Where it all began…

I received an email today from a visitor of this blog. He said he spoke with an old friend of mine. He saw my post and tried to IM him. He was talking about Lito, my friend off-shore.

Lito played a big part as to where I am right now. As to why and how, read on.

Internet was very young here in the Philippines back in 1998. PHP was in its early version 3 stage. I was working for my very first web programming employment when I discovered that people can really chat outside of mIRC — that is, thru AOL Instant Messenger.

I just had my first gig and was working on it when I received a message from my AOL Instant Messenger. It was someone from the US. As a newbie in the IM world, I eagerly took the chat session. He was, in fact my very first chat mate aside from my very first client. He was a chatter — which means, you won’t get bored when you chat with him. I learned about his family, his kids, his work. He got to know my ‘new passion’ back then — that is programming. He learned about my new girlfriend — now my wife. And for years, we shared our lives thru this virtual medium.

Being the elder one (and I mean, like a father to me), I would consult him once in a while for some major decisions I had to make. I can still remember when I was struggling with the decision of whether to accept the job offer in New York or not. Yes, I had a New York job offer, and you may be thinking how foolish I was to have turned it down. But deciding isn’t that easy. That was one of those times that Lito helped me made up my mind. He was like my US consultant that time — I would ask what was the cost of living in New York, how much is apartment rent, food, etc. That time, I was about to establish Sparrow Interactive with my friend, Jerameel. I was also getting serious with my relationship with Joy that I couldn’t leave her alone. If I had gone, there’s no Team Sparrow, and I may have been back home now for being affected by the dotcom crash in April of 2001, and of course, there would be no Johann. My decision to stay was largely influenced by him.

That was the pre-freelance stage. When I wen’t fulltime as a freelance programmer, the courage to do that, he was one of those who gave me. I still have here the table name holder he sent me with the words “Arnold Gamboa, President. PHPSolutions.net” (PHPSolutions.net was the very first company name I thought back then before Sparrow Interactive.com). That was encouraging indeed. When I started freelancing with Jerameel (my college friend), I only had one computer. I have no money to buy another one. He offered to have one assembled by a nephew. I was willing to pay him then — 3 gives nga lang, parang bumbay. hehehe…. He insisted on giving it free and that he said he will be insulted if I won’t accept it. I had no choice, he was so kind. That gift made it two. And now is a team we call Team Sparrow.

Our friendship isn’t contained only in the virtual world. I remember he visited the Philippines twice. We had lunch together — with his wife and kids. With me was Joy, Jerameel and, guess who, my Mom. I would give him some of my favorite Max Lucado books. He would gave Joy and me some really cool stuff. But on top of the gifts, what made our friendship special is the encouragements we both try to give to each other. And to honor the invaluable support that he gave Joy and me, we asked him to become our ninong when we got married 2003. In absentia, of course. He was in the US when we got married.

I don’t know what happened — the busy-ness of life, I guess, or some other factors — we lost contact last year. Last month, I tried to reestablish my communication with him, but without any response. I dont’ want to assume anything, I just hope that he’s just busy.

Note: *sigh* I don’t know how to end this post. Maybe it should remain open ended.