Life is a journey. Come and join me as i spend moments with interesting people, visit astounding places, attend meaningful events, or just pondering things out.
Many times we wait until a friend has died to tell the world how that friend touched our lives and realize what a wonderful person he (or she) was.
Today, I would like to pay tribute to a dear colleague not just because it’s his birthday but also to share what transpired on that fateful day when he left this world at the peak of his career. His name is Fol Rana Jr., he passed away October 5, 2012 at the young age of 46. He could have been 51 this year. His sudden death came with so many questions, lessons, and memories.
I met Fol many years ago at the time when he was still occupying the Operations Head position at ECN. I was then an applicant for Card Security Officer and he was my interviewer. I don’t know what the result of that interview was but I got hired for the post several months later. Fol was already transferred to Card Sales that time as their new head.
I don’t communicate with Fol much during my ECN days because I worked in another department. But, I was friend with his deputy, so we used to talk a little. I had the opportunity to work for him when he joined ABC. He was our card center head and I was his operations head. There were some animosities at first, not because of my performance but because of my affiliation with another department head way back at ECN. But I guess trust and confidence developed between us as we worked together, with equally brilliant section heads, in creating one of the biggest issuing bank in the country.
The Day was Friday, October 5, 2012
I arrived early at work that day. Surprised to learn that Fol’s secretary, Margie, has called for a return call before I arrived. I did not return her call and instead ordered food for breakfast. I was already having my breakfast when Marge did her second call which was answered by another officer. I relayed that I will just finish my breakfast and promised to call him (Fol) right after. Marge did her third call (in less than an hour) when I was about to go to Fol’s office. She told me when I picked up the phone that Fol was already fuming and needs to talk to me asap.
Fol immediately closed the door when I arrived at his 5th floor office. It was his last day at ABC and together with some other CCD section heads, they will be moving to another bank to setup its credit card issuing business. We had a heart to heart that moment for the first time in six years of working together.
His words and tone actually surprised me. He told me that AQC (the then bank president) will talk to me after our meeting. “Whatever AQC offers you, I just would like to tell you that I will respect your decision.” Fol said, he then continued by saying “But I would be more than honored working with you again in this new setup project”. Again, whatever your decision is, I will respect.” Our talk lasted for an hour. It could have been longer but he’s got a 10AM with another group.
The secretary of AQC was already calling when I returned at my workstation. I need to immediately go to the president’s office. AQC was already waiting for me when I got there. The meeting was actually short, he just asked me for suggestions on how to make CCD unaffected by Fol’s resignation. I told him that he needs to talk to the team, they are demoralized, they need comforting words from him. “Can you advise all your key officers now? I will meet them at the boardroom.” was his instruction.
It was already 11AM when I returned at CCD. There was an uproar, a commotion. I was shocked to learn that Fol was rushed to Makati Medical Center. He had a heart attack. No, I thought… It can’t be… I just talked to him about an hour ago. But wait… I can’t afford to be emotional now. Maybe later…I need to inform the key officers of CCD. The bank president is waiting for us at the boardroom.
AQC’s words were very comforting. I was humbled by his gesture. He asked each one of us for help. He wanted us to assist him in running CCD. To cascade the news to downline that everything is in proper order. Everything will get back to normal. We just need to espouse a BAU situation.
I didn’t remember if I had lunch that day. So much had happened. My fellow section head MKDV phoned me, she’s in the hospital and mentioned that Fol will need to undergo some procedure. We hoped that everything will be Ok after this procedure. Recovery period will just be a couple of months.
Another section head called. It was RKT asking for update on Fol. She’s a bit anxious, breathless, and getting increasingly panicky. “I am not comfortable with this. I can’t work.” She hurriedly mentioned. I replied that a procedure is ongoing and Fol will be fine in no time.
That is of course untrue for I received another call from MKDV that Fol had a massive cardiac arrest while the procedure is being done. He is now being revived by his doctors.
At around 3PM, MKDV called again. Her voice croaked this time. “Fol is gone.”
Wherever you are…
Fol, after all these years, I still can’t believe that you are already gone. I can’t believe that I will never be able to work with you again, meet with you again, and achieve goals with you again.
I wonder what you were thinking as you left this world. Did you wonder if your life mattered? Then let me tell you that it did. That during those days we worked together you touched my heart with your kindness, your intelligence, your positive energy and above all else with your beautiful soul.
When you left, did you wonder if people would remember you? Then let me also tell you that I and the rest of your team will remember you forever and hold you close in our hearts.
I’m sorry that I didn’t get to know you much. I’m sorry that I didn’t stay in closer contact with you when you were still here. For I am sure that everything was okay with you and I thought we still have a lot of time working together. Life is indeed short yet mysterious in so many ways.
It has been years since you went on permanent rest but the memories are still vivid as I write these final words. Goodbye to you my most brilliant boss and friend. Thank you for being part of my journey and for being part of my existence. I hope that you are profoundly happy wherever you are. You will forever be in our hearts.
Goodbye Fol. Again thank you for everything. May your soul rest in eternal peace.