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My tribute to my Ninong Alex of COD

  • Written by Lito Cinco
  • Published in Opinion
  • Read: 209

My five cents’ worth

DECEMBER is the month of Christmas and for me, at this age, Christmas is the best time to make kids happy and so many years, so many pounds, and so many black hair ago, there was this animated Christmas display that kids from all walks of life gravitated to every Christmas season.

I have  always been open about the fact that my working career started in 1975 as a 20-year-old college undergraduate when I first worked  at the Manila COD Department Store as a salesclerk at the men’s department  in Cubao, Quezon  City, and stayed for more than two years until I transferred to the Martel Group of Companies.

And this animated display was at  Manila COD, it was a brainchild of Alejandro Rosario, Sir Alex to the employees, same for me until I got married in 1983 and he was one of the “ninongs”, and  it was Ninong Alex from thereon, the staff in my section referred to him too as 5-star, being the highest ranked company officer, he was the president.

I look at myself as fortunate that  even for that short period, I worked at Manila COD, there I learned how to inter-act with people, took away my inhibitions too as   I was forced to talk to people because it was my job, otherwise, how could  I  convince  them to buy our merchandise, little did I know that this experience would also help me as I shifted to  a corporate career, starting as a Personnel Clerk at Marsteel Consolidated, later on with Victoria Court whose owner Archie King was a nephew of Ninong Alex.
But more than leaning and developing  some skills, I am fortunate that I had a chance to meet Ninong Alex, and even as I  was down there in the totem pole  of ranks at the store, I got to know him on a personal level, and he got to know me, a big honor that I take pride in, in fact if I did not leave  the store in 1977, I could have been a section head and eventually a department head there in the future, something that my ninong confirmed later when  I used to see him even when I was already working somewhere else.
He used to walk around the store, checking  both the merchandise on display but he also took time to talk to us salesclerks, we were all intimidated by him but I believe he was the most  respected and loved by the staff, I remember the time  when  we used to  be open up to almost 12 midnight going into the last few days before Christmas.
It was December 24 of 1976 that  closing time was announced and it was around 11:30 p.m. already and I knew that I would not reach our house in Paco in time for  our small family noche buena, but  as we were walking   down the stairs o the way to the exit, there he was Ninong Alex , waiting to shake hands  and greeting each and every one of us Merry Christmas, and saying thank you   too that we  stayed  late at the store.
And for  someone that young, it was an unforgettable experience for me that some one like him would do that to someone like me, a mere sales clerk  in their family-owned store.
So when I quit my job there, there would be times I would visit the store  at night and Ninong Alex  would find time for me at his office even for a few minutes talk, we even used to meet at Century Park Hotel where a former COD and Sheraton employee whom I was able to get employed at the hotel,  met a hotel guest and eventually married  him and moved to Germany. When she comes home to Manila, we  would call Ninong Alex and Ma’am Flor and set up  dinner at Sheraton where we would reminisce about our COD days.
As the years passed, there were fewer occasions  that I would be able to see my Ninong Alex but since his son Olympic swimmer Ral  Rosario became a good friend, after all I was   and still am a sportswriter and I used to write about him in various sports  magazines, and that made my Ninong Alex happy and proud, I still knew how he was doing.
I was even able to attend a birthday party for him at  his residence a few years ago, it was  reunion of former COD employees  and I  went there staright from Mt. Banahaw where I  had a leadership workshop for my Y-JAM group, and there were a lot of us there, former COD employees from everywhere to greet my ninong that night, just to show how popular and respected he was among  his  former employees.
That is why I am happy that  just a few months ago, I was able to visit my ninong, then bed-ridden already but  still very alert and could remember a lot of details about how he started the  store with his brothers and sisters and his brainchild, the  animated display and how  even as Manila COD closed down for good in 2002, Greenhills Shopping Center engaged  him to continue the display, this time in Greenhills.
Ninong Alex  shared with me that afternoon  not just  his joys but also his sadness about things in life and I could only tell him that with the kind of life he has had, with what he has achieved, not to mention the millions of kids he made happy every Christmas with  his animated display, he should  dwell on those and be happy.
For more than two hours, I stayed at his bedside, listening to him and again, looking back at the days when I was  working at COD and I felt proud that he complimented in what I have done with my life, hearing that from someone  you  have very high respect for, how else could I feel.
But now my Ninong Alex is gone and has joined  his Creator, and this is the reason why I wrote this piece as my personal tribute to someone  special in my life and  has made a positive impact in my life. I will pay my last respect to  him tonight, Wednesday at Mt. Carmel and I am sure, there would be again  his former employees from COD, doing the same thing.
Maybe, just maybe, unconsciously, my ninong influenced me in what I have been doing now for the past years, making poor kids happy every Christmas  to the extent of  my capability with simple gift giving in various places, and next time, I will share  my recent gift giving in Mt. Banahaw and in Nueva Ecija, not to announce to the world I do this but  to encourage  others to do their share of sharing  their blessings with the less fortunate in life, my Ninong Alex, did that on a personal level  for he shared that with me too.
To my Ninong Alex, this  one is for you, Merry Christmas and I am sure  you will still be watching  your animated  Christmas displays this year and the years to come, happy that little kids  are happy just to be able to watch  the show.
By the way, my congratulations to the Foton team  for  its back to back victories in the Philippine Super Liga, defending and retaining their title last Sunday. Unfortunately  for me, I was in  Mt. Banahaw last weekend for my annual gift giving and I missed the finals.