11 July 2010

ADC

Many of you have seen my status on Facebook paying my respects to a former colleague who passed away last week. When I relayed the sad news by text message to a former colleague who now works in Baguio, her reply was, “Nagparamdam siya sa akin...”

I do not know how and did not bother to ask, difficult as it always is to conduct a proper conversation by text messaging. Suffice it to say that paranormal communications from those who have passed on into the afterlife are not at all unknown.

I just Googled the phenomenon; indeed, there is even a technical term: After Death Communications or ADC’s.

Apparently, even across cultures, many people continue to believe that loved ones who have just passed on sometimes find a way to reassure those left behind that they have survived the separation from the physical realm and continue to exist in another as yet undiscovered plane of existence. The deceased may take the form of butterflies, birds, moths or other animals and appear to those they left behind as these creatures. They may also find a way to manipulate inanimate objects to get across the message that they are “just there.” In Tagalog, we say nagparamdam...

Here in the Philippines, the most commonly talked-about form of ADC is that involving the appearance of butterflies to loved ones – at the wake, during the interment rites or, maybe, some other date significant to both the deceased and the bereaved. Even as a little kid, I used to hear about these butterfly manifestation stories. There was even this theory that went around that the butterfly would be small if the deceased was old; and much bigger if the one who died was young.

As I grew older, I rather tended to dismiss the butterfly phenomenon as utter superstitious hogwash. And a lot I thought I knew about life and death...

I started to change my mind when one of my players was killed in front of school by an errant bus. That first night, a few of my players and I went to Batangas city to condole with the boy’s family. On our way back to Lipa, this huge moth crossed right in front of our car and for a moment was brightly illuminated by the headlights. The boys were convinced it was the soul of the player who was killed going home from Lipa.

I did not really think much of it until – I was told – a great big brown moth practically set up shop at the small chapel in front of the boy’s house where the wake was held.

In 1992, my Mom passed away after a horrible bout with cancer. I do not remember that we had any butterflies or moths during the wake or even at the funeral. I do not even recall any incident that even suggested the paranormal in the days and weeks immediately after Mom’s death.

For the next seven years, though, a small brown butterfly would find its way to my room either on the anniversary of my Mom’s death or her birthday eleven days later. It was as though I was being reminded of the two events and asked to pray for her soul. It was the same kind of butterfly in my room without fail!

In September 1996, I was traveling home with the football team after a league match in Manila. We were in the school’s rickety old bus stuck in traffic in front of the Rose and Grace Restaurant in Sto. Tomas when this brown butterfly flew in to rest just above where the driver sat. It was the same type of brown butterfly that had been going into my room.

It was actually the day before my Mom’s death anniversary and I had all but forgotten about it. I immediately recognized that that butterfly in the bus was just offering a gentle reminder.

Late in the nineties, one of my officemates went missing for three days before eventually being found lifeless in a sagingan somewhere just outside of the city. He was, from all indications, the victim of a robbery-cum-murder in a case that remains unsolved to this very day.

The afternoon before his remains were discovered, twice I received calls from a number that registered on my cell phone as that of the Office of the President.

You have to understand... This was my first cell phone, and compared to the one I have now, it looked like a certifiable pangkaskas ng yelo. Bringing it out of my pants’ pocket was not necessarily a simple matter. Each time, when I finally managed to draw the phone out, it had stopped ringing.

I was at the football field at the time, so I thought the most logical thing to do was to make the short trip to the Brother President’s office.

Once there, the first thing I did was to ask the Secretary to the President if she had been trying to reach me. She was not. So I tapped gently on the door of Brother’s office and let myself in. The Brother President was sitting relaxed on his executive chair with a book in his hands.

“Did you want to see me?” I asked. No, he did not. “Were you trying to call my cell?” No, he was not. When I narrated the earlier incident to him, he had the utter cheek to try and scare me by saying, “Hala si Rodel 'yung tumatawag sa ‘yo.” At the time, my officemate’s death had not even been confirmed yet.

Perhaps the Brother President was just playing around with me. I guess I will never get the truth out of him because he himself is deceased. But could it really have been my officemate trying to reach me?

A few colleagues I related the incident to had told me, “Sana Sir nasagot n’yo...” Ngyeeeh...!!!

Now, back to this colleague who passed away last week… Friday night and Saturday morning, Facebook kept showing her picture in the upper right hand corner of the Home Page. You know... That section that says “Keep in Touch.” Even when I refreshed the page, restarted the browser or visited another page, when I clicked “Home” it was still her picture there.

She was laid to rest mid-day Saturday... It could be nothing, but I guess those who tell their ADC stories do so with firm beliefs that they are getting symbolic messages from beyond. And we will never find out if they indeed are as long as we remain in this dimension...

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