"Why in the hell won't that damn ash fall.", I said to myself. It was damn embarrassing that an older man could walk through ten or twelve men and not only was he hardly breaking a sweat, but could do this and the whole while could keep a long ash hanging from his lip. J.C. Cabiero had brought his crew in from Merced, Ca., and Jimmy Tacosa was also there with some of his crew from the Bay Area.
Angel Cabales had asked all of us to attend the Saturday training session. We had been training on Wednesday and on a Saturday. For some reason the afternoon training sessions would be the ones where we stayed the latest. There were times that we didn't leave into really late in the night.
These were the times that we would sometimes just sit around and shoot the shit after training. These are the kind of times that I so dearly want to have again and also share with my students. It was an honor and a deep blessing to have sat at the knee of Angel Cabales during those late night training sessions
. He would keep us enthralled with his stories and just by his taking the time to talk with us about life. when people tell me how lucky I was to have trained with Angel Cabales: They can never truly understand how well that I know this. Manong Angel made you feel that you were the only one in the room that he was speaking to. He had charisma leaking from his diminutive frame. GM Carlito Bonjoc and myself had tried to do our best to avoid being the first ones to spar Angel. We continually gave our spot up to others. We thought that he would surely be tired by the time that he finally got to the both of us.
Come on...there were at least ten guys ahead of us that Angel was going to spar. He intended to take everyone one on one until everybody had a chance to spar with him and he was going to do this non-stop. Most of the students were already advanced graduates of either Jaime or Angel himself. He had never done this before that day and so we figured that it would take a toll upon him, because of the sheer number of people that he would have to spar.
Shit, were we wrong. As I was standing in line watching I could see the ash of his cigarette just get longer and longer, but it just wouldn't fall. I don't know what was more fascinating: Angel fighting a dozen men non-stop, or that he could do this without the long ash hanging from his cigarette not coming off while doing this. You could see the tip glow a little more bright red periodically. By the time that Carlito and I were getting to our turn, not only was there a really long hanging ash, but Angel was now really warming up and was ready to go full blast.
Now Carlito and I were gently juggling each other to be next. We both knew that we didn't want to be the very last one up. I can't truly say who was the last man up, but it may have been myself. Hell, I don't really remember too much about actually sparring Manong Angel that day, after all its been many years ago. But, what i can remember was a man in his upper years being able to go through at least a dozen trained men without breaking a sweat or dropping his ash off of the end of his cigarette. I do remember towards the end of the sparring session that he had a little perspiration forming on his forehead.
Now days GM Bonjoc and I get to periodically attend functions together. I know that he looks at me sometimes and wonders why I am staring at him. During those staring moments I am fondly remembering this time and moment that we shared so many years ago. There are many more. There are some things that we can never ever forget, it is how we are made. We can't help this. There are a lot of men that I have met who have out grown their teachers. They say this and they say that about their teachers. I say that I will never forget Angel Cabales, because of the many gifts that he gave me and the honor that it was to have been trained by him. As I write this I am picturing that long ash hanging from his lip. God Bless you Manong: If they allow smoking in heaven light one up on me.