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How It Feels Like to Lose A Father

A month before my youngest sibling’s 18th birthday, our father passed away leaving us totally devastated yet glad his earthly sufferings are gone.

Mario Aligo, also known as 'Ket-eng' to his folks in Bagnen, Bauko, waved goodbye at Besao General Hospital on March 15. When he was attended to by his doctor there, hope was thin, and my mother blatantly advised me over the phone to start accepting that we will lose him anytime soon.

She was right. As always. She has bravely engaged in this lengthy battle against our father's illness as his other half. She was keen in asking us to talk to our father and ask for forgiveness for previous misunderstandings and tell him that he is also forgiven.

It was tough especially for my brothers, who have been caring for our father, to see him return to the Creator. I wonder how Bal-aken, a teenager, accepted the fact he no longer has a father talk to at home.

As the person living with my parents, Bal-aken performed a ritual that would confine him at home until another set of ritual called “Bakid”, typically done after 40 days from burial, is finished.  He requested  Bakid to push through before his birthday so he could go out immediately and continue his tourist guiding gigs.

However, scheduling is not that easy as I and Dagiw-a work in Metro Manila which is at least 12-hour ride from home. We suggested the ritual be set on the election weekend so we could file for a leave for two purposes.

Before That Very Devastating Day

A week before my father passed away, I rushed home after reports of him having chills. My father was stubborn; he did not want to go to the hospital because he was sure he will not be treated there.

I have been calling him, and he said he will see the doctor in the coming days. However until that very moment I arrived in Sagada, he was still in his tiny room at home enduring the pain.

His voice started to tremble as he turned down my request to bring him to the hospital. I even uttered that when he dies with no hospitalization involved, the public would think that my mother and brothers abandoned him.

The night before I left Sagada to go back to work, he was already giving his last wishes of receiving a Bagnen-style burial with one night of wake and even gave the list of people we should report to about his death.

The next day after I left for Manila, he was finally brought to the hospital upon the request of our mom. On April 15, he joined the Creator. 

Heaviest to Bear: The Wake

Things about his earlier battle came across my mind. When he started complaining about his health, he was frequently brought to the hospital. Doctors in Mountain Province suspected him to be positive of prostate cancer and yet it was never confirmed if he indeed was sick of the cancer.

One summer, he came to Baguio to live with me while continuing his medication and physical therapy sessions. Dagiw-a came over to care for him as I go to work for our expenses.

After vomiting and rounds of fever, he was brought to the hospital for days. At first he resisted but when we told him we will not allow him to die inside that apartment, he gave way to our suggestion.

In his laboratory tests, he was found to have had two stroke attacks and was negative of the cancer. Even when he went back to Sagada, he had series of hospitalization.

My father was 62 when he passed away. He was survived by his wife, children, grandchildren, and relatives.

After informing my bosses about it, I caught a direct Manila- Sagada bus trip and reached Sagada on a Sunday morning. I reached my father lying motionless and yet at rest; in front were a group of neighbors and loved ones singing for him.

It was heavy to bear, yet crying aloud is not a norm in our native Sagada. Relatives and friends from Bauko, Sagada, La Trinidad and Baguio came over to spend the wake with us. His older relatives wept as they delivered 'Bayao', an oration paying tribute to the one that passed away.

A lullaby ritual was held with us siblings swaying and chanting a tune an elder was leading us. The theme of the ritual was letting go of him as he also let go of us since he is already among the dead. We were dressed in white.

Anglican priest Fr. Mayapit, who was our father’s good friend, came over to give a service before we headed to St. Mary the Virgin for the burial mass. My father was laid next to our Uncle Cyril Lizardo. After two prayer vigils at our house, we had the requiem.

Yesterday, I got back to Manila to face the new chapter of my life as a fatherless child. My siblings are still back home taking time to heal and to move forward.

Christian is a Marketing Communications practitioner in Quezon City. He is an Igorot from Sagada, Mountain Province. To get in touch with him, please shoot an email to christianaligonow@gmail.com.


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