Monday, November 30, 2009

Cafe Bola (Last Part)

Mother was invited to this two-day "Christian Conference" not only to hear the speakers talk about "achieving one's big dream," or worship the Almighty with song and dance performance. My aunt brought my mother to the event for the healing service that would take place after the Archbishop of Manila himself concludes the Holy Mass.

It was already past 1 in the afternoon when the program resumed at the big dome. Splashed over three giant screens were interviews of people whose maladies were healed by the charismatic leader. One of those interviewed (who had cervical cancer) said that the doctors gave her several months to live. But after going through the charismatic leader's healing service, the much dreaded lumps on her cervix had miraculously disappeared.

Past forward to two hours later, the charismatic leader was invoking the name of Jesus Christ as he commanded an old and frail woman to walk. She sat on her wheelchair, and perhaps by sheer will alone (and not because of the holy spirit, as the healer proclaims) the frail woman was able to walk and even push her empty wheelchair away from the ministers. My mom was there too and she was accompanied by my aunt. I chose to remain in our seat and guard the burgers brought earlier by our host. I figured that it would be best if the old ladies' health be restored, than let me stand there and spoil the occasion with my skepticism.

As the events unfolded on the giant screen, those who had weak eyesight were able to see. Those who rolled their wheelchairs going to the stage, or walk with canes as their feet were able to stand by themselves and limp away from the healer. At the back of my head, if my Polio-stricken mom (who was bypassed when the cameras panned at the healer's miraculous feats) suddenly trudge back to our seat at the far end of the stage, then by the grace of god, I'll quit my job, leave the country, walk across the planet and live like a hermit.

I hope you won't get the impression that I scoff at the chicanery happening in front of me. On the contrary, I prayed hard that I'd be able to open my mind and believe that true healing could take place inside the ring. While the charismatic leader urged people to give up their hatred and let the holy spirit enter everyone's heart, tears gently trickled down my face. Pressing its rough surface against the souvenir booklet, all I could say was "thank you." at that moment.

Mom never walked back to our seat, as expected, but one can truly feel how renewed she was after the experience. If there was something I truly felt while raising my hands, shouting Hallelujah, and passing on the "healing energy" to the faithful on the upper levels of the big dome, it was the feeling of loving someone

more than yourself.


We were singing praise songs after one of the speakers shared a near death experience that changed his life. His story went this way: He was driving near the Navotas Fish Port when a 14-wheeler truck appeared out of nowhere and crashed into his vehicle. His car was pinned underneath the chassis and was dragged several meters away from the intersection where he was about to make a turn. The car was a total wreck while he escaped unscathed. Arriving home, he went to his wife, hugged her tight, and in between sobs he begins to shake uncontrollably after realizing how close he was to death.

Mom wanted to go the the bathroom and my sister's assistance was needed so someone could watch while she addresses her needs on the toilet. Since we asked utol to stay beside my aunt, (who sat alone on another chair two rows away) we only got the chance to talk a few times during the conference.

Our sibling relationship has turned bitter and resentful these past few months. While she enjoyed the privilege of being a freeloader, (and getting away with it) I had to find ways to earn more and relieve my dependence on savings. It was an ugly feeling I had to conceal in the name of harmony.

I don't want the issue to explode and add more stress to my mom's already troubled life.

But there were times the abuse of one's graces became difficult to overlook. And these were the times it's hard not to think of very ill thoughts about my sister.

Remembering how each moment counts and how expressing one's love could be missed by a single second, I hugged my sister tight while standing next to me as we sang praises during the worship.

It was my peace offering.

Recalling when was the last time I wrapped my arms around my sister's shoulders, truth is, I could not even remember.


The two-day "Christian Conference" took much of my vacation. The well-deserved sleep, which I was looking forward a week ago was taken away when I had to wake up in the morning to prepare for the talks. My energy was sapped as I pushed and lifted my mother's wheelchair across the coliseum's uneven lobby. The "me" time, which translates to a total moment of solitude had to be squeezed between the gym working, keeping tabs over my failing health, showing up at a friend's despedida party and reading the client's emails on the computer. I was never thrilled to participate in worship, or listen to pep talks from people I barely know, but saying yes to the invitation was driven by bigger reasons no one among those I accompanied would ever learn.

Returning at Cafe Bola, the orders were finally served and everyone started to eat. My aunt's driver and his two young daughters were even invited to our table instead of them eating at a fast food nearby. Across the street stood the remains of Fiesta Carnival. Presently occupied by Shopwise and a plethora of bars, restaurants and specialty shops, the dilapidated upper beams still rekindled old memories now that we have returned - as a family - at the Araneta Center.

I accepted the invitation to renew the bonds, often overlooked now that I tend to live my life apart from those who were at the table. Two years, ten years, twenty years. They are the same kin I used to walk with, when I never had the strength to walk with other people. They are of the same blood and now that I have taken this month-long reformation to reclaim my core, completeness is unattainable without searching inwards and finding the heart of my being.


It only takes sixteen days to turn an age older, and in another year many things could happen. Those of us - the children who accompanied our parents - might have lost much of the spirit, the memory, of the days we would blissfully run towards the nearest candy-colored carousel inside the Fiesta Carnival, or sip a bubble-gum flavored soda while watching Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck skate around the ring at the Holiday On Ice, or stuff our tummies with Chicken Barbecue and Java Rice on a table not different from those at Cafe Bola, with our parents - the same aunts - sitting beside us and keeping us safe like we are their collective offspring.

Time is running out and if the only way to keep the bonds was to listen to the pep talk and worship the same God with the rest of the kin, then the big dreams promised by the "Christian Conference" has been fulfilled.


dr magsasaka said...


Anonymous said...

nung bata ako, sinasama ako ng mom ko before sa mga love flock sessions nya. i remember seeing people cry and dance and sing while holding their prayer booklets. i wonder why that experience failed to affect and influence my spiritual growth as i grew up. wala lang, kasi skeptic talaga ako when it comes to things like this.

maybe, i'm not seeing the point. :)

dencios said...

iba talaga iyung first hand experience sa mga ganyang worship kesa sa TV.

gladly wala namang problema sa aming pami-pamilya.

sana magtuloy tuloy ang mganada relationship at good health for mom.

anteros' dominion said...

thank you.

and yes, i'll live up to the promises i made

god bless, bro

im very thankful for the things you have shared

if ever you'd need a hand in anything, you know where to find me...

hugh said...

this is very inspiring. call me iyakin but eveeytime i see people fulfilled with faith, naluluha ako. i think the last time i cried was when i saw a multitude of people on tv during the Nazareno feast. my partner was laughing at me pero di ko kinalahiya yun. coz when i was younger, i really had a strong connection with Mama Mary. i used to regularly pray the Rosary.

nakakalungkot lang isipin na ang karamihan nagdadasal lang kapag may kailangan sa Kanya. pero nakakakalimot magpasalamat pag nakuha na ang gusto.

kudos kuya J!

thecurioscat said...

that was nice of you Galen. btw, yan ba yung sa kerygma something? i was invited kaso I had to declined kase may client skeds na ako at deadlines

Galen said...

Dr. Magsasaka:

Bless you Fa'dah!


The man of science in all of us demands proof. If we couldn't figure out something, then the skeptics in us take over.

Sometimes one must accept things as they are. Logic and reason can never explain everything. To return to our most ancient beliefs is already embedded on our instincts.

Have an open mind and an open heart. After all, there are still things even the most brilliant among us could not explain.

Going back to our instincts and most instinctive ex

as they are to appreciate their entirety. :)

Galen said...


Sinong ermats tinutukoy mo men? Hehehe. Weird nga eh, pag nakakakita ako sa TV ng ganun eh nililipat ko kaagad ng channel.


Very honored to finally meet you. See you again.

Galen said...


All of us used to have this faith stronger than anyone could imagine. I once lead the praying of the rosary in our neighborhood. Kasama ko pa mga bata nun. Somewhere along the way, my faith ebbed and flowed like tides until I realized one day that life makes no sense if you don't ever question the meaning of your existence.

I guess that's how I got my faith back.

Thanks B.


Yup. Its the K-Con. Hehehe.

thecurioscat said...

haha sabi ko na nga