THE SUNNY PHILOSOPHER | The man, Lito Tuanqui

A COUPLE of times, I chanced upon Lito Tuanqui at the Estevez Memorial Hospital in Legaspi City.

Accompanied by his wife, he was there to see his doctor. I was there to see mine. Both of us are seniors, going through small pains in the body once in a while.

The small pains are normal, part of the aging process. Lito and I have the antidote. We look at the pleasant side of life: watching the beautiful sunset, listening to the cry of songbird, savouring the gentle touch of a sea breeze.

Call it living full life. When you make use of your senses – hearing, sight, smell, touch, taste – which God has given you, you avail yourself of a part of paradise which others have ignored.

The most precious things in life are free. They are there for the taking. The lovely sunset, the giant waves pounding the surf creating light mist around, the chirping of birds, these are free gifts of nature. Their effects on people are hypnotic.

When I was 4th year high school in the Bicol town of Caramoan, our history teacher, Mr. Culvera shared with us secrets for slow aging and long life.

“If you want to stay young as late as ever, look for something beautiful everyday either a peaceful mountain lake, dancing flowers during windy days, clouds sailing like galleons in the sky on moonlit nights, “he added.

To us, dreamy eyed youngsters, his words were full with wisdom.

Of the life lessons that I learned from our high school teachers, it is this that has stayed with me. Despite my years, I could feel most of the vigor in my youth would not desert me.

Lito seems to have his own secrets for an enjoyable life. Each time we meet at our favourite coffee shop, he is there smiling. It is as if he is there in a perfect world; no worries, no sickness, no pains.

But despite his benign appearance, he is tough inside. He had fought against the nasty naming of roads and bridges. He lost some, he won some. To him, it was a good fight.

Hen Governor Forbes Street was renamed Don B. Erquiaga Street in honor of a pioneer educator in Legaspi City, Lito rejoiced. He was one of those who fought for the change of name. Don Erquiaga was the founder of Legaspi College, now Aquinas University.

A former vice governor who once led the Albay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Lito describes himself as a good governance advocate and history enthusiast. I describe him as a gentleman and model citizen.

When I had the final defense of my case study on the life of an informal settler in Legaspi City, I invited Lito as panellist, he being familiar with the problems of slum dwellers as Albay vice governor.

Lito comes from an illustrious clan in Albay third district. He is the grandson of Gov. Rufino Tuanqui whose ancestor, Simon Li Tuanqui, was a successful trader-philantropist.