July 25, 2024

Igorots are kind and loving people. I will prove this with my story today.
In John 14:15, Jesus said to his disciples, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments,” and in John 14: 21, it says, “Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me.”
Kindness and generosity are best pictures of love in action, especially in these trying moments. Kindness changes one’s attitude. Kindness is power. It radiates positivity that overcomes difficulty during a pandemic.
The story I witnessed in Sagada, Mountain Province is another proof that Igorots are indeed kind and loving people all the time.
On May 18, I presided the funeral rites of Liberty Jimenez, a stranger who became a part of the community. She suffered from an illness until her death. During their predicament, her son and grandson felt the full support of the community.
Alfonso Angawa, the punong barangay of Barangay Antadao, delivered a striking eulogy for Liberty:
“When they informed me about the death of Mrs. Jimenez and the problem on where to bury her, I called the barangay officials and elders for a meeting. I am glad we all agreed to hold her wake at the Antadao multipurpose hall and to bury her at the cemetery in Barangay Kilong. She was a visitor in the town but we will embrace her and her family not as a stranger but as one of us.”
Edward Garcia approached me last Sunday morning. He was in tears as he was expressing his burden. I felt the mixed emotions. I felt as well the trouble in his mind.
Edward is a Batangeño residing in Sagada. His mother visited him and stayed with him for some months. Unfortunately, the lockdown prevented Mrs. Jimenez from going home to the lowlands. Edward was burdened that her mother died in Sagada.
He was having problems on how to bring his mother home and in case he decides to have her buried in Sagada, where would the wake be held and where would his mother be buried? Edward pleaded that his mother’s wake be held at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, Sagada. I told him that if I were to decide alone, I will allow his mother’s wake. But in this case, I needed to consult members of the church as well. I assured him though that the wake and the funeral service will be held at Our Lady of Mount Carmel once I got the consent of the church members. He was happy with that.
After sometime, Edward informed me that officials of Antadao agreed to hold the wake and funeral service in the barangay.
During the wake, Edward expressed his gratitude for the kindness of the people of Sagada, particularly Barangay Antadao. “If this was in Manila, I don’t think the same care and kindness would have been shown. The Igorots are kind and generous. I cannot thank you enough.”
When I referred the case to Mayor James “Payko” Pooten, he said the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office also helped him.
The mayor also extended his message of condolences to Edward, which I read after his mother’s funeral rites: “Condolence to the bereaved family. Our gratitude to the health facilities that cared for her from day one. To our LGU, especially the MSWDO that extended financial assistance and to the barangay officials of Antadao who accepted the family as one of them. Nan ugali tako ay inayan, nai-apply to the utmost and of course, (thank you) to our church for taking care of her last rites. May she rest in peace.”
Mayor Pooten and PB Angawa manifested the same kindness.
I gave the funeral rites of Liberty Jimenez with solemnity and dignity. It was also a pleasant surprise when Rev. Charles Buking (Episcopalian Church) came over and participated in the service. He added good points to my homily while Pastor Pacio led the music ministry with other religious denominations. It was a beautiful picture of cooperation and solidarity during difficult times. In times of suffering, we saw the common good. People stayed for the wake and never made the family feel alone. It was a moving picture of a home that embraced people without a home in the hinterlands.
I presided the funeral service because the family requested for Catholic rites. Mrs. Jimenez was baptized Catholic and yet the people respected her religious affiliation. The service was a Catholic rite but I gave chance for other religious leaders who were present to also participate. It was a Catholic rite with ecumenical spirit. In fact, the Roman Catholic was the minority during the service.
I hope I am driving the message of Jesus’ love in my story today. Igorots are loving people and they don’t choose whom to serve and help. We extend help to whoever is in need. The Igorots respect as well people’s religious affiliations. We don’t look at the differences in religious views to despise; we look at what is common to proclaim the kingdom of God and to let God’s kingdom be felt, especially by those in need.
Reach me at [email protected] or at 0905-165-3669.