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Fiesta homecoming can save your life

Tomorrow the fifteenth of September is the town fiesta of Ronda, my maternal hometown. Hundreds if not thousands of Rondahanons from all over the world have come home to celebrate the religious activities in our church of Our Lady of Sorrows. My 92-year old father, a Filipino veteran in the US now an American citizen, is here with my youngest brother Jonathan and my sister, Lorna.

September 29 is the town fiesta of Argao, my birth place, and October 4 is the fiesta of my paternal hometown, Dumanjug. I recall these dates vividly because on the same days, in the year of 2001, my close friend, a neighbor, was here and he accompanied me in Ronda, Argao, and Dumanjug. That friend of mine, let us call him Frankie, (not his true name) was working in an American firm in the 93rd floor of the south tower in the World Trade Center. He insisted to come home a few days before the 9/11 terror attack. That decision saved his life. Today he is in Ronda again and promised to come home every fiesta like this.

When Frankie asked his American boss for approval of his thirty-day vacation leave, from 10 September to 10 October of that year, he was scolded for wasting his accumulated vacation leave credits, which he could have commuted to cash. But Frankie was insistent, to the extent that he left an undated resignation letter. If the boss would wish, Frankie was willing to give up his job and his more than twelve years of tenure in that company, just to be able to come home and pay homage to our patroness, and to visit his relatives and friends. He was given an approval, although grudgingly. When the terror attacked took place, his boss and all his 125 officemates died. Frankie wept with sorrows for his colleagues but very grateful to our patroness for the grace of being saved.

My father is old and has to sit in a wheelchair most of the time. My sister just underwent a very complicated cardio operation in the US. If the doctors were to have their way, they would not allow him to travel over the Pacific Ocean for more than twelve hours straight. But my father is a survivor of all the travails and rigors of wars and difficulties. He is a kind of person who has the will made of steel and the determination that cannot just be swayed one way or another. So, they are here for the fiestas, and for our family reunion. We shall also bury the remains of my late mother who passed away in the US two years ago, and whose mortal remains had been cremated. To us, Rondahanons, just like the Dumanjuganons and the Argawanons, are always committed to coming home for the fiestas.

Talking about fiesta, the Boholanos cannot be outdone in their well-known devotion to their town patrons. When I was the vice president of an American soft drinks company, I used to be amazed at Boholanos who always filed their leaves of absence all at the same time to go home to Bohol. One shift of soft drinks bottling line all came from Loboc. They were all recruited by the bottling manager who comes from that town. As a result, we had to shut down one line and one shift because the Boholanos had all gone home.

Going back to Frankie, he always reminds all to come home to Ronda. Attending our town fiesta did save his life. It can also save mine and yours. The Lord works in mysterious ways. Our patroness has done many miraculous deeds. That is why we are all here, and we will go to Dumanjug and Argao as well.

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josephusbjimenez@gmail.com.

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