I first came to know Metal during the summer that bridged our sophomore and junior years in high school, when we and some twenty others from our batch started training as drum and bugle corps* members on our way to becoming CAT officers senior year. He was assigned the "taho," a drum that got its name because of its resemblance to the deep container taho vendors use; I was given the bass drum.
Metal had an atypical given name (which I thought was probably a portmanteau of his parents' names) but I couldn't bring myself to call him that—it sounded a lot like "Jennifer," and if there ever was anyone who didn't look like a Jennifer it was, well, Joniepher.
There was an obvious reason for that: he was the most muscular in our troop. He was only of average height but Metal was ripped for a 14- or 15-year-old, which was yet another reason why his alias was so apt. All those push-ups and chin-ups we had to do for exercise or punishment were nothing to him; he could do those all the livelong day. The rest of us could only wonder what it was he did back in his hometown of Pamplona, Camarines Sur that gave him that physique.
For that summer training we were required to use our Type-B CAT uniform, which included a military web belt with a buckle, and was inspected daily. One day Metal showed up wearing a leather belt with a "western-style" buckle, the type that is invariably described as "ga-plato" and would make a very handy weapon in a "puksaan" or rumble. After our upperclassmen officers saw it during inspection, they decided to dub him "Metal." At first it was only them and all of us DBC members that called him that, but eventually our entire batch followed suit.
He may or may not have hated his moniker, but Metal never stopped us from calling him that to his face. He eventually dropped the nickname, though—those who knew him from college at the University of Nueva Caceres call him "Ref," which was short for his family name. But to this day our high school batch knows him as Metal.
*We were actually a drum and lyre corps, not a DBC, since we didn't have bugles or other brass instruments. I didn't dare tell our upperclassmen officers or our commandant that, though.
[13 October 2011 Edit]
Sometimes it's a good idea to allow other people to have access your social networking site accounts, sometimes it's not.
I looked at Metal's Facebook page a couple of minutes ago and got creeped out: there was an entry from around noon today saying that he has updated his current city to Naga City. I knew it was probably his widow who did it, but that didn't stop me from getting goose bumps.