By Vanette Colmenares
New York – Death is the cessation of life on Earth, but the remembrance of one’s existence lives on. Sylvan Borromeo Jakosalem, former Cebu City Councilor, died on February 17, 2021 at 6:40AM in Cebu City at the age of 59.
He was the youngest in our ‘play group’ – back when a whole block on the San Jose de la Montana, now known as Juan Luna Avenue, belonged to the Jakosalem clan. From the corner starting Ayala Road until that small road called L. Tudtud Street belonged to the five children of Don Dionisio Jakosalem.
They were all given a hectare of land each where they built their houses. Two children of D. Jakosalem early on sold their shares and the remaining ones that were adjacent to each other each built their homes.
Where once stood PLDT was owned by my grandmother, Epifania Jakosalem Rodriguez. This was where I lived growing up. Beside it, where Neo Neo used to stand, belonged to Fernando Jakosalem, and the lot to the right of him belonged to Sylvan’s father Silvano.
All these properties were fronting the Carmelite Monastery where we also had lots of memories. My real name Silvana, was taken from Sylvan’s dad as well.
Our childhood was a happy one – crossing from one lot to the other. Climbing trees, playing house using nature as our tool, using gumamela to pretend they were vegetables imaginarily being grilled, or those harmless chubby cactus as meat while using the leaves as plates.
At times, when we would break up in teams and play tubig tubig (patintero) or the Japanese game, Sylvan would be the odd one out as he was too small and too young to play with us ‘biggies. But he would watch us by the side with his white uniformed nanny beside him. He would have his own game which was running away from his nanny and hiding. His nanny would run after him like crazy, never wanting him to be out of her sight.
I remembered an incident where his nanny had to go after him with a plate on one hand and a spoon on the other, chasing him to feed him. As a child, Sylvan was scrawny and thin, and feeding him was daunting. In adult life, though, it was exactly the opposite.
His best buddy and cousin was Jay Jay, who had similar ‘adult size’ as him, and they both had that infectious laughter when they were together. They had a private joke where they both called each other ‘Takoling*.’ Sylvan said, that when they were younger, they couldn’t pronounce “Jakosalem.” So they used ‘Takoling’ as an endearment for each other.
I got to know more of Sylvan, when his sister, Lorna Edwards put up Carrissima, a craft exporting company where she asked me to manage its Philippine operations while she handled the U.S. counterpart. This was in the 1980s and by then Sylvan was on his own – first as a disc jockey in Y101 and then as councilman of Cebu City.
His wife Sharon lived next door and Lola Caring (Sylvan’s mom) was glad because by then she would know where Sylvan would be most of the time—either next door or at work in Y101.
Many years later, when most of the family in the San Jose de la Montana neighborhood had moved elsewhere, family gatherings dwindled as well, limiting it to just each one’s own immediate circle.
A decade or so ago, when we heard the news of Sylvan’s sickness, which left him mostly bedridden for the remainder of his life, the family was devastated. At times it is disheartening to the family when one feels helpless on how to address situations like these. The financial burden and the overwhelming challenges occurring daily becomes an everyday discouragement.
Yet to Sharon, Basty and Santino, their unwavering and unconditional love to Sylvan has given them the strength to stay by his side. And behind that love is also the silent affection and attention from Sylvan’s only sister, Lorna. Even from across the seas, she was always by Sylvan’s side. Together as family, they are one. Together with family, we are one. We love Sylvan. He will be missed. # (*Rhaphidophora pinnatifida – a local plant. Photo courtesy of Vanette Colmenares. Jack the Wack as a young boy)