Ship ahoy!

By May 21, 2023Entre'acte

By Rex Catubig


HE’S probably grown tired of the ocean after so many years as a US Navy sailor, so when our high school classmate Pablo Miranda retired, he chose to build a second house atop a forested hill in Rosario, La Union.

Hiring a bulldozer and armed only with 2 years of college engineering and a Walden dream, he carved the hillside to make a serpentine roadway, flattened some parts to erect structures, and tamed the wild habitation of bamboos and other trees that almost reach the sky.

But he did not stop there. With the help of a native highlander, he quarried rocks from a nearby riverbed, and painstakingly riprapped the hillside–from the ground up.

Quite a feat for someone who is lean and frail of frame. Sadly, as he was midway his herculean project, Kismet intervened: he suffered a stroke. That could have sealed the fate of the ambitious plan.  Yet he was undeterred, and even before he could fully recover, he continued his romance with the stones.

It is an affirmation of his wife, Virginia’s unflagging devotion, that she never left his side all throughout the trying times. She was the muse that ensured the continuity of the idyllic vision. And she was the Florence Nightingale who nursed him back to good health.

We had seen the place during its formative phase. It was a massive undertaking and because of what happened to him, we thought the odds were stacked against its completion. But we are proven wrong. True grit and perseverance won and saved the day. The rock fortress is now almost complete, but work goes unabated as if rushing to beat a deadline.

In a way, it’s Paby’s act of fervent worship, his personal way of giving robust testimony and thanksgiving for the Lord’s blessings—from his years at sea to his retirement on land.

And his invitation for us, his classmates to visit, is in itself a form of evangelization to reinforce our faith– that it is never too late to pursue our dreams, never ever to give up on our aspirations; to persevere and believe that we could move mountains even if our faith is as tiny as a mustard seed.

Because of the couple’s obstinate resolve that’s set on the stones, we, the awe-struck high school classmates felt inspired as we tried to recapture our sprightly youth and gamboled in the rolling grounds aided by our walking canes. Then as senior fatigue caught up with us, we hauled our enervated selves and retreated to the dining hall up on the hill overlooking yonder.

There, we heaved a collective sigh as we sat down together around a heavy wooden table, imaginary knights and dames of a mythical yore, blessed and honored to feast on the abundant food of loyal and faithful friendship—that’s lovingly braised in the rich broth of remembrance.

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