DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/21 November) — A Messiah, according to my CLE teacher, is someone willing to sacrifice things precious to them for the sake of what they believe is for the greater good.
These people of character genuinely care about others enough to offer blood, sweat and tears for a cause.
In these modern times, there are many people who understand sacrifice; they act upon their judgment, knowing the consequences. These modern-day messiahs are everywhere, in leaders, parents, even teachers. I am lucky to know someone who is all of those.
My grandmother is a woman whom I respect and love very much. Ever since I was a child, teachers and parents of my friends came to talk to me about how inspiring she was. I didn’t understand as much; to me, she was my grandmother who knew what I wanted for Christmas, her habits to leave a pair of bedroom slippers in every room she frequented.
When she married my grandfather, they also married their families, cousins, siblings, parents. They raised four growing boys and took care of the big family when it was hard to get by.
My lolo was a human rights lawyer. He was a leader among the activists against Marcos in Davao, a member of the Davao Three-they led the rallies and protests in Davao. He was very brave, inspiring many people before he died. They knew him as a lawyer, as a strong believer of justice. I knew him as Tatay Larry, someone who would bounce me on his knee and ask, ‘Gwapo ba ako?” and laugh when I nodded, after a few seconds.
Whenever I asked about my father’s childhood, sometimes my mother would tell me about the times at home when the military raided homes. They would enter my father’s house to roughly bring my grandfather to jail, leaving the home in disarray, and my grandmother to calm down our relatives and assure my dad and his brothers that everything would be alright.
When he was in jail, my grandmother took his place at the head of the protests, making arguments against injustice. When my grandfather died, my grandmother was a founding member of the Gabriela partylist.
When she became a congresswoman, she had to spend more time in Manila than at home in Davao. I saw less and less of her, and looked forward to her coming home from Manila, or Canada, or wherever else she traveled to. She would (and still does) try to come home at the barest of weekends and holidays.
As a politician, she fights for women’s and children’s rights. She has to deal with disagreeable people, and those who don’t exactly have her back. She has to deal with people who mistrust the government and administration, and the people who are sometimes affronted by her passion for her beliefs.
On November 13, 2007, a bombing occurred at the Batasang Pambansa. The legislative session having ended, lawmakers were just leaving when the blast happened. My grandmother, in her car, survived the incident. Her driver, only inches from her, did not. That year, she spent her birthday at St. Luke’s Hospital.
After hearing the news, my father and my uncle went to Manila to be with my grandmother. It became like that, returning from the hospital with news about how she fared. We couldn’t go to see her in Manila, and she couldn’t come home.
My grandmother recuperated eventually, and left the hospital ready to work. In fact, right out of the hospital, so my mother told me, she went straight to her office, three flights up – the world, to her, couldn’t wait.
Part of me was afraid I wouldn’t recognize her. I saw her less after she became a representative, and as a ten-year old, anything and everything was subject to change. I was glad the first time we went over for dinner after she returned, because it was still my Mamiluz – the person who watched a different kind of CSI on the television at night, played Bookworm, Scrabble or Clue with me and insisted on a hug and a kiss instead of ‘mano’. I just saw her last Araw ng Patay, visiting cemeteries from Buhangin to Toril. I remember she bought dirty ice cream and refused to sit down despite the sweltering heat.
My grandmother should have retired long ago, but she pushed through, and eventually helped in writing the controversial RH Bill.
I believe my grandmother’s doing something for the Philippines. My grandmother stands with not much to gain and more to risk. She’s risked physical and social security, time with her family, rest, leisure and peace so that we may not have to.
As a modern-day messiah, my grandmother is far from over. (Sage Danielle Ilagan is a sophomore at the Ateneo High School. She wrote this piece on her grandmother’s birthday. She also says that the world does not always reward doing the right thing, but it always is the right thing to do.)