Sisters Act-A A +A
By Ram Mercado
Sunday, February 17, 2013
VALENTINE'S Day, like all landmark events, leaves a residual memory of love's power at work.
What makes three love stories memorable like the eternal theme of TV's "Maalala Mo Kaya" are the lead characters who came from the convent.
These are true stories of Catholic nuns from various congregations who fell in love for varying reasons.
The former nun is now 66, while her husband is 53. She used to be his sign language instructor at a school for the deaf. He was 15, she was 22 when they first met.
Despite strong objections from her family -- citing age and language difficulties -- teacher married the student. The union produced three children of their own. Five more were adopted, three of them also deaf.
She is still enamored today when she catches the husband, now a retired electrician, regale his friends about his love story, using vivid sign language.
Beatriz Go says, "Our age gap and physical condition have never been a hindrance." The former nun has proved the veracity of an Arab proverb that it is better for a woman to marry who loves her than a man she loves.
Alexander, the deaf husband, proved Bacon's aphorism on age, which says a man finds himself seven years older the day after his marriage. Their emotional age is now on even par.
The second story is about my cousin Roger Gomez, a problem child who had been expelled from several schools for bad behavior.
To separate him from bad company in Angeles, he was sent to a Catholic school run by nuns in a distant province.
The young rouge, with his anti-social behavior, posed a challenge to the "Mother Superior," a master in guidance counseling.
Soon the bad boy started to behave, tamed by his mentor. The nun, glowing with her successful effort began to fall in love with the young boy. She was 45 to his 19 -- a classic May-December affair in reverse.
The elopement of Roger and the "madre superior" created scandal in the religious community. She got her dispensation from her order. While the couple was working for an American contractor in Saigon, Roger met a pretty Vietnamese girl who was hooked by the Angeleño with the roguish charm.
Back in the Philippines after their work contract, Roger lived with his wife, the former nun, along with the Vietnamese girl she brought to the domicile.
Still the former nun did not give up on her former ward, citing "charity and family unity." She kept her peace, making her husband a happy man, and the ménage a trios a harmonious affair. Roger addresses his loving wife "Sister Loleng."
The third story is about a former City Councilor, now a widower with 7 kids who met a nun during a medical mission in a typhoon-ravaged province. He is a physician and the nun was assigned by her congregation in medical-relief operations.
That was 20 years ago. Today, they still see each other in what he describes as spiritual tryst. He would fetch her from the domestic airport when she arrives in Manila, or she would commute from a Visayan province to Angeles to her politician-lover, bringing gifts of love and exotic fruits for his vitality.
The long distance affair seemed to have brought fortune to the doctor's political career. He had finished three terms undefeated. After an interregnum, he is attempting a comeback bid.
While his name does not appear among those in the winning circle, the aging eye doctor expects the nun, his good luck charm and inspiration, to bring him back to the City Council.
Lettyham Gomez Espiritu, one of the prettiest girls of her HAU batch, surprised her family when she decided to enter a religious order as a vow to have a moral renewal in the Gomez side of the clan, especially her delinquent brothers.
She chose to be a sister in the Dominican order. It was in expiation, too, of his uncle's (Roger) transgression in eloping with an elderly nun of the same congregation. Sister Letty had a short but distinguished missionary work, chiefly in Pampanga. Her last work was in running a school for handicapped children in Sinura, Porac, a flagship project of the Archdiocese.
Her service to God and the Order was cut short by cancer last year. In a moving liturgical rite at the Holy Rosary church, Archbishop Aniceto presided a concelebrated Mass for the deceased. Teary-eyed mourners, including City Councilor Rox Peña, the nun's close campus chum, bid sad farewell to the Dominican sister.
I did not see her uncle Roger and Sister Loleng.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on February 18, 2013.