A Class of Her Own – Agnes Arevalo Feliciano
Ang malas ng friend ko dahil walang siyang choice na ikwento ko siya. I should have done this last Mother’s Day or on her birthday in June.
I met her in our Proper years in Veterinary Medicine college at the University of the Philippines 37 years, we were all Freshmen. She was an unassuming `bes’ but you can see that she was friendly and had a quiet leadership quality because she was able to surround herself with other batchmates who were also new in the college and new at the University. People got drawn to her because of this friendly demeanor and her having experience at UP Manila where she finished her pre-Med course. Her humble demeanor will not reveal that they own a ranch in Mindoro, and this is why she was taking the option of being a Veterinarian rather than a full-fledged Medical Doctor.
I also became drawn to her because she shared the same sentiments about being a part of an organization where the members will have a sanctuary for those who were not drawn to joining fraternities and sororities. So soon they became the first batch of founding members of the Veterinary Medical Students’ Society. Later on, I discovered we had a lot in common. We resided in the same village, four streets away. Then we have the same family values or family recreation – `table swimming’, in layman’s term, `mahjong’. So together with her Auntie, at any weekend we had a chance to play, we would be at her place. Kaya nga ang dapat na title niya noon ay `SENYORITA RANCHERA MAHJONGERA’.
As the friendship grew, we also formed a study group that we called VPOS. We formed this so we can review before exams and was our excuse to spend the night or until late at her house. The members of the group aside from me were, Dr. Flor Matutina, Dr. Vic Ranin, and Dr. Rodolfo `Pipo’ Lometillo.
As time passed, I saw her fall in love, broke her heart and fall in love again. Her second love I guess was the final one, one that was going to last as a partnership and serious love. The lucky guy was also a friend of ours, who if you look at, had a lot in common with her in my view. He was a good natured heart throb, ang dakilang pa-cute sa mga kolehyala before he got serious with our friend. He, also, was a ranchero, and also continued with his Vet proper from another UP campus, UP Los Banos. He was also one of my early barkada during the freshman year at the college of VetMed. He was one of the `cool’ dudes of our batch, he was Dr. George Feliciano, from Makati. Kaya si Senyorito Ranchero at si Senyorita Ranchera kung maihahambing kila JaDine, KathNiel, AlDab, atbp., sila ay tatawagin GeoNes.
So this is where I can brand her as remarkable. She and George had an established Vet Clinic in Makati/Manila (border daw eh) and they were starting a family. Here is where I go to the islands and start a career as a medical representative for several pharmaceutical companies and in the late 80’s I was fortunate to be able to migrate to Australia. So again this is where I lost touch with my besties for a while. Not being able to pursue a career as a vet in Australia, I studied and worked as a Food Technologist. When I discovered e-mail in the 90’s this is where I was able to get in touch with all my friends from Uni and high school. Hindi ko alam kung ano nakain ni bes at nagisip at nagtapos sa pagiging Doctor of Dental Medicine! Yun pala ipinasa nung biyanan ni Bes sa kanya ang Dental clinic na katabi ng vet clinic nila ni George. Kaya si Bes ay Doctor Doctor na by 1995! So by 1996, si DVM DDM Agnes Feliciano was practicing Dentistry side by side with her DVM hubby George Feliciano. It was also on this year that I saw them again after so many years. By this time George and Doctor Doctor was now an MD (Mother Dearest) to 3 kids, Miguel Conrado or Mico, Marvin, and their hija mia, Lia Teresa. I got to see their clinics and a reunion with Dr. Pipo and Dr. Vic. It would be so many years again until we would see each other.
In 2003 I came home, at this time I was already married and we had our 2 year old son in tow, he was named JC Rafael, or Jayce. I wanted to introduce my wife to my besties so we invited them for dinner at a restaurant. Together with Drs. Feliciano was her sisters, Mabel and Mavi, Mavi’s husband, Jun, Dr. Pipo and Dr. Vic, with special appearance of Dr. Bong Molina. It was on this dinner that George and Agnes mentioned to me that they were planning to migrate to Canada after she finished her Nursing degree which she has already started that year. Huwaaat? I just finished my Graduate Certificate in Quality Management 2 years before and I practically sweated rocks to finish it because I was just starting a family and I was a full time Quality Manager for a food company. The by-word then was `multi-skilling’ but si bestie was `multi-careering’ – a DVM, a DDM, a mother (which at this time was with 4 kids. The bunso was born in 1999, Raphael Juanito or Raph) and now a nursing student! Sabi nga nung mga gay talk – `Nakakaloka!’.
So bilib na kayo? Mga bes, mas lalo kayong bibilib dito.
In that same year, several months after we saw each other, a tragic event happened sa bes natin. Dr. George suddenly passed away due to a heart failure. I was shocked and could not think of anything to say to my friend of the loss she was experiencing at that time. When I hang up the phone I could only do was to cry for the loss of a very good friend and say the rosary, for George, Agnes, and the kids. I could not forget what Agnes was saying to George when he passed away,”ang daya daya, mag Ca-Canada pa tayo”.
You will think that the tragic loss will discourage si bes in fulfilling her dream in going to Canada so she can provide a good future for her kids. But as good as her earning her second Doctorate as a Dentist, tinapos ni bes ang Nursing niya in 2004. She became an RN in 2005. Because of this our bes migrated to the US instead, by herself first so she can establish herself first. Then she will bring the kids once she is settled. With luck now on her side, she went to America to survey her prospects on becoming a nurse there. US was their (her’s and George) original target anyway. Ngumiti ang swerte kay bes, kasi, according to what she told me when we were chatting, she practically just knocked on the door of a hospital and she was admitted immediately. How is that for a God bless. Doctor Doctor Agnes Arevalo Feliciano became a Registered Nurse (RN) in America in 2007. She is now living successfully in America together with her 3 boys. Her only girl is pursuing a career in Europe at the moment and maybe later will be joining her.
I had to write about her because her multi-careering adventure is something to be admired and recognized despite the odds and despite what challenges has forged her to be a better person. All this was for her family, for her fulfilling her dream with George, for a better future for her kids. This is why she deserved to be an MD – Mother Dearest! Happy Mother’s Day!