I was fine with just having my own page on Facebook. Seeing updates from friends, posting pictures and updates on my end. Yet, I couldn’t help but notice how most of the updates from my friends came from various apps. It seemed that most of them were really into the apps. Was there something wrong with me? Was I technologically backward? What’s with those apps anyway? Then I took the plunge. Started building my farm, adding neighbors, completing goals, requesting for items, harvesting crops. Cool! At certain times of the day, I counted the hours till my crops were ready to harvest. I competed with my neighbors who were always several levels ahead of me. Drat! How can they do that so fast? As if farming wasn’t enough, I decided to open my own restaurant but that didn’t work out. Thereafter, the jewels bedazzled me. I found myself playing the game for hours completely forgetting the fact that I came to my computer to check on my email. The high scores kept coming beckoning me to continue. Other apps beckoned as well. From the farm, I found my way to the city. Oh what a delight to see my city grow. The more neighbors, the greater the chances of moving up. I neglected my farm and focused on my city. Somehow, my love for the television show CSI led me to play that app as well. And so CSI it was.
Something’s definitely amiss here. For the last two years, I have been struggling to come to writing but I just couldn’t. These apps have taken over the time I should have devoted to writing. I think it also fried my brain. Intervention please! But can I keep my city, please?
I still remember being roused from sleep by my dad. It was early morning of July 14, 1981 and my mom had been in the hospital for almost three weeks. Looking at my dad, I knew it was time. My heart raced and the frantic blood rush made me shake all over. My eldest sister and younger brother got up as well and we all moved towards the bed where Mommy lay. Weak as she was, my mom tried to reach out to us. Though some of the words were incomprehensible, looking at her, I knew what she was trying to say. She would drift in and out of consciousness. When she opened her eyes, she would call out our names as well as that of my grandfather who passed away a long time ago. My dad asked her if she wanted my two younger sisters to brought to the hospital but my mom strongly shook her head. Although weak, she firmly told my dad that she didn’t want Nette and Jen ( my two younger sisters) to see her like this.
I remember praying so hard, desperate for a miracle. Wasn’t it only three days ago when I was in the hospital chapel prostrate and imploring God to let my mother live. I needed my mom, I loved my mom. I didn’t know a life without her. Yet there she was, slowly moving on away from this world. She passed away before the sun rose that day.
As children, we lead ourselves to believe that our parents live forever. To be told, that my mother had only three months to live was not only difficult but painful to accept. I tried to go on with my life, setting aside that reality. Even when my mom had to be admitted to the hospital, I kept telling myself that eventually she would get well and be home with us. At 18, I needed to tell myself this because, I couldn’t bear the thought that my mom was dying. My mom after all, overcame so many things in life and she did all these quietly and courageously. I really don’t know when my mom found out that she had breast cancer. Though I noticed some changes, but I brushed them all aside.
My parent’s room was an all access area. We can go in and out anytime. Until one day, my mom started closing the door whenever she had to dress up after bathing or simply to change. I grew up seeing my mom change her clothes. I know the scars from her previous operation before she got married. Many times, I would be in the room with her while she changed her clothes and she would do the same with us. While dressing up, she would ask how we were all doing, or if chores have been done already or what we would like for dinner as well as any other thing that came to mind. That was why it was a bit odd that she started closing the door and we would have to knock. She wouldn’t let us in until she finished what she was doing. Sometimes she would be annoyed but most of the time she would just ask us to wait until she finished dressing up.
One day, I saw a book about breast cancer on the bookshelf and wondered who it belonged to. I was about to ask my mom but I wasn’t aware she was behind me. She took the book quietly from my hand. As she walked towards her room, my heart skipped several beats. No, I said to myself, she’s just reading it. For several days, that book always crossed my mind. Together with the bandages, gauze, cotton and hydrogen peroxide on her night table, I started to wonder what was going on. But I didn’t ask, I was afraid to ask. She started changing her dresses several times a day because a stain on her left breast left a mark. As soon as she noticed this,she would hurry upstairs to her room and come down with a new shirt or house dress.
My mom stayed at home so we were all used to seeing her there. I was a junior in college and my classes were in the afternoon. My mom would be there everytime I woke up, left for school and got home. However, there came a time, when this wasn’t the norm anymore. There were days when she would leave as soon as my younger siblings were in school. Or she would leave mid day and come home late at night. Initially, it was upsetting for us not to see her at home all the time. Where she went, we had no idea. I remember asking both my grandmothers where my mom was and all they could say was that she had to attend to something. Though her trips became regular, my mom compensated with “pasalubong”, which we always welcomed with so much glee. I must have been so in denial that even if I noticed that these goodies came from Nueva Ecija, I never asked how she got them. I would later find out that she went to a faith healer in that same province. My dad was also unaware of this as he was working in the Middle East back then. I, together with my siblings were not only content with our lives, we were happy and oblivious to the fact that my mom was already dealing with breast cancer.
A few weeks after my dad was home for his vacation, we were told that my mom had to undergo an operation to remove a lump from her left breast. Hearing this from my dad, I started putting things together in my head: the book, the closed door, the medicines, the trips. Yet I chose not to believe that my mom was already on borrowed time. The surgery went on as scheduled. My mom was still sedated when she was brought in the room. An hour later, her surgeon came in and he and my dad had a private conversation in the hallway. My sister and I both had classes that day and we had to leave a few minutes after that. I came back after my class and my mom was awake but groggy. My dad was still there and my sister came in an hour later. At around 6pm, my grandmother came to stay with my mom for the night. Back home, after dinner and evening prayers, my dad was unusually quiet. We thought he was just tired. When my younger siblings were already asleep, he called me and my eldest sister to his room. I went to bed with the news that my mother had cancer. I remember crying myself to sleep, pained at the thought of a life without my ever present mother.
My mom recovered from the operation and went on with life as usual. In between chores, I would catch her doing some exercises with her left arm. At first, she would wince but soon after, she did the exercises with ease. She was still the mother we all knew her to be. When her scars healed, the door to her room was once again open. She constantly joked about how many socks she had to put in the left side of her bra to make her breasts even. At that time, prosthesis for breast cancer survivors were not widely available. Fortunately, a friend gave my mom a bra designed for women who have undergone mastectomy but the prosthesis was on the wrong side of her breast. She laughed about it but at the same time tried to figure out how to transfer the silicone padding to the other side. True to form, and with a little creativity, my mom was able to make the necessary alterations. The prosthesis was really heavy and my mom only wore it when she needed to . She said it gave her shoulder and back pain.
Once she was strong enough, my mom started chemotherapy sessions. Truth is, she was against this. At that time, chemotherapy drugs were not available here in the Philippines. They had to ordered from Singapore or Hong Kong. Arrangements had to made to purchase the drug from these countries. My mother’s resistance to the treatment was largely anchored on this. She believed that the money was better reserved for her children’s education. My dad insisted that she go through with the treatment no matter what. Eventually, my mother agreed.
Chemotherapy drugs were in the early stages then and the effects on the patients too horrible to describe. My mom’s first session saw her agonizing over the heat brought on by the drug. She came home weak, nauseous and hardly the mom I knew. She was too weak to even complain of the painful after effects of the drug and she was throwing up every 10 minutes or so. Yet even as she went through this ordeal, she chose not to let us, her children, witness. The door closed again each time, she would throw up. It was only my dad and my grandmother who were there with her. My mom had to undergo chemo three times a week and even before she could fully recover from the previous session. It was an aggressive treatment as she was already stage 4 when she had the operation. At one session, my sister came over in between her class and she saw my dad trying to pry off my mom’s hands off the window grills of the treatment room. My mother desperately wanted to get out as the drug was burning her up. It took my dad and two male nurses to bring my mom back to bed. A female nurse came in with a small bucket of ice cubes to give to my mom. It was of little comfort. After that incident, my mom resolved not to continue with the treatment and no amount of convincing from my dad nor my grandmother made her choose otherwise.
My mom recovered from that session but the effects of the chemo were already on her. Her once thick head of hair was reduced to strands. She had lost a lot of weight and was on the pale side. She couldn’t take down food as almost everything made her nauseous. Yet in spite of this, she reminded us not of her condition but how she was still up and about. Many times, she would joke about how easy it was to wash her hair now that there is less of it. She did have a wig made though but she only wore it when needed. Otherwise, it was this floral patterned scarf in pale blue and green that served as her hairpiece. She paid no mind when people would stare at her when she went to the grocery, bank or other places. I was the one who would glare at them. Back then, a cancer survivor seen in public was uncommon. Cancer was unspeakable and the survivors practically invisible. There were no support groups nor any information that could help both the patient and their families. Not even doctors at that time knew how breast cancer slowly ravages women and the ties they have with their family, friends and society. My mom dealt with breast cancer amidst all of these.
It must have been devastating for my mom to hear the “death sentence” from her doctor. She must have gone there alone and came home keeping the news to herself. I do recall though that before we all knew about her condition, she surprised me and my siblings with an unplanned out of town trip. Since it was in the early hours of the morning, there was a lot of resistance on our part to wake up. Eventually, we all found ourselves in Los Banos, swimming in the hot springs to our heart’s content. We stayed there for the night and my mom rented this small cottage with just one huge bed. There were only lights but no electric fan. We thought we could sleep through the night since there was light cool breeze. But 5 kids in one bed together with my mom made temperatures rise and soon city bred creatures that we were, longed for the electric fan. And of course, the mosquitos feasted on us. My two younger sisters, though exhausted from the swimming, were tossing and turning. My mom got up and took out a fan and started fanning all of us. She did this the entire night making sure that we all slept soundly. Occasionally, she would soothe my two younger sisters by gently tapping on their thighs or backs. Looking back, this must have been her way of dealing with her condition. It must also have been the night of her acceptance.
I never saw my mom cry nor breakdown. If she did, she never showed it to us. I guess, she wanted all of us to remember how she lived and not the condition that took her away from us. I used to wonder why my mom chose silence. I know that she had her children in mind but there must have been something else that I will never be able to comprehend that led her to silence. I already stopped asking and just accepted, as she did.
I do not have the silent courage of my mother nor her prudent silence. As an only child she was raised by my grandparents to have the best in life. At 16 years old, she already traveled the world then. She was educated by the Belgian nuns at St. Theresa’s College Manila and it showed in her comport and demeanor. Before she got married to my dad, life’s discomforts were alien to her. She didn’t even know how to cook! But she adapted herself to being a wife and mother.
During emotionally turbulent times in her marriage, she remained a quiet presence. Whatever anger or hurt was in her, they rarely surfaced. She survived all of my dad’s ways with other women and much more. My mom pulled the family together when my dad went broke from the bankruptcy of a construction firm he helped set up. It took a while for my dad to recover from his embezzling colleagues. Money was out but bills and tuition needed to be paid. My mom made sure these were all met. She never made a fuss that her brand new refrigerator then, had only bottles of water in it. There was always food on the table for us. It was also fortunate that we lived in my grandparent’s property and they were there to tide us through difficult times.
My mother also endured the put downs and derisive words hurled against her by the other side of the family. As her children, we were not spared of this either. Yet my mom, chose not to dignify these remarks. They were definitely hurtful and yes, most of them left me emotional scars. These were the same in-laws who shamelessly cried at the hospital when my mother was dying. They had to wait for my mother to die to ask for forgiveness, when during her entire life, they put her down and called her many names, even in front of her children.
My mom was not all perky nor meek. She knew which battles to fight. She believed that she didn’t have to speak up all the time. From her, I learned the value of prudent silence (though I would practice and live it decades later). Mommy also chose to resolve things rather than dwell on problems. Days before my 10th birthday, I received a birthday card from my dad. As a present he sent $10 through his sister. He told my mom to get it from his sister so I can have a birthday party. My mom did just that but came home empty handed. She was not given the money sent by my dad. I was unaware of this until I heard my mom on the phone with my dad informing him what happened. I cried when I learned of this and felt very angry. In my young mind then, I already knew this was stealing. They were already well-off why did they have to take my present? Mommy consoled me and told me not to cry on my birthday and she promised me that I will still have my birthday. Then she went out. Just before dinner, my grandmother called me to her house which was nearby and gave me a present. Little did I know that my mother was already preparing a surprise and when I returned home, there they were: my cake, ice cream, chicken, hotdog,some balloons and gifts. Mommy kept her word.
She had her unique way of trying to bring out the best in her children. In my case, she developed a love for reading and passion for knowledge. She encouraged me to write and helped me practice for all the oratorical contests and spelling bees I was in. As a child, I was thin and gangly and she pumped me up with all kinds of vitamins and supplements. They would take effect years later in menarche when I transformed into a chubby teenager. One time, she brought me to a doctor as she was worried that I may have primary complex. Of course, she didn’t tell me that. All I remember was being given this painful shot and that was it. Back home, my mom told me that it was a super strong vitamin shot.
I loved the moments I gave her so much pride every time I received a medal or a certificate. One particular memory stands out. I was in sixth grade back in Guam. I was on the honor’s society and couldn’t wait to tell my parents about it. I was also given a certificate indicating I was on the honor’s society for the whole territory and my lowest grade was an A- (darn math!). As soon as I got off the bus, I ran home and fortunately my mom just stepped outside. I was about four or five houses away and running like mad in the afternoon sun, waving my honor’s certificate. Instantly my mom knew what it was and was smiling like I have never seen her smile before. When I handed her the certificate she jumped with joy as I was desperately trying to catch my breath and recover from the blistering heat. She prepared a wonderful dinner that night and even before I went to sleep, she told me how happy I made her.
During my teenage years, my mom was a bit worried that I lacked interest in boys. Back then, I much preferred to read than go out. I did go out with friends though but not every weekend. It was my eldest sister who was the social butterfly. When suitors started coming to the house, my mother spared us the embarrassment of having my dad watch over us from the dining room. She would look at my dad with fierce eyes and signal him to leave us alone. Many times I heard my mom say to my dad -“Shame on you!”. Of course, my father insisted on staying but somehow always caved in to my mother’s request or admonition as the case may be. It was also my mother who outrightly told my father to stop choosing our dresses as my sister and I are capable of doing that. This happened at a popular department store and I remember my mother moving my dad gently aside to tell him just that. From then on, shopping for clothes was with my mom and sister only. Dad and my younger brother were sentenced to the men’ s wear section until after we have purchased our clothes.
Though raised in a generation that we now call old school, my mother was clearly ahead of her time in many ways. She taught us many life lessons and the importance of living life according to your own terms. She made sure her family especially her children enjoyed life as she did. During my teenage years, my mother made sure that we had weekly home services from her favorite beautician. Bonding wasn’t coined then but those weekends of pampering were definitely it! My mom always bought me Seventeen magazines or gave me money to purchase them. It was quite a luxury then as these were imported and not easily available. So each time I have a new copy, I definitely bring it to school to show off to my friends and classmates. As a result, quite a few of my classmates got demerits for reading the magazine in class. And yes, many times, my magazine was confiscated but fortunately it was always returned by the end of the day.
It was also my mother together with dad who taught me and my sister to dance the boogie and cha-cha. In between, she and my dad would show off their dancing skills and at times, they would dance close together cheek to cheek. All of us children would squirm and they just replied by laughing at us.
When we moved to Guam, my mother was livid when she found out that my sister and I were assigned to the ESL class. The following day, she went to the school and informed the principal that this was totally unnecessary as her children spoke perfect English and studied in a school where English was the medium of instruction. Before recess, I found myself in a regular section. Two weeks later, I was transferred to the honor’s section with the school principal bringing me to my new section. A week later, my parents received an apology letter from the district school board. Over dinner, my mother told us what happened. She told the principal that her children don’t need English language lessons as we were educated in the best Catholic schools for girls in the Philippines. To prove her point, she said she was also a graduate of that school and started speaking in three languages – Spanish, French and English. That sealed the deal.
My mother also didn’t allow others to define who she was. No matter what was said against her, she remained true to herself. This was the one thing I remember most of her. It didn’t matter what other people thought of her or said of her. It was after all, not her reality.
I miss my mother very much. She passed away at 44 years old. Many times, I wonder if she is proud of me. Given what she went through and how much she gave for her family, I can do no less. At very difficult times in my life, I feel ashamed of myself for I have dishonored my mother because of my failures and they are many. Yet somehow, I know that my mother would not want me to think that way. Instead, she would push me forward and remind me both gently and sternly, that life is for those who live through the good times and the bad times.
It will be 30 years since my mother passed away. She would have been 74 today. I still miss her and I will never know that wise, wonderful silver-haired woman she would definitely have been. Happy birthday Mommy.
I woke up this morning with a jolt and that clearly made my senses awry. It was 630am when I checked the clock. Dang! I missed the mass but I can still make it to the 730 mass.
The thing with waking up under such unpleasant circumstances is that your body and mind goes off in all directions. I really didn’t have a good sleep thanks to my 4 kittens who were snuggling up to me all night. Through sheer will but more importantly, the fear of God’s wrath, I was able to get up and proceed to make a cup of coffee. Again, my body and mind had yet to sync. After I prepared my coffee, I had to set it aside as my recent acid reflux episode forced me to let go of my morning cup of joe. I still need to get used to not having that caffeine kick first thing in the morning. I had to settle for a chocolate drink, crackers and 3 heaping tablespoons of instant oatmeal. Thereafter, I washed up and headed to church. It was communion when I arrived and the church was full. I moved to my usual pew and waited for the mass to end. At the end of the mass, people lined up to have ashes on their forehead and it was a long line. The next mass schedule was up and a lector came up front and informed everyone that the mass will begin in a few minutes. People who were lined up to have the ashes on their forehead silently and obediently left. I found myself thinking, “Now, if only we do the same thing when it comes to our laws and ordinances.” But then that’s an entirely new and lengthy discourse.
The lack of restful sleep was still with me and I found myself drifting off during the mass. I slowly caved in during the homily. Initially, I could understand what the priest was saying then, his words became fainter as my eyes felt heavier and heavier. What would have been an interpretation of today’s Gospel transformed into a buzzing sound in my ears. I don’t know how long I dozed off. What I do know was that I woke up just in time to hear the priest say “Mamamatay ka din (You will also die). Whoa! Was that for me? But then I was in the last four rows. Blood pumped up to my brain and then everything made sense. He was explaining to the churchgoers the symbolism of the ashes. The words were apparently used by some lay ministers earlier and was misinterpreted by some churchgoers. The priest had to explain that it was a reminder and should not be taken as an offense. On one hand, I can totally understand if some churchgoers reacted in such a way. It was after early in the morning to hear such ominous words. I am grateful though that I heard those words from the priest as they definitely woke me up and gave me the focus I needed for the mass. When the mass ended, I proceeded to the line to have the ashes marked on my forehead. While waiting, I found myself thinking if the lay minister will say those very same words the priest mentioned earlier. I had to brush it aside as my imagination was now getting the better of me. There I was now, and when my forehead was marked with the ashes, the lay minister gently said ” Repent and return to God”. I said my prayers before I headed out. Then boom! Predictably and typical of me, my imagination went into maximum overdrive. I had this picture in my head of St John the Baptist marking my forehead with ashes. Must have breakfast now.
I missed my daily morning mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady Lourdes and I decided to attend mass at the Quiapo Church ( Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene). Since Fridays are known as “Quiapo Days”, masses are held every hour. Today was also significant for me as this was the First Friday and being a devotee of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I have been attending First Friday masses since the start of the year.
I headed off mid morning hoping to catch the 11am mass. I was not prepared for the traffic halfway through and what would have been a 15-20 minute ride ended up twice as long. As soon as the jeepney reached Raon Street, I got off and walked my way to the church. Interestingly, I saw a sight that is regularly uncommon in Manila – police visibility! Wow! There were so many police officers in the area as well as traffic enforcers and all in one place at that! The only exception to this, would be the anti-riot police present during mass mobilizations.
It was quite an adventure just to make my way to the church. Along the way, I found myself engulfed in a cacophony of sounds coming from the passing vehicles and choking at the carbon monoxide these same vehicles were dangerously emitting. Even before I could get to the sidewalk, my senses were overloaded with the sounds coming from the various audio equipment stores Raon is famous for. I walked passed by this motley group of men who appeared to be lost as they were asking for directions. Quite a feat you ask me given the noise all around. I’m not quite sure they understood or even heard a word from the traffic enforcer who was trying to help them. Then there was this restaurant preparing for the lunch crowd and I could distinctly the food they were serving: pansit bihon, chop suey, pinakbet, adobo and even siopao. Having just recovered from a really horrible episode of acid reflux, my brain suddenly dictated to my stomach to get food. I set the thought aside as I wanted to get to church. People were everywhere, headed in all directions. There were men, women, children and even dogs mingling in the sidewalk which was now overtaken by vendors selling their wares. Nearing the church, I saw this long line of people waiting for their turn to kiss the feet of the statue of the Black Nazarene. I turned to see where the line was headed and noticed the sign on the door – “Pahalikan”. Even if I knew what that meant, I had to check myself as another thought entered my mind. Certainly not the kind of thought you bring to church.
By now, the heat was getting to me and since I forgot to bring my fan, I decided to buy one. To my horror, those fans which normally sell for only PhP10 costs twice as much. I tried to haggle but I was only able to bring the price down to PhP15. As soon as I paid for the fan, I saw this woman approach me and tried to pin this religious medal on me. This is one of those things that you should be careful whenever you are in Quiapo, especially on Fridays. Vendors would forcibly pin on you religious items and charge you an arm and a leg. If you argue with them, you will find yourself surrounded with other vendors until you finally give in fearful for your life. I was quick enough to brush her aside and headed my way like nothing happened.
The church was packed with devotees and it was impossible for me to get in. I also heard from the loud speakers that it was already the offertory so I decided to wait for the noon mass. Plaza Miranda was filled to the brim – devotees, vendors, fortune-tellers, police officers, together with the resident “prophets”. One in particular stood out. He was decked out in a red robe with matching staff and some books. Reminded me of Charlton Heston as Moses in The Ten Commandments. Fortune tellers were trying to get my attention but I had other things in mind, mainly a light meal before mass and looking for the store that sold all those accessories my daughter has been badgering me for weeks. I decided to have some dumplings and the reliable gulaman. Then I tried to weave my way through the crowd to find that accessories store. It was an exercise in futility. I decided to head back to church and tried to get in the main entrance. When that didn’t work out, I tried the side entrance facing Carriedo street. Big mistake. Finally, I went back to the main entrance and inched my way inside the church. It was already Communion and some devotees were on their way out. I got in but the church was still packed inside and I couldn’t move. By now, people were waiting for the blessing of images, rosaries, medallions and holy water and all had their hands raised. I was pushed inside as the devotees were trying to get closer to the aisle and have their items sprinkled with holy water. It was really suffocating and I attempted to fan myself but had to do so with my arms raised. Then I felt it, the sprinkling on the holy water on my arm and my fan. Now, I have a blessed fan.
I finally got in. Before the mass, the novena to the Black Nazarene was read and the Sacred Heart Novena as well. At one point, I was moved by the song for the Black Nazarene that my eyes welled up in tears. The woman beside me was singing the song from her heart even if she was off key. The man beside me had his bowed and singing as well with tears. Such devotion and such faith. After the song, both the man and woman said to their thanks to the Black Nazarene and their faces lit up. It’s as if they were eased of their burdens.Nuestro Padre Hesus Nazareno song
I was still trying to get out of the church when the 1pm started already. I offered to help this old woman with a cane when I was pushed from behind by another woman who wanted to get out. Had it not been for the people in front of me, the old woman and I would have tripped and fallen.
On the ride home, I couldn’t help but reflect on the Filipinos devotion to the Black Nazarene. The image reflects so much on how life is for most Filipinos. So many of us have crosses to bear yet we still hope, we still believe. I am not a devotee of the Black Nazarene but I have deep respect for the devotion. This was my first time to attend a First Friday mass in Quiapo and I am grateful I did. Just going there, reminded me of how life presents so much obstacles but with faith and determination, I will overcome.
Count this as one of many stories on how angels have been protecting those who believe in them. I know my guardian angel was with me when this happened.
Last Saturday, February 26, 2011, I was on my way home from my sister’s place in Antipolo. I just dropped off my daughter at her dorm and eager to get home as it was way past midnight already. While waiting for my ride, a member of the neighborhood foot patrol was kind enough to assist me. He hailed a jeepney for me and made sure I got in safe. There were other passengers with me, mostly young men. Once seated though, I did notice this dark, lanky man across me who appeared to be asleep but whose right hand was dangerously close to the purse of the young woman beside him. The young woman appeared to be exhausted as she would doze off from time to time. She had this huge black bag but the zipper in the small front pocket was already open. Right then I knew something was amiss. Probably sensing what I was thinking, the man to my left whispered how the dark, lanky man’s hand was up to something. I looked around and saw how the other passengers were also uneasy. The young man beside me, just decided to look away and pretend that he was not seeing anything. The other group of young men, would look at me from time to time as if to caution me that a criminal presence was onboard as well. What made dark, lanky man suspicious was that not only was his right hand so close to the young woman’s bag but his other hand held a plastic folder that would move up to cover the right hand from time to time. If indeed he was sleeping, that folder would have slipped from his hands.
I really don’t know what came over me but I strongly felt I had to do something. Then, as if by intuit, the man to my right, whispered again and requested me to send a signal to the young woman as she was more within my line of sight. It was exactly what was on my mind. As the vehicle moved on, I would shift my eyes from the dark, lanky man to the young woman as well as the other passengers. I wanted to catch young woman’s eyes and send her the signal. Then, boom! I was able to meet young woman’s eyes. She picked up my signal easily and moved her bag away from the dark, lanky man. She also gently coaxed dark, lanky man to move away from her as he was leaning against her already. At that point, dark, lanky man, became wide-eyed and alert. And from where I was sitting, I could see his eyes glaring at the man beside me.
In situations like this, criminals do not operate alone. They usually come with a partner or two. I couldn’t tell who his partner was but just the same I remained alert. The young woman at this time was equally alert. Most of the passengers got off at the next stop including the man beside me. Now there were only four of us left. It was only a matter of minutes before I reached my stop. Unfortunately, the jeepney made a pit stop at a nearby gasoline station to fill up. It was the longest wait ever and I heaved a sigh of relief when the vehicle started on its way again. As soon as I reached my destination, I got off and the young woman did as well. She was just a few steps behind me and I told her to hurry up as the dark, lanky man was following us. I told her not to be afraid as the neighborhood foot patrol was just a few meters away from us. The young woman replied that it was alright as she just lived nearby. After a hurried thanks, she sped off. I approached the foot patrol and told them what happened and true enough, across the street, dark, lanky was still there looking at me. Then, he pointed his finger at me and started to cross the street. The neighborhood foot patrol, stopped him from approaching me and led him away. They also frisked him and demanded an identification. One of the neighborhood foot patrol, stayed with me to make sure I was safe. Dark, lanky man was accosted away from me and when I knew it was safe, I hurriedly walked home.
As soon as I got home, I said my prayers, grateful for the protection given to me by St. Michael. You see, whenever I go out or commute, I always pray to St. Michael for my safety. I also have the medal of St. Michael, St. Benedict together with the Miraculous Medal of Our Lady. They kept me safe all throughout and defended me from any danger that would have befallen me. Dark, lanky man was clearly a criminal character and he could have lunged at me with a knife for foiling his nefarious plans for the young woman. Yet, in spite of this, I remained calm for I knew the angels were protecting me that night. Truly, the Lord protects those who believe in Him.
Prayer to St. Michael
Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host –
by the Divine Power of God –
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.