Reflections of a balikbayan on COVID-19
READER’S VIEWS (The Freeman) - June 1, 2020 - 12:00am

Thank God, we are now nearing the end of the pandemic tunnel, striving towards the light, breathing in cautiously the fresh air of this “New Normal”. Finally our return flight is confirmed come June after three cancellations. From ESQ to GSQ, Amazing Grace.

The lockdown last March shortly after our 4th Filipino-Canadian Association Medical and Humanitarian Mission in Cebu, Tacloban and Siargao had us reeling in the tsunami of anxiety, a painful sense of separation from families and loved ones here and abroad, the agonizing fear of being sick; the seemingly discrimination of senior citizens, the utter loneliness of dying alone, the ravages of death worldwide and the spiritual drought by the absence of Eucharistic liturgist in empty churches. Never in my 75 years of existence had I experienced the absolute darkness and deep penance of Good Friday and the empty tomb desolation of Easter Sunday. But by the redeeming grace of daily live streamed TV masses giving spiritual communion did I survive.

Akin to the flood of Noah and destruction of Sodom and Gomorra, this pandemic led us to reflect that indeed this is God’s time inviting us to purification from sin.

Yet God in his infinite goodness and compassion allowed us to walk with him in this newness of life - First, we became spectators of pain and in pain: we felt the intolerable grief of those who mourn for those who died of COVID-19; we listened to the cry of the poor, the unemployed, the refugees. We sympathize the flight of the heroic OFWs now beleaguered with uncertainties in their homecoming; we were upset with the “politic of generosity” among LGUs and DSWD for their inefficient SAP distribution and food relief. We resent the mask diplomacy of some civic leaders is their squabbles and the expense of their constituency. Second, we became witness to love and in love. We love and applaud the valiant frontliners and help caregivers, the diligent civic and religious leaders, we salute the dedicated military and barangay tanods, the medical scientists, the courageous journalists. As well as the benevolent companies and people who shared their resources. We laud the proponents of the Balik Probinsya Program, the Cebu Balik Buhay initiatives, the sacrificing DOH personnel.

We hope and pray for the fruition of all this goodness all for love and in love of our beloved Philippines, Pearl of the Orient, Seat of Christianity.

Being balikbayans with dual citizenship we resolutely continue our advocacy for nationalism by our involvement with the Order of the Knights of Rizal in Canada and of evangelization through the Fill-Ontario Seminarian Scholarship Society sponsoring seminarians in the Philippines which to date had helped ordain 62 priests in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao as well we support and develop artistic pursuits initiated by Cebuana-Canadian Soprano Lilac Cana, a Presidential Pamana awardee performing concerts for a cause.

Our homecoming for the past 42 years is the fulfillment of our covenant of faith in honor of Sto. Niño de Cebu and our deep yearnings for the heavenly beauty of our oceans and mountains of sunrise with Christ the Rising Son of sunsets, the FIAT of Mary, our Lady of all Nations, mediatriax of graces. We still relish our delicious binignit, balanghoy, buwad, and many others.

Steeped in our rich cultural heritage and proud to be Filipinos we look forward to bringing our millennial children and Generation X grandchildren citizens of the world next year to renew our Filipino traditions and to celebrate our faith in the 500 years Christianization anniversary with our prayers of the “Oratio Imperata” and the intercession of the Servant of God Bishop Teofilo Camomot. “YES, WE PRAY AND CAN HEAL AS ONE”

God Bless the Philippines and the World!

Lapu-Lapu and Ligaya Cana

Cebu, Philippines  

BALIKBAYAN COVID-19
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