Three years ago I promised to bring my mom Aida Natividad Nocum – whose piety enabled her to overcome great challenges in life – to the Holy Land. To see the biblical place and retrace the roots of her Catholic faith while she was still strong to make the pilgrimage was my mom’s most ardent desire.
Alas! That trip was not to come true due to my heart operation (angioplasty) and my wife, Ann’s, pregnancy; preparations made with the travel agency had all been cancelled. That dream remained just that – a dream.
This year, my mom – who is known as the “Mother Teresa” of our place in Zamboanga City – started having fainting spells due to hard work in Catholic Church activities; and the caring of sick, paralyzed and crippled relatives.
I saw that as a sign from God that this must the time! Personally though, the timing was not good for me because many of my politician clients at the Dean and Kings Legal Public Relations have just filed their certificates of candidacies and are going gaga over campaign preparations. I also had to attend to the task of transferring my office from Manila to Quezon City as well as helping my daughter, Arizza, raise funds for the second semester enrollment of the Kris Peace Library scholars.
However, all these tasks pales in importance to fulfilling a grateful son’s promise to a mother who – along with my dad – had shaped my personality; inspired and challenged me to overcome all odds; to live a life for others; and to share what little I have to the poor, sickly and needy children.
Kris Library would not be in existence today without my mom and dad’s example of living selfless lives working as a church leader and a barangay captain, respectively. My childhood had been enriched by doing voluntary work and helping my parents initiate works in the building of a Catholic Church, a mosque, a water system; barangay roads; and the care of the needy.
My dad is long gone (pls read) but my mom continues with her religious and apostolic work amid our repeated pleas for her to slow down and not be the barrio’s servant leader in overseeing the holding of wakes, funerals, weddings, baptisms, caring for the sick and dying; and overseeing church activities.
On top of this, she serves as administrator of the first of six Kris Libraries in Zamboanga City and sees to it that our close to 100 scholars based in Zamboanga continue their schooling; our computers made available for free to poor children are in working condition; and the more than 200 students doing research in our Kris Library with its more than 10,000 book titles get the information they need.
This “super-mom” deserves a break and to be rewarded with a spiritual journey; and I thank God that this month it finally happened.
Actually, there were last-minute hitches because two days before our October 16 departure date, both my mom and our little Arno got sick and both had to be brought to the hospital for treatment. But miraculously, both got well as we made our two-week trip to holy and tourists sites in Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Egypt; and later Dubai and Abu Dhabi for a much needed rest and recreation.
I thank God for taking care of all of us in our trip. I also thank my wife Ann (a former nurse) for seeing to it that both me and my mom stay fit in the rigorous pilgrimage schedules that involved lots of walking and hiking. This trip would not also be possible had it not been for the maturity of my wife and full understanding of my desire to fulfill a grateful son’s promise.
Me and Ann happen to celebrate our wedding anniversary this month and ever the loving and caring daughter-in-law, Ann agreed to shelve the planned wedding anniversary trip to the US and Canada for my dear "mamang." But this decision proved immensely enjoyable and rewarding for us as couple as it gave us a better view of the Christian and Muslim relations in the Arab and Jewish world (more about this later).
I also thank my kids Arizza and Ashia for volunteering to stay to take care of little Arno; and all of you for praying for our safety as we made our way along isolated desert spots and barbed-wire, fully-guarded and landmine-enclosed holy sites in the disputed Jewish and Arab territories.
We are safely back in the country. A long-time promise is fulfilled. A journey of the heart and soul is done.
Thank you great God of Abraham.