BARP, My Final Family

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By Benny Balweg

Snapshot Focus

Friday, December 6, 2013

FOR me now, the Blessed Association of Retired Persons (BARP) is not just a formal social organization brought about by social needs. It is an attentive caring family that pays attention to you and your needs before you yourself notice such needs, much less ask for the assuaging of such needs. I must know because I have personally experienced it those last days, the last days of my late spouse, Madame Sozima "Suzy" Ancheta Balweg, and up to this very hour that she is physically gone.
Mrs. Balweg was a typical Iloko wife. She loved company but avoided fanfare. She believed in gender equality but firmly stuck to her function as a wife and mother and not a co-husband and a co-father in family affairs. The female sector of the population, according to her thinking, is a partner, not a competitor, of the male sector. It was for this reason that where I appeared she avoided a "needless" appearance, perhaps to avoid stealing the show, as we say.

Yet when she lay helpless in her bed in Quinavite, Bauang, La Union, in a room of the family home that suddenly turned into the like of the Intensive Care Unit of the Lorma Hospital, who first came in entourage? Not relatives or friends from the neighborhood; not from the Baguio City National High School where she retired. It was from BARP! The white van that slowly came to park by the gate leading to the rice mills was unmistakable. Much more so when the smiling face of Crispin Buli-e gradually appeared as he was alighting from the driver's seat.

The softly white hair could only be that of Trustee Menchita Damoslog, Vice President for Education and Membership. Then came the others, among whom were Beth Valdez, Treasurer of the BARP Multi-Purpose Cooperative, who was gladdened to find out that the husband of our daughter Gina in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is Lyndon Sison, a former co-employee (Computer Programmer) of hers at TI Baguio; Linda Hadsan, the soft spoken Loans and Posting Clerk of the BMPC and prayer leader of the group; and Secretaries Jean Favor and Myra Asim, who explained that Trustee Julieta Palasi could not come because her thick clothing donned to beat the morning cold in Baguio made her more drenched by the heavy rains in the uplands. President Fred Balanag had to fulfill previously scheduled trips to some northern municipalities of Benguet, where members were waiting for him. It was obvious, though, that the van and the group would not have come the way they did had he not given the overall go-signal, beforehand.

After BARP member Susie Balweg embarked on her journey of no return on Oct. 30, 2013, 3:40 P.M. peacefully without the usual agony, in fact on the verge of smiling, partly in my arms and partly on the pillow, the small family for me physically ended, especially that the children are already grown-ups, each leading a professional life of her/his own: one, Gina, a microbiologist and the other, Bienvenido Jr., an engineer and nurse (board passer in both). My family that I am heartily concerned with has become much bigger: the BARP family. For it, I intend to devote the last full show of my earthly sojourn to serve as I had served. That's the only way I can repay the attention given individually and collectively by the BFI staffers led by "Erzatz" President Ferdinand Balanag and those of the BMPC led by Tol Opiniano who even, despite hectic schedule, attended the religious funeral rites at the Irisan Crematorium. And to think that they came on their own initiative, no formal invitation! Then there was, oh yes, Trustee Cristeta Antonio who was ever ready to serve as a lector in the Holy Mass! Thanks, thanks. And to all of you, active co-members in BARP, for your prayers and commiserations. Of course, it would be a hypocrisy not to mention it, for your SMAP contribution, thank you, thank you again. God bless and repay you a hundredfold.

Besides the BARP members, I would like to take this rare chance to thank the many others for their prayers and expression of sympathy. We have in mind such entities like the Baguio City National High School co-teachers or co-employees, the CRSF, Inc. contingent Honor Guards led by Leader Ryan Saquing that served in volunteer capacity. Most of all, I wish to recognize the effort of Madame Marcy G. Bahatan, who went all her way informing relatives and concerned friends about the untimely demise of an in-law who served as a symbol of developmental interaction between the highlands and the lowlands.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on December 07, 2013.


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