I had an unexpected but very wanted visitor yesterday morning. She’s not only one of my closest and best friends, she’s also the youngest daughter of the late Grandmaster Ernesto Presas Sr, founder of the Modern Arnis. She’s none other than Richelle Presas who now goes by her married name, Richelle Ermac. She’s married to Michael Ermac, one of her father’s right-hand Arnis instructors.
The last time I saw her was at the wake of her father. Ralph and I weren’t able to attend the burial but we made sure that we were there for her as she’s very much a ‘daddy’s girl’ and I know deep down that losing her dad must have felt like the end of the world for her. I can’t help but get teary-eyed just thinking about it. I wouldn’t know what to do myself if that ever happened to me (heaven forbid!). Surprisingly though, I didn’t see a trace of sadness in her eyes that night we came by. I guess it’s because Grandmaster Presas, her dad, has suffered tremendously while he was confined in the hospital for almost one year and Richelle has witnessed that. Bearing those moments had probably prepared her of what was to come.
After Grandmaster Presas was buried, all that I have heard about Richelle was that she was going back to Manila with her kids. If memory serves, she was the one who told me through text that they’ll be staying there for good, an information that had saddened me at the time. I knew there was going to be a big change in her lifestyle given that her dad had spoiled her while she was growing up. Ralph even coined her a name, Richelle the shopaholic. She can spend the entire day just shopping around! That used to be the cure to her stress.
And after a while of not seeing each other, I just found myself staring at my friend who was seated right next to me in my small but comfortable dining area. She’s gained a few pounds since the last time we saw each other and she gave me a smile that was perhaps a sheer attempt to conceal any trace of torment she was and had been enduring in her father’s absence. Gone are the jewelries that used to sparkle each time she giggles over a funny comment I make. Each time her eyes move, it was obvious that she was blinking back a tear that was fighting to fall down her face. She looked like she was carrying the entire world over her shoulder.
I felt weak all of a sudden. I couldn’t bear to see her like this. I hugged her. I hugged her tight for two reasons: First, I really missed her, and second, I was avoiding her seeing the truth in my eyes that I felt so sorry for her. I know that she doesn’t want anyone to pity her and that certainly was the last thing I want her to feel coming from me.
After the usual ‘how are you’s’ that friends do after a long time of not hanging out, Richelle cut to the chase. She told me bluntly that she’s broke and that she needs a job. I was stunned and asked her how things came down to this point. What she told me after was something that I couldn’t really bear to hear. My vision started blurring and I just felt the tears streaming down my face. It turned out that after her dad’s burial, things went downhill. But to make it short, her family was divided over a conflict and her husband, Michael resigned from the organization to avoid any potential feud with the family member given that it is a family-operated business. Because her brother isn’t like her father, Richelle’s brother ran the business in his own terms and rules. Sad to say, the rules ended up getting some of the instructors fired, even the ones whom her dad trust the most.
Now her husband is trying to find a job and Richelle doesn’t really know anything in the field where I can possibly offer her a job. Our business is online; I hire writers, web developers and designers. She said she can’t do those. I asked if she knows some accounting ‘coz I’m thinking of getting someone to do our books. She also said no.
She’s currently looking after her two kids and also the kid of her older brother with whom she has some conflicts with. She said she has no choice but to do everything as she’s told because she lives with them and they’re the ones feeding her and her kids. She told me a lot more but I will not disclose some of the details as they are very personal.
She misses her father so much. And I miss the Richelle who used to be so full of life. I told her that she should never be embarrass with what’s happening because it’s how life is in the real world. Our faith is being tested. For those who may not know, I, too, was pretty much in the same boat after my mother died from breast cancer 19 years ago. Everything was taken away from us: the businesses, the lands, and almost our house! I was even struck with a Pulmonary problem with no money at the time to buy the medicines. But I got through those hell because despite of it all, there were still a few people who truly care about me. And trust me, they’re not even family!
I am calling the attention of those students of Grandmaster Ernesto Presas Sr. in the past who have become close to Richelle. If you may have any jobs available that we can offer to Richelle and Michael just so they can get by, please please please let me know. They really need your help. They have two daughters who are still very young. You may email me via the contact page of this website.
Let us not forget how good a friend and a person Richelle was and is to us all. Let us do something in the darkest hours of her life.
Hoping for a positive response!