October 3, 2023

Manong Edward “Gayagay” Batawig was fondly called Gayagay.
“Datako kayet gab-en. Adika madanagan padi.” This was the line I always hear from him when requested of his services. He always gives hope and assurance of sincere help. He was a man of few words but loaded with action coupled with generosity.
I met manong Gayagay and his wife, manang Nelzie in 2018 when I was installed as the parish priest for the Basic Ecclesial Communities of Sagada Catholic Mission.
At first, manong Gayagay was aloof. Everytime I visit the church, I bring patupat for him and manang Nelzie who will prepare coffee and we will enjoy the food together until gradually, manong Gayagay became a close friend. I felt and experienced his loving generosity as a brother.
Manong Gayagay was baptized Episcopalian and remained Episcopalian while serving the Roman Catholic Church.
With all honesty, I never heard manong Gayagay spoke ill of the Episcopalian and against the Roman Catholic Church.
He may have not been a regular in the Sunday masses catered by the Episcopalian Church and his neighbor, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, but his heart and soul communicated to the Lord his good deeds and values of respect, generosity, kindness, and thoughtfulness.
We treated each other like real brothers when he started listening to the holy masses I officiated while attending household chores and burning charcoal for his famous barbecue. Literally speaking, their house is 10 steps away from the church.
I felt and sensed the wonderful friendship. He will not talk but he will just use his intuition when his wife was in need of help in and outside the church.
Because I do not stay at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, I cannot regularly monitor the needs of the church but manong Gayagay and his wife took care of the church.
On many occasions, he gave free cooked barbecue and I always tell him, “Manong Gayagay, malugi kayo a nu adim pabayad.”
He will smartly reply, “Alam kitdi ta yawni ta dulata nan matuno.”
He also initiated the making of Christmas lanterns, Christmas Belen, Stations of the Cross, do errands for his wife, and the carpentry works. It’s exemplary. I never heard him complain.
I was so touched one Christmas when he handed me a wrapped gift – a beautiful dark brown chaleco from Sagada. It was tailored for my size. It did not come from just a simple thought of giving but it came from his heart. His wife even jokingly said, “Padi Marcs, buti ka pa binigyan ng chaleco. Ako,wala.”
He also bought me a small electronic pillow warmer for my back to help ease my sciatic nerve problem.
Manong Gayagay and manang Nelzie may have not been blessed with biological children, but he was a father to many – to his nephews and nieces, and to the many people he helped.
That is why I greeted him, “Happy Father’s Day in heaven! Thank you for being my brother, my good friend, and my inspiration during my five years and six months mission there at Nangonogan.”
I felt a strong urge from him and his wife to overcome alcohol and smoking. I have sensed his desire to always communicate with the Lord. It may not have been explicitly expressed but I sensed it from his words and actions.
I received a text message from manang Nelzie, “Padi, please pray for your manong Gayagay, dinala namin sa ospital.”
I then visited him at St. Theodore Hospital, Sagada where madame Teresa Lino assisted me for the quick prayer service before manong Gayagay was transferred to Tabuk City for his CT scan.
That was the last time I saw and talked to him. The following morning, manang Nelzie called up to inform me about the demise of manong Gayagay.
Life is short. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring us so let us always be kind, generous, and friendly like manong Gayagay.
Reach me at [email protected].