Ray and Norman
Subalit para sa dalawa kong kaibigan, back then Punongbayan was least popular. Paano naman kasi, binagsak sila nito pagkatapos makita na may mga sagot sila sa eksam na parehong-pareho. Nahalata tuloy na may cheating na naganap. Masaklap man na ekspiryensa para sa dalawa kong kaibigan, I’m sure my two friends now agree, that Punongbayan was a man of integrity; a man of utmost dedication to his work. A breed of men, almost extinct among government officials in our country today.
Ngayong umaga, natanggap ko ang malungkot na balita na nag-crash ang helikopter na sinasakyan ni Punongbayan sa Nueva Ecija.
Raymundo Punongbayan and eight other persons were on their way back in a helicopter from an aerial assessment of a renewed potential danger of landslides in Dingalan, Aurora, when their time ran out.
Kasama sa mga namatay ay si Dr. Norman Tungol, chief ng Geology Division sa Phivolcs. Isa ding UPian na nakasama-sama ko sa Diliman campus. We were both members of UP Aguman, an organisation of kapampangan speaking UP students. Bata ng dalawang taon sa amin si Norman. I remember him as being one of the more soft-spoken members in our org and yet had great leadership qualities. He was also one of the “aktibistas”, tunay na makabayan sa isip at gawa.
I last met Norman in Auckland some 3 years back. Pabalik na siya sa Pinas after 2 years of post-graduate studies in Christchurch, NZ. Sabi ko nga sa kanya at sa misis niya, bakit di na lang sila mag-apply ng Permant Residency dito. Sabi ni Norman, he had to go back home because he still had contractual obligations to work at Philvocs. But in my mind, I knew that what he really wanted was to first serve our country in his own little way, by sharing with our countrymen his expertise in Geology.
Napakalaking kawalan para sa ating bayan si Ray, si Norman at ang iba pa nilang kasamahan. Sila ay mga tunay na bayani. May they rest in peace.