I thought of logging in to Facebook trying to locate five of the “AMG Originals”; Conrad Siega, the two Juns – Buerano and Obien, Patrick, and Armand Adlawan. We’re the six Filipinos first hire by AMG (Allied Medical Group) a British company after they outbid Whittaker Saudi Arabia Ltd., our previous employer which managed three military hospitals in Saudi Arabia. Only Armand confirmed my invites. And so, like a long lost friends we’ve been so excited updating how we’ve been for the last twenty years. Then I found our picture.
This picture was taken in Riyadh, around maybe 1984 or 1985, at the front door of the Villa we’re staying – housing provided for us by (AMG). I am the one who’s right hand leans on the wall. And the one standing below me with hands on his pocket is Armand Adlawan. Armand stance, look and moustache reminded me of John Beck of the movie “The Other Side of Midnight”.
AMG gave us vehicle for our service, and Conrad became our driver as he was the only one in the group who has a Saudi Driver License. He got paid extra doing that.
We just been on a tour then of the tennis compound owned or rented by Whittaker when this picture was taken. We got home and someone who had a camera took shot at us. Good this picture survived – the only one that wasn’t misplaced.
The former Whittaker’s CEO – I forgot his name – was Patrick’s tennis sparring partner. Patrick took us to the compound, lured us to learn playing tennis. Conrad, Armand and I showed interest, but only Conrad and Armand persevered. They had me as their lone cheering squad. The two “Juns” had other interest: Chasing Filipina nurses of King Khaled Eye Specialist Hospital.
If there was one tennis technique that Armand perfected – it was his serve. It was like a work of art. The way he contoured his body when he threw the ball up, and the way he raised his arm to hit the ball, he was like in a stage rather than in a court. His movement has the semblance of such a sinewy grace, so fluid that as you catch it in slow motion the impression it gave was that of ballet dancer. Conrad’s technique was the opposite. He was awkward and rough, but score most of the times.
Our weekend tennis practice at the Whittaker’s compound cost Patrick his job. Rumor has it that since he was chummy-chummy with Whittaker’s CEO, he was suspected of spying for AMG, (the two companies were rivals). AMG bought Patrick’s contract and let go.
Four of us remained in the Finance Dept when Patrick left. Me, the Finance Manager’s Secretary, Conrad, the Accountant, and the two “Juns”, the Data Entry Operators. Armand, the last one hire from Whittaker, was the Medical Director’s Secretary. His boss, a skinny old guy – Prof White as he was known, had his name in whisper, as “Joe faggot”. I think Armand and Prof White worked together the longest, as wherever Prof White go, and so too, his Sancho Panza.
Conrad was the bargain hunter of the group. Whenever he thought of buying something he surveyed souqs and malls and compared prices. He had the patience of a hawk waiting which store would give his money’s worth. It was propitious he was our driver.
The two “Juns” seemed detach, as they’re out of our flight. They were in a different plane, so to speak, but when we’re all together in our service vehicle, we’re like comrades, civil to each other. Conrad, by routine before heading to our office in the morning would make a stop at one of the Saudi version of “sari-sari” store near our office. I, Jun Buerano, and Armand would buy our supply of day’s smoke, while Conrad and Jun Obien who didn’t smoke would buy their snacks or other stuff.
I and Armand love to talk about any subject under the sun; social issues, arts, politics, world events, religion, music, life in general, etc. He was a good listener, although reticent. He was a good prodder, absorber and digester of talks, yet a stingy contributor. His contribution mostly were general precepts, just so you think he was not bored and to goad you more. It was like he was juicing you out of everything you’ve got – your range, the depth and the density of your thoughts. He let me discussed “Dialectical Materialism”, one time. Heavy stuff! And after I did my piece, he just twinkled his all-knowing eyes.
Armand love to sing, too. He bought a portable organ one time and started composing “tagalog” song. As he was not from the “tagalog” region, he struggled with his lyrics. I helped him out. When he finished the song, I jeered him, “You’re melody seems pattern in one of those Basil Valdez’s songs”. I mentioned the title of the song. Irked that I insinuated him as plagiarist, he played his song in his organ and then Basils. “Now”, he said, “are the two songs the same…huh?” Mea culpa!
AMG, hired Armand last, but move out first. Prof White, his boss, the Don Quixote transferred to Jubail. Naturally, Armand as his Sancho Panza, moved also with Don Quixote.
Later on, I was transferred too, to Tabuk. AMG discovered Jun Buerano’s illegal activity, booted out, and repatriated. Jun Obien got hired as Computer Operator in one of the hospitals in Riyadh. The El-Seif Group of Companies absorbed AMG, and so was Conrad Siega.
Aided by Facebook, Armand and I were able to have updates of our lives after twenty years. As for the other four “AMG originals”, only time will tell if we ever know what happened to them after their Saudi Arabia’s stint. Armand confined to me and Conrad before that he was having problem with his wife not conceiving. Now, I learned he has three beautiful grown-ups. I said, what happened? He said he was coached by his boss. I learned, too, that Armand studied Law, and now, he’s a Municipal Judge.
The big change is Armand not wearing moustache anymore. I guessed that’s verboten as an image of a judge.