“Death is not extinguishing the light; it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.” --Rabindranath Tagore, Indian poet, writer and philosopher (1861-1941)
I am having a terrible and hard time composing this piece, especially since I am dedicating this to a very special friend who just passed away. My tears flow as I write this column. He was not only an ordinary friend but a best friend who was like my brother. Aristotle, an ancient Greek philosopher (384-322 BC), said of deep friendship: “What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.”
Friendship is deep and powerful and amazing, but it is hard to really explain. If you have a close friend, you know what I mean. No surprise then that when a friend dies, like when a family member dies, we don’t get over it. We learn to live with it. It may get easier in time, but the memory of that friend will always be with us.
And you know what? You will never have another friend exactly like the person you lost. Your friendship was as unique as the two of you. But this does not mean you won’t have other wonderful and meaningful friendships.
He was a good husband, a perfect father and a provider, an honest and dedicated public servant and a good friend. Good friends are loyal and accept who you are during good and bad times. Good friends are also honest — honest enough to tell you when you’re not being a good friend yourself. Along with good friends, who are present, loyal and honest, most people want friends who are trustworthy.
This is how I describe former Cebu City councilor and a fellow broadcaster Sylvan “Jack the Wack” Jakosalem. Jack, 58, was a friend for more than three decades. He was one of my few friends when I set foot here in Cebu from Zamboanga City in the late ‘80s. He was then a disc jockey of radio Y101.1 FM when we got to know each other until he became the station manager. Our bonding became stronger when we were both elected officers of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng PIlipinas (KBP) Cebu chapter in the ‘90s.
He was the chairman for three terms, and I was his vice chairman for radio. When I became the chairman in 2000, he was also my vice chairman. We travelled and attended KBP national conferences together. He was an ardent supporter of Cebu media’s advocacies.
I was like a member of his family. I called his late Mommy Caring “mommy.” Every time there were special occasions in the family, I was always present. I am also close to his elder sister, Ma’am Lorna Edwards, who is based in the US, and his late elder brother Isiong, who played my host every time I dropped by Dumanjug during my out-of-town trips. Even when there was no occasion, he would invite me to his house at the Maria Luisa Subdivision for talks and drinks. He was a scotch drinker. Sometimes we would go fishing in the lagoon/pond found inside the subdivision.
Jack was very humble and down to earth despite his family and social status, coming from an affluent family. He was the grandson of Dionisio Jakosalem, governor of Cebu and first Filipino Cabinet member appointed under the American regime.
When he decided to join politics in 2001, I was one of those he consulted together with the late press secretary Cerge Remonde. We advised him on how to run his campaign, and he won under Tommy Osmeña’s Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) lineup.
He served three full terms in the City Council with utmost dedication. When his term expired, he was appointed to head the City Traffic Operations Management. In the 2013 elections, he was included in the lineup of Team Rama for his reelection bid but failed to join the campaign trail because he got sick that year.
His wife Sharon was the one who campaigned for him. But he did not make it to the magic 8 for the council slate in the north district.
The last time I talked to him was when I visited him in the hospital before his brain operation in 2012 during his birthday on Oct. 4. He underwent surgery after a parasite or tape worm was found in his brain. Neurosurgeons and neurologists termed it as neurocysticercosis. After that, he fell in a “deep sleep” or coma for a couple of months. He recovered a little but lost his memory and could no longer recognize people. He also lost his vision. He remained in that condition until his death last Wednesday morning.
I found time to visit him during special occasions like on his birthday and Christmas Day. I greeted him last Christmas, albeit over on the internet.
Jack will be buried at 2 p.m. today at the family’s mausoleum at the Cebu Memorial Park (Cempark). He left two grownup boys, 18-year-old Sebastian “Basty” and 15-year-old Santino.
Mahatma Gandhi, India’s anti-colonial nationalist, (1869-1948), once said: “There are no goodbyes for us. Wherever you are, you will always be in my heart.” Requiescat in pace (Rest in peace), my dear friend Jack. Adios.