Vgd. Nestor De Mesa Baybay(December 10, 1942 - June 27, 2012) A Eulogy by Vgd. Mark Anthony N. Javier '67
NESTOR DE MESA BAYBAY, LT.COL. (Retired), Philippine Army; U.P. Vanguard Class of 1967; member, Defiants ’67.
Our Vanguard brother Nes is unique – he was often colourful and intriguing. He often talked using words with the very deep meanings – often using words that were “malalim na Tagalog” “at matalinhaga”. But even if he was often mysterious, I knew him to be rather simple and genuine as a person.
He joined our advanced R.O.T.C. class of 1967 in Diliman when he was given a scholarship at the U.P. Conservatory (now College) of Music. It was a scholarship to enable him to further his skills in playing the tuba, a musical instrument that I believe only a few specialize in. It is clear to us, that as he studied in the conservatory, his musical talents blossomed – he crafted his own musical arrangements and composed a number of original songs. These he all did with ease – it did not matter that he did not have any formal training in arrangement or in composing. No doubt, he was a natural musical genius.
The morale of the U.P. R.O.T.C. band was never higher than when Cdt. Col. Baybay was at its helm as the band leader – and this noticeably boosted the morale of the entire cadet corps. For the first time, the U.P. Cadet Corps was marching proudly – not only to traditional marching songs, but to the popular songs of the day as well. I can still recall the cadet corps passing in review to the marching sounds of “Do-Re-Mi” from the Sound of Music, and “St. Louis Blues.” One cannot underestimate the morale boost that came from the band under Brod Nes‟ leadership.
We learned more of Nes after our graduation from the Corps. Once, he invited our batch to Camp Capinpin in Tanay where his band command was based. Several of us went to the camp – I can’t re-member how and why, but we missed him. However, our trip was not a waste as we witnessed first-hand how he had disciplined his unit. In Nes’ absence, we were shown the barracks of his unit – and we were greeted by a spotless, spic and span barracks – with a shiny waxed floor, shoes all pol-ished, and beds all lined up straight! It was like our U.P. cadet barracks on a ceremonial day! It was truly very impressive. It is no wonder that his unit always earned praise and recognition from his superiors – presumably not just for the top-notch mu-sic they played.
Long after our studies at the U.P., Nes kept touch with me. He eventually settled in his home province of Laguna – yet, he often called me or sent me a text message to set up a lunch somewhere convenient for me in Makati – but several times at his favourite Chinese restaurant. These were on occasions that were special to him – such as when he was asked to be a graduation rites guest speaker, or when he managed to acquire a condominium unit in Manila, or when he got his first credit card. He even made me his kumpare at the wedding of his daughter Gladys – and guess who was his principal kumare – Imelda Marcos, no less!
Brod Nes was a real friend – and I guess I was his confidante of sorts. He often talked to me about his plans for his business and personal interests – he raised fighting cocks, dabbled in the real estate trade, painted art works, and even organized a card-bearing Rizalist movement. Once he asked me to be his guest speaker in one of the regular meetings of his organization. I obliged and another brod, Vgd. Luis Torrente, went with me. He asked us to arrive at lunchtime though the meeting was yet to be held late in the afternoon.
Well – perhaps you can guess what we had for lunch – we were treated to several chicken dishes – fried, adobo, tinola – you name it, it was there – and they were delicious! By the way, I have to men-tion while we are on the topic of food, that Brod Nes was an excellent cook! Once he invited us to a pic-nic at his house in Tanay – this time, another batch-mate was able to go with me – Vgd. Raul Medina – and there, we were treated to the exotic home cooking of Mrs. Baybay and Chef Nes!
On another topic related to food – Brod Nes also dabbled in agriculture. I can never forget his gift of giant bananas – these bananas were almost two feet long! He got the seedling from Malaysia and he was able to grow them, though not in the large numbers that he wanted. He told me he wanted the bananas to be known locally as “ang saging ni Bay-bay”. He gave me a seedling, but I was unsuccessful in growing it as I am with practically all my plants. Later, Nes grew some ginseng and he gave be a seedling about 5 years ago – and this has be-come an exception, because to this day, this ginseng plant is growing in my garden.
As you can see from his picture here, it was easy for Brod Nes to be a ladies’ man. He was the oldest among our batch when we were cadets – and when it came to girls, we would be all ears when he talked. I never really knew which parts were fact and which were fantasy – but I have to admit that when he talked, he was rather credible.
The last time we shared moments with our brother Nes was just last month. You see, he had dropped out from our batch get-togethers more than three years ago. He joined us over lunch then – and in fact, we found out that this was just after he recovered from a stroke. We lost contact with him after that lunch – and we didn’t know what had happened to him in the years that followed.
Sometime last April though, I decided to try his old cellphone number again with a text message – and lo and behold – his daughter Tessa answered! So I immediately asked for the whereabouts of his dad, our Brod Nes, and we were able to arrange a visit by our batch. We were happy to finally see our Brod Nes after many years, eight of us – Vgds. Gari Garcia, Zoi Lapus, Raul Medina, Atot Paredes, Ed Rimando, Jesty Salvo, Luis Torrente, and me. Brod Nes was hardly able to speak then but we could tell that he and his family were happy to see us. After we left his house, his daughter Tessa confirmed what we felt with a simple text message – it said, “Thank you again for visiting Tatay. He said he is very happy”.
I can’t end my talk about Brod Nestor without sharing what he never failed to tell me in different ways, and in many different words whenever we met. This is that he was very proud to be a Vanguard – and that he owes much of what he was to being a Van-guard. Just the other day, Mrs. Baybay shared with me that on several occasions, Brod Nes would emphasize to her how proud he was to be a Vanguard. Our brother Nestor was truly very proud to be one among us.
To my Kumare Tita and her family, may God be with you always. And to our brother Vanguard Nestor, farewell. Your memory is forever etched in the hearts of your Vanguard brothers. Till we meet again, I salute you.