By KATHLEEN T. OKUBO
(Columnist’s Note: I am relegating my column for this issue to my brother, Cesar Liporada. I share his thoughts about the passing away of our mother, Rosario Delima Liporada, 23 years ago. My mother hails from the remote mountains of San Fernando, Cebu. At a very young age, she would wake up at dawn and cook rice and viand over a fire of makeshift hearth. She would trek down the mountain trails carrying what she cooked to vend among jeepney drivers and passers-by at the center of the town. She would climb back through the trails at dusk, happy that her load are but the empty pots and jingling coins in her purse and with the determination to do more the following day. Her earnings, however, were never enough. She soon heard about better opportunities north from the confines of her barrio. After earning enough for a boat fare, she did sail to Manila where she became a domestic helper. She would eventually marry my dad who shuttled her to Baguio City where she ran a small business – till she had a stroke with which she eventually succumbed to her passing).
Twenty-three years ago, June 12, 1987, was another celebration of Philippine Independence. It was also mom’s release from her bondage at 63 years old. I wasn’t around. I was taking up a course in Program for Development Managers at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) in Makati City. But I expected her death. She was bedridden since her fatal stroke in 1980, during the 7th birthday anniversary of my eldest daughter. She was overwhelmed with joy; her heart couldn’t take the excitement.
I felt mom had suffered enough after seven years of being bedridden. Her death was freedom from the physical pain caused by the atrophy of the left side of her body, aside from the rashes and bedsores. More importantly, mom was freed from the emotional pain of being a paraplegic. It must have been very difficult for her not to be able to express what she felt. After seven years, people around her took things for granted. Mom was reduced to a person with physical needs. At times, we forgot that she was a human being who needed the human touch.
When I was at Asian Institute of Management (AIM), I asked one favor from God: “let her passing through be smooth, so that the burden would be light for her and for everyone – dad, Kuya Rudy, my family.” My request was granted. She died on a Saturday, I was up in Baguio on a Sunday and she was buried the following day. After the burial, I was on the road back to Makati, which was a five-hour ride.
When I arrived at AIM, there was a class party, which started Monday evening, and I was caught in the merriment. I recalled that in the midst of the celebration, I talked to Father Monsi, one of two priests among my classmates. I didn’t have time to mourn; I simply had to share mom’s death with someone. I don’t remember what Fr. Monsi advised. But I felt relieved and joined the merrymaking, which lasted until 3:00 am.
As I was going to my room, after the party, it hit me: “here I was, enjoying the time of my life, when just the day before, I was attending the burial of mom.” How could I be so callous as to take mom’s death for granted? I did not respect the rite of passage; I was supposed to be in mourning. I had my fears for the night, like the devil would just show up and take me to the gallows (although it was already wee past midnight).
While in my room, I carried those morbid thoughts to bed, as I fell asleep. It was then that I had a most wonderful dream. All my room was surrounded with red roses. The vases, the table, by the lampshade, on every corner and even on the floor around my bed were filled with roses. Then I smelled the rose fragrance and felt mom’s presence. Somewhere in my mind, I felt her voice speaking in Pilipino: “It’s okay my son; I understand. I’m in a place that comforts me.” Thereafter, I felt so much love and understanding. Mom’s name, of course was Rose.
Fortunately for Kuya and me, mom and dad pursued a vision for a brighter future for us, all the way to Baguio City. Through education, they nurtured our growing consciousness of the social, political and economic realities of our times. This was why, I suppose, Kuya and I, despite different paths, had our hearts crying out for the poor. The Filipino was rich as a people; most simply forgot that birthright. Mom and dad were deprived, but enabled us to remember. They came out of the rut and left a legacy for prosperity. They linked us back to our colorful heritage.
Thank you, mom, for the roses; your independence from earth life was also my key to freedom! # nordis.net