Thank You for Coming. A tribute.

Please allow me a time-out from my Davao vacation posts as I give tribute to a great man who will be sorely missed..

Before mountain climbing in Mt. Pulag, before wake-boarding in Nuvali, and yes even before running in marathons & triathlons, there was badminton in the Philippines. So popular (and can I just add, indoors!) that it was the only sport that got me trying it. I may not have succeeded in mastering it, I may not have made a career out of it, but I certainly got to know dear people because of it.

There are 2 couples that left the most impact in my enjoyable, albeit short, badminton stint. Toby & Monsy, and another couple Bani & Dolly, whom we fondly call tito Bani & tita Dolly. Not because of their age, but because of the wisdom they always imparted & shared. Our friendship started in the village badminton court & it grew from there.


Toby & Monsy, Dolly & Bani. Those were the days! <3

I was raised without a dad, and not a single tito close by who could have been a father-figure to me. So when Kap & I met this wonderful mentor, our tito Bani, I found an instant uncle. We looked up to him for advice on anything under the sun & he shared his knowledge and advice unselfishly.

Because Kap & I grew to love the sport, and also upon the prodding & encouragement of tito Bani, we put up a badminton court in a sleeping lot owned by the family. We didn’t expect Toby & Monsy, Bani & Dolly to follow suit & leave the comforts of our “home” court in the village, but they did. In full support of our friendship. In full support of us.


Even though the location was a good 30-minutes away from our village, tito Bani was a regular PAYING & playing guest at our badminton court -at least 3x/week! His way of showing his love & support to us.

Not only that. They invited friends from near & far, and encouraged walk-in visitors to play at our court regularly. Because of them, because they played with our customers & made friends with them in the process, our court gained popularity & a close-knit family was formed.


Indeed! <3

After every game, there would be a salo-salo. Sometimes simple with just hopiamani, popcorn. But most of the time almost grand with overflowing food & drinks brought in by everyone who came to play, but mostly to fraternize after the games. What was celebrated each time was not the food or the drinks, but the camaraderie & barkadahan, of which tito Bani was a huge part of. In fact, he could have very well founded the “glug-glug-gang”.


The glug-glug-gang grew, and it grew, and it GREW!


Tito Bani’s grown children are mostly abroad, so he dotes on the players in our Court & acts as a father-figure to all of us.

I have to admit that I am not a good friend. While I take great pains & sacrifices in nurturing & loving my family, I suck majorly at being a friend. I’m the type of person who can’t have both, & I have come to accept it. I left Kap to take care of PR & our friends, and I let myself be immersed in the home & family life. And so, my badminton career died a natural death after 2 years or so when I chose to stay with the kids instead of going out most nights of the week to take care of the growing business.

Once in  a while, I’d pop in for a short visit. And I’d always be greeted by Toby & Monsy, dear tito Bani & tita Dolly, as if they were the GROs of the court haha. :) Tito Bani would always tell me “Thank you for coming, thank you for visiting us, Janey”, and I would feel so guilty because these are some of the best people whom I have neglected sorely, and whose friendship I have forsaken simply because I’ve been too busy with life & living.


Happier days with tito Bani & friends..


And now, it’s too late. It’s always too late for me, that’s just the problem, isn’t it? We always think there’s more time. Tomorrow, next week, next month. And pretty soon, it’s been a year, or 2. And then there’s no more time. The person you want to see is gone.

2 weeks ago tita Dolly said tito Bani was placed in the ICU for pneumonia. Kap suggested to let them settle in a bit before we drop by, and I agreed. Because I was in the very same situation a while back with my mom. I knew the feeling of wanting privacy, of time alone with only God and your loved one, so we said a prayer of healing for our dear tito Bani & left it at that. When Kap called again for an update, we really thought he was getting better & would surpass this trial, just as he had so many times before. He is, after all, a fighter.

I then made a silent vow to make a conscious effort to visit him regularly when he gets transferred to a regular room & rekindle our lost relationship.

But then, tonight -of all nights, we received news that tito Bani has gone to be with the Lord. The same tito Bani who always had words of encouragement & wisdom for us. The same tito Bani who always had crinkles in the corner of his twinkling eyes as he smiled at us & made us guffaw with his corny jokes. The same tito Bani who always made everyone in the court feel like he was their tito, which is why he was the favorite ninong to newlyweds in our court. The same tito Bani who never minded playing with the most bano of players, whom everyone else avoided like the plague -simply because he had a kind heart.


Bayani Arit, Jr. December 21, 1950 – March 28, 2016. 65 years old, so young & full of life. Gone too soon. :'(

Tonight, as his bride & soulmate celebrates her birthday, tito Bani left to join his Creator. How do you greet someone a happy birthday when her sun, her star, and her moon just left the earth, taking half of her heart with him?


Tito Bani & tita Dolly had the most colorful love life. As colorful as the 70’s clothes they wore to a costume party. Tito Bani was always game in this thing called life. :)


His last happy photo, full of life & zest, taken at their recent trip to Japan just this month. A couple of days home & he was admitted to the ICU for pneumonia, and later on succumbed to complications. :'(

Dear tito Bani, I still have so many questions to ask you, so many words of wisdom to glean. But as always, I am so so very late. I can say “how I wish”, but then what’s the use? I didn’t make time when I should have, could have.

All I can say now is Thank You for Coming. For coming into our lives & filling it with your love & guidance. You were everyone’s tito, the unsung hero in our court. The angel who will forever live in our hearts. Thank you for 10 years of friendship -from San Jose, to your new homecourt in Playground. We love you, rest now tito Bani.

Tita Dolly, Thank you for sharing tito Bani with us. From now on, your birthdays will never be the same. I don’t know how to reach out. I don’t know what to say. But rest assured, we will be among the many, many mourners who are grieving tito Bani’s untimely death.

How can I say “happy birthday” when my heart means “our condolences”. I just pray that God will ease the pain in your soul right now, and make His presence felt & known to you and comfort you. We love you. And we love tito Bani too. We will miss him. So, so much. :'(

*All photos here do not belong to me. All were taken form tito Bani’s Facebook page.

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