Small Town Diaries
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Small Town Diaries: Before Sunrise

With dawn, there is the promise of a beautiful sunrise and a new day. But, unfortunately, before the new day is the unfathomable darkness and a painful good-bye to yesterday. Such was/is my life in the past weeks. I welcome the mornings these days, especially the opportunity to move on to life. I would be dishonest when I say I don’t fear what tomorrow will bring, but alongside fear, is my excitement over happy and better things the new dawn brings to me and my family.

A few minutes before dinner time and having just returned from a day of sending off my family at the port of Cebu, I received a call from my mother. “Your Manong Roel is dead.” I almost fainted. Good thing, Joel was beside me. I could not utter the words but I had to say it, “Manong Roel is dead.”

Manong Roel is my elder cousin, son of my father’s elder brother, Papa Jesus. Manong Roel was 37 years old. He stayed with us when he was younger because my father wanted him to finish high school. He never did because he thought it best to get out to the world and fend for himself. He married, and had a son and a daughter. The son stayed with us since he was one year old because my parents got smitten with him, he looks like my father when he was younger, and my parents need a child to keep them accompany as all their children are now adults and in the city working. Manong Roel and his family is close to us.

I could not believe my ears. The call was dropped. I know mama could not handle it and was probably wailing in the boat. Papa was the cool one and hardly ever show any emotions. My nephew, nine years old, would be crying but I would not know how he truly feels.

My cousin was killed. Stabbed. It was difficult to write it the first time. What made it more tragic was — just a couple of years ago, his younger was killed too. Allegedly by his father-in-law who admitted to the crime, but no one really knew for sure because my other cousin was left on the road for some time before someone saw him and called for help. My uncle already buried two wives and one son. Now he had to bury another son. We had to leave him in the house when we buried Manong Roel. Papa Jesus remained a jolly man, but I could not imagine the pain.

Manong Roel was chased and stabbed. He died in a creek, near the main highway — the road we always use when we go to my father’s family in the next barangay. Manong Roel died face down.



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