Ninong Oca Francisco

Today is first death anniversary of Oscar D. Francisco, whom I prefer to call Ninong Oca. (He is one of the primary sponsors to Lea’s and my wedding.)

This piece about Ninong Oca is overdue. I should have written this in the wake of his passing away one year ago. I did not even pay my final respects at his wake, for the reason that I could not take seeing him like I will not see him live forever, for as long as I live.

Ninong Oca paved the way for me to discover my political destiny. I was involved in Youth Volunteers for Popular Democracy (YVPD) in the late 80s when he was looking for an ‘computer encoder’ for all his type-written pieces as well as those handwritten on yellow paper. (It’s no secret that Ninong Oca — in the company of Ninong Steve — has not learned how to use a computer. Though, I’m aware that he once tried to learn, but in vain.) With the blessing of my political officer then, I grabbed the opportunity to work with Ninong Oca even as his encoder.

Time flew past from then on. As I said, I found my political destiny through him. My involvement with the peasant movement started to grow when I joined him at PEACE Foundation as staff of the National Training-Organizing Desk.

He also broadened my perspective, literally because he would bring me along to his various trips abroad, in Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. Through these travels, I learned a lot of things and met people that I look up to up to this day.

It was almost like wherever Ninong Oca went, I went with him. In the barely 10 years of companionship, there developed a brotherly rapport between us. I feel that he enjoyed the company of Alex Soto and me. He really liked the “Bruce” company. He was Bruce Willis, I, Bruce Walis, and Alex, Bruce Co (as in brusque). Though I wonder if he realized that he himself took Alex’s identity (as Bruce Co) a number of times.

Two of the things I like the most about Ninong Oca are that:

1. He was brave enough not to hide his sentimentalism or his being human. I saw him cry a couple of times. One time was when a comrade criticized his being ‘magarbo’ (luxurious) in lifestyle despite the poverty of the peasants.

He cherished friendships. I remember him saying that like me, he liked the song “Kahit Maputi na ang Buhok Ko.” He would sing it along with me a la LSS (last song syndrome). He would ascribe the song to his company with Bruce Co and Bruce Walis.

2. He didn’t believe that “men are not monogamous by nature”. I remember the time when we watched a program where the topic was male human beings’ tendency not to stick with one partner. Guests at the program, who were all showbiz personalities, would practically agree that indeed men are not monogamous by nature. I told that I didn’t agree. I asked him, “Do you agree?”. He replied: “Of course not.”

I’m sure the spouses of Ninong Oca and mine vouch for that, that we have been true to our convictions up to this day.

Memories of Ninong Oca will remain etched in my heart. I owe him what I am today.

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