On the second day of my stay in Basilan, Julius invited me to visit Tumahubong and to stay there for at least a week or more. So that I would be able to go to the place even if I am being transferred to another house. So I went with him together with two Claret School teachers, the Special Forces (SF) and the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU).
The road to Tipo-Tipo is concrete, built by the Americans when they were here during their military exercises sometime in the years 2001 and onwards. But after the central area of Tipo Tipo, the concrete road disappears and all that there is is a rough road that when it rains, surely you’ll get yourself dressed with mud if a fast automobile passes you by. Along the road, there are certain points wherein they call it as ambush site or critical areas. When we reached the rough road area, Julius invited us to pray the rosary. Then after a few minutes the military men behind us started to get their firearms loaded and ready to fire. The army on the other jeep, twenty meters ahead of us, also aimed their guns outside the jeepney window, ready to fight too. Chin Chin, asked me,"Brother, aren’t you afraid? Look, their guns are already aimed and ready to fire. We are now in the ambush areas.” Then I told him “well, at this point in time I am not afraid, rather I am excited.” He doesn’t know that I am ready and willing to become a martyr at any time. And in fact, I even intended to take pictures of our guards while they were at firing position.
His question reminded me of what Paco Contreras told us once in one of his last masses with us students in Granada. He said that we should not be afraid of whatever it is that hinders us in life, of whatever it is that bothers us, that stirs us inside. If we feel fear or uncertain in life, remember that there are more than 365 passages that speaks of “be not afraid” in the Bible. Each day you could pick one to encourage yourself to be brave and be strong. Just hold on to God and you don’t have any reasons to be afraid of death and losing everything in your life.
That same question that he raised led me to ask one of the basic questions of man again: “What is it to fear about death?” I don’t have yet a personal concrete answer to that. Although sometimes I would guess that perhaps it is out of fear for the uncertainty that lies behind. We are uncertain of what we will become when we die. Or perhaps because of fear of silence, of eternal silence. Or perhaps it comes from the fear of losing the ones we love. I guess the last one is the most common reason. It is really difficult to detach and be detached. Love attaches and detaches everything. We all know that. But what we usually just cling on to is the attaching power of love and we hate the detaching power of love. Letting go indeed is a very hard and painful task in life.
How about you, what’s your reason why you are afraid to die that early in your life, let’s say an hour after reading this entry of mine? (I hope not). Be not afraid my friend! God is with you all the time. Just always remember that. Learn to let go of others but never of God.
God bless you!