Tuloy ang Ligaya (Ligaya continues)

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By Sandy Gil

Sunday Dunes

Saturday, July 12, 2014


LAST April, a young colleague of mine succumbed to cancer. A petite woman in her thirties, Ligaya was more than an architect. She was one of the most creative artists I knew. Some five years ago, she decided to resign from the company we worked for to undergo treatments - both natural and medical - to address her illness. Without an ounce of self-pity, she celebrated the time to render the most exquisite and elegant black and white artworks, even drawing her self-portrait in bed with tubes connected to her. Looking at this amazing collection of drawings has indeed inspired me as they reflect Ligaya's gentle spirit and unquestioning acceptance of her destiny.

-oOo-

Bathrooms are very important to me. In Davao City, most middle-class homes do not pay much attention to bathrooms. So when my home was being constructed almost a decade ago, I had this architectural problem with the model home design that featured an extremely tiny bathroom that included the water closet, shower and sink - all in a row. It was so small that one would need to sit on the toilet sideways to avoid smashing one's knees on the wall. To squeeze into the shower, one would need to walk like a crab to avoid bumping into the sink and the toilet.

I had run to Ligaya to seek help. She then rescued my bathroom by slightly enlarging its space and placing fixtures at angles I would never have thought of - resulting in a wonderfully luxurious bathroom.

When I heard of Ligaya's untimely demise (is there such a thing as a timely demise?), I prayed for my gracefully creative young friend who gifted me with a happy bathroom. Ligaya, you will always be part of my home.

-oOo-

I rarely have relatives or friends visiting me at home. But last week, two dear friends who also knew Ligaya - one of whom had once been Ligaya's housemate - decided to invite themselves for lunch in my home. Of course, they brought the lunch. I was upstairs when I heard their car arrive. So I dropped whatever it was I was doing and went down stairs to open the door. I turned my back away from the door after opening it, assuming that my friends would simply enter the house.

Curiously, when I turned around, both of them were standing immobile at the doorway inside the house, squeezing themselves on the floor mat that lay in front of the door. So naturally, I told them to come in. But they had panic in their eyes, refusing to budge and pointing at the floor. I looked at the floor, expecting to see something horrible, but saw nothing. It turned out that that was the problem. Having had the white floor tiles recently re-grouted, the floor looked so immaculate that they dared not step on it with shoes that had trodden all over city.

Tittering on the floor mat, my two dear friends looked like partners for a newspaper dance competition! Funny friends. Good thing I had extra slippers to lend them, lest they had lunch while standing on the floor mat!

-oOo-

In reminiscing Ligaya's life, another dear friend had recently told me of her 87-year-old mother's lingering illness. Her mother had been bed-ridden at home for quite some time now, often not recognizing the relatives around her or her surroundings. One day, her mother suddenly went into cardiac arrest, and the entire household went into panic mode.

Having been trained in first aid, my friend, in between tears and fears and not at all calmly, performed CPR on her mother while shouting for someone to call 911. And above the screams and commotion, her daughter's frightened voice cried out, "What is the number of 911?"

Sudden silence. While my friend's CPR did not miss a beat, they were unsure whether their tears had become those of laughter. Fortunately, despite all, her mother did survived.

-oOo-

They say that birds of the same feather, flock together. It says much of the company I keep. Remembering Ligaya with deep fondness continues to bind the company I keep.

And even though Ligaya is no longer with us, through our friends and my bathroom, I will always remember her.

Tuloy si Ligaya!

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 13, 2014.

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