“Where have all the young men gone?”

September 15, 2007

In the frenzy of the preparations for tomorrow’s Bar Examinations, the third of four grueling Sundays, I pause to remember a young man I never got to meet but nonetheless has touched our lives in so many ways.

2nd Lt. Ariel Toledo was interred this morning in his native Sto. Domingo, Ilocos Sur. The honor that he bought home as the Valedictorian of PMA’s Mandala Class made him an “icon to deserving poor“as one national broadsheet heralded. Not having personally known him, he was a remote icon – someone whose story we will definitely retell but will remain in the mold of heroes who seem to hover above us mortals.

Last night changed that. Luisa, my brother’s girlfriend, told me last night that she was going home to attend her Manong Ariel’s funeral. I was taken aback with her statement and asked if she knew him. She said that she was a freshman when Lt. Toledo was a senior at the Ilocos Sur National High School and my brother’s batch was in between them. I then asked if my brother knew him. She said yes and Zaldy was even the one who gave Lt. Toledo the application form for the PMA Entrance Examination.

I stopped walking. My brother never told me this. Luisa continued that when the supposed life of Lt. Toledo was featured by a show on primetime television, my brother didn’t want to watch. Lt. Toledo was not a remote icon, after all. He was my brother’s friend.

This morning, I was told that there were no officers from the Philippine Military Academy or from the Armed Forces of the Philippines. It was uncertain if any of his mistahs were around, although it was apparent that there were no military officers and the men who carried his casket, according to a friend who attended, were either reservists or privates. There were no honor guards.

After an online search, I was consoled that Lt. Toledo was accorded military honors at Villamor Air Base last week with “his hearse greeted by the somber sound of trumpets and a line of young officers and enlisted men standing at attention and saluting their fallen comrade.”

Thank you. For a few hours, I thought that we have allowed Lt. Toledo’s passing to spiral down in our nation’s short memory. Lives such as his must never be forgotten.

Rest now, ading. Thank you for the aspirations you have stood for -among them, perseverance amid poverty, and the quiet dignity of one who silently achieves.



  1. First day of classes for the second semester, school year 2001-2002. In my advance subject class under Mrs. Avila, I was sitting infront with curiosity who would be my classmates that time. Turning my head to the right was a man in white collar shirt tucked in a levi strauss jeans sitting at the center aisle aligned to where i sit.
    The figure of this man i guess, has been an inspiration to the girls in the university.(And if i’d put myself into a dream, this man would be the best choice..nyahnyah) This man who walks like a military cadet, a hunky standing guy, a walking dictionary as the university addressed it, a genius looking man, a serious one and so on..makes me feel curious during freshman year.(Hu dat guy is? Interesting!!uu)He wasn’t seen much in our Institute, as i have known, he was a very busy student. An officer of different organization in the whole university. And 1 thing he’s a BSGE stude while I’m BSCE. Few chances of seeing him around brings a bit “kilig to the bones”.(geehz)
    Now the sight of this guy is at hand, he is a classmate, so near. Yes near and yet far.
    Here comes December and that man wasn’t already attending the class. New year came, a friend told me, he entered PMA. No chances of talking to him or being get acquainted.
    March of last year, in a dinner after graduation ceremony where I was the invited guest speaker, Mr. Foronda (a former instructor, attended the said occassion where a sibbling of him was a graduate) informed me that they attended the blow out of Lt. Ariel Toledo being the Valedictorian of PMA class ’06. I asked Ariel’s phone number and sent a congratulatory msge that i received no reply at all.
    Few weeks before i left the country on June 23rd of this year, I was at the DPWH consultant’s office of the ongoing construction of SUYO-CERVANTES ROAD. It was one of a fortunate day because the daily broadsheet was already out from the Japanese Consultant’s office and has been at the secretary’s desk.(It has been my habit to read the daily news and won’t leave the office w/o doin it.)
    Frontlining in the news was, Lt. Toledo is suffering from an illness and his colleagues were raising funds for his major hospitalization. A prayer and hope for him to overcome the illness was the least thing i could do.
    Opening @ reading your blog was a shock for me atty..As HE is in the military i gave high hope for him that he’ll be given more than enough support from the gov’t. Well, expect the none expected. Our life is not ours.
    The man who caught my attention and who keeps my curiosity unanswered was eventually gone. He is now totally far.
    A salute to Lt. Toledo. His deeds of perseverance/hardworking will be an inspiration.
    May his soul now rests in peace.
    I thank you for the blogg atty..

  2. manang, i personally knew ariel, a friend… nalungkot naman ako na dito ko pa malalaman na wala na pala siya…may he rest in peace…

  3. my aforementioned comment s for evrybody’s correctn. ’twas submittd directly w/o a review. tanx

  4. ate,some corrections. there were officers who attended the funeral. i personally know one who opted to be in the funeral instead of being with his girlfriend as they were supposed to celebrate for being together for like, months or so. to him, it was his last chance to have a glipse of the “late toledo” (as he used to called him).

    but i agree, he is indeed a great loss.

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