The year was 2000 something. A sunny morning when I passed thru the entrance gate of New Era General Hospital. I parked my van in a corner slot behind some trees. The shade was just right I thought as a smile escaped my lips. I was walking towards the lobby of the hospital when an ambulance turned around the corner and rushed towards Emergency. Hope nothing serious.
I asked the duty guard for the Director of the Hospital – the late Dr. Malabanan. “Sorry sir, he’s at the Central Office attending the Balikbayan Day” he replied. So the next thing I knew I was walking to the Central Office and admiring the bonsai trees lined along Central. It was a pleasant site. I was guided thru the office and shown to the waiting area. I sat in one of the armchairs and looked around for the doctor. Most of the brethren were also waiting at the lobby and from the looks of it would say they just came into the country – mostly foreigners with their Filipino counterparts. Then an usher advised everyone to line up and proceed to the next room. Out of instinct I just stood up and lined up with the group. We were shown to a spacious area with chairs for the guests. I sat in the very last chair of the room. I still couldn’t find the Doctor. While scanning the place a small commotion started – Ka Erdy had entered the room with a few ministers. I clearly remember Ka Bienvenido Santiago as one of them.
Starting from the first row each group stood up to greet Ka Erdy, a short exchange of pleasantries then a souvenir shot. This continued until each and everyone waiting for their turn were accommodated. I was truly awed by the man spearheaded to lead the church. He was a sight to behold – the love and respect in that room was so thick you could cut it with a knife. My eyes swelled up and I was about to leave when I noticed from the corner of my eye Ka Erdy pointing in my direction. I looked to my left and right and the usher told me “it’s you he’s calling”. I hastily walked towards him and took his hand. He looked straight at me and asked “Are you alone, no one with you?” I managed to mutter “No, sir. Only me.” “Well, fine, come here, let’s have our picture taken.” After that, I shook his hand again and said thank you very much. He smiled back. I took a seat after that to get my composure back.
Most of the guests were leaving now and ka Erdy was giving advise to the ministers around him. Though the room was still a crowd he noticed one girl in the mid twenties sitting in a corner with her head down. Ka Erdy left the ministers and walked towards the girl; sat beside her and talked to her. The girl was crying now. No one dared approach the two until Ka Erdy looked up and called for Ka Bien. Instructions were given and later a comforting hug which would have cleared all the problem in this world. Such was Ka Erdy, such was the son of the last messenger of God. I miss him, I guess we all do.