On Its Second Year

 

It is true what they say. In time you will no longer feel much pain. You will keep moving. You’ll finally get used to the absence.

As much as I love him,  I try not to dwell on the thought that we lost him. I try to see it in a different perspective. He lives in us, we carry him in our hearts.

I still cry but not as much as I did. When he crosses my mind I feel sad but I feel much stronger now.

Although there are moments when I can’t help the tears especially when things around me bring vivid memories of him.

Like last night my kids were playing with their Dad. My little girl was walking on his back and saying that she’s giving him a massage. I remembered during our younger days when we would do the same. Tears fell from my eyes.

Just a while ago when we were watching one of our favorite comedy shows, if featured the 1980 something show called Knight Rider. I remembered the talking black car called KITT, that drove super fast, was bulletproof, fireproof, and helped Michael fought injustices in the world. It brought up some childhood memories. My siblings and I were fond of the super powered car that we named our family car, Kit. If I remember it right, our father even put up a moving light in front of our car pretending that we’re really driving Kit! Something like this:

kitt

Every morning, to wake up my kids, I put up the curtain and let the sunlight into our bedroom. I talk to them or sing to them just the way our old man did.

I know there will be more reminders along the way. One clear proof that our love ones continue to live…

 

 

First Christmas Without Her

When we go to church every Sunday, I always notice a couple who I think are on their 80’s. Although they’re very old, I can definitely still see and feel their love for each other. They look very happy.

I remember in July 2016, they had to sit close to us because the church was packed. I could hear the old man singing so beautifully. Before leaving, the old man handed us a prayer pamphlet. It was a devotion to St. Joseph. The old lady had a very sweet smile.

Sometime in October 2016, the church recognized all the couples who celebrated their wedding anniversary. This couple was one of them. I heard they celebrated their 57 years together. So after the mass, I came up to them to congratulate them. I told them that they are an inspiration to young married couples like us. I saw the old lady’s face beaming and they proudly talked about their kids, grand kids, and great grand children. I gave them a hug and said bye.

In November 2016, I noticed that the old man was alone. For a few weeks, I wanted to come up to him to ask how he was but never got the chance. I had a feeling and I hope I was wrong.

Last night, my eyes were fixed on the old man. It is a week before Christmas and I decided to greet him a Merry Christmas in advance after the service. His name is Raul. It is the first Christmas without her after 57 years. He said he always sees her in spirit.

We talked for a while. I mentioned about my Dad who passed away last year. Somehow when I see Raul he reminds me of him. Same age. Both wearing their favorite beige/khaki jacket. After mentioning about my Dad, Raul said at age 82. I was so shocked how he knew that my Dad was 82 when he died. He said it just came to his mind and that the spirit works in mysterious ways. I gave him a hug and told him that I’ll pray for his  beautiful and sweet wife.

I know I will be seeing Raul by himself every church time, and I pray that I will see him for a very long time. I can’t help but think again about the bitter reality of growing old, death, dying, and being left alone. And for us who are left behind, we have to live and keep going.

I also remember my Tatay (Dad) and Mommy who were together for 53 years. This January 2017 is supposed to be their 55th Anniversary. Here is a photo of them taken by my sister that year  before he passed away. One of the most beautiful and meaningful photos I keep.

tay-and-mommy

 

 

 

Do You Know Your Roots?

I have always been interested in the family tree. When I was young, we used to go to one of our grandfather’s home, Arsenio. He had our family tree painted on his walls. I thought it was amazing to see all these people coming from one tree. From then on, it got me curious.

I was in grade school when I interviewed a great grandfather in our family. He was called Lolo (Grand father) Marcial. His wife was my great-grandfather’s (Lamberto) youngest sister, Paula.  I had a little notebook where I wrote down the names of my ancestors and how people were related to each other. The journal is no longer in my possession for years now. I will definitely look for it when I get back to the Philippines. For now, I only rely on asking family members.

Not everybody is interested to get to know their family members especially the new generation. The past may not be of their concern right now.  We tend to be very busy in our own little worlds. However, I believe a time will come when they will see the value or delight in tracing their roots and recognizing blood ties or blood relations.

I am writing this for the generations to come especially for my children and their children, and to all my descendants. With this, they can have a glimpse of the past, where they come from, where they belong, and have an appreciation of being part of a big family.

I am always amazed when I think about the many lives, families, and generations that come to life from two people who chose to start a family. I wanted to trace four sides (blood lines of my grandparents from both Father and Mother’s sides) but it would certainly take a lot of time and work. Maybe in the future I will be able to do so. For now, I am going to write about my grandfather’s line (father’s side), the Lazaro clan.  Below is an old photo shared by my Auntie Victoria (Arsenio’s daughter) which she got from Lola  Zeny (daughter of Marcial and Paula).

family

This is the portrait of my great grandparents (at the center) named Paulina Cuevas Guinto and his husband, Lamberto Lazaro with their five sons.

THE GREAT-GREAT-GREAT- GRANDPARENTS

Sebastian Cuevas and Gregoria Javier  are the names of my great- great-great-grandparents or third great grandparents. Their daughter is Petronila Cuevas, who is my great-great grandmother or second great-grandmother. Her daughter is Paulina Cuevas Guinto, my first great-grandmother (the one in the photo above). I remember their names (Petronila, Paulina, and all the grandfathers on the photo above) whenever we would visit their graves on All Souls’ Day in Bacoor Catholic Cemetery in the Philippines.

I just found out a few days ago from my Uncle Edgardo (Felicisimo’s son) that Petronila Cuevas, my second great grandmother,  is the sister of Datu Kalun, a man known in Philippine history particularly in Basilan (in Mindanao). Datu is the title for chiefs, sovereign princes, and monarchs in the Visayas and Mindanao regions of the Philippines.

datu lolo

I googled him and found this:

“Pedro Javier Cuevas “Datu Kalun” was Born in Bacoor, Cavite Province on May 6, 1845 to Sebastian Cuevas and Gregoria Javier. Pedro was a hard-working, pious, and patriotic young boy. He was an expert in arnis, a Filipino martial arts which emphasizes in the use of wooden stick, bladed weapons & bare hand. At the age of 27, he was sentenced to death along with his two friends for their anti-Spanish activities which took place during the Cavite Uprising of 1872. They were charged for the death of a Spanish officer of the Guardia Civil. His punishment was commuted to life imprisonment for his non-direct involvement in the murder. He was exiled to San Ramon Penal Farm in Zamboanga, a place for political prisoners. The harsh treatment he received from the Spanish jail guards in San Ramon Penal Farm led him and six other inmates to stage a successful revolt and then escaped towards the mountains of Ayala, a nearby barangay. They crossed the Basilan Strait with a stolen vinta and landed in Malamawi Island, Basilan, only to find out that they had to face three hostile forces: The Spanish authorities, Yakans, and Sulu forces. The group led by Pedro had no choice but to fight in order to survive. His strong leadership, and his skills in diplomacy and combat earned him the respect of the natives and his fellow escapees. Spanish Colonial authority’s efforts to capture him were unsuccessful. Joined by Yakan fighters and military mutineers, Pedro’s group grew in numbers and they became an effective fighting force against the Spanish authority as well as Sulu slave-traders and pirates who frequented Basilan to collect tributes. Over the years, his group gradually conquered 26 villages – almost the entire Basilan Island, but he wittingly spared the Spanish military garrison in Isabela, which he and his followers saved from the Sulu pirates in the late 1870’s. In 1880, Fr. Pedro Llausas, a Spanish Jesuit priest in Isabela facilitated the request for the amnesty of Pedro and twenty of his fellow escapees and mutineers. He was pardoned by the Spanish Crown on July 21, 1882, during the term of Fernando Primo de Rivera, Governor General of the Philippine Islands. During a duel in the early 1880’s, Pedro Cuevas defeated Datu Calun, a leading Sulu warrior, who was sent to challenge him. Sometime in 1884-1885, the title Datu was vested on him by Ali Ud-din. He then assumed the name of Calun. Since then, Pedro Javier Cuevas came to be known in Philippine history as Datu Kalun, the undisputed ruler of Basilan and nearby islands. In 1894, he led a successful expedition to Bohe Lebbeng, a coastal village in the eastern part of Basilan against the forces of Sulu General, Datu Djulkanayin, who came all the way from Jolo in May of 1894, with his armed followers to collect tributes and assert control over the people of Basilan. The peaceful settlement of this incident showed his brilliant skills in diplomacy and strategy, thereby, affirming his position as Teniente Absoluto of Basilan. Datu Kalun’s strenuous physical life from his teenage days drained him of vigour. He passed away in Lamitan, Basilan on July 16, 1904 at the age of 59. He was succeeded by his nephew Gabino Cuevas Pamaran known as Datu Murusalun. Among Datu Kalun’s significant achievements in Basilan were the imposition of justice system, introduction of efficient farming method, economic and social development, consolidation of the Basileños, and freedom from Sulu pirates, slave traders and Spanish incursions. These made him a great leader of his time. Datu Kalun was a patriot to his countrymen, a hero to his followers, and an icon to his family. Edwin F. Pamaran

datu

Other links where you can find information about him:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Basilan#Conquest_of_Lamitan

http://lgulamitan.page4.me/47.html

http://www.lamitancity.gov.ph/html/historicalplaces.html

Credit to my history teacher, Fernando Santiago for sharing the next link:

http://quod.lib.umich.edu/p/philamer/ACX1716.1903.002/1228?rgn=full+text;view=image;q1=datu+kalun

THE GRANDFATHERS

Lamberto Lazaro, my first great-grandfather, has four other siblings: Maria Inocente, Isidro “Idong” Lazaro, Antonio “Toyong” Lazaro, and Paula Lazaro Reyes. I could not trace anymore Lamberto’s parents, my great-great grandparent.

Lamberto as shown in the picture above has five sons: From Left to Right, Dominador, Francisco, Amado, Arsenio (beside Paulina), and Felicisimo (beside Lamberto).

Amado died during World War II and I do not know any information about Francisco. Dominador, Arsenio and Felicisimo were lawyers in profession. Felicisimo was the youngest of the brothers and has been known to be a living legend. He was a sharpshooting police colonel and famously known as the “Tulisan.” http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/8187/the-true-value-of-war

tulisan

Dominador was the eldest among the five brothers. He is my grandfather. He was a criminal lawyer and later on worked as Legal Counsel to the Police District. Dominador’s children are (from eldest to youngest): Lourdes, Hermoso, Dominador Jr., Aurora, Adelaida, Reynaldo and Rosalina.

Hermoso is my father. He was a lawyer and he worked for the National Bureau of Investigation and retired as a Deputy Director. He has three children: Khristine (me), Hermoso Jr., and Kathrine.

For the future generation, you can write your own family tree story. Dedicated to Andrei Santino, Kirsten Ava, Julianna Louise, Carmillia Nicole, Hermoso Dominador III, and Celestine.

To each of you who is part of this big family, remember that you are precious in the eyes of our ancestors. Indeed, we have grown in different branches, different directions. Some of us may not be close emotionally due to circumstances or physical distance.  But keep in mind that we will always be related by blood! We are family.

 

family like branches

 

Prayer for Healing
the Family Tree
Rev. John H. Hampsch, CMF

Heavenly Father, I come before you as your child, in great need of your help; I have physical health needs, emotional needs, spiritual needs, and interpersonal needs. Many of my problems have been caused by my own failures, neglect and sinfulness, for which I humbly beg your forgiveness, Lord. But I also ask you to forgive the sins of my ancestors whose failures have left their effects on me in the form of unwanted tendencies, behavior patterns and defects in body, mind and spirit. Heal me, Lord, of all these disorders.

With your help I sincerely forgive everyone, especially living or dead members of my family tree, who have directly offended me or my loved ones in any way, or those whose sins have resulted in our present sufferings and disorders. In the name of your divine Son, Jesus, and in the power of his Holy Spirit, I ask you, Father, to deliver me and my entire family tree from the influence of the evil one. Free all living and dead members of my family tree, including those in adoptive relationships, and those in extended family relationships, from every contaminating form of bondage. By your loving concern for us, heavenly Father, and by the shed blood of your precious Son, Jesus, I beg you to extend your blessing to me and to all my living and deceased relatives. Heal every negative effect transmitted through all past generations, and prevent such negative effects in future generations of my family tree.

I symbolically place the cross of Jesus over the head of each person in my family tree, and between each generation; I ask you to let the cleansing blood of Jesus purify the bloodlines in my family lineage. Set your protective angels to encamp around us, and permit Archangel Raphael, the patron of healing, to administer your divine healing power to all of us, even in areas of genetic disability. Give special power to our family members’ guardian angels to heal, protect, guide and encourage each of us in all our needs. Let your healing power be released at this very moment, and let it continue as long as your sovereignty permits.

In our family tree, Lord, replace all bondage with a holy bonding in family love. And let there be an ever-deeper bonding with you, Lord, by the Holy Spirit, to your Son, Jesus. Let the family of the Holy Trinity pervade our family with its tender, warm, loving presence, so that our family may recognize and manifest that love in all our relationships. All of our unknown needs we include with this petition that we pray in Jesus’ precious Name. Amen.

+++++++++++++++
St. Joseph, Patron of family life, pray for us

Gift of Life

Last night, I found out that a person I knew just passed away. He had a heart attack last week. I could not stop thinking about him because exactly three months ago he was at my father’s wake trying to help out. Who would ever think that he will be gone?  Truly death comes like a thief in the night.

At this point in my life, I just figured out my greatest fear. To see a loved one gone, and the thought of leaving my family behind. With my father’s passing, I often think about things pertaining to the after life, about our existence, and some other “weird” things. It is like seeing things differently. Talking to my  husband keeps me grounded. He would plainly state that it is the reality of life. So he does not really think or worry about it. That it is something that we should accept. Maybe I am just about to learn that step.

Last night I told him about one of the things I always pray for. And I said he should pray the same thing so it makes us two. I said I hope we will be blessed together with a long life (I state specifically at least 90 years old) so we can see our children and grand children grow. He replied, “Whatever is God’s will.”

Now, when I kiss or embrace my family, it feels more than that. When I say some good words to a friend or to a relative, I truly mean it. Slowly, my heart is learning how to forgive and how to sing to each waking moment.

This song was in my head when I woke up and I feel the need to share it. It is a beautiful Filipino gospel song. I really love the acoustic version but unfortunately, there is no vocal. For non-Filipino speakers, I included an English translation below. I hope you do enjoy the music.

Sino Ako?

Hiram sa Diyos ang aking buhay
Ikaw at ako’y tanging handog lamang
Di ko ninais na ako’y isilang
Ngunit salamat dahil my buhay
Ligaya ko na ako’y isilang
Pagkat tao ay mayroong dangal
Sino’ng may pag-ibig?
Sino’ng nagmahal?Kun’di ang tao Diyos ang pinagmulan

Kun’di ako umiibig
Kundi ko man bigyang halaga
Ang buhay na handog
Ang buhay kong hiram sa Diyos
Kundi ako nagmahal
Sino Ako?

Who Am I? (English translation)

My life is only borrowed from God
We’re only a living sacrifice
I did not wish to be born but it’s
A God given blessing to have a life
I am glad that I was born…
I am born with dignity
I have love and I know how to love
Because God first loved me

If I didn’t know how to love
If I didn’t know how to be grateful of
The life that God has given me
Then what is my worth?

The Last Moments

Once again, I just realized something last night. After I put the kids to sleep, I sat down on the couch to have a little quiet time. My eyes gazed upon the pictures of these men from the little corner of our room.

FullSizeRender(1)

From the left is my father-in-law and then my dad. It was just last night that I realized that I was the last family member to see them before they both passed away. So it feels weird and more sad to know that I witnessed their last moments.

It was afternoon. I was home with my father-in-law, and my husband was still at work. I was in the living room and he told me that he was going out to get those gallons of water from a nearby store. He had a little pushing cart with him. It was passed 2pm so I told him why not wait for his son so he did not have to walk?  It was April 24, 2007. He said it was fine and besides, he needed to exercise. He told me he was going to go through the back door, and then he left. And at passed 3pm, he had an accident on the road and that was his end.

As for my Dad, for those of you who have not read my recent blogs, he just passed away two months ago. And with his passing, I wrote quite a few things about the experience and about him (you can check this entry: 14 day journey). Last August 4, 2015 (Tuesday) he had to undergo Tracheostomy. A tracheostomy is a surgery to make a hole in your neck that goes into your windpipe. He needed a  tracheostomy since he was on a breathing machine (ventilator) for a long time. They needed to remove the intubator that was attached to him for two weeks to prevent further infections. I was informed that I should follow down to the operating room. I was there waiting outside. I was praying and thinking about him that finally, he would be relieved to get that thing off him. I waited and finally the doctor called me in to tell me that the procedure was done and everything was fine. I was so relieved. I waited until I saw him and the nurses pushing his bed. They had to give him Oxygen since he was depending on the breathing machine. They took the elevator and I took the stairs to meet them at the Intensive Care Unit. He was unconscious and I was watching him. The nurse was checking everything. She told me to rest and everything is stable with my dad. I sent text messages to my siblings to tell them that the procedure was successful and we can all go to sleep. I think it was around 10:30pm. Then after one hour, it was the end of his dear life.

For sure I will never forget these last moments…

Each Moment

It is true what they say that you will never truly understand something unless you experience it yourself.

In the past, I felt sorry for family and friends who lost their loved ones. I went to wakes, funeral services, and showed compassion. There were times when I also wept with them. But then my life went on. I just feel sad when I remember those who passed away and I say my prayers to them.

Losing someone who is actually very close to your heart can actually be different. I refer to the loss of a parent, sibling, spouse, child or a very close friend.  I have felt the change in me. Days pass by, months go by, and I carry that feeling of sadness in my heart, that feeling of loss. I believe it will linger even in the years to come and for the rest of my life. I guess this is something constant as I move along.

This little feeling in me reminds me of the bittersweet reality of life. It is just a cycle.  I can imagine how my kids will feel the same way when it will be my turn someday. All of us will feel a loss. And all of us will leave our loved ones behind. For those of us who are still here, we have to make the most out of our lives. Cherish the memories of the people who left. Be reminded about the many reasons why we have to be grateful each day, be more human, and loving to the people who are part of our journey.

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What Every Human Should Remember

My alone time. My quiet time. So precious. I have more or less an hour. Done with the morning routine. Sent off hubby to work. Sent off my dear son to school. The little girl is taking her morning nap.

I have never ending chores just like any typical stay at home mother. But I told myself, today I will do my best to take it easy. Chores will always be there!  So this one hour (or one and a half hour) is very precious to me. This is my prayer time. My blog time. My treadmill time. Sometimes chores time when they can not wait. I debated if I should run on the treadmill just like what I do whenever I get a chance. But the mind and the words are stronger. They just want to be out here.

This morning I had some news from home. And I had some reflections.

What should I pick? Image of crocodiles or some predators in the wild?

image_2203e-Nile-crocodiles

photo credit: www.sci-news.com

gray-wolves-black-coat-520

photo credit:www.care2.com

To be clear, these are just images in my head. I mean no harm. No offense. These pictures are part of nature. Maybe part of human nature as well. And that is the reality.

They are watching, observing from afar.  It is a waiting game. Some are moving closer. Discretely. Slowly and quietly.  Some are sniffing and fishing around. Waiting for the perfect time to get what they want.

article-0-15128387000005DC-329_970x572photo credit:www.dailymail.co.uk

Can this really be part of human nature? Can people just be assertive protecting what they think belongs to them? Will it be possible that sometimes people just want to acquire more? Power, assets, money, properties. All these worldly matters that matter so much? For me it is alright as long as no one gets hurt or harmed in any way. As long as these things are never the source of disagreements, hate, or divisions.

This part of life makes makes me feel a little sad. The important things that matter so much to a human being. Suddenly I thought of the pale blue dot by Carl Sagan.

Screen-Shot-2014-08-19-at-4.29.37-PM-1024x554

Photo credit: www.patheos.com

“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there–on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

— Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994

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