By Michael Bengwayan, Ph. D
As I write this, I am in recollection creek. There is grief in the air. Ambrose Sagalla is someone I knew very much. First, as one of my karate instructors and co-karateka under the Japan Karate Association (JKA). Second as my student (he took up MS Rural Development at Benguet State University) and I was his professor in Development Communication and Communication Strategies. And followingly, as a co-worker in community development (we shared the same belief that only when people are conscientisized would they be able to to rise from their apathy). Beyond all, I was a drinking buddy–we laughed to our hearts’ content at everyone’s joke and shared a wise word or two when discussions got serious or otherwise.
Ambrose Sagalla was first dan brown belt in karate under sensei Kunio Sasaki in 1975. It was when the first JKA world karate tournament was held in Baguio City. In the finals of the kumite (sparring) he emerged champion over 6 footer 3rd dan black belt Shien Huei of Taiwan. He became the first Igorot karate world champion, a feat not even the late Arsenio Bawingan Jr. ever attained.
Ambrose was always humble in victory. He dedicated his winning to his instructors Sasaki, Bawingan, Cesar Pelingen, Chris Torcedo, and Jerry.
As the years progressed, the JKA became fragmented. Ambrose worked hard to reconcile Bawingan and Sasaki but Jun (Bawingan) was unrepentant. Sasaki had no choice but to recommend JKA Japan to strip off Bawingan’s belt.
Ambrose always acted as a big brother. He was full of energy. Handsome, muscular and jolly, he was an edge to be with either in baseball, softball, basketball or karate. He was one of the original “Rusty Knuckles” basketball players from Guisad because not a few players have kissed the pavement or got an elbow in the face or the ribs when playing with them.
At R & R Bowling Lanes (owned by their aunt), I used to go with Dick (his cousin) and visit him to talk and drink. Later on when he was with the Office of Northern Cultural Communities (ONCC) and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) he concretized his beliefs on rural development even to the consternation of his bosses. He always sought the truth and spoke with eagerness on issues he felt were right. He would stand for a friend come hell or no hell and drank his liquor true like a man without water in his belly. He was a loyal friend.
One time in the wooded cottage of manong Lambert in Pennsylvania, we talked about Ambrose (I and manong Lambert), about karate (which manong Lambert is also an expert in) ove two bottles of whisky and a bottle of brandy. What a night.
When Ambrose headed the provincial office of the NCIP in Palawan, we rarely saw each other. He gave me an invitation twice to see him in Palawan saying “Naimas ti threatened species ditoy, Addo nga ugsa, bayawak, igat”. No wonder the species are now rare, I wrote back to him.
I saw him last year before I headed for Germany at the Easter School Centennial. I was hopeful he would become strong but God had other plans. God wanted Ambrose to play basketball, softball, baseball in heaven and teach those innocent angels karate. A sensible thing.
Ambrose will be missed for sure, not only by us but also by the people whose lives he touched. He valued friendship and was friend to everyone. It is something people can learn from because true and real friends are difficult to find.
Goodbye Ambrose and keep an eye on us who are left here.
Our condolences to Ambrose Sagalla’s family.
This article is from Bibaknets and we are reprinting it here the permission of its author, Dr. Michael Bengwayan. Thanks to Chyt for forwarding this tribute to us.
INFO SOURCE: Michael Bengwayan.