A well-planned 10-year wedding anniversary celebration at my wife’s place in Mindoro turned out to be a tragic and a devastating experience for the whole family. But only for a while.
On our way to her place, that fateful night at about 10:00 of 26 December 2008, after a gruelling 8-hour journey from Manila, our vehicle was struck by a big rock coming from the dark, bushy roadside. It crashed into the window and landed on my wife’s left hand and on my daughter’s head. Everything was so sudden that I found myself kneeling on the road with my daughter Nicole in my arms, raising her to God, pleading to spare her from death. Yes, death. She was unconscious and seemed lifeless.
I was trying to revive her by shaking her and even throwing her into the air. Blood was all over me and I couldn’t find where it was coming from but felt her hair wet and sticky and presumed she had a head injury. The whole world seemed to have collapsed and we were struck down under it. “Oh my God, help us, help us!” My wife Bhing was crying in pain with her left hand bleeding, our little Denise as I recall now was clinging to my legs as I moved around and I heard her crying “Ate, Ate, please wake up”. God heard our pleas, Nicole opened her eyes, and although very weak managed to drink a glass of water offered by some residents who had gathered from nearby.
A Good Samaritan arrived with an L300 Van and offered to take us to the nearest hospital.The good doctor advised us to bring Nicole to Calapan City for further tests because of her continuous vomiting. As the severity of the problem dawned on us, our anxiety began to increase. We scrambled for telephone numbers so we could ask for prayers for Nicole. The dark warriors were also busy; my telephone was dead, SIM card not working, but God had his ways and I stumbled upon Bro. Sonny Manuel’s number. Our dear brother and the whole family spread the news across the globe. Signals during the night were grave but our pleas were heard.
Minutes, hours later, we were bombarded with SMS messages and calls assuring us that God is in control of everything. Nicole was hysterical, calling “mommy, mommy, mommy” although she normally calls Bhing Mama. She hardly opened her eyes and when she did, they were not focused. I felt cold all over, but the prayers began to warm us up. I started to draw plans, immediate plans. An ambulance arrived and after another four hours we were in Calapan City. After the CT Scan, our greatest fear were confirmed. Nicole suffered a broken skull, part of which went inside, tore the outer layer of the brain and penetrated into the brain itself. There were some contusions and bleeding appearing on the film. The hospital advised us to take her to Manila immediately for a head operation. Agonising moments passed when Nicole started asking, “okey lang ba ako Papa” and I would hug her and assure her that “God is with us, He will never abandon us nor forsake us”, after which I went to the toilet and shed all my tears to God, and human as I am, questioned Him why this had to happen.
But then again the prayers of our beloved community lifted my spirit and I felt a tap on my shoulder “Hey, you are my Son, you and the whole family are my children, cheer up, I love you, Nicole will be OK” and with that I went back to Nicole and told her, “Have faith in Jesus, believe that you will win this battle,” and she nodded and showed me her beautiful smile that again brought me and my wife to tears, this time tears of joy in the hope of salvation, and salvation brought by our faith in God.
The next hours were all God’s workings. Our brothers and sisters were in full force arranging for the arrival of Nicole in Manila. Bro. Ronald Gabriel who was in the US called about Bro. Pancho Tan’s offer, Bro. Romvic Almeida who was in constant monitor, signaled which hospital to send Nicole to. A lot of brothers and sisters helped out in the prayer vigil led by Bro Sonny and Sis Betchy. A network of prayer warriors stormed the gates of heaven from Bro. Tony Mangente family to the families of Bro. Elmer Anonuevo, Bro. Mel Tapaoan, Bro. Allan Villagarcia, Bro. Steve Bezant, Bro. Noel Soliva, Bro. Bobot Isip, Bro. Jay Apolinario, Bro. Iman Payos, Bro. Zandro Barcelona, Bro. Bobbit Casillano, Bro. Roy Bas, Bro. Jassen Caballes, Bro. Val Villanueva, Bro. Dong Macabutas, Bro. Dong Sun, Bro. Adhee Daluz,
Bro. Joel Buenafe, Bro Eugene Peralta, Bro. Saul Nasayao, Bro. Matt Baguio, Bro. Mitch Espares, Bro. Caloy Onate, Bro. Caloy Aranda, our friend Priests – Father Emil and Father Maidas, the El Shaddai Group, Servants of the Lord, Handmaids, Singles, The Youth for Christ led by Paui and also the KFL with Manuel Kids leading and a lot more who drew their strength in reaching us to offer help in their special ways.
Truly, we received the greatest gift from our Lord for that celebration by giving us back our beloved daughter Nicole. The operation lasted for about three hours and in six days she was discharged from the hospital.
The culprits who threw the rock are still at large. They did it to paralyze the vehicle and if we stopped, they would rob us.
Brothers and sisters, don’t give up on hope. Giving up on hope is like slamming the door on God. Bringing God into our despair, in our difficult and trying times is like an escaping route through the gloom. No situation is hopeless when God steps onto the scene. Hope refuses to accept what is happening as final, no matter how painful things are. So the devastating effect on the family did not linger long, instead it changed us spiritually as it became a purifying experience, showing us that in every step of the way in our lives, we offer them to God and let Him steer for us.
My children became prayerful, my wife feels the intensity to serve more in the community, and myself, assured as ever of God’s love and protection, serve God with all my heart and with all my soul.
Brothers and Sisters, no matter how devastating our experiences have become, we shall always find joy and peace in our faith and hope in the Lord. And a final note, our heartfelt gratitude to all of you brothers and sisters for the support you accorded us, for being with us on this journey. Thanks for the financial assistance and most importantly for all your prayers.
May God be praised!