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Thursday, July 19, 2007

A relative of mine died today. No, it was more of murdered. In cold blood. He was a couple of years older than me and he worked as a security guard in San Juan. Details are sketchy at best at this time since no one wants to talk about it but from what I gathered he was working in his usual graveyard shift guarding a house when someone wrestled his gun away from him and when he tried to get it back he was stabbed. I'm not sure if he died in the hospital or he was declared DOA from blood loss. He left behind a young widow and three small kids.

We haven't talked much, that relative of mine, ever since he got that job as a security guard. He hails from my dad's province in Batangas and due to the fact that anyone knows everyone in that small barrio (and probably distantly related even) I'm not sure how he's related to us. He came to Manila more than fifteen years ago when his widowed mother thought it appropriate that he send her only son to be independent on the advice of my dad. His mother and my grandma were constant companions in their old age, sharing experiences and bonds closer than any other brought about by their unfortunate circumstances as widows. I remember him from when I was a kid, he was this big teener who had perpetually knotted brows and spoke in low tones. I didn't know who he was at the time but I remember him digging out crab holes at our beach for me to collect the crabs to take home as a pet. The next time I saw him was during one of the last trips I took to Batangas. He went home with us with just one bag containing his clothes and other toiletries I guess. My dad gave him employment in our handicraft exporting business at the time. He scrubbed the floors of our house for additional pay. That's where we got to know each other more as he wanted to know more about the newfangle things to be found in Manila. I confess I was annoyed at his persistence to be shown around at the time and found a lot of excuses not to show him around though we got to hang around the yard whenever he or I found some time. He also shared his dreams of going back home and wanting to be a teacher. He took night classes in of the nearby universities until he got married some years later and established a family. He was forced to abandon his studies and took up training to be a guard. We got in touch once in a while whenever we see each other. The last time I got to talk to him was last May when I took the pup out for a walk and he was there sitting by the sidewalk biding his time till he needed to get ready to go to work. The last time I saw him was I think a week and half ago when I was going out to the mall and he was just getting home.

Hearing about funeral services being arranged along with the name of the recently deceased is so surreal. I can't even begin to imagine what his immediate family is going through right now. My dad's arranging transportation of the body back to the province but what happens after the funeral? What about the assailant? But what strikes closer to home with this incident is the fact that regret over not spending enough time or not sharing enough of my faith with him. Or anyone for that matter. The names and faces of close friends continually crossed my mind as I went with my chores. I also thought of the question why do most people fear death if we're just going to cease existing anyway? Death is also at times merciful as our bodies have a way of coping with the pain that accompanies it by shutting it down allowing us to slip peacefully into unconsciousness. I realize it isn't death we fear the most but the unknown destination we go through after it. I was left wondering what he's seeing right now. There are a lot of wishes and I-could-haves and though we have a lot of good intentions shown through actions, I wish we could get over our pride and tell them how much we appreciate them before it's too late. At least swallowing one's pride is easier than living with regret.

* Statue of regret picture taken from here.

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