Pinoy Phototrekker

Konsi

Written By: Kaloy - Nov• 08•12

On 01-01-2009 Konsi: Cancer Survivorthe foot of mount Mayon lies a small hill overlooking the entire Legazpi – Daraga area a cool sea breeze moves the leaves of the Indian trees standing guard on the boarders of the cemetery’s edges. It’s a clear sunny day today toped only by the occasional passing rain cloud. it’s like this always in Forest Lake. Here for the first time in over 32 years I plan to spend my very first all Souls and Saints day. Observing everyone around me paying respects to there love ones I realized how it feels to be in the same spot, visiting and cleaning the graves of our dearly departed. Together with my family we observe the customs that is only practiced here in the Philippines, This year our family is unique though compared to the masses, for the grave that we are visiting has been recently filled out, the ground has yet to settle and the grass yet to grow, and on a freshly carved tombstone that reads…

“Epitome of courage in adversity, optimism in difficulties and strong faith in God. Mama Mary’s child. A miracle of life over death. WE LOVE YOU!”

Konrad Martin Ludovice Yap

December 01, 1982 – Oct 25, 2012

A fresh tear comes down my cheek;

Till the next big adventure dear Brother!

 

It was a warm summer day here in Sydney Australia when I got the call that everyone is hoping not to get. I usually keep my phone on silent every time I train so as not to disrupt the class, I raise my eyebrow while checking the 33 missed calls and text messages that was left. Some form of scam and maybe I need to report the missed calls to my provider for checkup. Upon opening each message and call my heart beats faster as each one came from my Aunt, my cousin and numerous numbers I recognized as from my house.

Speed dial did not exist during the time my Nokia 3200 phone was created, but it still does it’s job making calls and sending text.  My Auntie Jing was the one that answered the other line, bringing the bad news. My brother Konrad, had just passed away…

The next few days was like a blur, papers, tickets all the while trying to get home to the family as fast as we could. The 14 hour travel from Sydney to Manila was filled with tears “I must be strong it’s not a good idea to breakdown in transit.” That’s all I think about. though it’s harder than it looks, especially if the plane is passing by Singapore. The country were Konrad wished to visit again, this was the place were he recovered his few remaining eyesight.

You see we are 5 in the family, I am the eldest of three Konrad being the second and my youngest brother Kerwin, who is accompanying me home. Singapore… Konrad or Konsi to everyone else arrived here,  blind and after a few operations using gamma knife procedure he regained his eyesight. He loved this country and wished to visit again seeing it with his own eyes, a pity he was not able to see it once more. The sky train took us from one terminal to the next, moving along the shops in the terminal we see a shop filled with orchids, I buy a bunch planning to lay it with him.

The last leg of the flight was the hardest part, seeing the Manila skyline once more on such tragic circumstances, took all my strength not to break down. Let the plane land fast, our bags come out first, the customs check be a breeze and light traffic to get home fast was all I prayed for. Kerwin and I went straight to our brother’s wake, after dropping our bags in the house. Everyone was there in spirit.

Konsi died peacefully, he fell asleep and never woke again. his 23 years struggle with cancer now finally at a close. He fought bravely, with honor and hope. like brave warriors of old it would be fitting for him to chose the manner on witch he would partake his final adventure. To this I smile, this time letting my tears go for the first time in since I learned of his fate. We are moving his body to our home in Daraga, there he would be buried. It was his wish and we should honor it.

A few hours later his body was shipped by land and air to our ancestral home in Daraga.

My brother Kerwin wrote his eulogy thanking everyone that came, as well as those that could not make it. The following are his words. Said on the morning of his burial on the 29th of October 2012.

My brother Kerwin wrote his eulogy thanking everyone that came, as well as those that could not make it. The following are his words. Said on the morning of his burial on the 29th of October 2012.

Good morning everyone. First of all, I would like to start off with a thank you to all our family and friends for all the prayers and support that you have all given us. To everyone who were there at the time of his death, Pierre, Gerard, Tin, James, Ray, Nicki, Ate Marge, Ate Neng, Alemay, and Hanhan, thank you for helping my parents with their immediate needs including the hugs and shoulders that gave them strength. To our family in Australia, Auntie Jing, Auntie Ofel, Uncle Leo, Kuya Jollan, Ate Nhi, Ate, Ditse, Auntie Leny, Uncle Cesar, Bryan, Mark, and Agela, thank you for doing the same for me and Kuks and helping us be here today to pay our last respects. To our family here in Legazpi, Uncle Ton, Auntie Rory, Uncle Gil, Auntie Pat, Conchi, and Matmat, thank you for helping make all the arrangements here and fulfilling Diko’s wish to be buried beside Papa and Mama.

My Diko Konrad lived a truly remarkable life. For those of you that don’t know, he was diagnosed with brain tumor at the age of six and had to undergo a major operation back in August of 1989. It was a high-risk operation that many thought he would not survive only to be proven wrong. It didn’t end there though as he would then undergo a series of operations nearly each year playing with death all the time yet always finding a way to win. He was such an extraordinary fighter and i’m sure everyone who knew him is still in awe and continue to admire his triumphs. We were so thankful when his condition had finally stabilized after the gamma knife operation he took in Singapore in 1997. But he was still never a normal person since his first operation. The brain tumor attacked his pituitary gland and hence affected his growth. He remained looking like his six year old self and in a way, might have discovered eternal youth. He had also lost all vision on his right eye and half of his left and technically had to struggle seeing with just a quarter of a normal person’s vision. Yet despite all these hardships, he continued to live his life as best as he could. He refused to be disabled and even insisted on finishing his education despite his handicap. Through persistence, he earned a certificate in creative writing from the University of the Philippines. He was always the most optimistic person I ever knew. He really never did know when to give up and often always encouraged other people not do do so as well. I guess it made sense for his character since he was a living miracle after all. He became a beacon of hope to all of us who lost sight of our dreams.

Diko lived a very simple life despite being in a very complicated situation. He was always the easiest person to buy a gift for. He never grew out of the things he loved like pizza and transformers so throwing him a birthday party was never a challenge. Order some pizza and buy him his toys and that would make him satisfied. Add in family and friends and that would make him overjoyed.  He was attached to material things much like any other person but more importantly, he loved his family and friends. He would always remember to do the simple things for us that we often would neglect. When someone would cough, he’d immediately offer them water. When someone would come home late, he would be the first person to worry. When we prayed, he would always remember everyone’s intentions and ask God for them himself in the stead of those who couldn’t or wouldn’t talk to God themselves. I remember him always praying for our deceased loved ones and mentioning them one by one. Even as the list grew, he would not forget a single one. It didn’t matter how long ago they passed away, he never forgot any of them and prayed for them everyday. That was just the kind of person he was. A loving and caring person doing what he could for the people he loved.

My brother had eternal youth. Unfortunately, no one has eternal life. I wasn’t there when it happened and I might not be entirely accurate on this but from what i’ve been told, he started losing his appetite a few weeks back and lost a lot of weight but didn’t really show any life-threatening symptoms. It was pretty hard to believe when I looked at the pictures from our cousin’s birthday which, was the night before he passed away that he still seemed pretty cheerful enjoying his favorite pizza. But then, God had decided it was his time. God called him and he obediently followed. On the morning of the 25th of October, he finally went away with no pain as he looked so peaceful laying on the bed as if he was just sleeping giving all those left behind a sense of comfort from his tranquil state assuring us that he is in good hands.

To be honest, when I first found out, the very first thing I could remember was when we had a stupid fight before I left for Australia. I drove him to Greenhills and I wanted him to pay for the parking fee. He refused to do so but I kept insisting that I wouldn’t leave the parking until he paid. When neither of us gave in, I left him there and went home by myself. He had to take the cab to go home since he couldn’t drive and we stopped talking to each other since then. My Auntie Ofel warned me that I wouldn’t want that to be my last memory of him before I left for Australia and yet I still didn’t say sorry. I stubbornly ignored her warning not knowing it wouldn’t just be my last memory of him before leaving for Australia but also my last memory of ever physically being with him. Our fight lasted for about two weeks or so until Christmas eve when he approached me and hugged me to make up. I, on the other hand, was just forced to say sorry. It’s so frustratingly sad that it had to mean his passing before I could realize how such a petty quarrel can be the heartbreaking defining moment of who I was to him. I swear I can’t think of a single memory that I was able to truly make him smile. I even had to look at old family photos just to remember how he smiled. That’s the kind of brother I was to him. Everyone I saw during the wake last Friday was comforting me thinking that I cried because of how close we were. No one really understood that it was the exact opposite. I was a terrible brother to him and there are so many things that I could’ve done but never did for him. At this point, I would like to sincerely thank my cousin James for being the brother I could never be. You shared his interests and gave him the companionship I failed to provide. In a way, I had relied on you and his friends Renan, Patrick, and Orven to make him happy and I thank all of you for accomplishing that. I have so much regret that I had allowed to distance myself from Diko and the guilt had been eating me up inside this whole time. No one wants a bad memory to be their last memory of the deceased, and this was the case for me. But what I failed to realize was the most important part of this memory. His loving and forgiving nature. I was clearly at fault the whole time but I never said sorry for what I did. And yet, without me asking, he was the one who approached me and gave me a hug to make things right. I know my brother has a side that can easily get on someone’s nerves and people tend to get pissed at him because of this. But no one is perfect. My mom told me that forgiveness is a two-way process of acceptance where not only does a person need to be forgiven but also feel that he is worth forgiving. I thought it was useless to ask for his forgiveness after his passing, but now I know that it isn’t too late as he has probably already forgave all of us for any hard feelings that we were not able to say sorry for. So for all those who have something to say sorry for, let us choose to be worthy to be forgiven and be at ease believing that we already are.

There is so much more to say about my brother but I guess I will have to end it here. I wholeheartedly wish that we have all found our resolution with him and move on knowing that he has touched so many lives while he lived, and continues to touch a lot more in his death. Goodbye Diko! Go soar towards heaven and enjoy yourself at your new home in the kingdom of God knowing that we are all ok and no one is holding you back. We love you!

The bells now ring as his body is walked to his burial car. To his final resting place in Forest Lake, on a spot on top of a hill by the foot of Mt. Mayon, overlooking the Legazpi – Daraga skyline, where cool sea breezes blows and indian trees reach for the sky. Have a safe trip Konsi till your next big adventure! We love you!

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4 Comments

  1. edwardo briones says:

    we will miss you Konsi!

  2. Apple says:

    condolence kaloy.i just learned. this is nice. he’s indeed an epitome of courage and optimism. God bless..

  3. Jules says:

    Condolence bro.

  4. Lira M. Yumang says:

    Dear Dr Tony and Dra Tess,

    My deepest condolence. I am truly touched and inspired by Konrad’s story. He is a brave soul..and you as his parents are equally admirable for raising such an unrelenting, highly-spirited child..Kerwin’s story taught us how valuable the word “sorry” is for the people we love..I believe that our Great GOD continues to give your family the strength and courage to accept his passing knowing that he is now in a better place with HIM. GOD bless always!

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