By Consuelo Maria G. Lucero
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:19:00 07/03/2008
Filed Under: Personalities
The day after “Ka Bel” died, my father sent me an email urging me to go to the wake for the party-list representative. He said Crispin Beltran was once his boss and one whom he deeply respected, and he felt it was his filial obligation to offer flowers and prayers at his wake. But since he was away in Maastricht, the Netherlands, on a scholarship, he asked me to go his place. I’m no leftist; I’m not even politically inclined, as some of my schoolmates have probably noted. So when I put on my denim pants and rubber shoes to go to Manila’s Quiapo district to buy some flowers, I thought that I was merely doing what my father had asked me to do: to offer flowers and prayers for a dead man. When I got to Quiapo, I searched the flower vendors at the side of the church, trying to imagine what colors my father would have wanted. I stopped at a nondescript stall with green, maroon and pink flowers, not just the usual yellow and white. The vendor told the white or yellow mums would cost P100, but if I picked assorted colors it would cost me P150. I tried to bargain, and she brought down the price of the latter to P140. I asked if the funeral wreath came with ribbons. “Extra P20 kung may ribbon,” she said. I did not bother to haggle anymore. Then I handed her a piece of paper on which I had copied the epitaph my father wrote: “Pagpugay sa dakilang anak ng uring manggagawa, Ka Bel; Ang buhay at alaala mo’y titis ng pag-asa sa pakikibaka ng uri. — Kas. George.” The vendor was shocked by the long message. I figured that she was used to writing only “Condolence and sympathy” on the ribbon. But she talked so loud that the other vendors came over. “Santissima! Kay Ka Bel mo ba ibibigay?” a vendor of Lego-like toys asked. I nodded and smiled.
“Diyos ko, Mare, huwag mo na singilin!” she told the flower vendor. “Kay Ka Bel naman...