A man named Go-ad

Tin Bartolome - Hopechest

Posted at Aug 18 2017 02:31 PM

We hardly knew the man, but the few times we interacted with him were all pleasant. Not only was he solicitous, he spoke of hopes and fears that we shared. He lamented how tourism tends to destroy nature. Coming from such a distant place made popular by a movie, he had mixed feelings about how much his hometown has changed.

My son worked for a group of coffee lovers and he told us about this man who operated a café and planted and roasted his own coffee. He served such generous portions at his café, which also sold orange-flavored honey and delicious orange marmalade.

He officiated rituals—for groundbreaking, for blessing establishments, even for thanksgiving. I guess that means he held a special place in his community. I do not know much about the Igorots of Sagada, but I have experienced their hospitality. We celebrated Christmas last year there. As soon as we arrived, we had our first meal at his café. 

At the end of our stay, he graciously picked us up from where we stayed, a good forty-minute walk through not-so-friendly terrain to the town proper where our ride home was waiting for us. Afraid we may offend him by asking how much the ride would cost us, we politely offered the same amount we paid when we commuted going there. Without even looking at what we offered, he refused what we offered and, smiling sheepishly, mumbled something like “It’s no bother at all”.

Photos courtesy of SGD Coffee

Photos courtesy of SGD Coffee

Photos courtesy of SGD Coffee

I was told that when he came by the SGD Coffee Science Center, he received a standing ovation from the coffee lovers who volunteered to help plant coffee trees only a week before the awardees were announced. But this humble man did not bask in the glory that was rightfully his, and instead, sat quietly with the person who had made an appointment with him earlier.

I saw him again a few times after Christmas, the last of which was just last week—August 7 when he came down to perform a thanksgiving ritual. I congratulated him, especially because it was specifically his coffee that won in the 3rd International Contest of Coffees Roasted in their Countries of Origin (Agence Pour La Valorisation Des Produits Agrecoles) in Paris this year.

That was the last time I would see this kind soul whom I hardly knew. He passed away a few days after that ceremony. He was 44 years old! This is a salute to a nature lover, a man who knew and loved his coffee dearly, the man who said, “Taking care of the coffee trees requires hard work. Planting the seedlings is just one of the beautiful beginnings. But it doesn’t end there. For the following five years, you have to nurture and take care of them like your own children.”

Perhaps his spirit now roams among the coffee trees he once tended. Maybe he continues to enjoy being among the trees he loved dearly. Wherever you are, Go-ad Sibayan, I salute you and pray that you are happy.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.