by Bro. Mark Francis C. Hamoy, '86D Acey-Deucey
Just because it took me more than a year to pick up where I left off on this blog, that does not signify that the impact the second Noel had in my life as an APO is in any way lesser. If Noel Frias Hipolito was instrumental in my becoming APO, Noel Melchor Cura Yap influenced my being APO.
Noel Yap was my first cousin and, as I lived with him and his sisters in one apartment, he was inevitably my room mate as well. Countless nights were spent just yapping it up with him, dreaming our big dreams and being full with ourselves. We called those sessions “cow” talk – as in because we were “cowsins”.
He was an elder brother, too, in the sense that he joined the Alpha Phi Omega two years ahead of me. He was part of Theta '84A Golden Pyramid, along with Bro. Alex Cesar L. Castro and Bro. P.G. Osmundo N. Capunitan. Two of them became GCs, Alex in 1986 and Noel in 1988, while Ding served as PC.
Noel as GC epitomized the LFS inculcated in us during our pledgeship. He was at once our leader, friend and servant. I am fairly certain that many of us who were his contemporaries in Theta would somehow like to claim that some of him rubbed off on us as well.
Noel left UPLB early without completing his undergrad degree and was on his way in the real world. Still, he’d frequently visit us and hang out with the brods at our puno in front of the Men’s Residence Hall on campus. And perhaps to many of us living on a student’s allowance, his visits were most welcome as Noel was always a generous visiting brod.
It was, thus, with no small measure of grief that we received the news of his untimely demise when on that tragic summer in 1990, he and his father were among the victims of an NPA ambush in Zambales. They had been there to hunt and simply got caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Practically everyone from Theta was present when father and son were interred in Angeles. We performed the APO necrological rites for Brod Noel and served as his pallbearers. That was the saddest I ever felt singing the APO Toast Song and it was evident that all the APO brods present at that time shared the same sentiment.
To this day, I still wonder what he and I could have accomplished together had his life not been snuffed out so senselessly just as he was hitting his stride. Who knows what else we could have achieved. Because at the end of the day, we thrived on each other’s ambition, each one serving as the impetus of the other.
Some 15 odd years later, Noel’s absence still leaves a void in our lives.
*Reposted from an earlier article on WordPress with minimal editing.