From the Collection of Short Stories titled, Love Is All Around (Copyright)
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Nearly six in the morning, the sun’s streaks of yellow rays passed through the almost oval green leaves of a ten-year old Narra tree, creating moving splotches of changing patterns on the pavement. The gentle breeze from the west kept the air cold.
Local birds that normally populated the trees were still nowhere in sight. Perhaps, they, too, needed warmth that they hid themselves in several buildings nearby.
A small but well-kept park was carved out from a military camp that faced the former Highway 54. Renamed decades later as EDSA, it was the world-renowned site where the so-called People Power Revolution took place in the mid 1980s. It was a fitting memorial to the struggles and triumphs of the common people.
Nearby, a towering metal statue of the Virgin Mary stood in front of the church built to signify the important contribution of the Church to achieve an almost bloodless change of power. The word miracle was often cited to describe the events during those turbulent times.
An elderly nun in an all-white habit sat on a marble bench: she was bathed with sunshine. The daily routine, which she never missed, gave her the opportunity to observe the surroundings before the chaos of traffic took over during the morning rush hour. Nothing could be so refreshing than to breathe the clean air before pollution from exhausts of motor vehicles poisoned it later.
She turned her upper body slowly and glanced at the huge statue. More often than not, it always triggered her reminiscence of the past, most especially those memories that reminded her how it all came about.
Sister Cristina was there when it happened. She was a middle-aged noviciate back then, locking arms with fellow religious workers and ordinary citizens, waiting for the government military regiments to break through their ranks. Bodily harm was a serious concern but she disregarded the mortal threat. Only their deaths could sever the human chain they formed.
It was touch and go at first, their pleading voices softened the resolve of loyalist forces dedicated to follow the current president. With food, water and flowers offered, the status quo was achieved. Peace was observed: violence prevented.
She believed that their contribution was instrumental in avoiding an armed confrontation between opposing armies, the rebels inside the camp while their counterparts held to a halt further away.
They were filled with hope that someday what they fought for would engender true change. All the lofty promises were given, bandied to the crowd, proclaimed to the world press.
But even before the celebration of victory was finished, history repeated itself. Only the collars were changed: political animals repainted their stripes, turncoats all over the place. They were all different and yet all too similar: personal interest reigned supreme.
Sister Cristina sighed deeply. Where were the years that passed by. Her devotion never wavered but her once energetic body began to wither with age.
People strolled by, reminding her that sooner the park would be populated by souls from all walks of life. The market atmosphere would take over and it would transform the early morning serenity of the place into a busy congregation of crowds.
“Good morning, Sister,” greeted a mother of three, cradling a newly-born baby, asleep in her left arm. Two small children held on to the hem of her skirt, unwilling to let her go for fear of getting lost.
“Good morning, too.” Sister Cristina blessed them with the sign of the cross. She, however, did not rise up to approach the children because her frail body lacked the will to move like she used to do when she was younger.
An exchange of pleasantries ensued for more than ten minutes. It could have been longer except the children hurriedly tugged at their mother’s skirt, signaling her to finish off the conversation.
“I guess, we’ll be on our way, Sister.” She sounded apologetic for the interruption.
“Children,” Sister Cristina smiled, her lined face filled with understanding. “They prefer happy places. Not boring companies.”
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(to be concluded)