By Limuel Celebria
This morning, more than two weeks after my exit from a 3-week hospital staycation, I was finally able to get in a 30-minute morning walk. It was a brisk 2.2 kilometer walk with no rest in between, allowing me to break out in sweat but, surprisingly, not in chest heaving gasps. Certainly, these are signs that I am well on my way to recovery from pneumonia and COPD (the principal reasons I was hospitalized). Thank God for small victories.
Though my walk was successful it was largely uneventful. This week was, however.
It began when my kids arrived from Baguio and Manila to surprise us with a visit. Apart from a tearful welcome from the mom, it was pure joy the rest of their brief stay.
This was followed by a rainfall of blessings. Two old comrades from our younger days in media – sportswriter non pareil Alex Vidal and ace radio reporter Mike Estaniel – both now US based, showered me with tidy sums to help with my medical expenses. Mike, a born-again Christian, even told me his church was praying for me.
There was also a brief note from a UPHS classmate, Dr. Gene Gonzalez, accompanied by a GCash deposit. My UPHS classmates are certainly pulling for me, backing up their prayers with currency.
Midweek, my two nieces arrived bearing a box full of high potency vitamin C and some supplementary medicine from my younger sister, Mylene in California.
Then, a woman in my past life, Florence Hibionada (she calls me Daddy), called in to say our good friend Tito Lopez is sending some help. So too with 2nd District Cong. Mike Gorriceta. (Thank you guys!)
Back when I was editing this paper, there were three women in my life – my wife, Gina, Florence, and Maricar Calubiran. They were my ace reporters, headline hunters, and deadline beaters. Florence now operates her own PR outfit apart from pursuing charitable projects (such as me), Maricar is doing special projects for the DSWD including facilitating financial assistance for my hospitalization. As for Gina, well, what would happen to a man without a good woman by her side?
But I digress.
Another good friend in media, Rexcel Sorza, formerly of GMA now Cong Jam Baronda’s main PR guy, is facilitating some succor from the solon.
Finally the week’s crowning glory was a totally unexpected call from very close friend and Iloilo media contemporary, Benjie Guevara. Tisoy, as he was fondly called, wrote for the maverick Jose Burgos’s anti-Marcos newspaper Ang Pahayagang Malaya while I corresponded for Metro Manila Times, published by novelist Kerima Polotan who’s married to a lawyer (the name skips me) who served as the late president Ferdinand Marcos’s Executive Secretary.
When Tisoy took his talent to Manila, I sort of “inherited” his Malaya gig. Soon after immersing himself in the big city and going toe to toe with the big boys of the national media, Tisoy would encourage me to also come to Manila saying, “Kaya natin sila!” I held no doubts about what he said (the stories I sent to Manila were often considered front page material and “clean copy” or not needing editing). But, somehow, I would stay rooted in Iloilo. I grew up in Manila and I didn’t like it. I preferred Iloilo.
Tisoy would stop making a career out of being a newsman. He became, in media parlance, a PR “operator”. Eventually, he would become Senate President Ed Angara’s Chief of Staff and consultant to some Malacanang personalities.
It has been a while since we last got in touch. When he called the other day, I assumed he was in Iloilo for a visit. No, he said, I called because I read about your cancer affliction. He said his wife. Levy, has been battling the Big C the past three years and they’re looking forward to recovery. He told me about their devotion to Padre Pio and their regular visits to Padre Pio’s National Shrine in Batangas and in Libis, QC. He also said there was actually a patron saint for cancer victims – St. Ezequiel Moreno and related FR. Jerry Orbos’ testimony about how St. Ezequiel’s statued started crying when Fr. Orbos became cancer-ridden. The tears stopped when he got cured.
Following our conversation, Tisoy sent to my inbox copies of Padre Pio’s and St. Ezequiel Moreno’s powerful prayers for healing. There was also a neat note informing me of a Gcash deposit.
All in all, this week’s bonanza adds up to a month’s supply of medicine. Lord, what did I do to deserve such friends?
This week, too, I learned people who probably didn’t know I exist are praying for me in Chicago, in Texas, in Florida, and in LA. Canada, even. There are communities, prayer groups organized by friends and relatives pleading to the Lord for my healing.
This morning, I went for a good, long walk. When I returned home I realized, this week the Lord walked with me. Nay, he walked ahead of me.
1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake. – Psalm 23:1-3