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My one and only Buloy Al

By Al S. Mendoza


BULOY Al Fernandez, our beloved departed former mayor of Dagupan City, and I had shared both good and bad laughs together.

Nights had been always long for us but never was there a dull moment in each one of them.

We gulped beer.  We sipped wine.  We swigged whiskies as well as brandies.

He smoked.  I don’t.

That’s where we differed.

If there was one guy who really chain-smoked—lighting another ciggie with a dying ciggie almost non-stop—it was Buloy Al.

“Quitting has never been an option,” he kept telling me of his ciggie addiction.

One time, I visited him at the Chinese General Hospital.  He got confined for chest pains.

I brought him grapes.

He knew I didn’t smoke but still, he asked:  “Thank you, but do you have a stick with you, Buloy?”

Before the nurse could step out of the room, she whispered to me: “He can’t be restrained from smoking, Sir.”

He checked out pretty soon enough, his doctor giving him a stern warning not to smoke again.

As stubborn as a mule, Buloy Al didn’t take heed.

Many years later, he was taken to the hospital—again.

Jake P. Ayson, Hermie Rivera and I were in a table nearby when Buloy Al suffered chest pains in his favorite Dagupan hideaway.

After visiting him that very same night at the hospital, Hermie Rivera, the world-famed world boxing champion manager (Luisito Espinosa and Morris East) and boxing TV anchor, said to Jake and me: “He doesn’t seem to be in good shape.”

But Buloy Al would outlive Hermie Rivera.  Hermie had passed on some four years back in San Francisco, CA.

A genuine guy with a big, big heart, Buloy Al never said no to anyone; only to his doctor.

He was one politician who could not lose.  His bag of tricks to win votes are fool-proof.

Years back, a compadre of mine, before deciding to run for mayor, had asked me to have coffee with him.

“Please bring your Buloy Al with you?”

I did.

Buloy Al gave him the following pointers.

One, establish your headquarters in the heart of the poblacion.

Two, go to church every Sunday and next go straight to the public market and buy anything that a typical household needs.

And three, toss candies to the kids during your campaign sorties.

My compadre, running for the first time, won. By a landslide.

Buloy Al have this club called NPC (No Problem Club).  So exclusive it is that it only has four members: Hermie, Buloy Al, myself and another who wants his identity secret.

Bye for now, Buloy.  Up there, you can blow your smokes in endless circles.

I’m sure that even God, perennially unselfish like you, would relent. Wholeheartedly.

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