Earliest Blessings I can Remember as a child....
Waking-up in the middle of the night with itchy throat, coughing out loud and long, coughing even more and sleep was impossible.
Sitting-up, I would see my parents and my two sisters beside me, all in deep sleep on the floor of the room that was our bedroom at night and living room during the day. I would move around trying to find a space that would make me comfortable and let sleep creep back-in. I would try it where their heads were, where their feet were, in-between bodies, in corners, wherever. But, it would take time before I would sleep again. During the worst of these attacks I felt and feared that I would die soon since it was very difficult to breathe. And, looking in the mirror in the mornings, I noticed that I had lonely eyes. It fueled my fears because I heard then that people who have lonely eyes die young. I could have been three to five years of age. School age started at seven.
I was the only son of a tenant farming family in one of the "barrios"1 in the town of Calauag, Province of Quezon, Philippines. It was where I grew up though I was born in the town of Polangui, Province of Albay. We live about 10 to 15 kilometers away from town with no roads; and, travel was by foot through hilly terrain. There were no health and medical services in our place. Though they were available in the town and other municipalities, cost might have been prohibitive as I could not recall having been brought to a doctor for proper diagnosis. To this day, I do not know what was the sickness called, or what caused it. I can remember that if my situation was really bad, I was brought to a "herbolario"2.
The situation could have caused me to be a cranky, moody and a problem child. I can still remember that there were times that I felt like crying, to be attended to, to be unreasonable, to be very hard-headed, be deaf of the admonitions and pleas by people around me, by my siblings, even my relatives and my mother. For whatever reason or reasons, I did not even know. The feeling was just there gnawing at me. The fact that I could not understand, much less explain the feeling, made the matter worse. My uncles, parents and other people who have watched me grow have shared amusing, sometimes fearful stories of what I did when I was at that situation. Even I could remember a couple at the least, and I am not proud of them. There was no telling what would trigger such mood or emotional state. An unintended result was that I grew up as a spoiled child of sort.
My parents were Catholics and have deep faith in God. Having been migrants from Bicol Region (Albay) to Southern Tagalog (Quezon), they knew of the miracles that happened attributed to the intercession of the Our Lady of Salvacion in Tiwi, Albay. My mother made a vow to bring me there and ask her intercession for my healing. It was a trip of more than 500 kilometers one way, on foot, on train, and on buses/"jeepneys"3. But, my parents and my siblings made it.
We visited the Shrine and after the celebration of the Holy Mass, we joined the bee line to kiss, touch and to pray to the statute. I could not recall what I prayed for. Nor whether did I really pray. But I believe the Lady knew what I needed and wished for.
Back at the place where we were staying, I had a slight fever, for me an indication that my conditionwould get worse. But, the fever left me. Whether during the evening or the following day, I could not remember. But, since that time up to today I never had an attack of that sickness again.
It has been more than half a century ago but some of the events: the arrival in Bicol, the time I was lifted up by my father to reach the statute, the moment I spent touching it, the way down, the moment I felt the fever, and when it has left me are still etched clearly in my mind. Personally, I consider this life as my second because for me, the possibility of dying at that young age was very real. Looking back, those were events in my re-birth.
In my time with the Lord lately, the following prayer comes into my consciousness often that inspired me to write and share about this matter: "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee."
Truly, the Lord is good and He listens to our prayers and intercessions by the saints. Praise, glory and thanksgiving be to Him our God!
In the Philippines, the term "barrio" used to refer to rural village, but has now been changed by law to the term barangay - the basic political unit of government. -http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barrio (accessed 12/29/2013).
herbalist, herb doctor, herbs expert, herborist. -http://www.wordmagicsoft.com/dictionary/esen/herbolario.php (accessed 12/29/2013).
Jeepneys are the most popular means of public transportation in the Philippines. They are known for their crowded seating and flamboyant decorations, which have become a ubiquitous symbol of Philippine culture and art. The word jeepney came from the combination of the words "jeep" and "jitney", a small bus that carries passengers on a regular route with flexible schedule. -http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeepney (accessed 12/29/2013).
The Meaning of the Miraculous Medal, Mary's Design Symbolizes Key Elements of the Catholic Faith. -http://www.marian.org/mary/story.php?NID=2942, (accessed 12/29/2013).