Eleven years ago today, I lost my mother in a sea tragedy. She was one of the passengers of the M/V Viva Antipolo VII, which caught fire and sank when it was only 30 minutes away from the port of Lucena City.
Before the accident happened, Mama and I had been preparing for my first semester in the University of the Philippines. After we had fulfilled the prerequisites for enrollment, she went back to Marinduque to raise money for my tuition. While she was there, she received an invitation for me to apply for a private scholarship grant. She hurriedly accomplished the application forms, secured the required documents, and sailed back to the city aboard the ill-fated ferry.
When rescuers found Mama’s body, she was clutching her bag that had the scholarship application forms and some cash, among other things.
One of the relatives and friends who rushed to the Dalahican port upon hearing about the tragedy was Msgr. Rollie Oliverio, with whom Mama worked for several years as coordinator of the catechists in our parish. He found in Mama’s bag a piece of paper on which an essay about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ was written.
I don’t know if it was indeed my mother who wrote the essay. She could have heard it on the radio, from a sermon, or read it somewhere. But it is also very possible that it was her own reflections scribbled down on paper. Being a catechist, she needed to think of stories and anecdotes that would help Catechism students better understand the teachings of the Church. Whichever is the case, this piece was one of the things that helped me move on from the darkest day of my life:
Archdiocese of Manila
Parish Catechists’ Coordinator
Holy Cross Parish
Santa Cruz, Marinduque
(Isa sa 39 na nasawi sa pagkasunog at paglubog ng Antipolo VII, May 16,1995, 4:00 A.M.)
Mula sa bag ni Belen na aking nakuha kahapon, May 16, 1995, ilang oras matapos maganap ang trahediya na kinasangkutan ng M/V VIVA ANTIPOLO VII na kanyang kinasasakyan, nakita ko ang isang papel na kanyang sinulatan ng kung ano ang KAHULUGAN NG MULING PAGKABUHAY NI KRISTO. Napaka-Kristyano ng kanyang pag-unawa sa kamatayan at muling pagkabuhay. Narito ang kanyang sinabi:
THE MEANING OF CHRIST’S RESURRECTION
The basic meaning of the resurrection is the liberation of Jesus Christ from death to life.
1) The teacher put her arm around the boy and took him to a planter’s box by the window. The class had planted the seeds few days before. Using her finger, the teacher scrapped the dirt and found one of the seeds porating to green sprout emerging from the seed. The teacher said: Look, Bobby, the seed is not dying, it is only changing its way of living. God has intended it to become a plant. It is the same way with your sister. She is now changing her way of living. God made her something more than just life to this world. Just as God never intended the seed to remain a seed, so also God never intended our life to remain just a life here on earth. Just as God intended the seed to become a plant, so did he also intend our life to share in His life and glory.
In short, God made all of us for something much more than just life in this world. In truth and in fact, God made us for Himself, to share His life with us. What a wonderful life, indeed (at kanyang inulit sa malalaking titik) GOD MADE ALL OF US FOR SOMETHING MUCH MORE THAN JUST LIFE IN THIS WORLD. IN TRUTH AND IN FACT, GOD MADE US FOR HIMSELF TO SHARE HIS DIVINE LIFE WITH US.
2) However, just as the seed has to change, to die to its being a seed to become a plant, so also we have to change. As long as we live we have to CONTINUALLY DIE TO OURSELF LITTLE BY LITTLE. SMALL STEP BY SMALL STEP, WE DIE TO OUR PRIDE, OUR SELFISHNESS, OUR UNKINDNESS AND WHATEVER THAT KEEPS US FROM BEING LIKE CHRIST AND BEING CHRISTLIKE, SO THAT AT THE END OF OUR LIFE HERE ON EARTH, WE WILL BE BORN INTO ETERNAL LIFE WITH GOD.
This is our only way to God Christ’s own way. His Pasch or Passover, His passion, death and resurrection. Hence we must unite ourselves with Christ’s Passover so that we will be enabled to “pass over” from this life to the Father. It is the Spirit that the resurrection of Christ which is the center and the very heart of the History of Salvation should be the determining principles in living our day to day Christian life. Thus, we must be courageous, READY and WILLING TO DIE DAILY AND SO RISE AGAIN ONE DAY WITH CHRIST WHO ROSE FROM THE DEAD.
MSGR. ROLLIE N. OLIVERIO
St. Alphonsus Seminary
Lucena City May 17, 1995
Concordat cum originali