Retired Col. Filoteo S. Arevalo received a surprise advance gift for his birthday on Feb. 17 with the news that one of his sons, Benedict Musni Arevalo, former commander of the Army’s 3rd Infantry (Spearhead) Division in Aklan was promoted by President Bongbong Marcos to the rank of lieutenant general, or three-star rank, and has assumed as the Visayas Command commander.
The joy and pride were shared by mommy Norma as well as the 10 other siblings of the family who were once honored by the city government as a Huwarang Pamilya. At the peak of his age, the original “Balong” and lovely wife Norma could not ask for more.
Lt/Gen. Benedict is a member of Philippine Military Academy Class of 1990 following the footsteps of dad of PMA Class of 1956 and siblings – former Customs Commissioner Alexander of PMA of 1982, commercial pilot Capt. Filoteo Jr. of PMA 1984, M/Gen. Robert of PMA 1985 and B/Gen. Armand of PMA of 1991 and camp commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines headquarters at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.
Five cavaliers plus their dad probably is record breaking, but the six other children have likewise shined on their own – Dr. Annabelle, director of a medical facility in Florida married to Dr. Jun Aragon; Dr. Ronald, medical technologist topnotcher and a neanthologist in New York; Bernadette, chief executive officer of Musar Music Corp. married to yours truly; Filma, school teacher in New Jersey married to Rainbow executive Mike Marchisin; Marilou, head of the music school of Musar married to JAGS lawyer Major Macky Maquilan, and lawyer Ma. Tarahata, now Regional Trial Court branch clerk of court, married to Judge Jorge Manaois.
The spouses of the gentlemen are similarly formidable, Benedict’s Becca Montenegro, senior faculty at Assumption College, Armand’s Joanne Avenido, former banker and now an enterprising general’s wife. Natz and Jinky being entrepreneurs themselves.
Back to Benedict, a month ago, his thoughts were on retirement after career frustrations and a personal tragedy when Covid-19 took away his son Alvin at a very young age.
He tagged along with his dad in all the military camps where he was assigned. He was more than an aide de camp and security officer. But God works in strange ways and there must have been a reason for the “call to arms” at a tender age.
All I can do when he was having thoughts of going back to civilian life was mutter to myself the words of Sharon Cuneta in her movie “Bituing Walang Ningning” when she tapped the shoulder of the problematic Nida Blanca – “‘Di bale Rosa, bukas luluhod ang mga tala.” And indeed last Monday the stars shone on him with a message – there is hope, life must go on.
Now, he has three stars and three more years with his Alvin in heaven, grinning from ear to ear so very proud of his dad and maybe, a fourth star on its way.