(Delivered during the book launch of “Light Sunday” - selected essays written by the late Evelyn R. Luab for the regular Sunday column of SunStar Cebu - which were compiled and published into a book by Class '72 of Sacred Heart School for Boys - Ateneo de Cebu)
To the Sacred Heart School for Boys Class of ’72, led by Mr. Jose Soberano III, our friends from SunStar Cebu, Saint Theresa’s Alumnae Association of Cebu City led by Ida Magallon, all of Mommy’s close friends who we are privileged to call “Tita” and “Tito” from the bible study and meditation groups she attended under the Cenacle sisters and the Redemptorist Fathers, and those from her Ayala hiking group, friends ... good afternoon.
I wish Mommy was here. I wish she could see all this. I wish she could feel all the love, support, respect and the high regard with which you hold her. She would be very thankful and quite touched that her former students have chosen to honor her by publishing an anthology of her essays written for “Light Sunday” of SunStar Cebu.
This book has taken a long time in the making. Class ’72 tried to do this while Mommy was still alive but they found her at a stage in her life when she no longer had the energy to do the work needed to do this book. She was also too proud to take me up on my offer to do the work for her. Nothing that my sisters and I said could convince her that to take on this project for her would not be a burden to us.
As you know -- as anyone who knows her well knows – Mommy did not want to be a burden to anyone.
You see, Mommy was a giver. She was the best at giving. But she was not that great at receiving. For some reason, she always felt a sense of discomfort that she had caused a person to spend time, energy, money and effort on her.
Take for instance the time she ran into Mr. Soberano at UCC Café. Mommy said that when she asked for the bill, she found out that he had already paid it. I heard this story almost every time we would be eating at a restaurant and chance upon one of her former students there. She was always anxious that THAT person would do a “Jo Soberano” and pay for our meal without our knowledge.
But that story always ended with her telling us how good she felt that a student of hers from some time back remembered her well enough to do such a nice thing for her. She appreciated what Mr. Soberano did, just like she appreciated all the nice gifts and touching gestures that people did for her and she took well to remember them, even keeping things from way back.
After she died, I found a clipping in one of her notebooks which contained her “Light Sunday” articles published in 1999. It was a clipping of GEETEEVEE, a column by Bien Fernandez titled “Flashbacks.” I saw that she had circled a paragraph where Bien expressed that he had been fortunate to have had Mommy as his English teacher in high school because not only did she teach discernment in English literature, more importantly, she taught compassion.
Indeed, she had loads of compassion. You will see this in the articles contained in this book, which offer a view of how she lived her life as a wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, friend, a member of the Cebu community, a citizen of this nation, an employer, and all the other roles she played in her lifetime.
Mommy wrote what she knew. She laid out what was real to her and what stood out to her. She did not pretend to be a connoisseur or an expert of anything. One cannot go through 1,350 clippings collected over 27 years of her writing “Light Sunday” and fail to realize that here was a real person, a woman with thoughts and experiences just like ours, laying herself and her life open in the hope that it would help someone gain something – whether it was an insight, values, strength, a realization, an appreciation of their blessings…anything.
And because Mommy was a person of faith, she made sure that even as she shared of herself in “Light Sunday,” that it would not be about her but about how God’s love and amazing grace shines in the most mundane to the most unusual of experiences, in the daily rigors of our journey here on earth and through people from all walks of life, even from those we least expect it.
This is why we agreed to have this book published. In our hearts, we are sure that Mommy appreciates this tribute. However, we must be honest and tell you that she did not expect one and she did not really want to have a lot of fuss made over her. She had even left instructions to this effect before she died. “The less people who know I am gone, the better. I came quietly into the world – my passing should also be quiet and simple,” she wrote us.
Obviously, this did not happen. I think Mommy never fully realized the impact she had on people … or the power of Facebook and social media.
So, we would like to take Mommy’s lead and make this book not about her, but about the mission that she had set for herself in writing “Light Sunday.” She saw her column as a way to spread God’s Word in her own words by telling stories of how His Love prevails in our lives in times of joy and sorrow and even in the midst of problems and obstacles.
Thanks to Class ’72, her work outlives her and we hope, inspires readers both old and new, to do all things with Love – Love of God and of fellowmen, and to keep believing that with God, all things are possible.
We would like to mention in particular Mr. Soberano not only for leading the group in taking on this project but also for believing in and supporting Mommy. We also thank the other major sponsors -- Mr. Erramon “Montxu” Aboitiz, Robert “Bob” Gothong, Benjamin “Boojie” Lim and Jasper Tan.
Raymund, we are amazed by your creativity and the amount of work you did in so short a time with your wife Estela and your kids. There are 73 articles in this book, which Raymund got his kids to encode – and this does not include those that they encoded and which did not make the cut. Thank you for the patience and sensitivity you displayed in handling our family and for respecting what Mommy wanted for this book.
We also thank the members of the core group working on this project – Mr. Bien Fernandez, Roy Emil Yu, Danny Kimseng, Rene Villarica and his son Carlo and the staff of Cebu Landmasters.
We also thank SunStar Cebu, without who this book would certainly not be possible. Mommy always counted as among her greatest blessings the fact that she was able to do what she loved, which was to write, in the service of the Lord.
To all those who are here, I cannot name you one by one, but please know that you are as much a part of this book as all those I mentioned earlier. Some of you, literally and by name. We are all part of "Light Sunday" because we are all part of Mommy’s Life.
So let me end by thanking everyone the way Mommy usually thanked someone for a gift or a gesture that was so big that she knew she could not repay it: “Thank you very much. This is exactly what we wanted for Mommy. Ang Ginoo na lang ang mahibalo kaninyo (The Lord knows best how to reward you).”