THE GATEKEEPER OF JASMS

He was the gate keeper of the sanctum called JASMS. He didn’t need any blue uniform or a baton to show who’s boss of the land. No one could enter or leave the school compound without going through Mang Pabling. Fooling Mang Pabling was futile, as a former alumni recounted in Facebook. “I tried to sneak out by hiding behind two ladies who were going out of the gate, but Mang Pabling saw me and had me march back inside.”

Mang Pabling, gate keeper extraordinaire!

But he did let some dash off to the fish ball vendor especially if its cart was parked a few steps away from the gate to buy a stick or two, run back to school and wait for the sundo (a trusted person who picks you up from, for example, school in Tagalog) to come. You would know where to find him because he’d just, literally, be stationed at the entrance and move a bit to let those allowed to enter or leave. In fact, shared another JASMS graduate, you’d know the school day was coming to an end when you’d see Mang Pabling wheeling the sound system to the gate. With the sound system and his whistle, he was ready to begin the process of getting in and out of JASMS. The shrillness of the whistle and his stentorian voice wafted through JASMS unchallenged.

It’s been decades since I saw Mang Pabling, the legendary gatekeeper of the school we love the best, JASMS (that’s Jose Abad Santos Memorial School to outsiders), until I saw images of him inundating Facebook through the weeks. Posted under the JASMS QC Alumni group, the affable and smiling face of Mang Pabling greeted me. He still wore the spectacles I remembered and the typical Mang Pabling jeans and shirt. He looked older but the smile that reached up to his eyes was the one that was imprinted in my mind. I read that, together with his daughter, he attended the Reclaiming the Past ceremony held last September 28 in the old grounds of JASMS that was bereft of the beloved mountain, soccer field, gym and elementary school building. Alumni, former heads, staff and teachers attended to mark the rise of the old school from the ashes of neglect and abandonment.

He lives with his daughter now, having said goodbye to his wife and son who went on ahead to the Pearly Gates last year. I remember his wife, Aling Adeling. If Mang Pabling was the keeper of the land, she was the keeper of the canteen. She and her team over looked the snacks and lunches day in day out. I didn’t learn about their relationship until much later on because they were discreet and never let their relationship get in the way of work.

That the former gate keeper has figured very much in the lives of all JASMS alumni is very obvious. He kept everyone safe from harm; he gave the parents peace of mind in the knowledge that their children would get home from school safely. Project Gate keeper: Mang Pabling has been launched to help him particularly with his medical needs. The announcement read: We’d like to call on all of you to help out with our very own Mang Pabling. He has not been receiving his SSS pension for some time now. Though he and his family have a little sari-sari store to help with expenses, there are some pressing matters where we, the ones he fiercely watched over when we were young and foolish, can help out. He needs a medical check up. His eyes are blurred and he has no medicine for his swelling arthritic foot. But he does not have enough money for these things.

The pledges of assistance were fast and furious. In kind or otherwise, pledges came for our gate keeper. A former classmate, Dr. Dean Concepcion, offered to perform eye surgery if needed in any of his clinics, which are located in Valenzuela, Banawe, A. Bonifacio, Marcos Highway, Fairview Regalado and Meycuayan, Bulacan. Another alumnus is set to bring him for an eye check up while others are sending money through friends who will be gathering together for a special Mang Pabling Day.

Clockwise: Mang Pabling with former colleague, Mr. Abe Giron, and former wards, Jon Carreon and Lawrence Eugenio, from JASMS Batch 1987

An update on Facebook revealed that the gathering is set on November 17 at Merced Bake Shop, near JASMS along EDSA at 5pm.  That everything is organised is not surprising; JASMS alumni are organised people (to the point of OC level, I think). US-based alumni can send their donations to Jared Zabala, for instance. Those wanting to donate apparel and shoes can take note of Mang Pabling’s sizes: medium for shirts, 30 for pants and shorts, and 8 ½ for shoes. Key persons have been appointed to be conduits for donations. I’m waiting for the details on the bank account.

JASMS and Mang Pabling go like hand in glove. One can’t exist alone without the other. He took care of JASMS without expecting anything in return. Now, as a show of gratitude and appreciation, the JASMS community is reversing the roles. Mang Pabling, you’re in good hands. Salud!

Photography by Gay Clave-Guevara, JASMS 1987

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Hi Rhissa very inspiring words in reminding us how one person made a difference in our lives. Though I belong to another exit gate, Mang Pabs remains to be one of my recall personalities to JASMS. I did not experience the gate keeper’s strict barricade but I grew up seeing him around enforcing his God given duty. The authority entrusted to Mang Pab has surely influenced the lives of many of our Jasms colleague, the influx of support read through FB will attest to it all. Thank you Mang Pabs for keeping us safe during our younger years.

    Reply

    • Posted by rgarcellano on October 21, 2012 at 6:17 am

      Thanks for reading, Jon. It is without a doubt that Mang Pabling is one of the JASMS icons that figure prominently in our lives. In my years of teaching, I can truly say that I haven’t found anyone who comes close to him. He is one in a million!

      Reply

  2. Posted by Rolando A. Reyes on December 24, 2014 at 2:55 am

    It was only now that I came accross this article. I can really say that Mang Pabling is considered an icon whenever JASMS QC will be metioned. When I enrolled at JASMS in 1961 in elementary school after kindergaten years there since our house was just in front of Tomas Benitez St. (Formerly Renacimiento St.) way back then, I have always seen Mang Pabling diligently cleaning the first and second floor classrooms. When I was in Grade 3, I would usually help Mang Pabli g in sweeping the floor since I normally go to school at about 6 in the morning. If there was a word that could describe Mang Pabling’s dedication to his work, it has not been established yet in the dictionary. Mang Pabling, you are the best of the best in my book.

    Rolando Reyes

    Reply

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