SHE left us without as much as saying goodbye in one way or the other. Susan Calo Medina from time immemorial to her family and friends was full of the curiosity for life, endlessly energetic about its challenges and opportunities and visibly and contagiously enjoying its ways and byways.
I met her at the Assumption College dorm then in Herran (Pedro Gil now) when her mother, a future Congress representative, brought her as a l5 or 16 year-old to be a boarder with her 9 or 10 year-old sister in tow. It stood to reason, they came from Agusan in then faraway Mindanao. It was the 1950’s after all with few airports and much less air travel. People took the boat and came by sea.
The Agusan girl quickly settled in and with a certain dorm group which included me we became birds of the same feather. Curious about smoking and drinking. Thank goodness drugs were a still faraway scene. We would bend the rules, have laughs about classroom events and classroom characters. Dare to do some escapades. Nothing criininal or sinister, more like high jinks and a zest for living to the max. In retrospect, we were actually serious students. We kept our grades up, did the extracurricular and as we scaled the levels of college, became reliable and responsible.
That is what the existence of younger students brings about, a certain sobriety about being older and more experienced. Our teachers were inspiring, almost moral paragons. They had eminent pasts, credentials, yet were down-to-earth enough to narrate their experiences to us not as condescension or browbeating or talking down but as one equal to another. They became our models.
I left Assumption ahead of Susan as I was older. The next time we met was In Ravenhill, Penssylvania, at the Assumption Novitiate there. Susan had decided to become a nun. Actually, I was not too surprised, she was in pursuit of goodness, idealistic and prayerful in her own somewhat admittedly different way. You knew it when you had spent school days with her. She wanted to do her best, to achieve the highest level in her horizon. She had honorable ambition but she had it with a sense of fun. She always exuded the joy of living.
But the nunnery was not for her, and she soon left for graduate school at Catholic University in Washington D.C. where she took studies in Drama. She came back and started a teaching career which soon turned to television and then Travel Time was born, her baby, her piece de resistance, that lasted all of 25 plus indefatigable years.
In this program with its format of focusing on different parts of the country featuring the special scenery, lifestyles, cultural aspects and outlooks of people coming from their unique environments, she showed us what we were like all over the archipelago. It was not just travel time, but enlightening-time, seeing-the-other-side time, enjoying-another-kind-of-life-time.
As she said in every episode of Travel Time in all the decades that she tirelessly brought the program to our living rooms, do not be a stranger in your own country. See it, enjoy it, meet others who are more like you than you think despite the differences in lifestyle.
So, we saw the food, the costumes, the physical geography and the mindsets of people in their own world so to speak making us learn, compare and understand the truth from it as well as the truth in ourselves. It was exhilarating, different, interesting and real.
There was Susan, as one of her classmates of decades ago now in her 70s and sedentary said, “She was cavorting, prancing, climbing, moving about in an enveloping air of energy and stamina that made us wonder what did she eat to be so restless, so adventurous, so alive.”
Susan and I didn’t see each other too often, just often enough in various places, events, chance meetings and it was like we knew instantly what to say, how to figure out what each was thinking, and feel so familiar, so relaxed, so at home. As though we were still in that Assumption dorm of long ago.
When I heard the news that she was gone, felled suddenly and irrevocably, my first reaction was to complain that she did not say goodbye. Then again we who are left behind are the ones who regret the absence of a goodbye the most. Those like Susan who have lived life to the fullest, worked long and successfully to show how to do so and be fulfilled, their life, Susan’s life, speaks for itself. We clearly see it. No need for words of farewell from her, only from us to her in love and respect for her inspiring memory, for old times and all times.