|Always larger than life even as his body weakened, Jerry smiles at my camera. He always sits at the head of the family dining table.|
Our comrade in arts and letters, even in "gourmandizing", Jerusalino V. Araos, 68, Jerry to all of us, died peacefully in the bosom of his family last night. His daughter Liwa and her fiance Archie Española, newly arrived from Australia, were there to catch his last moments.
Among Jerry's last requests is that no wake be held. Although the crematorium is closed for the holidays, Jerry's once invincible body will be cremated immediately on Dec. 26. His ashes will be put in an urn, then placed in the garden he built and tended in Antipolo on the morning of the 27th.
Please pray for this great man whose life touched, healed, restored mine so I can learn to say "I love you" sincerely once again. The Lolarga family of Pepin Street, Dimasalang, Sampaloc, Manila, had deep ties and kinship with the Araos family: Jerry, his mother, Mama Juling, and two other brothers. After the war, with Jerry's mother widowed, my lolo, Enrique Acosta Lolarga, took her in to work at the Boy Scouts Manila office.
Jerry and family were frequent visitors at our old family house, even in the Baguio house on M. Roxas street, Lower Brookside, in the 1960s.
|A preppy-looking Jerry posing with my grandmother Telesfora C. Lolarga and grandaunt Flora Cariño in the old Brookside house and garden in 1966|
|Jerry's thoughtful, handwritten dedication to his "adopted" lolas|
The reader may choose, if you don't pray the old-fashioned way, to remember him for a quiet second amidst your holiday preparations--for qualities, among many, like his true compassion and mamon heart underneath the seemingly hard shell of irreverence or kabastusan, his never-ending zest for life up to the very end, e.g., appetite for good, rich food, his bottomless source of humor (Archie, Liwa's fiance, was at the receiving end of his cariño brutal even at the end, by way of blessing his and Liwa's union), his fierce loyalty to his friends (that I am missing already), his unquestionable kindness, kindness, kindness, and the fact that he considered himself a communist, never turning his back on the theory and praxis of his beliefs while remaining an abiding Christian, two contradictions that he carried with so much grace and elan.
This is among the set of photos I took of him and Melen in November after interviewing him for an article on his last show for a national broadsheet.
|Jerry, in all-white outfit, with his family at the christening of his granddaughter Amarra in November this year|
Journey back to the true Jerusalem, teacher, older bro, wedding photographer, friend for life and after.