– by Fr. Eugenio, SX –
Last December 16, we have celebrated the funeral of Bro. Augusto Pardiñas, president of the Ina ng Laging Saklolo Chapel’s Pastoral Council of Sitio Militar. He was only 59 years old. He was hospitalized on December 4, in the afternoon, because of an ictus and underwent an operation to the brain without any positive results. He peacefully passed away on December 8, Immaculate Conception Solemnity, at 11:35am. I look at this as if Mama Mary, whom he served faithfully for so many years , maintaining, cleaning and having ready her house for any kind of liturgical and not liturgical celebration, wanted to be his sponsor at the gate of heaven, introducing and recommending him to her Son Jesus and to the Father. By the way, Ate Ana Bonifacio, another of the pillars of the Catholic Community of Sitio Militar, passed away last June 27, the Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help to whom she had served in body, mind and soul for so many years. Are these only coincidences? All these years in the Philippines and the people’s faith experience are “pushing” me to say that “NO”: they are not just chances or casual accidents kasi marunong nga ang Diyos! St. Peter too, now should be careful because may competition na siya: napakagaling ni kuya August pagdating sa mga susi, gates, pag-aayos, pagbubukas at pagsasara ng bahay ng Panginoon! The only problem for Kuya August in Paradise will possibly be the supply of gin!
Kuya August’s death was unexpected and caused a deep sorrow not only to his family but also to the entire Catholic community of Sitio and to the many Xaverians in the Philippines who knew him. I cannot but express my wholehearted thanksgiving to God for sharing with us – and in a special way with me, as priest in charge of the Chapel of Sitio Militar until last April 2011 – the life of Kuya August. His loyalty, generosity and righteousness as servant leader of the Catholic community are out of question and have been for me an unending source of inspiration. He was for me the kuya, the matapat at masipag na tagapaglingkod and a real best friend in the Philippines. Have you ever seen a president of any pastoral Council exercising his ministry with so clear unassuming and silent style?
In the nine years serving in Sitio Militar, and collaborating very closely with him, I came to know him better and better, to appreciate and understand his philosophy of life: kuya August lived as “the- person-for-others.” Gently and firmly. Hindi siya ang sentro ng lahat. Hindi iniisip ni Kuya August ang kanyang sarili at wala siyang “hidden agenda” para gamitin ang Simbahan or ang kanyang leadership sa mga politiks or tsismis or sa baluktot na kapangyarihan. Hindi niya nakaligtaan ang kanyang mga tungkulin sa pamilya niya dahil sa Simbahan. Actually his family was the purpose of everything in his life. Ang iniisip ni kuya ay pamilya at hindi ang kanyang sarili. His wife and his four children, the two nieces…: you can observe some of the very positive Filipino family traits in them. And this is because of Kuya August and his wife. No doubt about it. He got married when he was already 29 years old. Why? He wanted to end his commitment with his younger sister, Lolita P. Baldicañas to sponsor her studies until her graduation (Mrs. Lolita P. Baldicañas is now a teacher in Laguna.) Pag graduate na siya, he got married. Hindi siya ang sentro ng lahat! Every time we would promote some pamaskong handog initiative, he would give his ticket to some other family. And I could share so many more details about his capacity for goodness, patience and kindness, for forgiveness and generosity.
Considering that the sickness of the world is exactly this, na masyadong iniisip ng tao ang kanyang sarili, a sickness confirmed by the desolate narcissism that has infected our societies and our families, where everybody wants to live as batang layaw (spoiled child). I think about kuya August as a bayani, a real model of life also for our young generations, the person-for-others we priest often exhort people to be. Maybe the Lord is showing us the specific life-road we need to take during and after this Christmas: to be person-for-others.
This is also the reason why I repute myself as pinakablessed sa lahat ng mga pari at yun kung bakit habambuhay ang utang na loob ko Kay kuya August. Sa pamamagitan niya, pinatatag ng Panginoon ang pagkapari ko. With people like him, you feel strengthened in the community building work and very much supported in going through all kinds of troubles and obstacles, as quite often it was the case in Sitio Militar.
Now, it is hard to imagine the Sitio Militar Chapel without Kuya August and the unmistakable style of service he poured out in taking care and loving it. Undoubtedly he left his marks on the world of Sitio Militar. How many people grew in love towards their community and their church because of his example! He is another pearl of great price and of lasting value shared with us by the Lord. I want to praise the Lord for such a gift that visited my life and the life of many in Sitio.
Dear Kuya, pinasuko ni Kristo ang lahat – maging ang kamatayan. Sa tulong ni Mama Mary, kanyang Ina, Siya ang nagsabi sa iyo sa araw ng pagpanaw mo: “Magaling! Halika, tapat at mabuting lingkod, pinagpala ng aking Ama! Naging tapat ka sa kaunting halaga, kaya gagawin kitang tagapamahala ng malaking halaga. Halika at makibahagi ka sa kaligayahan ng iyong Panginoon.”
Last Sunday, I told you Good bye. But I really prefer to say, “I will never forget you.” Pray for us and may you rest in peace.