Ever since I started covering Camp Crame, George “Geo” Evardo of Angel Radyo has been a fixture in the press office. Today, he will be a fixture no more. He passed away today, on his birthday.

Geo was a simple man. He wore his Bohol roots on his sleeve. He came to work in whatever he chose to wear, disregarding everyone else’s opinions. He didn’t smoke and had the frequent drink during press corps parties. Ironically, he was a fitness freak and I remember once we hit the gym and sauna, and had a good time.

He was an amiable chap and got along with basically every reporter. Yes he was shy, but once you get to know him, he could be talkative.

I will always miss his kakulitan, his deadpan take on the latest news done strictly for a laugh. His off-center questions during TSIP forums to PNP officials which make you wonder if he is half serious or half joking. But most of time, he would ask the most pointed questions during press cons. Yes he was a simple man, but he was never simplistic about the things around him.

Lately, I sensed he was carrying some kind of burden, but I never knew what this was. My best guess was either work or family. After work, I sensed he just wanted some company, to forget probably the burdens in his life. He accompanied me once in Greenhills to have my cellphone repaired. Maybe he just wanted to be around friends more. He valued friends and was not at all hot tempered. He wished no harm to anyone.

I remember our talks about journalism, and what makes a good reporter. He had simple but strong views about these things that did not at all border on naivete, thank God for that. They were simple but incisive views. He once chided me for being not as good as the other Inquirer reporters who covered Crame in the past. But I just laughed this off. Kantyaw lang nya yun. Lambing siguro. But after a scoop comes out, he would meander to my end of the office and say “Naka scoop na naman Inquirer.”

One time, we talked about his native Bohol and he talked about it with such passion. To him, it was the most beautiful place in the world, and I was awed. He talked about the rolling hills, the simple life there, and the beautiful beaches. Better than Boracay 10 times over, he said. I made a promise to him that I would visit Bohol one of these days, and he promised he would entertain me. Its now a promise he can no longer keep.

Most of all, I remember his rich baritone and I was mildly shocked to hear him sing during our parties. It was a deep but melodious baritone, the kind that with the right song, could touch your heart, especially when he sung Rico J. Puno’s “May Bukas Pa.” I never knew that song tug at your heart till I heard Geo sing it once.

That’s just the way life is I suppose. May namamatay, may naiiwan. Bakit pa kasi yung mababait pa ang nauuna.

I can picture Geo in the afterlife telling me the last three lines of Rico J’s song when times get rough for me. “Ang iyong pagdaramdam/ Idalangin mo sa Maykapal/ Na sa puso mo ay mawala nang lubusan.”

So here’s a toast Geo. You are free of your worries now. You are now really an angel.

May Bukas Pa – Rico J. Puno

Huwag damdamin ang kasawian
May bukas pa sa iyong buhay
Sisikat din ang iyong araw
Ang landas mo ay mag-iilaw

Sa daigdig ang buhay ay ganyan
Mayroong ligaya at lumbay
Maghintay at may nakalaang bukas

May bukas pa sa iyong buhay
Tutulungan ka ng Diyos na may lalang
Ang iyong pagdaramdam
Idalangin mo sa Maykapal
Na sa puso mo ay mawala nang lubusan

Sa daigdig ang buhay ay ganyan
Mayroong ligaya at lumbay
Maghintay at may nakalaang bukas

May bukas pa sa iyong buhay
Tutulungan ka ng Diyos na may lalang
Ang iyong pagdaramdam
Idalangin mo sa Maykapal
Na sa puso mo ay mawala nang lubusan

Ang iyong pagdaramdam
Idalangin mo sa Maykapal
Na sa puso mo ay mawala nang lubusan

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