DAISUKI by Dennis Sun
"No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true."
- Steve Jobs
Today, I lost a friend.
It’s so difficult to write when you are still filled with profound emotions. But they say it’s better you express these feelings soon while they are still fresh and raw before they get rooted badly and deeply inside and thus, difficult to throw away.
A strong force in the Kansai area, Tita Mely didn’t let anything stop her to achieving her mission. A year and a decade of going in and out of the hospital taking all kinds of medications and radiation therapies to battle her continuous cancer illness, she pursued her final task as president and organizer of Mother Earth Connection with their UTAWIT regional competition. Despite her prolonged and recurring illness and deep pain, she continued to call on their regular meetings and held them inside her room at the hospital. There was no finding for excuses for her to quit. She made her members worry a lot about her health condition. Not even her sickness and pain could stop her from retreating. During the event itself, she forgot to bring the oxygen tank but she graced the hall with all smiles just to show her presence in Utawit and that to prove that she was the super-ready and always prepared girl scout.
My relationship with Tita Mely was grounded within the frontiers of helping the Filipino community in Japan. We talked about the situation of the Filipinos and what we could do about it. However, a few months ago this year, I was hospitalized for my lungs. Since both of us were in the hospital, we both shared the same world and lifestyle. Our free schedule had made us closer together even more. We talked about our medications, the doctors and nurses, the treatments, and especially the flavorless food. We became so much closer and spent more time talking over the phone. Gradually though, she was losing her voice so we had to resort to texting instead. Although at the start, I was the one who wasn’t able to talk much because of my throat problems. But when I gained my voice back, she started losing hers.
Although I wanted to write about her, I simply cannot. Her life is a story of an epic proportion! I know she had done so much help to so many Filipinos directly and indirectly of which I am still not aware of. It would be an injustice to her if I would not be able to cover all her good deeds in paper.
I felt she didn’t have much time left so I had been looking for people near Kyoto to interview her in length and depth. Maybe, let her talk about her life for a week or so. I asked her who she wanted to write her life. She wanted me. Much as I wanted to, I live so far away from Kyoto and I am not sure my health would permit me to. When I visited Kyoto to be one of the judges in UTAWIT, I was planning to stay a few more days just so that we could start on some writing. But I declined when I saw her physical condition already. She needed to rest more.
Tita Mely, I will not write your story. I will let the people you helped thank you and let each of their voices serve as the pages and chapters of your life.
Today, I may have lost a friend... but from today, I found me an angel!
WE LOVE YOU, TITA MELY!
“... I am here because of you. No amount of money can pay what you have done to me. You really made me tougher through the years. You helped me in almost everything in best way you can. You helped me whenever I have problems in my documents for my family. You’ve been a peacemaker between me and my better-half. Not only that I turn to you but the whole Filipino community as well. You’re everybody’s strength, aide and need. Thus, no one hesitated to approach you to seek for your guidance in our community because you never fail to soothe the unwary and troubled heart.”
– Emi Arai
Kyoto Mother Earth
“Para kay Madam, maraming bagay-bagay talaga ang natutunan ko sa kanya: ang pagiging magalang at malambing. Pinasasalamatan ko sa kanya unang-una bilang isang talento nuong araw, lalo na't ako ay kailangang maikasal na sa isang Hapon na ngayon ay aking mabait na esposo na. I SALUTE YOU MADAM!”
- Sofia Reiko
Kyoto Mother Earth
“Salamat po madam, dahil po sa tulong nyo ay nanalo po tayo sa kaso na isinampa natin laban sa ama ng anak ko. Sapagkat itinanggi niya ang pagiging ama sa anak nya dahil siya daw umano ay sterile. Ngunit dahil sa napatunayan sa DNA test na siya talaga ang ama ng anak ko at ngayon nga ay mayroon nang kinikilalang ama ang anak ko at nakare-histro na ang aking anak sa pangalan ng tatay niya. Bukod dun ay nagkamit din ng mananahin ang anak ko na magagamit nya para mapaganda ang kanyang kinabukasan...”
- Shiela Michibata
“May sakit na sya noon. Lagi na syang nag-che- chemo. Tumawag ako sa kanya sa dahilang naghahanap ako ng work. Sabi nya sa akin may kakilala daw syang nanga-ngaila-ngan ng staff. Kahit na may karamdaman sya, nakipagkita sya sa akin sa Umeda Hankyu station. Nakipagkita kami sa taong kakilala nya para i recommend ako sa work. Nagpunta kami sa Kobe at doon na rin nagsimba. Malayo ang biyahe pero wala akong narinig na sya ay napapagod o anumang reklamo samantalang may karamdaman sya. Masaya pa syang kumakain kasama ang yumaong kaibigan din namin na si Tata Frank. Kalahating araw din kaming magkasama. Iba siya talagang tumulong, di kita makakalimutan...“
- Katrina Ibanez
Tita Mel, you have been such a source of strength and courage to me and a treasured friend. Thank you for being so honest and helpful. I am holding your hand in spirit and prayer as you have done for me along this journey. I Love you! In loving memory of you my friend, a kindred spirit. I miss you so much, Tita Mely. I will continue to keep your memory alive by sharing your story.
Love you friend,
Kyoto, Business woman
To my dearest Amelia Kohno,
Ako'y taos pusong nagpapasalamat sa iyo sa 25 taon pagsasama natin (KPC) sa hirap at ligaya tayo ay magkasama bilang magkapatid o mag-ina o magkaibigan. Ikaw ay nasa aking puso. Salamat sa iyo, Mama Mel.
- Chesca Kawa
Kyoto, Owner Sakura Restaurant ; Kyoto, Mother Earth Connection, Inc.
Ate Mely: mabait na tao at matalino. Para na po namin siyang magulang sa simbahan. Para sa amin the best po sya dahil marami po sya naitulong sa amin at sa simbahan naming. Mahal na mahal po namin siya talaga kaya maski wala na po at nagpapahinga na po siya, pero sa puso namin nanjan pa rin sya sa alaala namin. Ate Mely, we all love you. Thanks for everything.
- Vilma Teiji Furusawa
Maraming salamat po sa mga suportang binigay niyo sa akin. Hinding hindi ko po kayo makakalimutan dahil naiiba po kayo sa lahat. Hindi po kayo marunong tumanggi sa mga taong humihingi ng tulong o advise niyo at ang magaganda nyong ngiti kahit alam nyo po ang sitwasyon nyo hindi po kayo nanghina at nawalan ng pag-asa.
Kyoto, Business owner
When I first arrived in Kyoto Japan in 1993, I was introduced to the Kyoto Pag-asa Community by Madame Amelia Khono. With all my heart, I am very grateful and thankful for her. She helped me get a job in JPICC; she guided me for being a SECRETARY of the Kyoto Pag-asa Community. I also thank her for all the trust she extended to me.
- Maryjane Redito Juntilla
It was year 1992, when I first met Ate Mely during a small party celebration hosted by both friends of ours. She was such a nice person, very down to earth, aside from being jolly, you can always see that big smile on her face even until the last days of her crisis fighting for that dreadful disease, still she was able to manage and show no sorrows and pains, she remained brave and strong. A woman of courage, a person with "Palabra De Honor" that's Ate Mely for me, one of the greatest person that I admire most! Her favorite and most requested song at the KARAOKE is, "Have you ever seen the Rain?” She told me this song inspire her a lot through Life's Journey!
-Carisa Cabanero Patrimonio