Keats and I

Keats Camacho and Rom Cumagun

St. Louis University mass communication student is looking for two male guest interviewees.

I received a call from the student’s mother and said my tandem with Keats seemed to fit the guesting profile.

Keats and I are very close friends, almost brother-to-brother; although at times son-to-father.

Like brothers with different faiths, we managed to keep our friendship’s spirituality alive. Keats, or more formally named as Abdulrahman Camacho, is Muslim while I, Jose Romualdo Cumagun,  am Christian.

Mama and I
My mother, Ester Cumagun and my Philam Life colleagues

He is my senior by 12 years and so the tastes in outdoor activities are more difficult to blend. I go for outdoors while he prefers the malls. To this date, I still wear one of his designer shoes which I have enviously stolen from him. (oops… but that’s going ahead of the friendship story.)

The thought even occurred to me that since my mother was a widow, Keats can marry my mother and so I would have the best of both worlds from a friend — someone who is both my brother and my father.

I met Keats in November of 2006 when we taught at AMA International University in the Kingdom of Bahrain. We were together in the General Education Department teaching English. We taught dancing, too. (just kidding)

Observe in this video how glaringly obvious that “if youth is to be a factor” in a genuine friendship, Keats and I would never have been acquainted at all: I am in front leading the charge while Keats is at the back, copying the motions. If not for my forceful request, Keats would not have joined this performance. But then again, what are friends for?

literature teacher1 We shared our likes for the Humanities while having coffee. He is an artist and a linguist — he speaks fluent Spanish and English. He had one weakness, though. Thanks to that weakness, that is where my value to him seemed to be indispensable. That is: my skills with technology. I had a flair for the digital divide and I even make videos of our activities.

This video for example is when Keats and I, together with other foreign faculty of AMA visited our new campus.

His CV which I made for him: If I am not mistaken, this CV got him a teaching post at the University of Bahrain.

Visit Keats Camacho’s FB

I took the time to make his curriculum vitae and to take his photographs that goes with it. I also served as his consultant in making contacts with employers in other universities in Bahrain. This is mine which got me a teaching job at Ahlia University:

Motivated I was all the time because Keats always showed his appreciation; free lunch was often the order of the day when his analogue files convert to digital.

(This video is a documentation of Keats Birthday when he treated his circle of friends for lunch.)

The first time, we got separated was when I got a job in a Bahraini university and he stayed behind in AMA International University. We talked and drank coffee less. Still we met when opportunity arose. This video for example is a documentation of my visit during AMA University Foundation day 2010:

Our friendship was challenged when Keats suffered a stroke in 2010. It was then that I realised that Keats was not as young as I thought. He was in a coma for several days and the fear of losing him felt very real.

He did regain consciousness but parts of his body were paralysed and had to undergo therapy. Since he was unable to work, he wanted to go home in the Philippines. All our friends wanted him to go home and rest first.

Mallory San Pedro

Against the wisdom of most friends, I wanted him to recuperate in Bahrain so he can hang-on to his work contract. Contrary to his will and to all our mutual friends, I rented an apartment where he could stay.

To force Keats into submission, I took all his things from his flat and held them in custody. These things included the designer shoes I mentioned earlier. (If Keats is reading this, may I ask him to give it to me as a gift? It is almost worn out and every step I take seems uncomfortably wrong and yet endearingly correct).

However, for a month the apartment remained a home in waiting. Had to give it up when Keats was all set to go home in a wheel chair and I to remain in Bahrain isolated from one of the few close friends I keep in this country.

I lost him for more than a year. No communication except for staring at his art collections now displayed in my flat.

Soon in 2011, it was my turn to come home to the Philippines. A year after I tried to track down Keats. Our previous parting was not that amiable and so I wasn’t sure  he would talk to me.

Thank God he did. He is now in Baguio City and I in Marikina City. He still wants to go back to Bahrain but I am encouraging him to do the insurance business together as Philam Lifers instead. I want to work on mySpanish, too so his turn to teach me and my turn to give him free lunch.

He is keeping his options open. In the meantime, we contact each other via Facebook, SMS, and voice calls.

Keats with Marieziel San Pedro

We plan to see each other soon and an opportunity has arrived when Mallory San Pedro, daughter of a mutual friend, Marieziel San Pedro, is looking for television guests: two mature male friends who can be interviewed about their friendship.

Keats and I seems to fit the profile, indeed.

But then again, this is just an invitation which is subject to approval by Mallory’s professor. If things don’t turn out as expected, let us say a better pair of guests is discovered, Marieziel, Keats and I probably should come together once more and celebrate our friendship — in Baguio City this time; with me wearing designer shoes compliments of Keats.


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