features from SOBRIETY for the PHILIPPINES:
(Without Fear or Favor)
Saturday, July 7, 2012
“He lived the way he wanted to live – doing good for the poor, defending them”.
By INA ALLECO R. SILVERIO
MANILA — Katherine Realco and Arman Albarillo were barely in their 20s when they met and fell in love. She was a salesperson in one shop, and he in another – one that made and sold footwear and bags for mountaineering enthusiasts.
“It was my old friend Jenny who really liked him, not I,” she said. Her eyes are behind large sunglasses to hide the truth of how swollen they are from the tears that will not stop flowing. There was, however, a smile in her voice as she recounted her early days with the man who would become her partner and the man who would one day be a much- emulated member of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Southern Tagalog.
It was the year 2000 in Mindoro Oriental. Katherine’s friend Jenny wanted to see Arman in the shop in Calapan where he worked. Katherine had no plans that afternoon, so she accompanied Jenny. Her first meeting with Arman was, to her, nothing to gossip about.
“I wasn’t interested in meeting him. I was there for my friend,” she said.
But it was Katherine who Arman noticed, and unfortunately for the friend, Arman’s attention stayed on Katherine.
“We had a snack, the three of us. He was nice even then, but I wasn’t interested in him,” she said. The three of them talked, and Jenny let on that she and Katherine were going out in the following days and maybe Arman would be interested in joining them. Katherine didn’t remember what he said.
After two days, she ran into Arman at the tricycle waiting station. The small, cramped cab in front of them was already full, so she was forced to sit behind the driver, and next to her was Arman.
“It turned out that he had waited for us the previous day at 6 p.m., the time Jenny said we would be leaving work. It was already 9 p.m., so he asked why I was late. He admitted that he had been there for the last three hours waiting for me,” she said.
That Arman was interested in Katherine was not lost on Jenny, so the two girls had a falling out. Katherine said she never intended for Arman to like her and at first, even made efforts to discourage him, but he was patient and persevering.
“I even thought he was ugly,” she said, again the smile in her voice.
He paid for her tricycle fare that first night, and on the following nights. He also paid for her jeepney fare. One time he asked her where she lived and if it was alright for him to escort her safely home.
“It was impossible not to see how sincere he was, and even impossible to not like him. He had an openness about him, an honesty and sincerity that made one trust him. I told him that if he would go to our house my father would probably go after him with a jungle knife, but he wasn’t deterred. He met my father, shook hands with him and told him that all he wanted was to make sure I was safe at home after work,” she said.
Soon after they became good friends, and soon became girlfriend and boyfriend. It was a simple yet happy life, Katherine said. Arman was goodhearted, and a hard worker. He took classes some days, and worked on others. He took her home with him to San Teodoro town still in Mindoro to meet his parents and siblings. She was warmly accepted, she felt welcome and she was.
“We had our first child Arckian on March 6, 2002. We lived in Calapan, the three of us, but when I was pregnant Arman’s mother kindly offered to help take care of me and the baby until we all got settled. I took a leave from work, and by the end of March,we made plans to visit San Teodoro. Arman called his father and asked if he could butcher a goat so we could all celebrate Arckian’s first baby month. We all looked forward to that visit,” she said.
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