Running Scared-A A +A
Saturday, October 19, 2013
WE in this lovely island have, in the recent past, run and screamed collectively in fear.
There was the unfounded fear of a tsunami, which sent people running, driving up into inner Cebu. The higher one could reach, the better, making downtown Cebu a ghost town.
Then there was the very real powerful earthquake that damaged buildings, that shook the earth and we shook along with her, as we ran outside to be out of the way of falling objects or roofs or ceilings.
When we found ourselves safe, and our loved ones and homes also safe, we heaved a collective sigh of relief. The earthquake was not imagined. It was real and so was the fear.
How does one cope with fear? Aside from doing what one ought to do in times of fearful situations, we pray, and hopefully, we
remember to pray in thanksgiving after the ordeal.
Msgr. Ruben Labajo, now parish priest of Tabunok, Talisay, recalls one such fearful ordeal. He was then parish priest of Santa Fe over in Bantayan Island. He was going home from an outlying island back to Santa Fe in a pump boat. At ten o’clock in the morning, the pump boat’s engine died, they were left floating aimlessly in the increasingly turbulent waters.
Through his cell phone, he called up Bantay Radio so it could ask ships, boats or whatever was passing by in their vicinity to look out for them. He also called his parish to tell them of their predicament. And almost immediately, his cell phone battery also “died,” leaving his parishioners to think that the boat had sunk.
The waves were huge, and the boat seesawed along with them as they were being dragged into Negros waters by a strong current. Their
fear was a tangible reality, and so was the bitter cold.
Msgr. Labajo recalls thinking that one could die not because of drowning but because of the bitter cold that seeped through their bones. He thought maybe the best way to ward off the cold would be to hug one another—on second thought, ”ma-issue na pud ta.”
Instead he asked his companions to stay as close to one another as possible, as they prayed the rosary over and over again.
Fortunately, he relates, the pump boat did not capsize; its outriggers did not break. Had they broken, the boat would surely have capsized, what with huge waves rocking it almost perpendicularly to the water.
Their ordeal seemed to last forever and so did the cold, the fear, and also the prayers. About five in the afternoon, they saw a small pump boat in the distance. He then tied his shirt to a pole and waved it to the other boat so they could be seen. It turned out that the fisherman was actually looking for them. He had been nagged by his wife to look for the priest otherwise he, a fisherman, would not go out to sea in such condition; no other fisherman did knowing the sea was turbulent.
When they finally arrived in Santa Fe, his parishioners were already preparing for his wake: having lost contact with him, they thought that the boat had capsized and that the group had perished.
For Msgr. Labajo, the incident showed how powerful prayer can be. So next time we go running scared, let’s not forget also to pray.
And when we find ourselves safe, let us remember to pray in thanksgiving to Him who holds our lives in His hands.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 20, 2013.