GOLF’S frustrations are always fun to talk about, but not much is said about fairway friendships.
Actor-singer Subas Herrero was my golf buddy. The talented thespian who could deftly play understanding fathers, criminal masterminds or Catholic priests passed away at 69 in the United States last week.
I was the Benjamin or the youngest of a Monday group that played on the Navy layout in the 1990s. The golf boom was in full swing and I had finally picked up the game after years of being enticed by sports colleagues.
In the way most golfing groups get formed, I got inserted into a happy bunch of passionate golfers by accident. I forgot who invited who but in time I was swinging away with Subas, his Champoy buddy Noel Trinidad, TV and stage director Kokoy Jimenez, Jaime Fabregas, and Gary Lising.
Being such talented actors and performers, my golf buddies wanted to do well in the game. But as expected, our efforts were filled with the pains of trying to master a game that refused to be conquered.
Noel would look at a missed putt in disbelief with that cherubic smile that has never left him. Jaime would mutter in Spanish when the ball refused to obey him. Subas had that stare when he played the bad guy in FPJ movies.
But the disappointments didn’t last very long as the moans would be soon replaced by laughter and joyful banter. The joy was in walking toward each ball that was hiding somewhere away from the fairway. I was the wide-eyed listener to their countless tales about their work and the latest entertainment news. My role was to fill them in on the PBA and other sports stories.
Subas often invited me to play outside of our Monday schedule because he loved the game and wanted to get better at it. He would regale me about his younger days with Father James Reuter’s shows at the Ateneo while we headed toward our errant golf balls. He loved singing, and the acting soon followed in the musicals Reuter staged.
He would delightfully talk about his children, especially the two daughters I had taught at Ateneo. He also once sat during the thesis defense of one of them because he found the topic so engaging. Subas admitted that he got so engrossed that he wanted to ask a question during the deliberation.
Subas also delightfully applauded when I joined Janno Gibbs, Roderick Paulate, Pops Fernandez and others in an opening musical number for one of the Star Awards for TV shows.
Dancing with the stars is not my usual TV role but I saw Subas pointing at me from the audience. When we played golf again, he joyfully teased me to leave the singing and dancing to him and Noel in the future!
The demands of work would separate our band of earth shakers. I would catch Noel and Subas in shows around town and we would try to regroup for golf. In time, Subas could no longer play and headed for the US to be with the bulk of his family. When I heard that he had passed away, I wanted to return to the golf course to salute my friend. I will do that this summer.
Direk Kokoy Jimenez always said that finding the opportunity and time to play golf and do it with friends are the game’s blessings. And if you play well, Kokoy added, that’s a bonus.
So cherish your golf buddies of the past and present. They will understand if you can’t get out of a bunker with one sweep or if you miss another gimme and the same ones who will cheer when you nail a long putt or pose at length after a particularly great tee shot.
I didn’t play well that often and my great bonus was being with Subas and the guys. I’m sure Subas is now inviting the hackers of heaven for a round in the fairways up there.