This is my way of saying goodbye to a great mind of Ilokano language, literature, and culture.
He lived a long life, and this long life was not necessarily of the good kind initially but was tempered by the vagaries of fate, dreams, and the demons that attend to being a writer.
There was turbulence in the beginning, some kind of a creative chaos that gave rise to those metaphors and other figures of speech that would linger longer that they should in the young mind.
I was that young mind exploring what narrow dreams could be found in my Northern Ilocos when I first encountered that name that reflected whatever claim to glory Spain had after lording it over in the Philippines for 333 years.
Duque. Such a name--and belonging to the lordly ways of kings and queens and princes and princesses, all those glorified personalities whose constants are the glittering crowns and the equally glittering wardrobes and scepters that reminded the common man one thing: power, wealth, authority, and divine right to govern the affairs of lesser mortals.
But that was not the way of Manong Rey Duque.
In those early years of his frenzied and youthful writing days, he talked about loves lost.
We knew of her name: Lorelei.
We know of the fruit of that one love that was not meant to be: Sonny, or sometimes, Sonny Boy.
Whether we were dealing with what passed for fiction, say a short story, or a poem, we read the same thing, the same anguish, the same despair, the same attempt to name the pain that resided in his heart.
I was young and I did not know the ways of the human heart.
And I never knew Lorelei.
And I never knew Sonny Boy.
It was more than enough that this great writer was able to turn his pain into something redemptive.
Today, we have lost this great man, this great writer.
Today, we mourn for this loss.
Today, we grieve. And yet we pray, we continue to pray: That someone will fill in this void that he left behind.
Godspeed, Manong Reynaldo Duque. Peace is yours now. And stillness, eternal as eternal can be.
April 7, 2013