This particular Sunday is the Fourth Sunday of Easter, which is also celebrated by the Catholic Church as “Good Shepherd Sunday.” It is on this day that we extol the kind of leadership exemplified by Jesus—a humble and compassionate leadership: not one that lords it over, but one that truly cares for the last, the least, and the lost. In the activist language of the 70’s and 80’s, we would call it “pamumunong babad, mulat, at may malasakit (immersed, conscientized, compassionate).”
Kuya Randy said it so well in his message to the family last Friday, after the Mass which we celebrated before Karina was cremated. Kuya said like Karina, he is a teacher. He writes down his thoughts, listens to other people’s thoughts and writes and teaches about them. Karina, he said, preferred to teach by living out her thoughts. Her life was her message.
Perhaps that is the reason why in the past few days, people from all walks of life have taken time to pay their respects to her, speaking about her a beloved teacher, a compassionate leader, a friend. They do not speak about her thoughts or ideas but about her person, and how she had impacted them in one way or another, how she had made a difference in their lives—especially her colleagues in social work and community development, and more specially the women among them.
I know that Karina was not a very religious person in the traditional sense of the word. But, as a priest myself and as a brother-in-law, I wouldn’t hesitate saying that she was a deeply spiritual person. In the manner in which she cared for the the poor and disadvantaged, I’d say she lived out the life of the good Shepherd who identifies with the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the stranger, the sick, the prisoners. Remember that Gospel passage about the end time when people are welcomed by the Just Judge who is portrayed as a Good Shepherd who says, “Come you who have been blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you… for I was hungry and you gave me food, thirsty and you gave me drink, naked and you clothed me, sick and you took care of me, in prison and you visited me.” They’d be surprised and they’s day, “When, Lord, did that happen?” And he’d answer, “As often as you did it to one of the least of my brothers and sisters, YOU DID IT TO ME.” (Mat 25:40)
For Karina, the poor are never just a nameless, faceless mass of people. She took time to get to know them personally, their issues, their struggles, their aspirations, before she could even respond to their needs. She felt deeply affected by those who suffered abuse and oppression especially among women.
Yesterday, the Philippine Daily Inquirer honored her with a beautifully written editorial and an editorial cartoon that called her a “woke citizen”. I had to google the word to make sure I was not reading a grammatical aberration. There it was, Wikipedia calls it “a political term of African American origin that refers to a perceived awareness of issues concerning social and racial justice.” The closest word that I can think of is the activist term MULAT. Perhaps more than woke, “a woke citizen who awoke fellow citizens.” Isang mananayang mulat at nagmumulat.
Paring Bert Alejo, our common Jesuit friend, wrote something about the rooster’s daily role as Tagagising. And I think it describes Karina’s role in Philippine society quite well:
Ang nasasanay na sa dilim nasisilaw sa liwanag
Ang maraming nililihim natatakot na mabunyag.
Kaiba ang Tagagising magdamag siyang nagbabantay
Naghahandang salubungin dumarating na liwayway.
Kapag araw ay sumungaw titindig siya at tatanaw
Sarili niya ay gigisingin bago iba ay pukawin.
Aba, at may sumasabay, dumadagok, sumisigaw,
Hindi lahat pala’y himbing, kayrami nang ngayo’y gising.
I do not think it is purely accidental that today happens to be Mothers’ Day as well. Sa ating mga Pilipino, “Ang Ina ay Ilaw ng Tahanan.” This woman who, today, we lay to rest, was not just a mother to her own children. She was a light to many other people. Marami siyang ginising mula sa pagkakahimbing at inakay sa liwanag ng pagiging mulat na mamamayan na may dangal at may malasakit sa kapwa at sa bayan.
Hindi lang siya Ina, siya’y Inang Laya, nagpapalaya ng isipan at kamalayan, lalo na ng mga kababaihang busabos ang kalagayan. Malakas ang temang ito sa mga awit na isinulat niya at inawit kasama si Becky, katulad ng Titser:
Titser gumising na tayo.
Tayoy ginawang tagabura ng boto.
Tagabenta ng ticket, tagahalo ng kalburo,
Nagsayaw pa sa airport nang wala namang sweldo.
Titser, kumilos na tayo
Ang edukasyon ay hindi gawang biro
Huwag nang magpaloko at magsawalang-kibo
Tayoy kalahok sa pambansang pagbabago.
Larawan din siya ng mga babaeng mulat at nagmumulat. Sabi niya sa kanyang awit na ang pamagat ay Babae:
Kayo ba ang mga Maria Clara
Mga Hule at mga Sisa
Na di marunong na lumaban?
Kaapiha’y bakit iniluluha?
Mga babae, kayo ba’y sadyang mahina?
Kayo ba ang mga Cinderella
Na lalake, ang tanging pag-asa?
Kayo nga ba ang mga Nena
Na hanapbuhay ay pagpuputa?
Mga babae, kayo ba’y sadyang pang-kama?
Ang ating isip ay buksan
At lipuna’y pag-aralan
Paano nahubog ating isipan
At tanggaping kayo’y mga libangan
Mga babae, ito nga ba’y kapalaran?
She also composed a song entitled Sana’y Mayaman. It is a mother’s reply to her daughter who is wishing that they’d become rich. It goes this way,
Tanong ng anak,inay, mayaman ba tayo?
Sagot ng ina, hindi, anak ko.
Di tayo mayaman, panay kayod lang sa trabaho,
Kahit na ganoon, mababa lang kasi ang sweldo.
Bakit ba anak, gusto mo bang yumaman?
Opo inay para marami akong laruan.
Ngunit anak ko, ako muna’y pakinggan
Sasabihin ko sa iyo ang aking dahilan.
Sa ating mundo’y maraming lamangan
Pagkat mayroong suwapang at gustong yumaman
Di na bale ang iba’y lunod sa kahirapan
Basta’t makuha lang ang pansariling kapakanan
Anak kong giliw ating pag-isipan kung tama nga bang magkaroon ng mayaman
Kung ang kayamanan iba ang pagkukunan
Ang di makakuha’y kawawa naman.
Nagsilbing isang ilaw na maliwanag si Karina hindi lang sa kanyang pamilya at mga kaibigan. Naging liwanag din siya sa bayan sa gitna ng mga kadiliman sa ating lipunan.
Our usual prayer for the departed ones is “Eternal rest grant unto her O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her.” I would reformulate that for Karina today. I’d say,
Your perpetual light has shone on us through Karina O Lord, so now give her eternal rest and let her continue to shine in the dark like the stars, forever and ever. Amen.