During the second semester of 1998, a handful of students, present company included, were asked by the secretary of the Dean of College of Angelicum to proceed to the coNFerence hall to meet our new broadcasting professor. That man was Orly Punzalan. Although his name did not ring any bells with my classmates, i knew him by name only as the father of drama actress Princess Punzalan. Little did we know that this tall, jolly man in his early or mid 50's would change our lives forever.
Orly (or Tatang as he is popularly known) taught us everything he knew about journalism and broadcasting. It was during his broadcasting classes that we got to know about his vast broadcasting experience. We found out later on that he was also one of the very first people to broadcast freely immediately following the departure of MArcos from office.
Orly soon became not just a professor but a second father to most of us. Our class would join him for lunch in a small restaurant he owned near Sienna College after taping our broadcasting projects and he would even invite us to his home in Cavite during the weekends. I myself have been privileged to have been to his home several times. He was a man who was never selfish about anything. He treated us as family and so did we.
He invited us to join him in his evening show at Radio veritas called Touching Lives and we were his "on-off" guests for almost two years. His views on politics, religion and other topics something we enjoyed discussing and debating about. It is also in Veritas were we got to meet his wife Pilar (Tita Baby) and their daughter Meg, who we treated as our little sister.
When we learned that he died of a stroke last January 7 at the National Kidney Institute, we felt that a big part of us has died as well. The number of people who showed up at his wake and burial is a clear indication of how he has touched so many lives. We were honored to be called upon to talk about this wonderful man we called our second father , but in reality, words are not enough to express our love and gratitude to this man we called mentor, friend and father. The new students of Communication Arts of Angelicum will miss out on the experience of having Tatang as a professor.
Until the end, he treated us as family and in return we will continue to treat and watch over his family as our own. His signing off from the airwaves and from this mortal realm we call earth is not an indication that he has left us for good, for although we feel an empty void with his passing, he will never be truly gone from our hearts.
PAALAM, TATANG, HANGGANG SA MULING PAGKIKITA. MAHAL KA NAMIN.