“Best friend” Luis K. Alvarez Sr. – beyond 100 years PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 25 January 2013 10:27

Highly respected and admired businessman Luis K. Alvarez Sr. passed away quietly and peacefully last Tuesday, January 22, 2013, at the age of 96 years old. I fondly call him my “oldest best friend”. Since the first day I met him 4 or 5 years ago, he never failed to awestruck and inspired me to love life. At his age, he loved ballroom dancing, swam several laps in the pool to keep fit, expert using a cellphone, and lately, he knows his way around SM Mall of Asia. He buys his own clothes and shoes fashionably. He will never go to an event without looking good. I always brag who among his age can do the same.  And I always thought that he could have been a model for a fashion line and for the multi-vitamin brand he was taking. 

He was not the typical best friend we always defined as buddy-buddy.  He was a special senior and elderly true friend that I admired. He was one of best people I have ever got to know of and fortunate to be loved by him not only like a son or apo (grandchild) but as a friend.   That’s why I call Luis K. Alvarez Sr., my Best Friend, – he was the best.

Most people around his age I know seems to accept their fate that they are “old” and could not do the same things they used to enjoy when they were young. Some of them if not most are saying (I don’t know if they really meant it) that they are ready to die. Some like to die already (sighed). And I always retort back, look at Luis Alvarez, he likes to live. Be like him. Why live long? His life motivates me and all the people around him. If ever I will live up to an old age, I love to live life like my best friend.

I enjoy talking to him for hours. He narrated bits and pieces of his whole life. How he started his sari-sari store, when into trading rice, and became successful in logging business (which he closed when the log ban was implemented). He told me where he was born, grew up, his love life, marriage, and about his children. He was a self-made man who struggles in life since his pure Chinese parents (ordinary folks) arrived here in Zamboanga City with nothing.

When I was the Executive Director of Zamboanga Chamber, I always admire him for he always makes it a point to call if he could not attend a meeting or be late. And if he has to leave early, he asks permission and explains why.  At his age, you can say you can excuse him if he will be absent, late or leave early. He taught me to do the same in all my business dealings. He was a man of honor worthy of respect and admiration.

I am amazed how he goes to his office and check how things are doing. With the success of his children, he can afford to stay idle and not worry about business. But he does care about his people and family so much. By doing so, they don’t have to worry about him. He seems to be healthier than most of them.

Secret of his business success? Best friend Luis told me never cheat and be fair to your customers. He could have made more if he sold his products below their actual weight or size, he said. People from nearby islands and other provinces would never know that what they are paying for is exactly the weight or size you’re giving, he explained.  Never take advantage of people, he advised me.

One time when I confided to him a problem, he gave me a fatherly advised what to do. Hard headed as I am I did not heed him. If I did, the problem could have not escalated. Sorry, best friend, I did not follow you.

Best friend Luis would say that he was ready to face death but does not think much about it as he enjoys living. And we made a pact – 100 years. In his last 96th birthday last August 24, 2013, I told him to promise to live 4 more years, to reach his 100 birthday and beyond. And after that, we will begin again counting a new more exciting new phase or chapter of his life.

Last Monday evening as I was browsing my clothes what I will wear next day, I saw the bright orange checkered polo shirt he gave me. It is one of my favorites in attending business meetings. Since I am in Manila, I thought of calling him that night if he is around but it was late in the evening already. Past 6pm Tuesday, January 22, while I talking to two business friends about people I admire, I mentioned to them about my high esteem about best friend Luis when I received the sad text that he died. I excused myself, cried and made a call to confirm his death.

I will be going to miss him terribly that I am sure. And I like to believe he wants me to remember him alive in my heart and to live his legacy – enjoy, live a good life, and live it to the fullest.  And I will do that for four years and beyond to thank my best friend who went ahead of me in heaven.

Thank you, best friend. I am going to miss your hugs, smile and our friendship. But your life has inspired me to live well. I thank the Lord for you.

Before I end this column, I like to tell Pep Talk readers that my best friend was now always serious all the time.  I think I am the only one who can make him pose in picture taking – do a wacky pose. He will raise his hand and do a V-sign with his two fingers and smile. He knows how to have fun in life.

By Dante Corteza