Sunday, July 11, 2004

I just arrived from Marj's wake today at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque. It's been a long day crammed with activities that started sometime before lunch when I fetched Abi in Galleria Mall. We took the bus down south and along the way we had this engaging discussion about the relationship between Christianity and art (Abi's a writer for one of the big TV networks), where does one draw the line between what's acceptable and what's not, the absence of the Church in this field, the need for expression, the use of movies and fairy tales as modern parables, why people think artists' agendas are worth squat on their priority scale, etc. This last premise is something that really boggles the mind. Before heading to the wake we first made a side trip to a friend's baby baptismal. It's his third kid and I haven't seen him almost since we graduated from high school. Besides I haven't been making good with my promises everytime he would make an opportunity for us to mee up.  Owing to my past trauma about large crowds in parties I begged Abi to accompany me so I could also make a legit exit from his house without feeling really awkward. It's a good thing I did since we were made to wait for almost two hours (we got there eight minutes after the appointed time) with his little daughter to entertain us. One perculiar thing she told us was this invisible guy "Jeffrey" who had a fatal wound at the back of his head standing by the door to their house. She was pointing to the spot over and over again and kept asking us if we were seeing "him." This reminded me of one of the ghosts in the movie Sixth Sense and I have to ask my friend one day what he thinks about his daughter's statement.

After a nice feast, I apologized that we had to leave early. His wife was a gracious hostess and I told my friend Edgar that we have to get together one time and catch up on a lot of things. Then we went straight to the funeral parlor at the Manila Memorial Park. It was my first time to get inside and I must it's a really beautiful place and I should plan a visit one day to take pictures. Once inside the funeral parlor we were met by Marj's older brother A.D. who is Abi's officemate and co-scriptwriter. We gave our condolences to the grieving mother before taking a peek inside the casket. Then we sat down and got the whole story about what happened from A.D. It turns out that what started out as a diagnosis for dengue turned to anemia in one hospital turned out to be pneumonia complicated by leukemia when they got another opinion in another (better) hospital. It all happened so quickly they never expected things to turn out for the worse, even Marj herself expected herself to recover. Some thirty minutes later, Rey, another PExer and friend came to visit. I had been in communication with him the night before, exchanging text messages about what happened. He was in Baguio at the time and he cut his trip short to be able to attend the wake with us. We left the place an hour and a half later so Abi could still catch the 5 p.m. Sunday service in Galleria. On the way there Abi told me that what she initially thought (an impression given her by other people who know him) that A.D. was an atheist turned out to be false. He's still a Christian although he doesn't like attending church services after everything he went through. What happened was, he had a lot of questions about his faith and what he believed in but everytime he would ask them from his discipleship leader he would be rebuffed and his questions would be ignored. He got a lot of indifferent reactions from other leaders in different churches which he thought would help him. He dropped off the church circuit after that. That's when I brought up the idea for putting up a discipleship group exclusively for artists since we have different needs and wave length from other people. I heard one of his questions and I didn't think it was absurd. This guy was hungry for deeper things and had had enough of the "surface faith." While I guess those leaders he asked before had their reasons for doing what they did, the best thing they should have done was to refer him to someone who knows how to answer his questions instead of leaving him in the dark. Abi promised me to help establish another get-together sometime after the wake on Thursday.

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