By BRO. JOEY AVELLANA
The Urban (Online) Dictionary defines the Filipino colloquial word “WALASTIK” to be translated loosely as “excellent” or “fantabulous”. Literally translated, it means “no plastic” (walang plastic) implying no signs of impurity, shallow goodness or any negative connotations.
In short… THE WHOLE PACKAGE.
If I stop right here, my essay on Louie Morales would be complete, right? Not exactly.
I would like to take a little more time to tell you about the guy, whom I have known for 40 some years. At the end of which, I hope you will agree, that Louie Morales deserves the expression… WALASTIK TALAGA SI LOUIE!
THE ADVERTISING HOTSHOT
I started my career as an advertising trainee in my father’s Ad Agency, Avellana & Associates, Inc. in January 1980. Learning the ropes meant finding your way through the glitz and puffery that the advertising industry thrived in. It also meant getting to know the movers and shakers in the industry, the giants and the mortals, the genuine from the peddlers of snake oil. Good thing I had my father to teach me the ropes.
One of the agency hotshots even at that time was a younger (than my dad!) dark and handsome ad executive whom my dad introduced to me at an industry event.
He walks up to us and says, “Hi. Totoy! How are things?” My dad replies, “Oh hi, Louie. I want you to meet my son Joey, works for me now.”
After some pleasantries Louie goes on to meet other industry bigwigs and my dad says to me, “Follow that guy. He is one of the people I really like in this industry.”
Former President and Chairman of the 4As, Chairman of the Advertising Board of the Philippines, creator of many award-winning ad campaigns for San Miguel Beer, Royal Tru Orange and many other blue chip clients, Louie Morales was a clearly already a giant in Philippine Advertising when I was just starting with my career.
Louie Morales, the advertising hotshot called my father, one of the pioneers in the industry “Boss”, and my dad, in turn called him “Bata”, loosely translated in the language of advertising as trainee or understudy.
I am sure many men and women in advertising earned their stripes working for the great Louie Morales. I know of some friends and colleagues who worked under him at Philippine Advertising Counsellors (PAC), the agency where he held a very senior position, and subsequently, when he went off to form his own agency, Image Dimensions.
Some of them even went on to work in our Agency, and vice versa, when our staff went to work with Louie’s agency.
Over the years, I would continue to see Louie in many different occasions- – across the conference table to attend a Client briefing for a campaign pitch, or a trade event; during the Advertising Congress or AdBoard meetings (The Advertising Board of the Philippines or AdBoard is the group of the major trade associations involved in the Philippine Advertising Industry; Louie was its founding Chairman, holding that position a total of eight terms); or in the fairways, bowling lanes, basketball and volleyball courts for industry sportsfests.
I considered him among my ad industry mentors, and we developed a friendship that was peculiar, in the sense that I did not exactly work for him. But we took to each other quite naturally, and he really helped me grow in my confidence and knowledge of the workings of advertising. He took me on as a project, first through observation, and in later years calling me to participate in projects of the Ad Association (4As), the AdBoard, the Ad Foundation, or wherever else he was working on projects.
By this time. Louie, my mentor, called me the way that my dad used to call him: “Bata! Halika, may gagawin tayo!”
We worked together in the EDSA Commemorative programs, and when he was the Executive Director of the Philippine Centennial Commission, he asked me to join the Steering
Committee tasked with putting together the image campaign for the celebration of 100 years of Philippine Independence.
THE TRAINING STYLE OF LOUIE
In 1993, Lulu and I joined the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals (BCBP) via its Christian Life Program #22 in Makati. Louie Morales of course, was already a leader in the community, and would eventually become its President.
During the BCBP 20th National Anniversary Celebration in 2000, Louie called me and said “Bata, kailangan kita sa NAC sa Subic; may pagagawa ako sa iyo.” At that time, I was Music Ministry Head of BCBP Makati and we were assigned to provide all the music support for the worship and breakfast assemblies. But Louie would not let me off so easily.
“I need somebody to handle the continuity for the entire NAC 20. I want you to do it.”, Louie ordered, and he wouldn’t take no for an answer. So that weekend in Subic, I was all over the place and running from the choir position to the podium and back, just so that Louie would have exactly the program he wanted. I didn’t mind Louie’s calling me out of the blue to do various different things, most especially in the BCBP.
At one training weekend that he was present in Teacher’s Camp in Baguio, I raised my hand to make a comment. Louie quickly took the microphone from the facilitator.
He said, “That is a good idea, Joey! Why don’t you put it in a proposal and we can adopt it. You know in the Brotherhood, if you have a good idea, ikaw din ang gagawa niyan!”
Later on Roy Calleja would tell me, “Si Louie, magaling mag-turo yan, yung style niya ng pag-mentor, ang tawag, TBA (Training By Abandonment)!”
But I was O.K. with that. To Louie Morales, I would always be his trainee. Didn’t matter if it was in advertising or in the renewal.
TERMS OF ENDEARMENT
Everywhere Louie went, he loved giving people pet names. And those names stuck. Among our friends in advertising, there was Rose Bud, Giant, Dayunyor, among others. In the BCBP, the list was longer: Pogi, Manong, General, Kid, Clark Kent, Payat, Ate Cute, Miss Lolo, Minnie, Chocolate Girl and many more.
I asked his son-in-law Eugene, “Would you know if your dad gave special names for family members or close friends?” Eugene’s reply: “Gosh, Tito, Dad had so many nicknames for so many people!”
I said earlier that Louie had passed on to me the nickname my dad called him, and that was fine with me. But somewhere along the way I got upgraded, so to speak, when Louie gave me a new monicker. That was in October of 2003, when my dad had passed away.
Louie came to pay his respects to the family, and sat beside me at the wake.
And I said, “Tang, wala na si Totoy; wala na akong Tatay. Pwede ba, ikaw nalang?” Without hesitation, he replied:”Yun lang ba? Wag mo nang isipin yon. Mula ngayon Anak na ang tawag ko sa iyo!”
My grief turned to joy. That was the day the Bata got a new name… Anak.
In the BCBP, Louie was always all out for service, especially when it came to mission. Everybody acknowledges that Louie was instrumental in the growth of the BCBP. He led the early mission team forays out of Alabang to establish a beachhead in Cebu. That is why he was dubbed the “Wild Horse” of Alabang. But he didn’t stop there. He joined most of the mission teams that went on to open breakfasts in Visayas and Mindanao.
During his term as President in 2000-2002, Louie was responsible for the major expansion of the BCBP community to unprecedented levels.
Louie was always the go-to guy for BCBP matters. He was so knowledgeable about the community, everyone would seek him out! “Nasaan si Tatang Louie? Tanungin natin!”
Louie is definitely a free spirit. You just cannot contain the guy. And his zeal for spreading the BCBP is unmatched and insatiable. He would never pass up any opportunity to evangelize or opening up new breakfasts venues or missions. Louie left the whole BCBP community in the dust, chasing after him. “Saan tayo pupunta ngayon? Bakit? Tanong mo si STK!”
“Si Tatang Kasi.” STK, the nickname Louie was given to acknowledge Louie’s Andres Bonifacio-like approach to BCBP mission work: SUGOD BCBP!
Stories about his mission zeal are legend in BCBP folklore.
Just ask any of the misyoneros who had the chance to serve with the Wild Horse.
One of Louie’s big dreams was to export the BCBP brand and use it as a tool for evangelizing the world. Thus was the BCBP presence in North America started, in California initially, then the East Coast and there after in Toronto, after Etchin Sumagang, a member of our BCBP Mancom decided to immigrate to Canada. Louie’s parting words to Etchin, “magbukas ka ng breakfast doon pagdating mo!”
Asia soon followed, with the first breakfast in Singapore after Louie, who took a smoke break while strolling, struck more than just a matchstick, striking up a conversation with the parish priest of the Sts. Peter & Paul parish. One could say that Louie, in a way, literally fired up the Singapore mission, that it became a full fledged chapter of the BCBP in a record period of three years!
Such was Louie’s gift, an uncanny ability to identify places where the BCBP flag could be planted. Ask him his secret and you will invariably get this answer: “Holy Spirit yan, Bata!”
Louie’s dream of a truly global BCBP is still a work in progress, as the charter for the creation of the BCBP International Foundation, Inc. (BIFI) in its final stages as of this writing. The foundation will be registered in New York and will be the vehicle for all BCBP global mission activities.
A MAN OF PASSION
Louie Morales is one of the most passionate people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. His approach to things he loved was nothing short of a full commitment.
Louie’s love for the Lord and His work is very clearly evident in the passion that he approached everything he did for the BCBP community. He was internally driven: he had a deep and intimate relationship with God and it showed. He would be up at 3:00 am and straight-away do his morning prayers and Scripture readings.
Louie unselfishly gave so much of his time to the BCBP- – as leader, mentor, tormentor, instigator, motivator, protector. He loved the BCBP, and in turn, was loved and respected by all.
But Louie’s greatest love of all was Mother Lilli, and he openly professed this to all. And during the times he would serve solo because Mother Lilli was in NY, he would say, “Ayun, iniwan na naman ako; alam nyo naman yung kalahati ng pamilya ko nasa Nuyok!”
Louie was also so proud of his all his children- – Michael, Luis and Patricia in New York, and Vanessa and Patrick in Manila. And he was a doting and loving Lolo to all his grand kids, his weakness, whom he calls his “apostolates”.
Walastik, WALA (na si) STK
Louie was in a lot of pain because of his bad knees.
For years, we had been telling him, “Pa-opera mo na yan, habang bata ka pa!” But Louie follows his own instinct and decides by himself when to do anything.
After his surgery, I saw him at the Alabang Country Club, in a wheelchair. I asked how it
was and he replied, “Heto, masakit mag rehab; hirap maglakad!” I replied, “Tiisin mo lang yan, Tang! Kaya mo yan!”
This was the last time I saw Louie.
How Louie lived, how Louie worked, how Louie played… he pursued everything he did with purpose. With Intensity. With Love.
To me, that is the character that sums up who Louie Morales is to me. WALASTIK! Fantastic!
Bravo, Tatang Louie! You have run your race. And you have kept the faith. Go now and share in your Master’s joy! WALA na si STK! Farewell, Tatang Louie! You will always be remembered! Thank you for everything! Enjoy heaven!