Sunday, July 1, 2018

Pepito ‘Pete’ Alvaro Salenda, 72

It was just over a week ago, when we sat down and talked about the present and the future. Though the present felt gloomy, the future holds the promise of not only brighter days, but more so, happier times. Today the present is darker and the future lost its shine.

Pepito Alvaro Salenda, better known as Pete, is gone. And the world has lost one of its brightest lights.

He was my mentor who watched me turn into what I am now. Through the recklessness of youth and the perils of conceit, he persevered and persisted to guide me into becoming the very best version of what I can be; and whether it sufficed for him or not, he did not say—he was just genuinely happy that he had weaned me away from my self-destructive ways.

And for this, I will forever be grateful.

Yet, it will never really be the same again.

Pete’s selflessness knows no bounds—probably to the detriment of himself and his family. He was just the person who could not—would not—say no if he believes he can help.

In our last conversation, he enthusiastically related the story of a group of people in Vintar, Ilocos Norte who sought his help. He did. He spent some amount without expecting anything in return. All he wanted was to see this people removed from the risk they were in and to live a more peaceful and purposeful life.

He also excitedly talked about his future plans regarding putting up a training center that he hoped would help many more people—or with his own words, “million and one people.” His eyes lit up when he explained the nitty-gritty of the plan, and he even asked me to be with him when he sits down and finalizes this with the people who will help fund this. Unfortunately, he will not be around anymore to see this through. And I just hope that those people he mentioned will push through with this and make his last dream a reality.

His mentorship also transcended generations. As it was for me, it was more so for other people. With my children growing up, he personally took over in giving them the proper education they needed. It was, he said then, the very reason he helped put up the International School for the Arts, the Language and the Academe (ISALA). This, he extended to everyone who needed it, and all he expected in return is for them to live better lives.

Pete was everything you needed him to be. His generosity is enormous and only the sacrifices he was willing to make just to help anyone who needs them, exceed it. He was unique and it is here where this world has lost one of its brightest lights with his demise.

Words will never be enough to describe everything he was. We can only define Pete for what he stood for, what he meant to us, and the countless number of lives he touched.

He was my mentor, my surrogate father, my children’s surrogate grandfather, and as I grew older, one of my closest friends, unrelenting critic, and most reliable adviser.

Rest easy now, Lolo Pete. At least, the hurt and the anguish have ceased. And though it would be hard to move on, all of us whose lives you made better will try to move on with you serving as our North Star.

See you on the other side.

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