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In Memory of Ish

March 25, 2020
Ish watching Elephant Seals 2011

Ish in 2011, watching Elephant Seals near Cambria

Ish died of a heart attack on March 20. He had been a good friend, but we had drifted apart over the past few years. It was a complicated relationship where I chose loyalty to one friend over friendship with him.  He understood.

He was a funny man with powerful enthusiasms and tastes. He had an unstoppable zeal and curiosity. One time, we went to a Jewish film festival. Another festival-goer, seeing Ish’s obvious Filipino looks, asked “Are you Jewish?” Ish replied happily, “No, I’m just a fan.” That was Ish. A real fan.

No one could order food like Ish. We would go out to dinner, discuss the food and think we had our order set. Then he would throw in more and more items, until the server started looking at us with wide-eyed skepticism. We would end up with a table overflowing with food and bags full of to-go boxes.

Ish July 2010

Ordering food at a fancy restaurant on my birthday in 2010. He bought new shoes for the occasion. He usually wore black t-shirts with a dark overshirt and jeans.

He loved music. He went to every concert he could make time for. I don’t go to many shows, and yet I look back and remember off the top of my head that I was with him at Los Tigres del Norte, Cafe Tacuba, Dwight Yoakum, Adam Ant, Los Lobos, The Bangles – an eclectic mix for sure. He was on top of the latest bands – Pitchfork and Rolling Stone were his bibles – and he always caught KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic.

He worked as a contractor for the military and spent years out on San Nicholas Island, or “San Nick.” He was proud of the dock he maintained and loved fishing off of it. When we visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium, his primary comment on the fish was “Oh! These are good eating!”

He loved cooking shows and the idea of cooking, though he was more likely to eat out. A ribeye was probably his favorite thing on earth. He won our church chili cook-off by making steak and bacon chili – but who wouldn’t win with that?

He loved security. Guns, knives, locks, self defense moves, tips for avoiding scams and criminals, and flashlights. The best present I ever got him was an AAA membership, which he thanked me for every time he saw me.

He was a US Army veteran who served in Germany, cementing his love for a good schnitzel. For some mysterious Army reason, he always backed into parking spaces.

Ish was devoted to his mom, Bernarda. He lived with her on and off for years and loved helping her out, taking special care with her yard and swimming pool. He admired his parents for taking the risk to move to the US from the Phillippines. His father was serving in the Navy in Kodiak, Alaska when the terrifying 9.2 (second most powerful recorded) 1964 earthquake struck.

I have missed Ish a lot recently and will miss him even more. Rest in peace, my scrappy friend. Thanks for all the flashlights.

Ish and CC at Los Tigres del Norte

At Los Tigres del Norte, with a jalapeño cheese dog

Ish at Hearts Castle crop

Hearst Castle, where his highlight was talking about the pool filtration system with the man who worked there.

Ish Bernadette Georgia

Mom Bernarda, sister Georgia and Ish

Ish wins chili cookoff 2007

Winning the chili cookoff, 2007

Sue and Ish at Morro Rock

Visiting Morro Bay, 2010

  1. Liz | permalink
    March 25, 2020 12:06

    He sounded like a lovely man! He was very stylish and may not have known it. A uniform, I love it! I’ve discovered that most people have a variation of one . The world seems less brighter without him and I didn’t even know him. My Mother passed in May 2019 and the world is definitely less brighter for me. I’m so sorry for your loss and his Mother’s!

    • March 25, 2020 14:37

      Thanks, Liz. My condolences on your mother’s passing as well. It’s hard to be without our moms. On the other hand, I am glad I am not going out of my mind worrying about her (and vice versa) during the corona crisis. I believe we will all meet again and it will seem like no time has passed.

  2. Elvie permalink
    March 25, 2020 15:02

    I will miss Ish. He was so very special. It seems like I have known him forever, even tho in reality it was just a short time. Rest in Peace and Joy Ish.

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