After the death of my father, Pablo Roman, in 1976, I chose to continue R&B Insurance, a company that my siblings wanted to liquidate because of its huge customs liabilities. I was introduced to Teddy Reyes who just left Sentinel Insurance, as he was an expert in surety bonds. Teddy became R&B’s bonding chief but since I just wanted to clean up the liabilities of R&B and focus on insurance, not engaging totally in the surety business, I thought it would be unfair for Teddy’s talent and expertise if he was to be stuck with R&B.
I approached a family friend, Atty. Lolong Lazaro who was then conceptualizing a bonding treaty for GSIS. “My man is an expert in surety bonds – he could head the GSIS project, provided I could call on Teddy whenever I needed help.” One day, Teddy sheepishly told me that he was being recommended to be with the GSIS Pool but was not really considering it. I immediately told him to accept the position. Teddy became the chief underwriter of the GSIS Bonding Group. His underwriting skills and integrity certainly added credibility to this government endeavor. Despite his busy schedule with GSIS, I cannot recall a time when he was not available whenever I needed his help. Years after, Teddy told me that he was being made to justify a wrong decision that someone else made, so I suggested that it was time for him to leave GSIS. And he did. If more government officials had Teddy’s expertise and integrity, our country will not be in the mess we are now in.
Early on in our employer-employee relationship, Teddy wrote me a letter saying that he was resigning because I did not follow his advice. I wrote him back and he stayed. We shared difficult times and every little triumph was celebrated, every failure accepted. From then on, despite our 25-year age difference and our differing points of view, I felt that he treated me as an equal when it came to decision making. We would write position papers and legal pleadings, I would cross out about 3 pages of his 12-page draft and he would equally delete a number of pages of my draft, and then again. This is how we work until we came up with pleadings, even a book which the surety industry uses as its bible up to now, the Philasurers’ Corporate Suretyship book. When it involves coming up with a good work or decision, we would cancel out or affirm each other’s views so that we would come up with our best – no egos were involved.
Our relationship was not limited to business. We became part of each other’s families. I am ninang to Grace and Jim’s weddings, and I was Ninang during Zeny’s and Teddy’s 50th Wedding anniversary. I visited his kids in Sydney and New York, and he stays in our Baguio house with his family. We visit Manang Consuelo Perez in Pangasinan, our common family friend. Having experience with Comelec, Teddy was involved during my brother Ding’s elections and was a permanent guest in our family parties.
We shared personal concerns: he did not want Roque to become a priest because he said that he was relying on Roque to help him financially as he raised his children, since he wanted a good education for all of them. I told him that in Bataan, if you have a priest in the family, “parang may passes ka na sa langit.” Zeny supported Roque’s decision, but he was reluctant. Come to think of it, dahil sobrang bait si Teddy, he no longer needs passes to heaven because he will immediately return to Father God. Kaya Father Roque, pwede bang akin na lang yung passes niya?’
Teddy has retired from GSIS when he would come to my office almost every morning. Zeny said na nagtatampo yung mga anak nila. They invite him to the US and to Australia, but Teddy insists that he wants to help me with R&B. So I told Teddy, “your children have achieved a certain amount of success, they want to share it with you as you have been a good father to them. Let them. You have solved almost all of the surety problems of R&B, you have trained me, I can manage.” He lived the rest of his life with his family -shuttling from the U.S to Australia to Manila- living with Zeny, his children & their families- all of whom loved & served him well. I was very happy when they showed a video of his life during the last party I attended in his Kamuning home.
I will not see Teddy in his coffin. I just left Manila for Vancouver when Father Roque told me about his passing. Perhaps it is best this way. I will always remember him with smiling eyes, loving Zeny and his family, always eager to have fun by joining our party games, always eager to help.
Seeing how Teddy lived, I am truly convinced that if you live by God’s teachings, use your talents to help others, nurture your children and others to be their best, then a taste of heaven can be enjoyed here on earth. We are all better persons, having seen Teddy live his life.