Thursday, March 8, 2012


by Rey Ian Corpuz

A Sad Journey

I skipped the last issue of Jeepney Press because of the passing away of my father. Life sometimes is a sad and painful journey. A quote from a fellow writer here: “Pain is a gift from God.” I came into realization recently that sometimes God puts us in the dark so that we may see the light. And in that light, you will know who really are the people you can depend and trust on and to know yourself better. God tests us how we respond to challenges he gives us. It’s a test of character for us.

It was a difficult experience that nobody would want to endure again. Perhaps, I share the same story with some OFWs here in Japan. It was towards the end of the year where I received the bad news. My father was diagnosed with terminal stage pancreatic cancer. I was totally devastated. I couldn’t concentrate well at work. I had difficulty to balance my family here in Japan and with the problem with my family back home. I was under the dilemma whether I will go back home and leave my work or I have to wait for further developments.

The doctors said that there were complications. Because of the enlargement of his pancreas, the flow of his bile is blocked. Thus, it was mixed with his blood causing him excruciating pain and discomfort. I couldn’t bear to think that this was happening while I researched on the internet about the prognosis of this illness. So he needed to undergo an operation that will create an area so that his bile will flow. With that, a hole needed to be made on the side of his abdomen and putting some plastic bag will catch the bile from within. How terrible the prognosis was. So after a few days he underwent an operation.

The outpatient operation was brief and was successful. It was our prayers for him to be sent back home before Christmas. Our family back home was able to celebrate Christmas and New Year. Even though he was just in bed making only signs, gestures and sleeping the whole day, we were still relieved to see him at home. It was indeed a prayer answered for us to celebrate the holiday season with him.

But eventually his body began to fail. Towards the first days of New Year, he was slowly dying. He did not respond and just kept on sleeping. Until finally he passed out on the 4th of January. It was a tragic news for me. My cousin from Dubai called me to say the sad news. I kept on crying along with my wife who was with me along the way. It was difficult to accept knowing I wasn’t there. I was only able to speak with him on the phone. All I could recall was his soft incomprehensible voice of “Oo…” Secondly, the reality being in Japan during the holidays was that I couldn’t afford any ticket back home. Tickets sold during the holidays is equivalent to my one month salary. It was so expensive and all I could do was to wait for the tickets to go down further. Third, classes will resume the following week and I needed to ask permi-ssion to be absent for four days or so. The worse part of it was they will not pay for the absences. A help came along from my cousin from Dubai. They sent me USD1,000 for the tickets. But it was still not enough and I had to buy my Manila to Davao tickets with another airline. Good thing that my friends from Dabawenyos Organized Society gave me extra money so I was able to buy tickets.

I was so relieved that I can go home to mourn my father’s death. Before I went home, I needed to prepare myself emotionally, mentally and physically. I cried out almost all of my grief before I left Japan. Upon arriving in Davao, my friends were there to fetch me. I was glad to have them, too. I literally went home with little pocket money. When we reached home, I saw my father’s casket. The lights radiated our living room. It was an unforgettable experience. I saw my father’s face quite not the same as his face before. He lost weight and the bile mixed with his blood made his face even darker. I wept a little but I needed to accept the fact that he already passed away. I hugged my mom after and we had a lot of talk after.

The following day, our relatives arrived batch by batch. I was thankful that my father was a good man and he stood as a responsible and caring brother to all of his brothers and sisters. My mother’s relatives also came and offered their condolences. Our neighbors, too, came every night for the prayers. My sister’s friends and colleagues also went there to show support for us. Also, some of my classmates and colleagues went there. I felt like it was a mini reunion. So this is how Filipinos mourn unlike in Japan. We had to observe more than 2-3 days to mourn our dead. Everybody helped with the cooking. My mom did a fantastic job in running the wake. She coordinated with all people. I also thanked my sister as she always run errands since the time my father was in the hospital.

The burial day arrived and it was my first time to ride the funeral car. It was scary and I felt uneasy at first. Eventually, everything seemed normal. I began to realize that I have already accepted his death. During the mass, the priest who conducted the mass was our relative. He said that when he went to pay a visit to my father in the ICU at the hospital, my father said “Kapoy na kaayo….,” (I am so tired.) in a soft voice. Then I figured out that he is now with the Lord and that his pain is now gone. I wept a little. After the mass, we went to the cemetery to bury him. My little brother cried as he was the one very close to my father. We comforted and told him to be strong because he will be the oldest male left in our family as I am working abroad. Everyone was able to breathe after.

Painful though, we all have to accept some hard realities. We live and eventually die. What I learned from my father was to be helpful to the people around you. I don’t know if this is true but the more people go to your wake and burial means the more people you have helped in the past. It may seem awkward for some but in my own opinion, it is exactly true.

I went back home to Japan with eagerness to be with my family. My loving wife who always supported me and my “makulit” son who never failed to make me smile and laugh. Thank you to everybody who helped me in this ordeal especially the people in my school, the company that I am working for, DOS people, our relatives and friends especially in Dubai, classmates, colleagues and friends.

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