LOLA MILAGROSA

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By: Luis  Mondejar, Jr

 

Milagrosa was  not her real name. The  townspeople just called her Milagrosa  because  of a miraculous incident that involved her-she was  once dead but came back to life.

More than forty year ago,  Milagrosa was among  those who  evacuated  their homes as  a result  of Japanese invasion of a barangay  in Davao City.  The evacuees  had to hike  a mountain  to a safer place.  Their food provision was not enough; some got sick, others died.  A handful survived with water as their only nourishment.  Milagrosa  was among those who died  during the  ordeal.  But Mang  Periong, who later  became her husband,   could not accept that Milagrosa was really dead. He asked others to  stay behind  for an overnight vigil.  Three  preferred to stay with Mang Periong. With their own eyes,  they  saw how Milagrosa’s body was being eaten by ants. All they did was to  pray fervently,  hoping against hope that Milagrosa, then fourteen years  old, would live again.

As the sun came  out the next morning, Milagrosa moved. She was  alive! All of them were, of course, greatly surprised. They were  hoping  for a renewed life for Milagrosa and even prayed for it but they were  also cynical about the whole thing. The miracle had happened and they were happy witnesses to it. “She’s alive! She’s alive!” Mang Periong  confirmed excitedly. Still,  his companions  remained  speechless and flabbergasted.  They soon carried Milagrosa in a makeshift stretcher  made for  wooden sticks. Many in  the evacuation camp were aghast,  their eyes widened, and were seemingly skeptical that the girl was still alive. Two years after the Liberation.  Milagrosa was married to Mang  Periong.  They were blessed with two sons. Soon,  the sons married. Nonette  was their first grandchild . Milagrosa  was very fond of her.  In fact,  she  asked that Nonette stay with her.  Nonette’s parents didn’t complain about the effusiveness of a lola’s care.  In short,  Nonette was   endeared  to her  Lola Milagrosa and was clingy to the latter in most  moments of her life.

Milagrosa got sick  later in life. She was diabetic and hypertensive. Because of this, and against her will, Nonette was taken back by her parents. The abrupt separation of the child- who was then five years old- from her  made Milagrosa’s condition even worse. She was brought to the hospital.  The doctors  could not do anything to stabilizer her condition.  She soon died without seeing  her only grandchild,  Nonette. There was  nothing unusual during the wake and burial of Milagrosa. But the night after the burial, strange things happend.

Inday, Milagrosa’s helper, suddenly collapsed in the midst of the  crowd. Her eyes widened. She was staring at everyone in the house,  as if she  had an important message to convey.  Later,  she convulsed,  her eyes not blinking but staring.  Nonette and her parent had just gone home.  Mang Period , with some  of the mourners,  tried to restrain Inday but  the latter just continued  convulsing. She  was already sweating profusely,  A doctor was summoned, but found nothing to explain what was happening to Inday.  The second night after the burial  came  and the same strange thing  happened again.  They tried to ask Inday about the incident after she  came around, but the girl could not tell  them anything.  “I don’t know. I can’t remember what happened,” explained  Inday.  On the third night,  something worse happened to Inday.  In addition to  the usual convulsion, she was saying something unintelligible.  The spooky sight of Inday didn’t scare Mang Periong.  He thought of Nonette. He called up his son and his wife and asked them to rush to the house with  their child,  Nonette. As the couple entered the house with Nonette, Inday began to calm down. As they got inside, they saw Inday get up from her bed,  extending  her two arms and deigned to welcome the child.  She embraced the child  gently but warmly, sobbing,  as if she  was anxious  to see the child.  “I’ve missed you,  I’ve miss you,” Inday said, still hugging and  kissing the child.

“Lola! Lola! Lola!” the child cried out, this time the embrace was  tighter. Only five other persons were around- Mang Periong, his brother and a sister, and Nonette’s parents.  What astounded them was the fact  that the voice of Inday was similar to the voice of Lola Milagrosa! Nonette’s parents decided to stay with Mang Periong for forty days,  after which they returned to their apartment. Lola Milagrosa finally rested in peace. Inday  was never possessed  by her  anxious spirit, but chose to  stay as  the caring nanny of Nonette.

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