There is almost always pain in loss.
The greater the loss the greater the pain.
The greater the sorrow.
You lose a toy.
You lose a game.
You lose money.
You lose a friend.
You lose someone special.
You lose a family member.
You lose a brother.
There is pain. There is sorrow.
I didn’t personally know Worshipful Brother Manuel Rodrigo C. Perez or “Kuya Rody” or “Ka Rody” as what our elders would call him. I didn’t know him & his legendary status in Labong Lodge No. 59 until he was visited 3 years ago by some members of the lodge. He was, at the time, already weak & could not, I believe, communicate properly with his loved ones.
In the photo, who I saw was an old man, a grandfather probably, in his wheelchair, but still with his, although already faint, amiable demeanor. He was just also a name I would come across 3 times as Worshipful Master of Labong when I was just starting to build the website. I didn’t even connect the name to the man to be very honest. But I knew & was sure that the name was great for being in the East 3 times (4 times as others would argue).
“Tell me how he died… No, I will tell you how he lived.”
Does anybody still remember this line from “The Last Samurai”? This was when after the samurai character of Ken Watanabe died, the emperor asked the character of Tom Cruise the manner of the samurai’s death.
The line was true in Kuya Rody’s funeral rites. They were full of stories of how he loved his family, his genuine concern for the lodge & the brethren, & how sharp his memory was even when his sight already failed him.
- VW Ignacio “Asiong” Illenberger in a conversation before going to Arlington Funeral Homes, told a story that Ka Rody, already blind at the time, still volunteered to be the Master of Ceremonies in his would-be installation as Master of Labong. Ka Rody told him that as long as there was no change in the arrangement in the meeting hall then he could still navigate his way & would just be fine.
- VW Antonio “Kuya Tony” Joson said his family became very close to Ka Rody & his family that whatever the latter had, he shared with Kuya Tony: Crabs, Bangus, Pichi-Pichi, Hopia.
- VW Ben Tan recalled how Ka Rody told him that the greatest a man can ever have is “contentment.” That no matter how much one has, if he is not contented, then he has nothing. Kuya Ben shared how Kuya Rody, when he was about to go totally blind, arranged the furniture of the house, the food in the ref in the manner he would remember & therefore would not make him a burden to his family. There were stories of his grandson & how he was a good lolo.
- WB Alex Tojino & VW Rudy Ong recalled how Ka Rody would still support Labong’s projects to the extent that when he was already blind, he still came to watch a movie sponsored by Labong! He even joked that the movie was produced very well.
He was the idol of these idols who spoke of him. He was what they aimed for. He was the one worthy of emulation. Indeed he was the legend what us the younger members would always hear.
Why is there pain?
Why is there pain my brothers? Why, personally, with this particular brother, whom I just heard & just met a few days before he passed on, why is there sorrow?
My one answer may have been that I became a bit “attached” to Kuya Rody probably a direct result of being the Senior Warden & the one who works for the Sunshine Committee.
Since I was elected, I told myself the elder non-attending members were to be my duty, obligation & source of fulfilment. Kuya Rody’s contact information, among others, was my priority. This was hard as the number given to me did not reply or return an answer. I have been in search of him since January. He was to be awarded his 50-year Membership Certificate & Pin.
As we have heard several times, it pays to “await a time with patience.” Soon enough, 1 of the many contact numbers I have received from elder members replied. She was his daughter. We eventually were able to arrange to just deliver Kuya Rody’s pin & certificate; as he gets infected quite easily I was told. But as luck would have it, we were allowed to see him personally and so our Worshipful Master, our Very Worshipful Secretary & myself were able to present the certificate & pin to his wife & daughter while Kuya was also there sleeping in his bed.
That was a happy moment. We were able to see our brother.
Why was there pain? My other answer would be, & forgive me for being romantic, was in a form of a question. “Is the pain real because of this MYSTIC TIE that we talk about? Did I just experience it to be real? I mean, really REAL?” I would like to believe so. Tears wouldn’t have welled last night if it were otherwise.
It has been a privilege & honor to know Ka Rody more through his wife & daughter even for a few days. We were able to present to him & his family his 50-year Membership Certificate & Pin. Last night his daughter, Dra. Ching said, “Papa really loved Labong. He waited for your visit before he passed.”
Farewell Kuya Rody, farewell my brother. We pray for your journey to that undiscovered country where whose bourne no traveler returns; that temple not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
We hope that when we are clothed with the habiliments of death, when we make that journey to meet our Supreme Grand Master, you will be with Him to greet us.
The will of the Lord is accomplished. So Mote It Be.
Bro. Ali C. Espina