An encounter with God

THIS is a true story…. about God and His lovepower for the aggrieved.

It’s about an incident that happened in the second week of December in 1991 at the height of the Iraq-Kuwait war.

No, it didn’t happen in the Middle East, not anywhere else but in Dagupan City and Kuwait, if we can call it that.

The characters involved were Lydia Calizar-Fernandez, then 52, a Filipina nurse working at a Kuwait hospital; her 75-year old father (now deceased) Domingo Fernandez, of San Carlos City (Pangasinan) and Dagupan City; my wife, Dr. Cathy Velasco, and this writer.

War was then raging between Iraq and the US-backed oil-rich Kuwait. Because of that war, normal operations including those in the hospitals were severely affected, causing the isolation of workers from their loved ones, drastically cutting off communication lines.

It was in those uncertain times when Mang Doming, now deceased, who must now be 86 years of age, and wife Esperanza Calizar-Fernandez, now 82, who lived on Sugpo Street in our Blue Beach Subdivision in Bonuan Gueset in Dagupan City, were in frantic search of daughter Lydia.

Mang Doming became our regular visitor who pleaded for help to gain access to the missing daughter.

Moved by the family’s predicament, this writer burned the wires, so to speak, to reach every known connection including Malacañang and the foreign embassy to track the missing daughter. We took him to Malacañang, particularly at the office of then Executive Secretary Oscar Orbos who was manning the command post to give access to Filipinos to their loved ones in the Middle East stranded in their work places due to the war. Oca allowed us to directly make contact with Kuwait embassy officials in that embattled country.

We were able to talk to Press Consul Alfredo Rosario, a personal friend at the National Press Club, who did his best to look for the missing Lydia.

The effort, alas, was a failure, sending Mang Doming and wife untold grief worsening their distraught condition.

For the next 3 months or so, we would exchange heart-rending newsto mo avail about Lydia’s location.

Former Iraq Ambassador Bayani Mangibin later explained that the absence of information about Lydia and her whereabouts could be due to hospital policy to keep vital information under wraps at that time of war.

One Sunday afternoon, while we were doing our bike exercise around the subdivision, our househelp (Auring) came out running to announce that of all people, the missing daughter, Lydia, was on the phone, talking to themissus (Cathy).

Reaching the sala, we saw Cathy excitedly talking with Lydia who was at the other end of the line.
The fantastic development was Lydia was placing a call to a relative (the name escaped us at the moment) in San Mateo, Rizal, but, by what miraculous turn of events, her call landed on our house phone, which was by itself astounding because Lydia did not know our number.

The unintended call completely surprised both caller Lydia and the recipient, Cathy, who, they said, buoyed them to what they described as a heavenly connection “where God dwells.”

Still inspired by the call, Cathy and I decided to honor an invitation from Fr. Jerry Orbos, younger brother of Secretary Oca, to grace an event at the Manaoag Shrine where he was to hold (even up to now, we heard) homilies and to launch his book.

That Sunday afternoon, Fr. Jerry was distributing a new edition of his book, “Moments with the Lord.”

Upon seeing him who was addressing the faithful in front of the congregation, we signaled him about our presence. He motioned us to see him at the backstage.

Learning about the miracle, Fr. Jerry embraced the two of us and said, “come, let us pray, it was the Lord who made that connection.”

When we shared the incident to our friend Pastor Willy Carino, he invited our attention to Psalms 37: 23-24, which says, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholds him with His hand.”

Due to the local publicity the incident generated, the Fernandezes pleaded us to cancel any more news dissemination of the event which then caused an influx of people to their homes in Dagupan and San Carlos City, so many were thirsting of more details about the event.

We hastened to explain that sharing the event with friends and more people was meant to highlight God’s intervention to heal man’s afflictions.

As of presstime, as we informed our friend former Tour of Luzon champion Jess Garcia about the phone call miracle, he related an event “underscoring God’s intervention by the Lady of Manaoag.”
Garcia, who now writes a weekly sports column in the Sunday Punch, related to us that five years ago when severe arthritis reduced his leg to inactivity, he pleaded to “Apo Baket” (Virgin Mother), patron Lady of Manaoag do heal his paralyzed leg.

Waking up the following day, he was surprised to find that the pain that paralyzed him for months had completely vanished. He went to his doctor, a Dr. Mayumi Chua, who confirmed about the miraculous healing.

To God be the glory!