I regret having known him late in life for a short time. But I shared wonderful memories of this man and his family in Grove, College, Laguna.
I was surprised then that my folks in Paete knew him well. I had never seen him before. He was a native Paetenian but his family moved to Los Banos. It was a blessing when some of us took agriculture courses at UPLB. His house was a home away from home when I decided to stay with them. No wonder, three of the first women agriculturists of Paete stayed in his house as boarders.
I admired his patience with children and student boarders particularly during those sleepless exam time before prelim, mid-term and finals at UPCA. I wonder why sleep is so sweet and inviting during exam time that no amount of "wake up" beverage could keep us awake. And there he was, staying up late, just to wake us up anytime as requested.
His old fashion humor was always delightful. There was a time when some "tao po, binata po" from Paete came to visit his female boarders. He was the first to welcome and interview the visitors. On one occasion, when young men from Nagcarlan and Sta. Cruz came to visit, he jokingly said, "Bilisan ninyo at baka maunahan kayo ng mga taga-Paete."
His balding head with few silver hairs betrayed his age but his stocky built reminded me of a strong, healthy man during his younger years as an abaca farmer in Dalig, Papatahan and Kasantanaan. Wearing his thick eyeglasses, he often sat in the veranda playing solitaire, talking with people or just baby-sitting his many grandchildren. I learned later that he was once a town Mayor of Los Banos. He used to sit by the train station just to see some kababayans on their way to Manila.
It is said that one time, as he was doing his rounds with a peace officer, he spotted his boyhood friend and kababayan, the late Valentin Afurong aboard the train. So, he immediately planned to surprise him. He ordered his officer to arrest him and detain him in his office. He then appeared later in his office and immediately, Valentin Afurong realized the practical joke. The mayor just wanted to see his friend and share some "usap-Paete" with him.
Blessed with a big and caring family, most of his children are professionals. His relatives usually stay with him and his family, ever helpful and caring to all. He was a true Paetenian and a jolly good fellow.
Amang Merong spent his last days and died in Paete in his old age. I dedicate this line to him, to Baldomero Caguin Paelmo.
I leave the world, in passing, left no stones unturned.
Have done my best, the very best to make the world a better plan.
Not much chest of gold, nor treasures are the things I left behind...
but chains of golden memories and descendants of a noble man.