Obituary of a Man Age 93

IMG_1435An old man from Babag Uno, age 93, passed away this week.  Fifty years ago he was the owner of a hundred hectares of mountain land planted to corn–literally fields of green beside a flowing mountain brook. He also owned the largest house in this community of small people living in small houses. His things were the envy of the village underachievers and the talk of the village gossips. No one above the age of fifty today could not say he or she had not worked in this old man’s farm, had not experienced his tongue-lashing when the man complained of back jobs, had not felt being exploited because of his being poor by this man who once wallowed in riches.  He used to ride sky-high on the glory of being lord of a small manor. Now he’s dead.

What legacy, if any, has the old man left behind? You can name 18 paramours and 6 illegitimate kids, in addition to the 8 he already had with the legal spouse. A chapel in honor of “Mary the Virgin” which he had built using his funds, in the hope of invoking eternal security in the day of judgment. Male heirs who not only inherited his genes but also copied his attitudes, including narrow-mindedness in matters of religion.

The old man died in pain, I was told. For years after he had shacked up with a disgraced woman, he  suffered from a sickness they could not understand–an unheard-of disease. I understand this to be so because the doctors had tried to explain in English what the disease means but none of the sons had been to high school and therefore English still remains to them a foreign language. From the information I had gathered from the sons, I could sense tumor, and it struck him at his vitals.

The old man’s mansion is now a rundown affair, so they laid him for viewing in a house he did not own. For a week persons of some connections to him either by blood or marriage came and offered their prayers, but at the back of their minds remembered the old man’s sexual exploits. None of his sons or daughters were not handsome. One of his granddaughters, who introduced herself to me as J, could pass off for a beauty queen. She owed her face to her grandfather’s half-Spanish roots.

The other legacy the old man has left behind is a piece of land consisting of 10 hectares, now the subject of bitter wrangling and unending court fights of 14 descendants. One son I had talked to said he was willing to die for his own share of the property, and he wanted the  biggest share, being the first son of his father’s youth.You can be sure he did not get that notion from the law of the land; he just invented it. I once tried to share the gospel with this willing-to-die-for-property son, since his wife is already a member of the church.  I did it gently, in the style of one who agrees to disagree and won’t force his opinion on anyone, allowing him for the sake of freedom of rejection to scuttle the homeland dreams the Lord of heaven has for him if he obeys. He would not.

Yesterday, they laid the old man to his rest in a grave under the pines. It would be unmarked for a time, until the heirs have the money to build the patriarch a decent niche to lie in. I am sure Hades would be glad to accept him, that he may have the rest he deserved after a long battle with cancer that had eaten his vitals.

This too comes to me kind of slowly, as a way of lesson application. For I had heard so many people say wholeheartedly and with much enthusiasm that they had been thankful that that Portuguese sailor in search of spices and under the employ of the Spanish monarchs had found himself in our shores. History tells you that Portuguese sailor died at the hands of a Cebuano. You thought death would finish off that sailor’s dream. Well, he too planted on our shores the religion that became our boon and our bane for a period of 500 years.  Boon I say because for the first time in our history as a people, no matter how small we are–a dot when compared to continents–we had found our location on a decent map. And thank Governor General Claveria for giving us surnames.  Bane I say because the Spanish masters had made our Indio ancestors suffer much, and destroyed the moral psyche of generations of Filipinos.

With the death of any old man in your community, pillars of religion so-called, perhaps you can also feel some remorse for the religion that has wrought much havoc to many souls in this country.


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