Last October when I visited the tomb of Nicomedes “Nick” Joaquin, I met an old man who was cleaning Nick’ space, trimming the grass, making sure it’s ready for Undas. I found out that he was a contractor, a poor one – contracted to maintain some of the graves near that area. I thought that the National artist and scientist, together with all the graves in “Libingan ng mg Bayani” are maintained by the government. After all, we owe these Filipinos a great deal but no, they had to, their families I mean, get someone to do it. This old man told me that was the case ever since he landed in these silent forested park dedicated to our dead heroes, families of all who are buried in the Libingan hire men like him to take care of the graves year round. His problem is simple; no one from the Joaquin family has ever paid him ever since someone from the great writer’s family asked him to look after his tombstone. The Joaquins must’ve forgot about him. ‘ve already approached Joaquin’s close friend, Sr. Gomez but it looks like he wasn’t able to get in touch with the Joaquin’s relative who can take care of this. It’s not really a big amount, his monthly services cost 100, he claims to have not been paid for two years since the last time he spoke with that lady who he believe was a relative of Joaquin.
Someone, I hope someone with a good heart, a relative or a friend, who would be visiting the place soon, can pay this old man. Unfortunately, I can’t afford to shoulder the bill, I was unemployed that month, I gave him pang-merienda, which is all that I could afford to give. He doesn’t have a number, so this is the problem. The lady who contracted him should call the Libingan’s office. I’m sure Sr. Nick wanted this man compensated for all his hard work. The other big problem is that I forgot his name! Anyway, this good old man is suffering from some kind of a disease, his hand and feet are swelling pretty badly – someone related to Nick must do something. He said that he can be visited at the Libingan’s office, people there know him. He takes care of several other graves in the National Artist section.
By the way, just bought Nick’s “Reportage on Crime” and “Reportage on Lovers”, couldn’t be more happier. Thank heaven’s they’re publishing old Quijano de Manila back. His works, most already out of print, can still be found in the National Library. Including his masterpiece on Gng. Arroyo’s life, even a lifeless story was made interesting by his genius, there’s nothing he can’t do with his pen. I photocopied and borrowed some of his books, some from friends, but nothing beats having a spanking new copy of course. Amoy bagong imprenta. Plus ultra!