Friday, January 1, 2016

The dreams that he inspired

Jerry Araos and those dreams are alive and growing healthily in The Garden of Two Dragons in Antipolo even as the urn containing his ashes was lowered last Sunday in a corner of The Mandala. The Mandala, the central section of his garden, has always been sacred space. There his immediate family led by widow Melen Araos and participants formed a semi-circle during a short commemorative, celebratory program. After his death on Dec. 23, 2012, and the homecoming of two overseas-based daughters and their families over the holidays, he finally got his send-off party. Yes, there were lumps in some of our throats, a few tears when the music swelled and words of remembrance were spoken. But all in all, like the white butterfly and breeze that passed by, there was Jerry's lightness of being all over the place. Godspeed once more!

For three years, the ashes were stored here on the balcony overlooking the garden. When we'd visit, we'd mentally talk to Jerry as if he were still there.

View from the balcony on a sunny morning

A reproduction of the Jerry who's still written large in our hearts and minds

Violinist Coke Bolipata plays "Amazing Grace" with what we can only call a Southern drawl to the arrangement.

Princess Nemenzo reads Louis Untermeyer's "The Prayer" part of which runs thus: "Ever insurgent let me be, / Make me more daring than devout; / From sleek contentment keep me free, / And fill me with a buoyant doubt."
Jerry handwrote these lines on a piece of paper. At first the family thought that they were his composition until the lines were entered into a Google search. A family member surmised that he may have encountered them while he was a political prisoner.

Waya Araos Wijangco, Jerry's eldest daughter, on the five things she and her siblings learned from their father's example: Live life with courage; live life with purpose; live a life of work; live life generously; and live life in love.

Apart from "The Lord's Prayer," young tenor Nomher Nival sang two of Jerry's favorite Mario Lanza songs: Nicholas Brodszky's "Be My Love" and and Irish tune "Danny Boy." Jerry used to waken his then young children by belting out these songs even if he was a little tone deaf from a childhood accident (he fell off a tree).

Although Pastor Noel Suministrado didn't have the pleasure and privilege of meeting Jerry when he still walked this earth, he could tell that the departed's life was one "lived in passion, a life lived to the fullest." With him inside The Mandala are Mira Araos Mariano, Kulas Besa, Nina Araos, Waya, Ernie and Sam Wijangco, and Dodo Defeo. Dodo recalled in his remarks a "Jerry-ism" that he picked up: how art at its basest is prostitution and how art at its loftiest is philanthropy.

Jerry's lust for life is encoded in the DNA of the next generations: his daughters Liwa and Waya and granddaughters Nina, Sophia Espanola and Amara Encabo. Photos by Babeth Lolarga
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