Me & Irene
As the book is nearing completion, my
relationship with Irene has gone deeper as well. As she reminisces on her life, I take the honor and pleasure of picking up lessons on her life full of treasures. I am getting excited with the
thought that we will go and tour to talk about her book. One evening, she asked me to release the book after her death. I asked her and her response is the sincerest, yet truly worrisome as she said
softly, “My family will get mad at me”. The thought of her dying is enough to make me sad. My excitement was suddenly turned off. How can I obey this request? I want to feel and share with her
whatever will happen to this adventure. I felt that I have developed a genuine friendship with her. As her Personal Assistant, we became closer. It was a challenge to know what she likes, as I
prepare her meals, I should know how many sugars will satisfy her sweet tooth. I must perfect the way she likes her egg over easy, or I will end up eating it.
I could still picture how she giggles as she
recalled how Juaning stole the first kiss; her excitement to ride the Ferris wheel like a kid, while her husband is hiding so hard from his doctor friends; and how she witnessed pregnant Juana gives
birth so easy before the midwife comes. As a young girl, she cannot help but laugh naughtily, still irking at the touch of the soft, blood-laden umbilical cords.
She has an excellent knowledge base of medicine, that she takes an active role in her health maintenance and overall health care under Client Directed Personal Assistance Program.
She is very sharp, intelligent, and well-read. She belongs to both worlds of the East and the West, and lived four generations, pre-war onto this millennium. She reveres the name "Moraga" and
requested me to write it fully as her maiden name. As for technology, I gave her a cheap phone that she treasures as her connection to the world, her friends, and her church across the miles away
from home. Like a young kid, she keeps her phone so close as her life’s company and security line.
Social Justice on Human Rights
She is a just human rights activist who does not want to see anyone
being treated unfairly. Once visiting in Kalaca, there was a poor, young wife, around 15 years old, who was victimized with an attempted
rape, one night while her husband went fishing. They live by the hut near the sea, so poor. The perpetrator was able to jump out of the window, however he was caught, the son of the local government
official. They sought a good lawyer, while I represented the girl. Nobody wants to help her, when I came, I asked what happened. The judge said that on initial questioning, the girl would not speak,
I exclaimed, “how can she talk? She’s still in shock!” And I made her speak up. We reached the higher court, without a lawyer, just the Truth and God, the case was won, and the defendant served eight
years in prison. His lawyer was so embarrassed to meet the judge, he flew to America to save his face!
Even if you are poor and innocent, if you have God, you are
She became the “Social Worker” of Lipa with her genuine desire to help people and share her wealth. Her philanthropy ranged from small personal individualized advocacy to a big
scale community project and initiative. Her vision (Pananaw) is beyond what is visible. She knew and understood the plight
of the people and the unpredictability of situations arising and needing her help, so she carries her checkbook, and was always ready, like that time when somebody was bleeding and needed blood
transfusion immediately, she used her check to buy a pint or two.
was growing up, I was invited by a friend to Calaca, Batangas, a small remote area, so poor, no electricity, no farms, no fish in the ocean. There is no sign of progress and bounty, so
dead and “dry”. It was called Puting Bato but there was no sign of white stone but rather a very black sand. The fields were barren, with the soil in the fields as white, you will fall in the bottom
when it is dry and becomes so sticky when it is wet. Nevertheless, we moved to Calaca from Quezon City after my Divisoria textile business as I do want to take care of Peter myself. I did few
businesses there particularly the buy and sell of cows. Like my mother Antonina and my Impong Igmidio, I went into the jewelry business which I bought from distant relatives in Meycawayan to sell in
Manila and Quezon City. We lived in Calaca since Boyet was two years old until he started High School in Manila.
On further exploration I saw a place, an area looking so unique and different, there is
only one road through the beautiful mountain peak of Batulao leading to it. I wrote Iglesia and sent them a map to ask them to come and visit the place. I spoke to Ka Erdie as I believed and
felt that it needs a blessing, from somebody in the Iglesia to walk through it. Iglesia then bought the land overlooking the bay from the mountain side. The air is fresh, the view of the
surrounding mountains is very uplifting and the beaches, I thought they will make a very nice beach, a tourist haven. And so, it was.
In the beginning, there were only five
families and we used to attend Samba under a private house of an old Iglesia couple. I did not like the idea that we were under the house. Then I asked the owner if we can go up in the house
while waiting for the church to be built and accommodate the growing membership to the Iglesia. I bought stones and hollow blocks that will become the foundation of the “Kapilya”. Then
I recruited carpenters who have no jobs, and the rest of the Iglesia families joined to build the church. During the inauguration, the secretary of Iglesia came, it was the beginning of the progress
of Calaca. The farms started to produce, there were abundance of big fishes caught from the bay. Before Ka Erdie died, he built a new and bigger Church of Christ. Today, Calaca has become a
city, with booming businesses. It became the home to an industrial park with several coal-powered plants and home to foreign corporations. There was a very tall falls from the mountains that
became a source of electricity. And yes, it has become a tourist spot. When I went home in
2017, I visited Calaca, once more and I was glad. The original families who built the church with me, all became millionaires.
Irene lived with God every day. If she
can advocate for Christ in any way, she will do it. As she had helped built this church, she always invites friends to join her in Samba.
As her heart was pure and
God-laden, natural healing came unto her, a healing based on science and common sense as she virtually studied medicine with her husband, Juaning.
She cannot forget
how she cried with the sight of the child who fell into the boiling pot of hog-food, a child all bandaged up with skin all sloughed from the burn. She prayed to God and asked for divine intervention.
She asked the family to be good and sin no more. The burned child lived to become a nurse and now a supervisor in California. The parents succeeded in business and are now
There was a rich executive from New York looking for a
companion for her dying sick mother. While she is still in the hospital, they are looking for her companion to recover in the Hamptons. The interview included, “do you have any experience with
homecare giving?” I answered, my husband is a doctor. I was warned by the son that the old woman is cranky and hard to please. When she saw me, she is in her good mood and greeted me, “How are you my
friend?” With that, the son knew they are ready for me. They took me to the Hamptons. They are extremely rich, she has a nurse, housekeeper, and driver; and my job is to give her company. Our
conversation lasted for x years, coming from two cultures, we had a lot to talk about. I took her to the best places she wants, fine dining in restaurants, shopping, and joy riding
that I felt like a native in the hometown of the rich and famous. After some time, her daughter-in-law who is not fond of her, noticed that she looks happy and contented, death is not in the picture.
My companionship worked for all our favors, as blessed by God.