I visited my grandparents in their resting place one hot morning. As I was leaving the memorial place, I have recognized him from afar. With his dark skin, curly hair and bright smile, I could not be mistaken.  It was Manong Carlos or Manong to all of us at home. He was working on a mausoleum nearby and smiled even brighter when he saw me. He stopped working and approached me.

“I’ll start working on your house again next week,” he began in Filipino.

“Are you sure? Will you still be able to rest?” I asked knowing that he has customers left and right. He assured me he will return to our house to finish the tiles on the first floor.

We had quite a chat and I remember teasing him not to drink liquor anymore. I was particularly concerned with his health because he just works so hard.

Manong is our ever dependable, talented and coolest carpenter. He works with precision and would never cheat people on working hours, materials and quality of work. I say he’s the coolest because he’s funny and light. He would occasionally make jokes and laugh at his own remarks. Hahaha!

Whenever we needed something built, created or repaired, there’s only one name to call – Manong.

He was the one who built our new simple house and many other houses in our province/town. He was the one who advised me which tile to buy, what size and how many pieces. He was the one who made my bookshelves!

After finishing the second floor, he stopped working at our house because he has been called by a long-time, big-time customer who needed his services for the expansion of his huge green ‘events place’. And also because we had to save funds again for the completion of the house.

The week after our meeting in the cemetery, he truly came back and worked on the tiles and finishing of the house’s exterior. I remember watching him taking naps during lunch break while I thought to myself all the hard labors he did all these years. I observed his calloused hands and feet, his breathing that seemed almost laborious. I thought he was probably tired of having to work seven days a week, with all the pounding of the hammer, sawing of wood, cementing of walls and more.

But you know, whenever he wakes up again, none of his exhaustion will be seen in his face. He would still flash his white teeth with a wide smile.

 

Today while traveling back home from an official trip, my sister popped a message over my mobile phone expressing her sadness over what happened to Manong. Although I knew in my heart what happened, I still asked. My sister just confirmed what I thought and I know we both shed tears while our fingers find the words to honor him through our exchange of messages.

Manong had a heart attack yesterday and it instantly took his life away. Even until in his last breath, he was working, tools on his hands.

 

I would like to honor him today for being the best maker, not only of houses and structures but also the builder, provider and care taker of his own home. I know it was his family that made him smile no matter what. I know that it was his family that made him face each day and work hard.

Praise the Lord for his life and the wonderful works of his hands. May his soul rest in peace and graciously return to Him.

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PS

Thank you for reading. My reason for being recklessly emotional in writing this right away is the thought that readers may help me raise funds for Manong’s wake and interment. The chapel where his remains lie has only chairs and mourners, no food and drinks yet. Manong’s burial clothes were only provided by the funeral parlor. Something just moved me to do this and try my luck in helping others help Manong and his family.  Thank you.

Reach me through nerisatorres@gmail.com

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