Tuesday, 25 April 2017
SNIPPETS OF LIFE IN SYDNEY: Paalam Kaibigan, By Eleanor Trincher PDF Print E-mail
Written by Eleanor M. Trinchera   
Wednesday, 09 September 2009 02:31

SYDNEY, Australia (MindaNews/8 Sep) – I was in front of my computer, my phone beeped, a text message from a friend: “Our batchmate, Dingdong Flores, passed away a few minutes ago. Was informed by Anna. Let us all pray for the repose of his soul. The family still has to make arrangements for the wake.” Bon Tagum. That was 6:29 p.m. last night.

I was expecting it to happen since I first received the news of his confinement. I thought, with the injuries he suffered from several cardiac arrests, he might not live a normal life if he wakes up. I thought I was prepared for the news of his death. I wasn’t.

The last time I saw him alive was in 2008. I was in Manila in March, but failed to meet him.

Through a friend, my sister Mapette and I asked what was happening with him. Then we found him in Facebook. That was where we had a catch up. I just chatted with him a few weeks after his Dad died in the US and how he was handling the return of his father’s remains. Dingdong said, “There’s too much red tape and was really disappointed with what was going on.” He went quiet again…then the news of his confinement.

The news spread through our network of friends, particularly the Notre Dame of Kidapawan for Girls, Notre Dame Boys Department and UP Kutang Bato. Friends we haven’t talked to for a long time were all there, remembering him, consoling each other. What a way to meet friends in cyberspace – that was the first time I chatted with several people at one time. The news of his death brought out treasured photos with him, photos which were kept digitally, kept in albums, memento boxes and were ageing, but they all came out, uploaded and scanned to give tribute to the man and the life he led.

He is remembered as the “resident UP Kutang Bato intellectual.” Oh, yes, he can really launch into long arguments and sometimes you just don’t know if the argument will ever end. Mapette and Dingdong had a lot of funny stories while they were in UP. I was their “ate” and he was one of the sons that our Dad never had. He was full of life and so passionate!

He stayed at their family farm in Pikit for a while, he had plantations of papaya if I recall it right. Then there were the “wars in Mindanao .” He told me of his experience, rallying people to defend their lives and property to the point of familiarizing himself with the use of guns. I never found out what made him leave Pikit. 

Dingdong went back to Manila , stayed in their family home with Manang Cita and his other siblings. Yes, it’s Manang Cita who would ring him up to find out what time he is going home. During our visit in 2005, I think it was after a dinner with friends and the three of us ended up talking until midnight. We were all dozing off a bit, but the stories never ended. It was early morning when he left because we had to prepare for the morning flight to Tacloban, to visit Papang’s tomb.

How do you say goodbye to a dear friend? How do you say goodbye to loved ones when you’re miles away from them. I recall Papang’s death, Lola Pilar’s death. We were not able to go home and bury them. With Papang we stayed with him while he was in coma for one and a half months, using up all my sick leave and annual leave, I could not afford to go back home for his burial.

Yes, these are the events that we, who live away from the homeland, have to contend with, inasmuch as we want to be with our families to bury our loved ones, we have to be practical about the situation. And so, each one of us will try to say goodbye in our own way … and we know our loved ones will understand. 

Paalam, Kaibigan! I know you will be resting in peace with your Heavenly Father…you’ll be reunited with your Daddy. Hopefully, you’ll see Papang and Mang Pete!

(Mindanawon Abroad is MindaNews' effort to link up with Mindanawons overseas who would like to share their experiences in their adopted countries. Eleanor M. Trinchera of Kidapawan City is a resident of Sydney and is now working with a non-government organization.)