Friday, October 17, 2014


"It's rather curious, but no matter how old we are, we're always troubled by inexperience--always searching for direction. Don't you agree?...Wake up! Stay awake! I say. You know, faith and hope, those strengths we gained when we were young, are all the more important in old age." - Joan Erikson speaking in Joan Anderson's A Walk on the Beach: Tales on Wisdom from an Unconventional Woman

News of their passing arrived by SMS, email, a phone call a few hours before dawn when I was in that blurry zone between dreaming and wakefulness. The deaths came one after the other during the waning days of September as the month made way for October.

No matter how faith prepares us for death's inevitability, we're still caught by surprise. It's a wonder I got off a jeepney or a cab or a bus without incident as the news of each closing of a life arrived. It's a wonder, too, that my cousins, who are also friends, were able to gather the generations before or after us in an exercise of oneness during the grieving days that, speaking for myself, are not quite over.

I name the departed in the hope that their journey from this dimension to that place suffused with light and love is devoid of the pain, discomfort and all things humans go through in a thorough cleansing process before they behold and become united anew with the Sublime and Divine: cousin-in-law Rodolfo "Dups" de los Reyes, father to nieces Raissa Jeanne and Regina May; Priscilla Flor Domingo, my high school batch's teacher of history, geography and economics; Rosalinda Olivar of Villasis, Pangasinan, mother to Mackenzie, who's part of our extended family in Baguio; Auntie Fe who I associate with adept piano playing (she confidently carried the melody of "Blue Moon" while I struggled to keep up with the bass part) and a unique kind of chuckle that came from deep inside her; and Flora Abeya of Sagada, Mountain Province, gracious Lola Flora to those who visited at her A-7 home in the Cordillera town and a respected "kingmaker" of sorts there.

See you around at the blue-ing of the next moon!

She was known to us as Miss Flor at St. Paul Quezon City. Stark in this former student's mind is her narration how she and her fellow history majors visited Emilio Aguinaldo in his home to try to get him to answer their questions about the Bonifacio puzzle: who had him killed and why? She told of his repeated denials of his involvement. Another time she mused aloud how we were all too young to have known the country to be seized by an overwhelming love for it as one beholds it. It felt that way for her, she said. And so she rests in Taytay, Rizal.

Febe "Fe" Valdellon (left), beloved aunt and the eldest of the five Lolarga siblings, is seen here with sister Pacita Romero, brothers Enrique Jr., Ernesto and Celso, at the May 1988 burial of their mother, Telesfora Cariño Lolarga. The five are reunited.
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