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Opinion

Remembering KC

FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas - The Philippine Star

Relatives and friends got together via Zoom to honor the memory of the late Kristina Casimiro “KC” Perez de Venecia, who perished in a fire that gutted the de Venecia mansion on Dec. 17, 16 years ago.

“KC lived a zestful life. She was so passionate about her beliefs and loved sports,” her elder sister, Carissa Cruz, recalled of the student at the International School. KC was 16 when she died.

House Representative Christopher de Venecia said that it was KC who inspired him to put up a play titled “Dani Girl,” the first presentation of The Sandbox Collective, a magnanimous aggrupation of theatrical works.

A video presentation showed KC as a smiling infant, to a toddler, to a teenage girl, in the company of people who loved her, JDV and her mother Manay Gina de Venecia.

Recorded stories about Manay Gina said she took her role as wife, mother and public service. She said in 2004, she thought “I had it all. My husband Joe was the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Our children, my mum and siblings were all alive and well. I was making a dent in socio-civic circles, having finished the construction of The Haven for Children.”

But her world collapsed when KC died.

It dawned on her that she was “stronger than I thought I was. When KC died, I also wanted to die. But with the support of family and friends, I was able to recover from my grief. So, whenever I have the opportunity to contribute to raising someone’s consciousness to look upward rather than downward, I consider myself truly blessed.”

At the memorial mass, the officiating priest was Fr. Raphael Kakama. Speakers were Angela Ampil and Patricia Perez-Marcelo, both cousins of KC, and Rep. Christopher de Venecia.

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My good friend, Puring Elumba, has passed on, from natural causes. I grieve that we had not seen each other since the pandemic came to our shores, We spoke on the phone just three weeks ago, and she said we should call each other often.That was all we agreed to do, but not fulfill. Puring was my best friend at the UP Diliman Tennis Club.

*      *      *

My favorite Christmas carol is “O Little town of Bethlehem,” for its gentle tune and wonderful message. I would like to share the following story told by Dr. Rev. Mariano Apilado, an ordained minister of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, about how the carol came about. Here is his account:

“American Protestantism’s most respected figure in the last half of the 19th century, Phillips Brooks (1835-1893), derived his stature from his personal qualities rather than from his scholarship, being a saint or ecclesiastical statesmanship.

“The second of six sons of a family of affluence, respectability, piety and learning, Philipps Brooks was born in Boston on Dec. 13, 1835. He had a forgettable teaching experience after graduation from Harvard. Then he prepared for the Episcopal ministry. Ordained deacon in 1859, he served with distinction in two churches in Philadelphia.

“In 1869 he was called to Boston’s Church of the Holy Trinity. There Pastor Brooks’ renown as preacher quickly grew. Worshipers regularly packed Trinity Church to hear him preach. His serene yet radiant presence elicited inspiration. His fame spread. He quickly became Boston’s first citizen. Many claim that his preaching power is unmatched in Episcopal Church history.

“His sermons were more poetic than analytical. Little wonder that he is remembered more for the carol, ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem,’ rather than any theological formulation. Brooks was learned, but he was not an academician. The faith-shattering findings of science and scholarship seemed not to bother him. Nor did he argue philosophically the case for the Christian faith. Instead, he preached luminously and passionately the joyous Christian life.

“Since he was born to social and economic security, observers say that Pastor Brooks did not comment much about post-Civil War problems of America. Exploitation, bitterness and injustice in the urban, industrial post-civil war America were not reflected in his preaching. Nor did he say much about the desperate economic depression. Some observers say that his manners and his preaching were beginning to be irrelevant when he died.

“One of his lasting legacies is the carol, ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ which he authored. The inspiration for the writing of the carol came when on Christmas Eve in 1865, he rode on horseback from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. Three years later, he wrote the poem.

“The church organist, Lewis Redner, later wrote that the composition was the product of an inspiration. ‘I was roused from sleep late in the night hearing an angel-strain whispering in my ear. Seizing a piece of music paper I jotted the tune that we now have. Neither Mr. Brooks nor I ever thought the carol or the music to it would live beyond that Christmas of 1868.”

Writes Reverend Apilado: “But they did. For both we are thankful!”

1. “O little town of Bethlehem/ How still we see thee lie/ Above thy deep and dreamless sleep/ The silent stars go by/ Yet in thy dark streets shineth/ The everlasting Light/ The hopes and fears of all the years/ Are met in thee tonight.

2. “For Christ is born of Mary/ And gathered all above/ While mortals sleep, the angels keep/ Their watch of wondering love/ O morning stars together/ Proclaim the holy birth/ And praises sing to God the King/ And Peace to men on earth.

3. “How silently, how silently/ The wondrous gift is given/ So God imparts to human hearts/ The blessings of His heaven/ No ear may hear His coming/ But in this world of sin/ Where meek souls will receive him still/ The dear Christ enters in.

4. “O holy Child of Bethlehem/ Descend to us, we pray/ Cast out our sin and enter in/ Be born to us today/ We hear the Christmas angels/ The great glad tidings tell/ O come to us, abide with us/ Our Lord Emmanuel/ O come to us, abide with us Our Lord Emmanuel.”

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Email: [email protected]

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