Archive for August 2009

Reunions and rites are good for our hearts and minds

August 17, 2009

 July and August have become  sacred months of rites of renewal for me and Ed .  These rites are  hopefests :  many birthdays, one wedding, several reunions, many wakes, one 40th  Lumens celebration, one grand  SVD centennial , are a big  bouquet of  blessings and grace for our heart.

Family reunions are the robust source of grace. My sister Deeda and Jason, with Jillian and Julia  flew from New Jersey to be with Tatay and Nanay.  We also had cousin  Jenny  Remigio Hansen from New York .We held a series of   combo bienvenida and birthday parties, from Nadine’s debut, Zoey’s birthday, Lynnet’s birthday lunch  to a despedida this Saturday August 15 to be together in Lucena.  All the young  Villariba children, from toddlers to teenagers danced and sang in all the  gatherings .  I have never seen our clan so  happy with so many weekly rites of loving.

Ed had his centennial reunion with SVD and XVDs this  weekend. We saw many friends and hugged Fr. Tony Pernia, the 9th Superior General of the SVDs and the first Filipino ever to be elected twice as Superior General. Ed was very happy greeting old friends and we even saw his professor in theology. When we greeted him, I felt like going to a time when Ed was a seminarian and he was  a budding theologian.

 Even the women’s organizations such as WOMB and GABRIELA , born during martial law and after  Ninoy’s martyrdom, held several reunions. I was in Lucena for the  family reunions and couldn’t personally meet friends like Gilda Cordero Fernando  and Irene Donato.

Attendance in  wakes and funerals became frequent.  Ed and I bid goodbye to Julius Fortuna, Susan Fernandez and Arnel de Guzman . We saw many friends and listened to many tributes. I told them” In the 90’s, we used to go to the wakes of  friends’ parents. Now it is our friends’ wakes that we are going and has become more frequent.” Today, I am going to Tita Letty Aranilla’s wake and hopefully catch the GSP tribute rites.

During the wake of Cory and  the funeral, we had a reunion with people power.  Never has a Filipino president’s funeral  meant so much to so many people all over the globe.

While people power was gathering steam in the streets, the  rural electrification program held its 40th anniversary in SMX. As Ed and  I met many representatives of the 119 electric cooperatives, we realized the link to our development  work and what our new work with them means.

With cyberspace, we greeted  family  and friends whose birthdays were  due these two months.We couldnt  go to all the dinner parties, in august, we had daily invitations  but  we couldnt travel in all, so we went digital. Thank good ness for FB and Multiply, we celebrated many birthdays in virtual style .

We also got many notices for fundraising for friends who needed funds for treatment and these friends deserved all the help since they served our country with all their hearts. Those whom I could tap and do bodywork access personally, I did and even taught the children to tap themselves. It was good that the children learned instantly to tap their body wisdom. I also was surprised everytime a child heals within an hour after tapping them.

Today, I sum up all the events, from birthdays to final  tributes that Ed and I had  as sacred rites of renewal and hope.  It’s almost like  a wedding anniversary for me. When I go to these rites with Ed, I feel that our lives and love as a couple  has grown in many ways .It’s amazing that  family, friends, community, school  and church reunions could all happen in a short period . I feel my heart is so full. It feels like wrapping the present in a big ribbon for the future . With all these blessings , I commit myself to  more enlivening  and enlightening rites.

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People’s grief and power in a new way

August 5, 2009

 “Cory’s magic is back,” the PDI headline stated. I told Lynett that the august 2 sunday cover made a beautiful imprint. That’s how I want to remember Cory and Lynett said ” It took us five hours to settle for that look on the front page. We wanted the legacy look and so had to go through hundreds of  pictures and events. ” Oh, I love the legacy look.” I responded. With that thought, I went back in time to reminisce when I first met Cory. I had seen her during the wake of Ninoy but she was still deep in grief and I had no reason to approach her. Who was I, an activist and what could I possibly say that would catch her attention ? All these thoughts were put aside when  my friends gathered to discuss what we could do after Ninoy had been buried. Ninoy”s burial march unleashed a million expression of anger and protest. Women were very agitated and we decided that a march of women should be organized. I was assigned to see Cory and request her to lead the women’s march. Since we lived in Times Street then, I went to her house and introduced myself. Cory was very easy to talk  with and she readily agreed to lead the march. There was no hesitation when I showed her the draft manifesto for the women’s march.  When we finally got the march ready, Cory walked with many of our mothers, including Inay, and the various representatives of organizations. That march gave birth to Gabriela and many more new women’s protests. I didnt see Cory when she was finally inaugurated as the revolutionary President. Cory chose some of the women who marched with her as part of her cabinet. I was still in the organizing committee of many protest actions but when ed  was released from detention after EDSA, I chose to focus on solid work for women’s development as a quiet organizer here and overseas.

The next time I saw Cory was during a memorial lecture for Jose Diokno in La Salle.  She told the people she was citizen Cory .Ed and I brought Laraine to the lecture and we greeted Cory as a family. Cory paid Laraine a compliment ” Hello, pretty girl.” Laraine beamed from ear to ear. We appreciated her graciousness and  her simple gesture of  being positive, which is sometimes called ‘small talk” but with Cory, it  was  a lovely gift.

When Ed held his first exhibit last year in GSIS, we invited Noynoy to cut the ribbon with National Artist Napoleon Abueva and Governor Grace Padaca. Noynoy accepted and when he saw the paintings, he promised to bring Cory when she would be well enough. We had hope Cory would come but then we knew she was already having cancer treatments.

When Cory’s health situation deteriorated, I told Ed she would  go within the period Ninoy died. I imagined her being fetched by Ninoy and all those who were precious to her. When she died this Saturday, I was  unprepared . I searched  for signs and saw the web full of prayers. I wanted to go to greenhills and queue the way I did during Ninoy’s wake. But Ed and I had to attend to ECAP events  from morning to late evening. So I prayed and offered what I was doing to God so that Cory would have a crossing she had always prayed for. I felt Cory would have wanted to give the ordinary people more hope, rather than grief.  When I saw all the beautiful and wealthy women and men paying their respects to Cory  in greenhills and in the manila cathedral, I felt like Ed,  out in the fringe, mourning secretly. I felt I did not belong to those who can get car passes and invitations to sit with the family.

But something stirred me this morning. I wanted to say thank you to Cory in person. I remembered all the times she joined protest actions as a citizen and I wanted to show that those actions mattered to me. So I told Ed to hurry up with the meetings in MOA and go to EDSA to see the funeral march. I also texted my brother and sisters to check where they were. Finally Ed and I got to  Magallanes and joined the people. We saw my brother Phey and sister Iris. Everyone had been waiting for hours and no one complained of the long wait. Most of the people wore yellow and were carrying confetti. I wore black and carried my red shawl. Ed wore red and carried a red umbrella. When Cory’s open carriage came, I raised my clenched fist and said my thanks. I saw many waving and chanting  Cory! Cory!  I felt a whole shiver and my eyes were moist . The people marching with the carriage swelled and swept us, almost dragging us , and in that same moment, we were whipped with a heavy downpour, like  a phenomenon similar to the Nazareno rites.

When we finally got to our van, Ed , I and our driver Elmer were all wet but at peace. It was if  Cory’s passing had  taken another meaning, that we would go on with our lives with renewed vigor.  Cory’s death gave us the people power we missed but in a new way. I prayed that all the unity we prayed for would manifest with Cory’s magic, now that she has a larger role in heaven.


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