Tuesday, October 27, 2009


That phrase has sunk into my consciousness for decades now. It has become a cliche that buoys me up whenever I'm feeling down and out. I've been out of circulation for a while because of recent calamities that struck our province of Pangasinan. After clearing the dirt left by Typhoon Pepeng in our yard, my daughter and I paid my brother a visit at his place in Bautista, Pangasinan which was one of those worst-hit towns.

There, we actually saw ugly prints left by Typhoon Pepeng along the way and learned some untold damages from my brother - concrete dikes collapsed, houses were washed-out, local cemeteries bore proofs that they were submerged in flood waters, ( the family mausoleum was submerged up to its rooftop), my brother's house is still surrounded by sticky "linang" (mud) and the dirt and the mounting foliage in it couldn't be swept, furniture inside their house warped and drawers don't fit when put back, the once speck- and- span tiles of the whole house carry unsightly stains , appliances were not spared from drowning in the flood, too.

Efforts to wipe away the ugly signs can't hide the damage done. The laundry is still wanting for clothes left that soaked in the flood. Normalcy is still far to achieve in and out the house, at least on my personal observation by my sister-in-law's standard of home care . My brother told us that if the dike at Bacnono didn't collapse, their house must have suffered much, probably submerged up to its roof. He sighed at the pitiful situation of people in that part of the town of Bayambang, the nearby town.

These were one of those bad times after our good times in the family. We don't have control over them but we can solve them when they happen.The inner strength never leaves us because we have great faith in Him who does all things possible here on earth. For example, my brother's nightmares at the height of the deluge (although he accepts that he didn't panic) could have been compounded after the flood, were it not because of the quick and precise response of his absentee-wife, and their children in Abu Dhabi.

My sister-in-law through long distance advisory, set up work force by contacting people she trusted who helped clean the house and its surroundings from the debris. She was not a school principal for nothing, always systematic and has that respectable commanding prowess. My brother didn't lose time to inform us that he was well and not burdened by the house re-structuring and clean-up. He added that as if my sister-in-law was all there with him in person. Were it not due to his health status, he would have accompanied his wife to Abu Dhabi in time for the birth of MJ, their new girl apo (granddaughter). What more could he ask for?

This November, we are anticipating another family gathering, to pay respect to our beloved dead, and for sure, to update each other with the recent calamities we all suffered. Our siblings from Cainta, Antipolo, Quezon City, Nueva Ecija, Cavite, and us here in Pangasinan will each have our good times and bad times to tell. But it's most probable that some will have to be excused for not attending because of some twists of luck in the family.

My newly-widowed sister and her children from Quezon City will spend the night vigil on All Saints' Day for their beloved Daddy. Another sister will forgo the trip back home to Pangasinan due to her affliction. She was diagnosed with slip disc and is undergoing traction procedures and needs complete bed rest. Our eldest brother in Cavite is having hard times taking care of his son with cancer. It is this year also that most of our nieces, nephews, and their families have migrated to Canada and the US. The clan is undoubtedly thinning out due to opportunities of good life they pursued some years back. But our family tradition of spending All Saints' Day together will go on and on. It is just one or two days a year which we offer for our beloved Tatay and Nanay.

So, you see, I find my cliche working strong again in me. It's my way of soothing my ruffled feelings, of aching to be with my siblings and their families, but simply can't. For the meantime, knowing that we all have our built-in strength to face life's challenges, I will live with anticipation that one day God will make a way, to ease our pains, to wipe away our tears, and to comfort us in our afflictions- and be happy together again. What we will surely miss is our childlike ways of trying to outdo each other in our singing habit- but the videoke can wait. The Castro Clan is a "singing family" which our neighbors and relatives likewise enjoy to watch and listen.

Yes, in good times as in bad times, we are one loving family.

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