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My ‘Tall Dark, and Handsome’ younger brother, Hermes



By Renato Perdon
Sydney, Australia
August 24, 2016

 
 


In commemoration of the 70th birth anniversary of my TDH younger brother on 28 August 2016, I am posting this piece.

While growing up, particularly during our teen-age years, I felt insecure whenever my younger brother was around. The reason for this uneasiness was his good looks, build, and height, although I was not looking bad either, but I was short, in fact the shortest in the family of six boys.

Many of his admirers in the small town of Sipocot regarded him a TDH or the Tall, Dark and Handsome among the six Perdon brothers. He inherited the height and good looks from our father who during his time as a pioneer educator would always appear suave in clean cut suit befitting his status as a pioneer educator in the community.

Although, some or few of my admirers consider me ‘goodlooking’ too while growing up my TDH brother would always eclipsed whatever attraction I earned in any occasion, specially when he joined our group always with full of energy and stamina. He was always noticed, being an athletic person and sportsminded. He was a popular basketball player in town.

When my mother decided to send him to stay with our aunt and lived at the Perdon ancestral house in the town of Nabua, Camarines Sur, his athletic qualifications supported him to school as student sports scholar at the Mabini Memorial College in the neighbouring town of Iriga, also in Camarines Sur.

He first worked as a family driver and then as a bus driver of the JD Bus Company, a big transportation company plying the Metro Manila area. He married the daughter of his former employer.

It was not an easy life for my brother, being an ordinary driver, undergraduate, and married to a scion of a well-to do family. Initially, he was not accepted by his in-laws, but as the children started to arrive all the problems with them seemed to have disappeared. As a family man, he continued driving for a big bus company in Quezon City to support his growing family.

At this stage, Nonoy, our youngest brother, who was also a working student supporting  his own studies, and working with the Office of the President became instrumental in having my TDH brother, Hermes, found a better paying job with the National Media Production Centre, first as a driver and with strong determination and thinking of his huge responsibilities as a family man, he acquired some skills and became a VCR operator, Film/Eng Cameraman, Senior Cameraman and finally Chief Cameraman with News Center 4, PTV, all on his own merit and determination to succeed in life and support his big family.

During this time, he acquired additional special skills through training and seminars that he attended, both in the Philippines and overseas, while performing his duties and responsibilities, first with MBS Channel 4 and later with News Centre 4, PTV 4. It was during his work in the government media that he and his family enjoyed the benefits of being part of the establishment, albeit a minor player.

The big change in his lifestyle came when he was included in the entourage of then First Lady Imelda Marcos, as one of the official cameramen during her many overseas trips.

Many times my TDH brother would surprise his family with things he brought in from overseas as a result of the countless trips with the First Lady’s travelling group. As his earnings increased, so did his family until he became a father of six boys.

His memorable accomplishments included: coverage of the negotiations in Tripoli, Libya for a ceasefire in the Mindanao conflict in 1977; study tour of development in the Peoples’ Republic of China and  Seoul’s Simmoul Ondong I South Korea, 1981; Central Mindanao Development, 1982; Joint-ASEAN-EEC Mindanao Meeting, 1985; and a study Tour of Japan in connection with the State Visit to the Philippines of Prime Minister Yaschiro Nakasone, 1985; and the Korean Airline Tragedy-Memorial Rites in  South Korea and Pilgrimage to the crash site, 1985.

He also covered the Agrava Board Inquiry into the Aquino Assasination in Los Angeles and Tokyo, 1984; the Mayon Eruption, 1984; final rites for Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, 1984; final Rites for Soviet President Konstantin Chernenko USSR, 1984; installation of Cardinal Vidal in Vatican City, 1985; UN 40th Anniversary in New York City, 1985; Mindanao Insurgency Problem, 1985; and the XXIV Seoul World Olympic Games, in 1988. To cap his government service, he became the recipient of the 1984 Art and Photo Journalism Awards, First Prize, Feature Category.

But as everything in life has a beginning and an end, his abundant days disappeared when the Marcos regime was toppled from power during the 1986 people power revolution and Filipinos installed Cory Aquino, the widow of the assassinated Senator Benigno Aquino, as the country’s new president.

However, having the right skills and experience he found a new employment and moved to the Subic Freeport Authority in Zambales, leaving first his big family in Manila but regularly visiting and supporting them financially. Living alone in Zambales, my brother had a de facto relationship and had two children, a boy and a girl.

His high flying life ended when he suffered a stroke and as a consequence of his health condition, he lost his well-paying job at the Subic Freeport. He was back with  his original family as a wheelchair-bound family man with his children, some of whom already have their own families too.

In order to help his family, I decided to get two of his sons and send them to vocational school in Sydney, Australia, so that they would qualify to migrate to Australia after their studies. Both of them graduated from vocational courses, but changes in the immigration rules and regulations in Australia it became difficult for them to stay permanently.

I wish I had the magic wand so that everything as planned would materialize. One nephew returned to the Philippines in September 2010 and  the other followed in October, the same year. At least they have now Australian qualifications and skills which they could use in looking for a better paying job, anywhere in the world.

‘He was a successful varsity basketball player at the University of Nueva Caceres  in Naga City during his high school days. At the university high school, already strong and mature. Hermes tried out with the university team when he was only in second year high school but was cut out, considered still too young for the university team to compete with inter-university tournament in Bicol.

‘The next year, on his third year, Hermes relocated to Mabini  Memorial College (MMC) in Iriga City, located next to the town of Nabua where the Perdon family came from, still in Camarines Sur, and was able to get sports scholarship.

‘Hermes played with MMC for two years, highlighted with excelling in tournaments and leading his team to beat other university basketball teams. During off season, Hermes was some sort of a ‘mercenary’ basketball athlete having played with the team ‘MugMates’ in a town tournament in another nearby town of Baao, Camarines Sur with his cousin a local and now Bicol’s GNN TV News Manager-Owner Fred Perdon, who became a one time executive director of Commission on Overseas Filipinos  under the late president Cory Aquino.

‘Along with other town basketball ‘for-hire’ youths in Sipocot, Hermes also figured  in a town mini-scandal at one time dealing with ‘padding’ the local primary school team with strong but grown up players which competed in primary school provincial meeting. As a university student, Hermes and his MMC team represented Bicol in one nationwide PRISAA athletic meet in Baguio City, Philippines.

‘After getting fed up with the life of an unemployed, Hermes relocated to Manila dreaming a Hollywood life of landing a berth with a basketball pro team in Manila. He planned playing with the Philippine Air Force team as a springboard to his vision and tried out. But it wasn’t to be. He ended up in the job of a taxi driver and eventually a family driver in BF Homes, Parañaque, then a bus driver and into a series of jobs as a driver until he landed a job at the National Media Production Centre in Intramuros, Manila.

‘He got promoted later to the better job as TV camera man covering newsbreaks, thence as News TV Editor. His passport: he played and heralded the agency NMPC team in the yearly inter-agency basketball tournaments.

‘In his lifetime, Hermes had six boys with wife Suzette Cynthia Isaac of BF Homes, Parañaque, all good and passionate basketball players themselves in their growing years, and another boy and  girl from a different relationship.’

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