Last week, I lost two uncles. Their deaths are unrelated but felt deeply by my two sides of the family. tío Amang died from a long ailment in Bulacan, the other uncle in Olonggapo, tío Lando, suffered a fatal accident. I was shocked by the death of tío Lando because he never had any health problems. He’s known for his work ethics. Leaves for work early, goes home late. As usual, he woke up early and was on his way out when he slipped just outside his house. He was rush to the hospital because of some bleeding from the head. He was conscious all the way to the hospital so everybody was surprised when they found out later that he died.
Death has a way of reminding us of what’s important. I feel sad that I can’t be there to sympathize with the family. Living and working abroad has its disadvantages. This being one of them. Man, tough spot to be in.
The last time I saw tío Amang was just this year. I visited the UST hospital and donated blood as he was in dire need of it. I left to work abroad the same month and never saw the guy again. We’re never that close but I knew him to be a very good man. Hard working, very diligent. He spoke Japanese fluently and even when he was sick he’d still go to Japan just to be there. He loves that country. I think when he found out about his condition he started to think about traveling more. He visited friends in Hawaii and the US mainland. He was actually planning more but the body can no longer do it. tío Amang spent almost half of his life in Japan working before cancer showed up. If it was any consolation, he died peacefully in their ancestral home in San Rafael, in his bed, surrounded by his loved ones.
The other tío, Orlando (Lando to his friends, Boy to us his family) died unexpectedly. His untimely death has caused much pain and anguish for the family. Especially to my mother who help raised him after their parents died. He was still strong – only in his 50’s. I remember him to be the silent guy type but he always smiles like a child. He’s a great guy – never had any beef with anyone – he’s the kind man that always goes unnoticed. Even when he doesn’t have much, he was typically old school Ilonggo, always neat and clean, hair always combed and done.
Life was tough for tío Lando and his family. He have eight kids and drives for a living. Drivers are not the most well paid workers around so one could just imagine how he fed his family. My mother decided to give him and two other siblings the small land she bought back in the late 70’s so they don’t have to worry about rent. But even with this, they still struggled hard to make ends meet. Whenever my mother would tell me stories about how miserable their life in Olonggapo it makes me feel down. These are good people but for some reason they’ve been dealt with cards that made life so hard. While talking over the phone with my mother the only consoling words I could find is that “he’s in a better place now, nay”. And I do believe this because he lived a hard life man. He now joins their eldest, Manong Nonoy, who died a couple of years ago.
“Who except God can give you peace? Has the world ever been able to satisfy the heart?” – San Gerardo Majella
13 July 2012