Sunday, April 29, 2007

Three Pieces of Cupcake

Jocelyn Lambac (center), 28, together with fellow recipients of General Santos City Youth Achievers Awards 2006, Donald Louie Monteclaro (left), 20, and Engineer Abdul Gafur Kudarat (right), 27, will be featured June on youth leadership on ABS-CBN television in General Santos City in southern Philippines.


GENERAL SANTOS CITY – The last bottles of soft drink had been drained, the plates of rice cleared, and only a leg of garlic chicken left.
“Each one of us must have knowledge of the Holy Qur’an,” said Jocelyn Lambac, 28, a government employee, clad in a seemingly tight black shirt, pair of black pants and a black headscarf. “I should have had good knowledge of the Holy Qur’an.”

“When he was still bedridden, I would repeatedly chant by his side the Al-Fatiha,” she said, referring to the first chapter of the Muslim Holy Scripture. “It’s all I know.”

Her eyes turned red but she braved crying. “Please, no crying,” she said turning her eyes to one corner of the room, refusing to look straight at the eyes of each person at the table.”

Silence.

“Gandhi and I have good news for you,” said Jovar Pantao, 24, a community organizer. “Remember what I told you before?”

“I was somewhat expecting for a wheelchair,” she said. “Not that one.”

“During my time, it wasn’t live. We did taping,” Jovar said.

“Shall I wear a headscarf that time? Oh, I should wear an outfit with videocam-friendly colors,” she said.

“You still have a time to go for foot spa, body scrub and diet,” he said. “Plus 10 pounds on TV, you know.”

“Gandhi, you should give me a copy of it,” she said, her voice somewhat excited, her eyes as if telling to herself: “I will be fine. I should be fine.”

“I will take a video of the TV while you’re live on air,” said Gandhi Kinjiyo, 33, her cousin.
“No, I want a copy of the video by the television station,” she replied.

Silence.

This coming June, she and her co-awardees of General Santos City Youth Achievers Awards (GSCYAA) for 2006 will be featured on a local television channel. GSCYAA is an annual distinction conferred by the local government of General Santos to young people in the city who have manifested sterling performance in their respective fields of endeavor.

In the middle of her acceptance speech in December 15, 2006, her voice cracked and tears trickled down her face. “My mom must be very happy for me. Wherever she is now, I know my mom is very proud of me.”

“I’m neither a perfect daughter nor a perfect sister, but deep inside me I’m trying to be one,” she said. She was wearing a colorful headscarf and a dress with long sleeve. A friend would tease her later as the Megawati Sukarnuputri of the Philippines.

She is vice president of Young Moro Professionals’ Council, a non-government youth-serving organization that operates in South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos.


Her engagements in myriad community services and volunteer works have convinced the GSCYAA board of adjudicators that she deserved the award.

During the 5th Regional Qur’an Reading Competition last April 16, she was supposed to introduce as keynote speaker Lieutenant Colonel Abubakar bin Abdmalek, the team leader of Headquarter Site 4 of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines ─ Moro Islamic Liberation Front - International Monitoring Team (GRP-MILF-MT), which overseas the implementation of the ceasefire agreement between the rebel group and the Filipino government.

She did not appear.

We didn’t know why. It was not the kind of occasion that she will take for granted. Another lady took her place to introduce the 47-year-old officer from the Royal Malaysian Navy.

A few hours later, a friend approached me and asked: “Will you join us to visit Jo?”
“Why?” I asked back.

“Her father died,” he replied. “I’ll go with you.”

Tears kept falling off her bulging red eyes when we saw her. Comforts of friends were to no avail.

Silence.

She stood to get some coffee and breads for us. Some days after her father passed away, she called me. “Do you want an ice cream, or you want to eat outside? My treat.”

At the restaurant, she appeared in all black. Together with her is Kim Limjap, 31, her best friend.

“It hurts inside,” she said. Tears wanted to fall from her eyes. She defied it. “But I’m already happy for Ama. When I talked to some ustadzes (Islamic scholars) on separate occasions and told them what happened, they have told me that all happened in good time. The Islamic rituals were all followed properly somehow.”

“I’m afraid of corpse,” she said, “but I still managed to kiss Ama while his body was at home. I couldn’t forgive myself if I wasn’t able to do so.”

She held her mobile phone. “I whispered to Ama how much I love him.”

Long silence.

“So with my dad,” Jennifer Andiam-Kamid, 30, her officemate said. Her voice cracked. She tried to hold back her tears but to no avail. “I’m also afraid of corpse but I braved the morgue when Dad died.”

“When Dad was still alive, we would always fight. I would chase him with bolo out of anger,” she said. “My husband Misuari even witnessed how Dad and I fought.”

“But when he died, I realized that I was the one closest to his heart than my other sibling in Mom and in Dad’s other families.”

Two friends bade goodbye first. Moreb Dalama, 24, has visitors at home. Jehanna Tin, 23, lives in a far off municipality in Sarangani province, an adjacent place.

“Bring home to your kids the left over chicken leg,” Kim told Jennifer.

While leaving the restaurant, Jocelyn handed me something she bought from the restaurant attendant. “Give this to your Ama,” she said.

Wrapped in brown thin paper bag. Three pieces of cupcake.

Jovar and I walked together to some distance to where we will move as under: I, to wait for a jeepney, and he, to walk alongside another streets leading to his rented place.

While we were walking, Jocelyn and Kim passed by our side, riding on a motorcycle.

“She has no other outlet, that’s why she talked to us,” Jovar said when the two were already about 10 meters away from us.

“She looks relieved, happy for her dad,” I said.

The first jeepney that stopped by happened to be the one I’m waiting for. It wasn’t a starry, starry night. The city was somber, the streets dusty. (Contributed by Norodin M. Makalay)

1 comment:

Norhajjar said...

I'm so proud of you guys. Keep up the confidence and faith.
Much love, http://norhajjar.blogspot.com/