Manoling de Leon, a good man with a clear purpose

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[Publisher/Editor’s note: Randolf "Randy” S. David, who humbly refers to himself as a "teacher, writer, biker” is an eminent public intellectual, a Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist, a TV public affairs show host and a professor emeritus in sociology at the University of the Philippines.

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He gave this eulogy on August 15 at the funeral Mass for Manuel Aranda de Leon, whom many in the advertising-marketing field considered a wizard in capturing the essence of any problem. He taught friends and co-workers what he always did himself–decide and act rigorously focused on the objective.

Manoling died, at age 84, in the early morning of Monday August 10, in the arms of his wife Chatina, surrounded by family, and in the most loving presence of the Holy Spirit and the Most Blessed Virgin Mary the Mother of God.]

THIS morning, we sum up, applaud, and celebrate the life of a remarkable man, even as we sadly bid him goodbye.

Manoling had many friends everywhere.  I met him rather late in his life, maybe only about 4 years ago.  One of his lifelong friends, the late Minyong Ordoñez, a fellow writer in the Inquirer, introduced us.  We met for lunch at a small café inside the University of the Philippines campus in Quezon City, and talked about nearly everything until late afternoon.  They were like dolphins that frolicked in deep waters, occasionally surfacing only to catch their breath.

These two gentlemen never ran out of topics to discuss.  They were amazingly well read, witty, and well informed.  It was a delight to meet people like them who saw the world in a different way.  They presented themselves as retired marketing gurus, but it didn’t take long for me to see that they were really philosophers in the Socratic tradition who were in quest of truth and reason.

They seemed to have all the time to think, to question, and ponder the problems of the world, play with words, and compare perceptions with someone who drew most of his ideas from books rather than, as in their case, from life itself. Their intellectual curiosity was relentless, yet they carried this lightly and with a dash of irony. Later, they brought into our lunch encounters a third guru – JJ Calero, who appeared in better physical shape than the two. At one of our gatherings, the two looked really frail. Minyong, a motorcycle rider like myself, came to lunch on a wheelchair, while Manoling lugged a little trolley that contained his portable oxygen supply.

Minyong has since gone ahead. Now, Manoling has joined him, no doubt to resume their conversations up there. They will have to do without me for a while, as I think, being younger, I still have some unfinished business down here. But, to be honest, we all know that age has nothing to do with being able to live a meaningful life, or running out of time.

Looking back, I think this is precisely what Manoling managed to teach me in the brief time that we talked, e-mailed, and texted one another — That what is necessary in life is that a person be able to find his or her purpose on earth at the soonest possible time – because, for one who has found meaning in life, the time left is really irrelevant. And, for one who has found the secret to a purposeful life, as I think Manoling and Minyong have, death can hold no enduring terror.

It then becomes conceivable not only to live well, but also to die well. “To die well,” the poet Christian Wiman wrote in his book, My Bright Abyss, “is to accept not only our own terror and sadness but the terrible holes we leave in the lives of others…. To die well is to believe that there is some way of dying into life rather than simply away from it, some form of survival that love makes possible.”

I have no doubt whatsoever that this is what Manoling’s boundless love has done for all of us — for his dearest wife Chatina, for his children Dino, Carlo, Leah, and Guada, and their families, for his lovely grandchildren on whom he doted, and for his countless friends whose lives he touched — that he managed to deposit in each of our hearts that spark of generosity that lit Manoling’s own life until the end.

Goodbye,dear friend, and thank you.

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[A b[A brief bio-data of Manuel A. de Leon. Date of birth: November 10, 1931. Citizenship: Filipino. Spouse: Ernestina Fernandez de Leon. Address: 16 Polk St. North Greenhills, San Juan City, 1503.

Children: Dino Angelo F. de Leon married to Jenalyn "Jenny” Tolentino de Leon (3 children); Carlo F. de Leon married to Camilla Cassandra "Sandy” Arellano de Leon (3 Children);

Maria Leah Isabel "Leah” de Leon Lorenzo married to Martin Ignacio P. Lorenzo (12 children); Maria Guadalupe "Guada” de Leon Bas married to Juan Rader Bas (1 child).

Academic Background. Elementary, Letran 1933-1937, High School Letran 1937-1939, U.E. High School 1950-52. Bachelor of Science in Commerce 1952-1956, U.E. Advance Management Program, Harvard Business School (AMP) 1969.

Employment History. US Army (Camp Edusa, Guam) – Typist, Motor pool Supervisor 1947-1949. J. Walter Thompson Phils. – Account Group Head 1960-1964. Philippine Refining Company (Unilever) – Advertising and Marketing Manager 1964 –1969.

Manila Chronicle/ABS-CBN Group–Advertising and Marketing Director 1968-1969.

Self-Employment. Manila Chronicle/ ABS-CBN Group – Consultant 1969-1972. Seamark Marketing Services – Director 1972-1975. Unilab – Consultant 1972-1976. Manila Banking Corporation, Director 1976 to 1987. Surigao Mining Corp. (Suricon) – Director 1989 – 1992. Philippine Regional Investment Development Corp.-Director 1989 to present. Asean Publishers Inc. Asean Integrated Management Inc. Sinag-Tala Publishers Inc.

Secure Packaging Co. Ltd. (Panyu, China) 2000-2015. Pinoy Pilgrim Global Foundation Inc., founder 2006 to present.

SAFI/ Nutri-Asia Inc.- Execom 1990 to present. Abacore Capital Holdings, Chairman 1989, Vice-Chairman 2005, Director 1989 to present. Pacific Online Systems Corp, Vice-Chairman/ EVP August 2000 to present.]

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