when his parents would go out of town. He had such a strong sense of responsibility that we couldn't convince him to leave the store to his other siblings so he can go out with us, his friends, in our outings. In one of the happiest and most memorable outings of our 'batch' during one of our friends' wedding in Batangas, he wasn't able to go but he sent me the following note the day before we left:
When Ernie passed the Electrical Engineering Board Examination I was as happy as when I passed my own board exam. When he got his professional license, we did a childish thing. We had both our licenses photocopied on the same paper (one copy for each of us). The backside of each copy bore our signatures and the date then. We agreed to keep each other's copy well so we can show it to each other and to each other's children when we're older.
He once bought a mountain bike which we rode together when we went fishing, swimming, or visiting classsmates. When it was still new, it was a treasured possession that even his brothers must first get his permission to use it. I treated the bike as my own and freely used it even when he wasn't around. I never felt that he minded.
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