By Laarni Ilagan
I WAS spitting blood, struggling to improve my oxygen level saturation from not falling below 94, feeling weak and terrible in the middle of my battle against Covid-19, when I received a Private Message from a Sandra Licoben. I did not know her. We were not even friends on FB. But her surname tipped me off, so later on when I was feeling better, I searched her FB account which confirmed that she was the wife of sir MSL (as we call him at the office, short for Melchor S. Licoben).
At that time in my depressed state, battling anxiety attacks and intimations of mortality, worrying over my kids, a total stranger’s kind message of “good morning ma’am. Praying for you…God Bless you and your family,” touched me deeply that I was jolted out of that spiralling depression.
In isolation while recovering, I had so much time to spend on social media, and I got curious. I searched her name on FB and inadvertently found the FB account of sir MSL. My curiosity while in isolation led me to glimpse an unexpected side of our incoming GM. In retrospect, in my almost 15 years of being in BENECO, I barely knew Engr. Melchor S. Licoben. To me he was a distant figure of authority who was low key being the Engineering Department Manager before it became the Network Services Department (NSD). I was in other non-technical departments before the BENECO South Drive headquarters was built in 2016. Then came Covid-19 in 2020 and the retirement of former GM Gerardo P. Versoza to his eventual passing to the great beyond.
BONSAI HOBBYIST. I did not know that sir MSL was an avid bonsai hobbyist who spends his free time on weekends and holidays tending to his garden and precious bonsais. His posts with hashtag #bonsai101 gives off very zen vibes and what young people now brand as “chill” weekends. No wonder he was the calming influence whenever emotions ran high in the ongoing battle for the GM position. Always reminding all employees to “be calm, to focus, and avoid personal attacks (against the other side).
“Focus on the process, not the person, but remain vigilant. Doon lang tayo sa tama as our former GM GPV used to tell us.”
SERVICE ABOVE SELF motto of Rotarians, sir MSL as a member has been practicing not just as a Rotarian but also when he coined BENECO’s battle cry: BENECO Cares.
BENECO Cares focused on Capacity of employees facilities, Affordability of power rates for consumers, Reliability of power supply and employees, Efficiency of service and employees in performing their job, and Sustainability of BENECO. Indeed, sir MSL has been true to the motto of Service Above Self when he chose to let go of his dream to work and live abroad years ago and remain to serve his people at isinulong ang Rural Electrification movement providing light even to the most difficult to reach sitios in Tacadang, Benguet.
His BENECO team will remain committed Warriors of Light with sir MSL at the helm.