Beyond names, along with dates of birth and death, epitaphs inspire friends and relatives who visit the gravesites of their dear departed. Remembrances are long and they begin and end way before and after Undas season. Who can beat the Pinoy in their mesmerizing gush of emotions?
Beat me to the draw, everyone—wherever, whenever, however—in epitomizing a loved one: My hubby Rudy—up there in high heavens—must be smiling at his better-half immersed in the overflow of memories.
Get it, dear readers: Atty. Rodolfo Gedang Lagoc was the better half (gee, I’m the lesser half) in our conjugal partnership. He was a human rights lawyer—defender of the oppressed, the voiceless[j1] , the exploited. On his epitaph, I chose lines from Simon and Garfunkel, also made famous by songster John Denver: “Like a bridge over troubled waters, I will lay me down…” — lines that exemplified what he was in his lifetime, defending demonstrators defying the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship. Call this a plum award: His incarceration in the Marcos stockade for almost eight months. Dates are of no accord, but these were engraved in his tomb: Dec. 18, 1935 – Feb. 7, 2012. What is a life span, but what the mortal man had achieved in his lifetime on earth.
Simplicio Cordova Carreon, Sr. is at the top of the heap in our clan—be it past, present or future—up and down the years. An awesome math major, he rose from high school principal to Oton mayor, a life that began on January 9, 1903 and ended on October 25, 1993. Children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren all agreed on this epitaph enshrined in his honor: Thank you for your legacy of humanity, humility, and courage.
The iconic R.I.P. is on the tablet for my mother, Cristeta Rivera-Carreon, February 4, 1904 – May 27, 1960 followed by the modest remembrance from husband and children. Similar versions are etched in many other gravesites—reflections of the tender, loving care of those left behind.
My eldest brother Antonio R. Carreon Sr. (December 30, 1932 – March 28, 1980) was the only member in the family gifted with a sweet singing voice. Fittingly, this inscription was selected for him: “At the end of the storm, there’s a golden sky and the sweet silver song of the lark…” A native translation followed: “May balangaw pagkatapos sang bagyo…” A song fraught with hope sang by my brother Antonio, another human rights lawyer like my Rudy.
From the family of another brother, handsome Dr. Vicente Rivera Carreon: “Our beloved Tatay, in our hearts you will stay forever.” Calm and gentle, Manong Cente would break into a joke or comments that tinkle the funny bone. I could only wish for a sampling of his sense of humor. It would take hours for me to recall—gabs that incited smiles and chuckles. How he could ease your pain with hearty laughs. As the Reader’s Digest would have it, laughter is the best medicine.
The latest to exit was Toto Pising (February 3, 1939 – September 18, 2016). An activist in thought, in word, and in deed—three-fold indeed—he lived by this truism inscribed in his resting place: “There is no permanent power in this world. Be nice to people on your way up because you will meet them on your way down.” His frail health did not deter the activist in him in pursuit for the common good.
Ever a helping hand, my youngest brother Geronimo Rivera Carreon, lived to the hilt his life’s guidepost: “Any good thing I can show a fellow being, let me do it now for I shall not pass this way again.” What else can we do, but abide by his motto through and through—yes, till the end of our lives. Only then will his memory live on, and that of his namesake, our great grandfather Geronimo Carreon
FREEDOM FIGHTER in blazing red at the center of the pantheon honors the family hero, Edmundo Rivera Legislador (November 24, 1950 – July 27, 1973). Toto Eddie, as we fondly called him, left us on the onset of Martial Law — a life nipped in the bud of youth. We can only imagine what he could have accomplished in service to our country and people.
The last but the mostest of those who went ahead was my aunt Piedad Rivera-Legislador (January 25, 1913 – April 1, 1995). Nanay Piedad was the activists’ Nanay when the First Quarter Storm of protests ensued in UP Diliman in 1973. She typified every word engraved in her honor: “Life is loving, caring, sharing and giving joy to others.” Hers is a legacy for us descendants to keep alive forever and ever.
Julia Carreon-Lagoc was a Panay News columnist for two decades. She pops up with Accents now and then. (firstname.lastname@example.org)/WDJ