Maraming, maraming salamat.’
That’s how Mang Ric, my driver for over 10 years till he retired in 2018, would end every day after he had driven for me. He would thank me.
That’s also how he would punctuate every inquiry he would send to me via text, or every act that he would perceive to be gracious. Which was practically everything, if you would judge by the number of ‘maraming salamats’ he would say or send to me.
That was Mang Ric, a native of Pangasinan like my late mother-in-law. He was my virtual shadow till he retired and most of my colleagues at work and in the industry would probably remember him.
Mang Ric passed away peacefully in his sleep last week. He was 72.
“In my memory, he’s always smiling and soft-spoken,” says PeopleAsia managing editor Jose Paolo Dela Cruz.
His loyalty (to you) was gold. This loyalty was only matched by his trustworthiness. Wow, he could be entrusted with the most prized gems — material things and life, or lives!
Mang Ric was also never late (except for a miscommunication once or twice), and was only absent when he was really not feeling well, which was rare. He reported even on his birthday (till I remembered and would let him have the next day off). He would be very grateful if you told him he could have a day off during a holiday, yes, a holiday. He once worked for a top military official aside from being used to my schedule as a journalist — where holidays were sometimes also working days — that he knew it was part of his job description. He was a good soldier.
When you gave him something, even merienda, he would react with surprise, as if he was being given a birthday cake. Whenever we would him give him a surprise party for his birthday, he would put his right hand over his heart and would smile the widest smile. I didn’t know who would melt — Mang Ric, the celebrator, or his guests!
“He was simple, courteous and professional,” says my husband Ed. Mang Ric was always well groomed. He would also spring to action whenever he saw me emerge from the office, like I was some head of state. He has spoiled me for life.
“Mang Ric was a kind man,” says STAR columnist Büm D. Tenorio Jr. “He had a reassuring, calming presence. His loyalty (to you) was gold. This loyalty was only matched by his trustworthiness. Wow, he could be entrusted with the most prized gems — material things and life, or lives! Mang Ric was never presumido. He knew you would always order food for him. He would only get his share when you texted him or when Pinky Icamen would call him. He was ready with his ‘Thank you.’
“Mang Ric held my hand, so to speak, when, upon your kindness, he drove for me to PGH from STAR. My dear friend Rodge Valientes was dying and it was important for me to say my goodbye. ‘Dasal pa tayo, Sir,’ he told me. ‘May milagro.’ It was Aug. 11, 2017. A Friday. Mang Ric was correct, Rodge lived nine more months after that. Mang Ric had the kindest smile. He was grace under pressure on the road. I know of this because I was also his passenger in the many times I hitched in your car. I only have good words and gratitude for Mang Ric.”
True, I could trust Mang Ric with my valuables and my life. Whenever Mang Ric would drive me home from work, I would doze off minutes after my head touched the backrest of my seat till we got home almost 45 minutes later. “That means you really trust your driver to take you safely home,” someone once told me.
Drivers and our other household help, as Anthony Pangilinan succinctly said in an online post, are the “wind beneath our wings.” They are our enablers, allowing us to concentrate on our duties at home and at work because they take care of us. They free us from chores. The time they help us save, is time we are able to apply to our other duties and responsibilities. If I spent all that time driving myself (not among my talents) to and from work, I would have had a more challenging time meeting deadlines and executing my managerial functions. I probably would have flashed a half smile instead of a bright smile whenever I would attend functions.
Mang Ric, who leaves behind a widow Gloria, children and grandchildren, was PeopleAsia’s “Employee of the Year” before he retired. Actually, he was an “Employee of the Year” for all seasons.
Mang Ric’s dedication was priceless. He literally offered to be a stepping stone to home. Once, when my left leg was in a cast and I had difficulty hurdling a step to our gate, he knelt down and crossed his palms so that I could step on them till I could hoist my body up to the embankment. That humbled me beyond words. Of course I refused his very gallant offer and somehow hobbled up the step.
If there is any one memory of Mang Ric seared on my mind, it is that moment. Kneeling down to help me, he stood 10 feet tall in my eyes.
Paalam, Mang Ric. Maraming, maraming salamat.
PeopleAsia recently took to the stage, albeit virtually, with its twin wins at 19th Philippine Quill Awards. Held online by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Philippines, the coveted awards program “honors the dedication, passion and innovation” of communicators from various industries.
An Award of Excellence was given to PeopleAsia’s “Remembering PNoy” Special issue, which debuted to positive reviews from both readers and advertisers. Released in August 2021, shortly after the death of former President Benigno Aquino III, the special collector’s edition teems with stories and photos of the late Philippine leader — making it a historical memento, which sold out in just a few days.
PeopleAsia’s “People of the Year 2021” Virtual Awards Night, which was streamed by tens of thousands of viewers online, also earned an Award of Merit from the IABC Philippines. The milestone digital event, which honored personalities such as former Vice President Leni Robredo, Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto and frontliners such as Philippine General Hospital medical director Dr. Gap Legaspi, marks one of the magazine’s most successful forays into hybrid events — a pivot it had to make during the pandemic.
Indeed, pandemic or not, live or digital, from pixels to print, PeopleAsia always has its view on the Quill!