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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.