Thursday, June 26, 2008

missing our "Taliban"

"Crossing rivers, especially with strong currents, is a different experience," said graphic designer Thaddeus Reantaso. "I would definitely do this again."

Read the article here.

last night it felt like the others skipped a couple of stages of grief and moved on to bargaining, saying that at least tads got to do what he loved in the end. if he's happy so were we, and so acceptance will come soon. for me and carol (and rj too, i think he just didn't admit it), i don't know, i guess we were still in a state of shock. what to do with all these thoughts, what to think about. last night there were five of us sharing our grief, and laughing every time we remember something utterly funny that tads said or did, the classes, the walkabouts, the trademark goatie-pulling.

as we headed home we heard someone talking on his cellphone with words "bloated" and "kabaong" sounding slightly louder than other words (to our ears). we stopped walking and stayed where we are, and i'm sure the guy talking on the phone noticed it, because my back was only three feet away from him. we eavesdropped as much as we could. then i pleaded with the girls to please approach him after the call, because i couldn't do it. after the call, the guy was about to turn away when we called him back and properly introduced ourselves. yes, they were talking about tads and the details of the interment. it's painful to write it down but i have to, the image in my mind is...damn. the guy's name was james and he was with tads back during tads' fine arts, UP art circle years. he said that tads will be cremated once he gets to manila, and then the wake will follow soon after. not much use for a casket since (as we overheard) well, tads in his decomposing, bloated state (sorry, sorry) wouldn't fit anymore. i remembered prana--she still fit in her casket, which was never opened. but tads--tads is a rebel, no casket for him, it's straight into the fire. what a way to go, tads. you amaze us every time. for your post-birthday celebration, we'll be having your picnic at sunken, just the way you wanted it. no booze; we'll eat sandwiches and drink iced tea--wholesome and healthy. okay, a few green jokes here and there. cheers.


james said...

I'd like to thank you for the kind words for my batchmate-brod Tadz. The Intellectual Terrorist is now gone, and he left me so many questions that i strongly feel i have to find answers to. sana masagot o matulungan nyo akong masagot ang mga ito. salamat...

-james hermogenes
Brother, U.P. Artists' Circle Fraternity

123sajeepney said...

thank you james, for your accommodation of our eavesdropping :) for your questions, we'll do what we can. there are many sides of tads that we know little about, too.

-lauren, UP Anthro

james said...


The passing away of our fraternity brother, friend, and my one and only batchmate Thaddeus “Tadz” Reantaso marked an outpour of sympathies and flood of comforting messages. I hope people won’t get me wrong, I am dearly grateful for these expressions of sympathies and its good intentions. But as much I would want to appreciate kind words for Tadz now and appreciate people texting and saying to me "there is a greater purpose or plan" or words like "he died for a good cause," I cannot achieve to see the glory in his death if there is any. There is no glory here except tragedy. I respect people when they would like to view this unfortunate event as a glass half-full rather than half-empty, to see the brighter side of things. But for those who still feel the loss and would like to mourn, then let them mourn.

Right now I’m asking myself, "why would Tadz engage in mountaineering?", "Why would he join an outreach program?" Someone told me during the wake that probably that’s where he found his further enlightenment. Im sure people feel good helping and connecting to other people. Although I remember him telling me when I joined a similar group during college, that such welfare endeavors are not sustainable, that it could be just for guilt-washing purposes. Maybe he changed in that aspect (I'm glad that he did). Im not sure if he found his god there or found answers to his existentialist questions, surely the mountains and the experience of climbing it is truly breathtaking aside from the fact that it is highly conducive for sex, booze, doobies and other forms of bourgeoisie adventurism. I cannot hide my obvious angry inquiries on his intentions. If he is alive now, i would tell him, "You want to find enlightenment? You need not go far! Just look at the side streets of Manila, bro’. There you will find a mountain full of our society's trash and it’s up to your conscience to climb and conquer it or not. You’ll find it not in an escapist and adventurist exploit in the wilderness but in the center of our daily urban dwellings. There the truth awaits you! And it awaits your decision to do something sustainable about it or turn around and walk away." But I’m sure he knows that already. He had a better grasp of social reality long before I did. So I guess I’m telling this to him because I am partly guilty of apathy and because I badly wanted him to be safe and alive right now.

As my grief is settling down, i try to find objectivity in a mesh of rage that i am experiencing. I struggle to see through the eyes of everybody who have known Tadz in varying degrees. I try to understand the different levels of grief and guilt (if there is, to some people) so as to avoid prejudice. But my heart is crying for one thing here - THE TRUTH!

What really transpired during that moment when his team was crossing that river? What exactly happened? Is there a rope that the team could have used to assist them in crossing the river? If there is, why didnt they use it? What are the protocols and S.O.P.s when there is a typhoon? Should mountaineers proceed with the climb even if the typhoon signal is low or the affected area of typhoon is far? Whose call is it to proceed? Whose call is it not use the rope? Tadz dont know how to swim. Was it not a prerequisite in joining mountaineering clubs since crossing rivers is an integral part of trekking the mountains? Was there anyway to prevent such tragedy from taking place and taking the lives of people???!!!!!!!!!!!!! And finally, was it enough to say that people never wanted such thing to happen?

I am sure that if such tragedy fell on me or to you, Tadz will be writing here, unapologetic for razor-sharp words that he normally lashes out and throw everything including the kitchen sink God knows who gets hit! I’m sure it’s going to be a lot better than this “child-friendly”, edited down version of what I originally wrote (puro mura kasi yung original).

As much as i want to bury the dead and let my batchmate-brod and his companions rest, I cannot turn away from the urge of getting to the truth. The truth cannot bring back the dead, i know, but it can help reassure not just mountaineers, but rowing teams, surfing groups, and other outdoor activity club members, people with similar families and friends that may grieve their loss if ever, of their safety and compel organizations to be more proactive in protecting lives. I am sure that we are all one in wishing that such tragedy will not befall other people especially those close to us. Outdoor and recreational groups must take concrete steps including ADMITTING OPERATIONAL LAPSES AND RECTIFYING THEM.

Now i call on everyone who has even a tiny grain of regards for TADZ, to those who openly express their utmost admiration and respect for this fallen friend, to come out, FREE the TRUTH, and let true healing take place.

The truth must come out. Justice must be done. Lives must be further protected.

-James C. Hermogenes
Fraternity Batchmate/Brod, friend