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Monday, November 8, 2010

He Is Deeply Missed

"It was nice growing up with someone like you - someone to lean on, someone to count on... someone to tell on! I wish  you had stayed longer."

It's dawn yet, to him extended sleep is a vice. Time to violate again Maslow's assertion on requisites to exist - albeit one of the basics. His clock ticks quicker than the ordinary. His movements even quicker. Noise does not figure in his way so as not wake his wife and two kids. After all, they are the reason to his unenviable routine. He is used to forgo a decent breakfast. A glass of coffee warmer than lukewarm sometimes will do. Before he gets to the saddle of his second-hand motorbike, he sees to it that he glances once more at his two angels and his beloved.

Pastor Nilo is off to work. The journey is long and unpredictable. Still he is not privileged with the comfort of a bundy clock. Oftentimes he leaves home at dawn and comes back before midnight. Despite the day's ordeal, the smile in his face is genuine. And gladly he masks the tiredness with glee at the doorstep of his mother's home. She is eagerly awaiting to see him. The wait is agonizing till she sees him because she worries about him - all the time. She is old and weak and restless till she sees him. She knows too he had no decent meal during the day. And she always keeps a better one for him. And this routine home doesn't change as well. Before he gets to hug his wife and kids, he sees to it that he visits his mother with his present for her, her favorite 'ensaymada'. Her home is just in a neighborhood that dots alongside ponds and narrow alleys.

If one wonders why he does not work full time in the ministry?  In fact he did. For a young pastor and newly-wed at that, it was a challenge to minister full-time in a mountainous part of Silay City. The place was not blessed with electricity, not anytime soon. Almost everything man requires does not come in handy. The only accessible rarities are the clouds that sit atop the hills that hug the stilt houses decked out in cogon walls. A visit to the place can be likened to a pilgrimage fraught with penance and glorious bruises. For humans who have known and tasted civilization, a three-year tenure in such a place is a divine stamina. But the streak would ultimately be halted when their first baby warns of its arrival. Hospital or clinic is generations away to happen in such an awful setting and so it was best not to take the risk. A lot of prayers and subtle persuasion for new volunteer later provided relief. A bachelor worker finally took the stand and heeded the Master's call.

The pastor and his pregnant wife then took to the city till she gave birth. Being a man of God, he does not believe in luck. He argues that all things happen for a reason. They too are burdened with not having a regular income to support a now growing family. A high school certificate and a year stint with bible school do not at all guarantee him employment. But it didn't take long before he got his real job: a collector for a semi-NGO micro-lending company. The job requires him to be college graduate and a Christian. Obviously he was not up to the criteria save for the latter. Part of his job would be to conduct Bible studies among cell members made up of borrowers who would meet up on a specific day to pay up their dues. His job would continue for years  till he got promoted as field supervisor, till he was blessed with another child.

Negotiating dirt roads from the outskirts of the city plays part of his job. And his area of assignment would later expand. From the farthest towns and cities to hinterland barrios, he would meet up with local cell members for group BS while some members go in a hiding when they sense him coming. He however understands that it is no easy thing to oblige them when they are literally dried up and unable to pay their dues. This has become a mundane scenario until he was able to help them develop some discipline and trustworthiness evident at people who fear God. Wherever Pastor Nilo goes, he is being loved and respected. His daily routine  though is not without trouble. There were attempts to rob and harm him but he was repeatedly spared from those dangers. He knows why and he is not at all astonished.

It is just any ordinary day. His itinerary would be Cadiz City - a three-hour drive from his place and so he has to get up a little earlier than usual. There were no indications of what lie ahead. At midday, a news report on radio reverberated all over their neighborhood. Pastor Nilo figured in an accident along the highway south of Cadiz City and he was brought to the nearest hospital. His identity was confirmed from his ID but  reports would not confirm as to his condition. His wife and siblings would soon troop to the hospital praying as hard as they can for miracle. What greeted them was the most gruesome state of his body in the morgue. Only his head was spared. His chest down to his toes can be likened to a butchered animal violated of its dignity with tibia and fibula sticking out of its integuments on a display of hellish gory. Women present took turns collapsing if not simultaneously. You would not believe your eyes how graphic the way life can be lost. 

Witnesses told police that he was almost off  road giving way for large and fast vehicles when an approaching truck behind swerved towards him - instantly tossing him  under the truck and got dragged over thirty meters before the driver realized he had killed someone. His helmet spared his face from getting disfigured from his ordeal down between the tires that curtailed his young life. He was still breathing when volunteers took him to the hospital. The truck driver was said to be high on marijuana. He got jailed but was later freed because Pastor Nilo's wife did not file a case. He was reported to have eight kids.

Pastor Nilo's eldest now an eight-year old bright girl was provided a scholarship by his company (until she goes to college), aside from a monthly support for his two kids. It's been five years since his death but his memory still lingers. He lived a life of humility, never complaining and always grateful. He was such a good son, a good brother, a loving husband and father. He was closest to me too. Last night I had a dream of him -  he was full of life, cheering me up and urging me on not to forget my foundation - the Word of God. He kept on encouraging me to press on towards the goal, for he is now in a lovely place not wanting me to miss out on that place. I suddenly awakened and tears streamed down my eyes. It was very vivid. He was real I even touched him. I just missed my brother so much.


Pepe Cabrera said...

Nakakalungot ako sa post mo, Nakaka iyak.. Mabuti ka pa may kapatid even if wala na siya, ako wala.

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Silay City, Negros Occidental, The Philippines

Some of the photos above courtesy of Arnaldo Arnáiz Díaz

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