Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Thank you, Papa

It's been a little over two weeks since my father passed on to the other side of life. There is peace in my heart knowing that he is now in a better place, yet the thought of not being able to see him again until the next life, brings pain.

He was a father every daughter would want to have. A man of few words, yet trustworthy and very dependable.

He singlehandedly saw us -- 6 young siblings -- through college after our mother's sudden death. He took on our mother's style of close supervision, yet gave us enough freedom to decide on our own.

Ours was a bitter-sweet childhood. As a result of Papa's political activism, we grew up practically without him. We went through some un-ordinary experiences, including brief overnights in the provincial jail when he got incarcerated during Martial Law.

In the mid-70s up to the '80s, he worked with PANAMIN and would visit us for a few days every two months. Yet, Papa compensated his absence by bringing us to wherever he was assigned. In summers, he would bring us to mountain adventures in Canlaon. He taught us to ride horses and carabaos. He marvelled at the beauty of nature and would take us for walks in the forests.

He loved the mountains. In fact, when our mother died 19 years ago, he moved to the family's farm in the hinterland of Guihulngan. It was there where he raised our two half-siblings by his second wife.

I don't know what happened anymore after his incarceration. We never talked about his ideologies. But when I started working, I would encounter people asking if I was related to the leftist organizer, Jess Trinidad. Many times, I would hear snide comments that our father was a communist. Yet, more people talked kindly of him for being a principled man.

Communist or not, for us, he was the best father in the world. I have always been proud of him and will always be. He was always concerned of the welfare of the masses. When Negros became militarized in the '80s, he opposed the entry of Cafgu's in our farm in Canlaon.

When he returned to Negros shortly before the Edsa Revolution, he was in the frontlines of rallies that denounced the dictatorship. It made me so proud that while others conveniently closed their eyes to the injustices around us, my father made a stand.

And up to the very end, Papa had the people in his mind. He delayed his check-up if only to ensure that the barangay elections went well. He was concerned that if he was not around, elections would be chaotic.

It was so typical of our father -- putting others first before his own welfare. Had he listened to my older siblings, he would still have been alive today. Then again, all things happen for a reason. Perhaps, his mission is already finished.

I praise God for giving us a father like Papa. Even in sorrow, I rejoice knowing that Papa is now with our Lord Jesus Christ.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Jesus V. Trinidad signs off at 71

My papa, a freedom fighter, one of the pillars of broadcast journalism in Negros in the 70s, peacefully joined the Lord early this evening.

I am still in Dalian, China, attending a global e-herbs conference. It was so gloomy when our group arrived here yesterday. I was already in Beijing when I learned that Papa had respiratory attack. Thanks to modern technology, my sisters kept me posted on the developments.

Yesterday, I spoke to my eldest sister Jessica and she told me that doctors were no longer very hopeful about Papa's situation. But we agreed that nothing is impossible with God. Having seen my own son survive cardiac arrest and rose up from coma, I have no doubt God can do it again on Papa.

We were hopeful that Papa would make it. After all, he was the "stronger one" in his family. Papa was always watchful of his health. Except that he would drink everyday. A little alcohol everyday is good for the heart, he would tell us.

Today, my sister texted that Papa seemed to be improving. His was red again early afternoon. I was silently praising God during the conference. Truly He is good all the time. I was already excited of going home to Negros right after my conference. Then, the sad news came.

God is faithful in all of His ways. Maybe, it's His perfect for Papa not to endure pains and difficulties anymore.

Of course, I feel very sad like my brothers and sisters. But I have peace in my heart that God's will is always perfect. He is our Father who knows what's best for us, even for Papa. And with that blessed assurance, we rest comforted by God's everlasting love.

To all who prayed for Papa's healing, thank you so much. He is now healed. He will no longer suffer because He has joined our loving Father in Heaven.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Quiet confidence

I just got off the phone with my sister. Papa has been in the ICU of Silliman University Medical Center since last night when our older brother rushed him to the emergency. Papa was really scheduled for check-up today because he hasn't been feeling well. But they decided to bring him to Dumaguete (about 3 hours drive from our hometown) when he started to have fever.

According to my siblings, Papa has been feeling weak and his tummy extraordinarily bloated. When they got to the hospital last night, his BP was very low. The doctors decided to place him in the ICU for close monitoring. This morning, they found out that there's a "slight" problem with papa's heart. Results of the liver work-ups is still pending.

My sister was on the verge of tears when I spoke to her on the phone. And really, if I have not seen God's miracles up close and personal, I would have already been panicking myself. Heart problems run in our family. In fact, four of papa's brothers who have gone ahead all died of cardiac arrest. Our lola, on the other hand, died of cirrhosis of the liver. Papa was a heavy smoker in his younger years and "occassional" drinker. But the good thing about papa, he's conscious of his health. He quit smoking in his late 30s. He regularly exercises and is in fact, the healthiest among his siblings. He has not been on top shape though when our mama died 19 years ago. Next week, Nov. 19, would have been their 47th wedding anniversary.

Amazingly, just before I spoke to my sister, my devotion was about God's blessed assurance. "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" That's the Lord talking to Abraham in Genesis 18.14. He assured Abraham that though he and Sarah were very old, in the human point of view, to bear a child, there is just nothing that God can't do.

Having seen miracles one too many, I never ceased to believe that God can do all things. He is in control of everything. He has brought our Ben back to life when he suffered cardiac arrest a few days after his birth. Now at 12, you'll never imagine Ben went through so much as a baby. I always say that Ben is God's living testimony that He is a miracle working God.

On Wednesday, I'll be off to China for a business trip. Papa was suppose to come with me but there had been delays in getting his passport. Besides, he said, he has not been feeling well anyway.

I'll go with a blessed assurance from the Lord that He'll take care of papa. Nothing is too difficult for the Lord. No infirmities too hard for Him to heal. In quiet confidence, I rest knowing papa is in the hands of our Heavenly Father.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

How Can Someone Who Lives in Insane Luxury Be a Star in Today's World?

Something to think about...from Ben Stein, former columnist of E-Online.

Ben Stein's Last Column...
August 9, 2004

How Can Someone Who Lives in Insane Luxury Be a Star in Today's World?

As I begin to write this, I "slug" it, as we writers say, which means I put a heading on top of the document to identify it. This heading is "FINAL," and it gives me a shiver to write it. I have been doing this column for so long that I cannot even recall when I started. I loved writing this column so much for so long I came to believe it would never end. It worked well for a long time, but gradually, my changing as a person and the world's change have overtaken it.

On a small scale, Morton's [famous restaurant which was often frequented by Hollywood stars], while better than ever, no longer attracts as many stars as it used to. It still brings in the rich people in droves and definitely some stars. I saw Samuel L. Jackson there a few days ago, and we had a nice visit, and right before that, I saw and had a splendid talk with Warren Beatty in an elevator, in which we agreed that Splendor in the Grass was a super movie. But Morton's is not the star galaxy it once was, though it probably will be again.

Beyond that, a bigger change has happened. I no longer think Hollywood stars are terribly important. They are uniformly pleasant, friendly people, and they treat me better than I deserve to be treated. But a man or woman who makes a huge wage for memorizing lines and reciting them in front of a camera is no longer my idea of a shining star we should all look up to.

How can a man or woman who makes an eight-figure wage and lives in insane luxury really be a star in today's world, if by a "star" we mean someone bright and powerful and attractive as a role model? Real stars are not riding around in the backs of limousines or in Porsches or getting trained in yoga or Pilates and eating only raw fruit while they have Vietnamese girls do their nails. They can be interesting, nice people, but they are not heroes to me any longer.

A real star is the soldier of the 4th Infantry Division who poked his head into a hole on a farm near Tikrit, Iraq. He could have been met by a bomb or a hail of AK-47 bullets. Instead, he faced an abject Saddam Hussein and the gratitude of all of the decent people of the world. A
real star is the U.S. soldier who was sent to disarm a bomb next to a road north of Baghdad. He approached it, and the bomb went off and killed him.. A real star, the kind who haunts my memory night and day, is the U.S. soldier in Baghdad who saw a little girl playing with a
piece of unexploded ordnance on a street near where he was guarding a station. He pushed her aside and threw himself on it just as it exploded. He left a family desolate in California and a little girl alive in Baghdad.

The stars who deserve media attention are not the ones who have lavish weddings on TV but the ones who patrol the streets of Mosul even after two of their buddies were murdered and their bodies battered and stripped for the sin of trying to protect Iraqis from terrorists. We put
couples with incomes of $100 million a year on the covers of our magazines.

The noncoms and officers who barely scrape by on military pay but stand on guard in Afghanistan and Iraq and on ships and in submarines and near the Arctic Circle are anonymous as they live and die.

I am no longer comfortable being a part of the system that has such poor values, and I do not want to perpetuate those values by pretending that who is eating at Morton's is a big subject. There are plenty of other stars in the American firmament....the policemen and women who go off on patrol in South Central and have no idea if they will return alive. The orderlies and paramedics who bring in people who have been in terrible accidents and prepare them for surgery, the teachers and nurses who throw their whole spirits into caring for autistic children, the kind men and women who work in hospices and in cancer wards. Think of each and every fireman who was running up the stairs at the World Trade Center as the towers began to collapse.

Now you have my idea of a real hero. We are not responsible for the operation of the universe, and what happens to us is not terribly important.

God is real, not a fiction, and when we turn over our lives to Him, he takes far better care of us than we could ever do for ourselves. In a word, we make ourselves sane when we fire ourselves as the directors of the movie of our lives and turn the power over to Him.

I came to realize that life lived to help others is the only one that matters. This is my highest and best use as a human. I can put it another way. Years ago, I realized I could never be as great an actor as Olivier or as good a comic as Steve Martin--or Martin Mull or Fred Willard--or as good an economist as Samuelson or Friedman, or as good a writer as Fitzgerald. Or even remotely close to any of them. But I could be a devoted father to my son, husband to my wife and, above all, a good son to the parents who had done so much for me. This came to be my main task in life. I did it moderately well with my son, pretty well with my wife and well indeed with my parents (with my sister's help). I cared for and paid attention to them in their declining years. I stayed with my father as he got sick, went into extremis, into a coma, and then entered immortality with my sister and me reading him the Psalms.

This was the only point at which my life touched the lives of the soldiers in Iraq or the firefighters in New York. I came to realize that life lived to help others is the only one that matters and that it is my duty, in return for the lavish life God has devolved upon me, to help
others He has placed in my path. This is my highest and best use as a human.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Where, O death, is your sting?

Show me, O LORD, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life." -- Psalm 39:4

(photo grabbed from www.txprisonmuseum.org)

This is the time of the year when we put aside everything else and remember our dearly departed. During my growing up years in rural Negros, we would have "reunion" every Nov. 2. All Soul's Day is one of the top three most important days for our very traditional family. The first of course, is Christmas, which also happens to be our father's birthday. Next is the Holy Week, the time of the year where everybody in the family is busy dressing up our centuries' old Santo Entierro.

But Nov. 2 always gave me a different kind of excitement. It was like a big annual reunion not only for our family but for the whole town as well. We get to see our town's "Who's who" at the only cemetery. Everybody who mattered would troop with their families to pay respects to the dearly departed. (Sadly, my children, born and raised in Manila, missed this family tradition.)

As I grew older, All Soul's Day became a reminder of how short life is. My mother, for instance, left us when I was barely 17. She wasn't even sickly.

One of my cousins died of aneurism when she was just a little over 30. Two of my husband's close friends in college also died in their early 30s. Among my father's 11 siblings, only 5 of them are left. Most of my uncles died at 50ish or 60ish, except for their youngest, Uncle Benjamin, who died while he was a baby.

Talking about death is a little morbid. But then again, it is the surest destination for all of us.

Which makes me reflect: how have I lived my life? When I leave for the great beyond, what will people say of me? Of my life?
Have I made other people's lives better? Have I lived it according to God's plan?

Everyday, I pray to God to help me live according to His plans. For apart from Him, there is no reason for me to live longer. If I don't consciously seek to please God, then my life is futile. Be far from it that I live according to my own will. Yet, I struggle with it everyday.

Thank God, we have Jesus. When we accept Him as our Lord and Savior, we are no longer bound by our sinfulness. He shed His blood for us so that in His death, we will live.

Now, I am no longer afraid of passing on to eternity. It is no longer about me, no longer about my own efforts to be good. It is about how Jesus saved me. Because of His death and resurrection, we too, will be resurrected with Him.