CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - July 1, 2020 - 12:00am

There were six of us seated and gathered in a circle, everyone wearing a facemask, observing social distancing as best we could. What we had in common was our friendship, link or work for a very well known businessman-industrialist and nationalist who had recently passed away two nights before. We were individually planning to go to the nearby church to pay our respects but under the community quarantine protocols, it was not as easy and as simple to hold a wake or go to one. So we all gathered up at the gentleman’s garage that once housed his favorite exotic cars. In hindsight, it was the best place to remember him and honor him in our conversations.

As people normally do, we found ourselves exchanging information on the gentleman’s final days and hours. It was all-good. He had his wits about him, someone said he even ate his favorite dishes and he passed suddenly and quickly. From there we shared small gems or special memories or special favors he had extended to some, if not all of us. As we pieced our jigsaw of remembrance, Someone in the group talked about how the gentleman’s most trusted associate and probably his best friend in life had always been there; accompanying him abroad for medical check ups, looking after his business as well as personal needs, even extending that same attention or service to the man’s family members and political associates, although it was not part of his job description. On many occasion, the trusted associate would sacrifice personal time to keep the gentleman company, discuss plans and dreams as well as check on his medical needs and the like. In death it was the same. The trusted associate was there until the last mile.

As that short story on a long life of service wrapped up, one of the guys commented; “Talagang Maasikaso siya” or he was truly devoted to his “Boss”. That word “Maasikaso” really struck me. Maasikaso or the attitude of devoted care or service is something so rare nowadays. Many of us love and serve our parents, we do our jobs diligently and yes we can be loyal even to our employers, but the word Maasikaso pierced me in a way that I could not shake it from my mind two weeks after. To be truly Maasikaso requires commitment, devotion and love. How many of us can really say that we are truly Maasikaso toward our parents, maybe our spouse, child or one other person outside the family circle?  I thought to myself, maybe the trusted associate or best friend was Maasikaso and devoted to his boss because he considered him as a second father, having lost his own. But how many of us who still have a father or parents for that matter can actually say we are Maasikaso that you literally attend to almost every need and every concern of your Mom or Dad?

Let’s face it; those people are few and rare. We love our parents, we do things for them, we obey them but truth be told many people fit those acts of service into their schedule. It’s important but it’s not the priority. Being Maasikaso is on a whole other level. It’s not just about schedules. It encompasses serving, looking after, giving and doing things in totality. As I reflect on the word and the lifelong example that the trusted associate exemplified, I came to realize that being Maasikaso is a choice and a character. It brings together loyalty, service, commitment, sacrifice.  Yes, sacrifice because in today’s world even inside a family setting the person who is Maasikaso is oftentimes labeled as “sipsip” or a suck up-currying favor and in the social setting, you are suspect of having vested interests.  When being Maasikaso is shown by wives or a few husbands, we take it for granted as part and parcel of the marriage covenant or ridicule men as “under the saya.”. Others revile it as subservience or demeaning. In other words our suspicions and presumptions have all but obliterated the value and nobleness of being Maasikaso.

Ironically, as I grow wiser through the years and as I listen to the lament of many individuals especially the older folks, the rich and even the powerful, what I hear most often is their yearning for attention, for love, for appreciation and for care. Even those who have kingdoms in real estate or business, talk about being lonely and afraid, unsure if those around them truly love them or just their money, power or influence.

How ironic that in our focus on achievement and success or materialism, we lose sight of what the most powerful and richest among us also seek but cannot find; for someone “Na mag aasikaso sa akin,” someone who will care for them and devote precious time, effort and thought in doing it. Surprisingly, being Maasikaso is something that can be taught at home and at work. I remember how the same trusted associate taught an understudy. The younger man had wondered why it was necessary for the mentor to go out of his way to offer food, drinks, pull a chair and practically wait on people, considering Mr. Maasikaso was far richer, powerful and influential than his guests who came with a “begging bowl for business.” To this the trusted associate replied: “I know my stature. They know my stature; I know why they are here. But it does not hurt to honor them, to serve them or to treat them well. In that way, they will feel good instead of embarrassed. Then one day when there comes a time when we go to them, perhaps they will also honor us likewise.”

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Please watch AGENDA on Cignal TV Ch. 8 and 250 or Onenewsph Facebook 8 to 9:30 a.m. Monday to Friday.

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