Friday, November 29, 2013

And Audrey was her name

Audrey Agatep General died Wednesday morning at the Asian Hospital in Alabang, Muntinlupa City. She had just turned 58 on Nov. 12.

Before she left too soon, she was managing director of Agatep Associates since 2002 until the family firm was rebranded into Havas PR Agatep.

To the Paulinians, she was just Audrey or Aud who used to sing to the Bread's '70s hit, "And Aubrey Was Her Name." I never got confirmation from her if her parents named her after Audrey Hepburn who was just startling the world in the 1953 film, Roman Holiday, with her rare beauty, charm, grace, generosity of spirit, leadership. Our Audrey developed all those traits, too, into her second nature. Aud was born two years later when Ms. Hepburn was the hottest actress in the film world because of her unconventional beauty: slim like a ballerina, with that marvelously cool voice that sounded like she was chewing balls of mint.

Yup, Aud was that way--never ever shrill. When frustrated with someone or something, she'd just end her SMS, and I could hear the sigh in the message that meant the problem wasn't worth wrapping her pretty head around: "Oh, Babeth, I have no more good words to say!" It was a way of ending a conversation, her re-assuming the role of Miss Manners who practiced business etiquette. She'd rather not speak ill of anyone but remember the good times shared.

It must have been on our senior year when Aud sang that song in a hushed soprano. She had been a Glee Clubber since Grade School, always standing on the front row. She was this petite girl with a spring to her walk, a smile that felt like a chum's rub on the back. Sister Gemma of the Cross, our music teacher, always put her on a special spot because she was adorable to look at as she sang her heart out. I wish I can find those mothballed yearbooks that show how cute (the kind of cute na nakakagigil) she was then.

In high school, she was part of this group called The Ragmals, a word formed out of the first letter of the names of seven Paulinians in the class who excelled in dancing, cheer leading, sports, academics, even getting the coveted invites to the best boy-girl parties.

But it was in dance that Audrey always had an edge over the rest. She kept at it all the way to her last months--jazz, Spanish flamenco, Argentine tango and salsa. Among the other dancers in the class, she always played the lead. The code was: "Just follow Audrey, and you won't miss a step." It was that way from high school to our silver and ruby jubilees.

Here's looking at you, Audrey/Aubrey:

And Aubrey was her name,
I never knew her, but I loved her just the same,
I loved her name.
Wish that I had found the way
And the reasons that would make her stay.
I have learned to lead a life apart from all the rest.
If I can't have the one I want, I'll do without the best.

But how I miss the girl
And I'd go a million times around the world just to say
She had been mine for a day.

But Aud, you must forgive me if I change my tune midway. I wanna end it with "Save the Last Dance for Me."

Like Lulu here, we wanna be reunited with you on the dance floor in heaven!

The open letter below is from Lulu Camello Pasamba, M.D., once our High School Student Council President.

dearest audrey,

i find it hard to believe that you are not here with us anymore. just when i had decided to volunteer to dance for our golden jubilee, with or without a cane as long as you're our lead dancer, you're gone! but what i find harder to believe is why a 57 year old physically fit and healthy person should die of an elective procedure!

i know of senior citizens operated on with more complicated problems like colon cancer and yet are up and about enjoying their retirement. sa inis ko i had to text my classmate, a distinguished colorectal surgeon...modesty ask why! he said there must have been a leak in the anastomosis. the anastomosis is the connection between the two ends of the colon that were joined after the defective colon segment was resected. a leak! poor surgical technique! tanong..sino ang gumawa? i ask myself is he/she as good as my classmate? sana nagtanong ka sa akin bago ka nagpaopera!..hay! some good doctors commit blunders, too, without meaning to...

life is short. this time last year we were panicking preparing for our ruby. ang gulo di ba? pero natapos din ang commemorative book and your group made us proud with your dance number. little did we know then that it would be your farewell performance.

thank you for your dedication to our class, for the times you put your private life on hold to organize a number for the spcq homecoming.

we love you and you will be dearly missed....

--lulu camello pasamba

Audrey (from row, left) reliving Paulinian days with us in that checkered sailor uniform we wore five times a week for, what, 13 years?

Didn't I tell you Aud always took center stage? There she is leading the dancers grooving to the Fifth Dimension's "Age of Aquarius."

The one in the middle, front row, is Aud, the sophisticate who never lost the girl in her.
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