Though i was not fortunate enough to have gotten to know the enigmatic Dr. Antonio Perlas, having joined the Zen Center for Oriental Spirituality years after his death, i still remain awed by the way people still speak of him. When i joined the Zen Center and got the chance to work for them, i found a copy of the book "The Bright Field", a book written by colleagues, friends and family of Dr. Antonio "Tony" Perlas after he died, as a tribute to the man.
Dr. Perlas may not be known to many of you readers, but in the medical and psychiatrict profession, he is quite popular. He was the preferred consultant of Secretaries of Health since 1986, a distinction that reflects the esteem in which his colleagues regarded him with. After a psychiatrict fellowship at the reknowned Johns Hopkins in the United States, he returned to Manila as Chairman of the UP College of Medicine's Departnment of Psychiatry.
His love for his fellow countrymen can be seen the numerous projects he either organized or joined. His PSYCHOSOCIAL ISSUES IN DISASTERS became part of the technical monograph of the inter-agency committee for documenting and establishing a database on the July 1990 earthquake, in line with his brainchild, the National Program for Mental Health. His efforts led to the incorporation of pyschiatrict evaluation for victims of natural calamaties in the programs of the NDCC.
In the Zen Center, Dr. Perlas was known for his contagious laughter, but more famous for his strength. Even when he was already stricken with cancer, the most painful kind as i was told, he would still attend the Sunday zazenkai, and he would appear to be at peace. And when any member of the sangha would mention Tony Perlas, it would always be filled with love, longing, laughter... such is the effect he had on others. In the words of one his students, he can make you feel you are his best student, a fact that every one of his students agre on.
Today, even when he has gone to his rest, his laughter continues to echo in the halls of the Marikina Zendo. His smile and his enthusiasm, his discipline for the practice is reflected in every student of his, and even in those whose lives he has touched, directly or indirectly.
Such is the power of Dr. Tony Perlas, who continues to touch lives years after he went into the depth of Great Peace.
Tony Sensei, Gassho.