by rick olivares
The success of a sporting program will always be attributed to the coaches and players as well as the organization. In the case of scholastic sports, athletics officials as well.
However, there too are sometimes, individuals who aren’t exactly patrons in the sense of business moguls or tycoons who have backed many a sports program.
Although my friend Arthur Lim represented Rebisco which was a corporate sponsor of the Ateneo Lady Eagles volleyball team, the man in life, was more than just the person who helped ensure some spending money for the team. He was a father figure to the girls who dispensed advice, was the go-between with the tough coach, and who helped them with their on-the-job-training. He was also a huge part of head coach Anusorn Bundit's assimilation into the Philippines.
Arthur, or Thor, as he was nicknamed, was a silent operator behind the scenes. He served as a liaison between the Ateneo University Athletics Office and the fans, especially the non-Ateneans fans who religiously watched the matches. He ensured that they got their match tickets and even provided some food and freebies. Furthermore, Thor always took the time to acknowledge them before and after the game.
As for the recruits, he too was the middle man between the athletics office and the players.
He wasn’t any secret agent or Jerry Maguire-type but he was close to one. Except that it was pretty hard to miss him and his huge frame.
Last Saturday, January 14, he called me around noontime and expressed surprise that I had left San Juan and gone back to the old homestead in Marikina. We spoke for a spell about Ateneo volleyball, the (then) upcoming Liverpool-Manchester United match, Rebisco forming a team that would compete in the V-League, and others.
Surprisingly, towards the end, he said that he “was going to miss those nights in San Juan where we had coffee at UCC and meals at Tung Lo Wan or Mann Hann. Those rides to and back from the Ateneo basketball and volleyball games (we lived a few streets apart from one another in San Juan)”.
I found them such strange things to say and said, “Thor, I am only a phone call away. Katipunan isn’t too far from Greenhills”.
And he left me with one bit of advice, “I am always guided by what is good for our alma mater and what is her policy”.
He asked me if I wanted to join him for lunch with some friends – Coach Tai Bundit and MG Ebro -- the following day in San Juan but I declined because I was headed for Olongapo on some National Basketball Training Center business.
The following day as I got home, I received a message from a common friend that something had happened to Arthur. I rang his phone and was surprised that it was his wife, Mylene, who answered. “Rick, our Arthur is gone.”
I sat down, dumfounded and taken aback. The man was a friend, confidant, and a brother from another mother. He took great interested in my career and has been a huge help in every endeavor. And we just spoke. In fact, we made plans to meet up that week. Wednesday, in fact.
We did meet. Only it was at a funeral parlor.
My friend passed away due to a brain aneurysm. He left behind a wife and four young children all of wo are still in school.
Less than 24 hours after he passed away, there appeared in Facebook that feature, today is 7th anniversary of your friendship with Arthur on Facebook (although we were friends far longer than that).
In one of the Masses that celebrated his life prior to his cremation last Saturday, the priest said that death was one more journey. However, in the mystery of one’s passing, we must look to the examples he set for us.
So when I think of Thor, he was a problem solver. He’d listen to the problem then rather than more or whine, he’d look for a solution. And all that time, he’d be smiling. He was that kind of man – one who never let problems get to him. He’d always listen and lend those massive shoulders of his for one to lean on. As he would always tell me, “There is always a solution”.
He’s gone now. And there’s that space between. I have no clue who will fill that void for his family, the volleyball team, or even amongst his close friends. He left clues though. Examples of how we deal with things. How we face life with dignity and the clarity of being in the right.
And I guess that’s as good as any place to continue.
Thanks, Arthur Lim. Until the next adventure.