by: Mani F. Gella
Every time someone retires
from work, the inevitable question that is asked
is – how many years in the service? Followed by, has it been
that long? Parang kailan lang, ‘ika nga. Yes, time
flies and how. Sometimes it makes you wonder, where did time go?
You tell yourself it seemed like only yesterday when - - - - -
The full complement of the Court of Appeals (CA) Justices was only 30 and
the Court’s population was six hundred (600) where everybody
knew everybody. The personal driver of a Justice was paged through a
sound system (that had seen better days) attached precariously to one
of the wooden posts of the drivers’ nook while the Justice
waited (under the canopy that covered just a portion of the front
steps) for his car to pull up in front of the Main Building.
The CA female employees’ bowling tournaments were held with
flourish. Attractive names were given to each team, names like,
Toe-Ticklers, Ladies’ Choice, Queen Pins and
Keglerettes, among others. They did not scrimp on their
made-to-order uniforms either. The more colorful they were, the
better. As in basketball tournaments that sported movie stars as
muses, these ladies were not to be outdone. The individual team’s
prince charming was picked from an array of eligible and dashing
bachelors of the Court.
Mrs. Thelma Bones, then of the Personnel Division (who dispensed the
timecards to the employees every morning) was stationed before 8:00
a.m. near the front entrance of the Medical Clinic (that used to be
located in the Main Building) where the bundy clock was. She kept her
office paraphernalia (a table and two boxes of timecards) inside the
Clinic after office hours thus the name “cardiologist”
(referring to her) was coined by the Court’s punsters. Her
successor, Ms. Mirope Reyes (bless her soul), who was as thorough as
she was, relied on the use of a magnifying glass to decode the
illegible entries on the timecards.
Prior to the advent of day care centers, some pre-school age children of
young working mothers tagged along with them to the Court, where the
children practically learned their ABCs. In the afternoon, they took
their naps comfortably ensconced underneath their mommies’
desks until it was time to go home. (Incidentally, some of these
former preschoolers are now employed with the Court.)
Atty. Elisa B. Pilar-Longalong, Atty. Ely to you and me, who was just sworn
in as Clerk of Court, had already completed her mandatory government
service on July 1, 2007, a service that was delineated as efficient
and committed. Nixon, (no relation to the former American president)
her once-upon-a-time ever-reliable factotum, with his “mobile
tailoring shop”, was the most sought- after person in the CA
to repair ill-fitted new office uniforms or clothes. Her all- female
staff, (the late Ay-Ay, Susan B., Susan C., Marivic) her coterie of
“loyalists” (as I like to call them), who are now all
married with kids, were barely in their twenties when they started
out in the CA.
Justice Renato C. Dacudao, an esteemed and revered member of the
bench, who penned his last decision on 13 June 2007 before reaching
the compulsory age of 70 last 19 June 2007 (but whose graphic and
legal mind they can never retire) worked as Research Attorney in the
sala of the late Justice Fernando Hernandez the first time he
joined the Court.
Tempus fugit.. And yes, retirements have a way of summoning a
myriad of memories. They bring about an onslaught of images that
quickly flashes through one’s mind. But at the same time, they
usher in also scores of possibilities that minister to a retiree’s
preferences; be it picking up a new hobby as esoteric as collecting
butterflies or as common as collecting stamps or as outlandish as
skydiving and rock climbing for the adventurous. Re-learning how to
play the piano to exercise those arthritic fingers or taking up short
courses in languages to be able to carry on an intelligent
conversation with a German son-in-law are options worth considering.
Tending to grandchildren while their parents are at work can truly be
rewarding. Resuming an old hobby (like gardening) that was
temporarily shelved on the back burner or simply finding the time to
stop and smell the flowers will fill in the idle moments. Whatever
the inclination, retirement is about being a child all over again.
It means doing the things one never had time to do before. It is
living the life that was put on hold when one can now afford the
luxury of time.
Some people say time is gold. Others say time is money and thus should
not be squandered away. As one notable inventor aptly put it, ‘Lost
time is never found again.’ In the early days, (when
latecomers were frowned upon) a person’s character was defined
by the number of minutes that he made someone wait. Unfortunately,
today, it has been observed, the reverse is true. Nowadays, it is
considered fashionable to be late. Fashionable or not, those who are
sticklers for time contend that wasting someone’s time by being
unjustifiably delayed, not only smacks of discourtesy but of
ill-breeding as well.
Does time really stand still? Or is it only true in fairy tales where
everything is make-believe, or in romantic songs where each mushy
line is sung to soothe the soul? Truth to tell, time is fleeting.
Time marches on. Time swiftly slips away so when something beautiful
happens in your life, seize the moment because time waits for no man.