Linkages Of Love
By Sister Josefina Estremera DC
On April 20, 1999, a fishing boat from Mindoro was wrecked during a storm. On board were the fishermen and some family members. Pepito Mateo and his son Jimmy survived by clinging to a bamboo pole for three days and nights till rescued by a Taiwanese ship. The Singaporean skipper and Filipino crew took care of the two until they docked five days later in Pattaya, Thailand’s popular tourist resort.
Two of the Philippine Embassy staff met Pepito and Jimmy and immediately took them to the Camillian Hospital in Bangkok. They were badly sun burnt. Jimmy had small wounds caused by fish bites all over his legs and Pepito had a large wound on his right foot from being struck by a plank.
Jimmy was an outpatient and stayed at the embassy. Pepito was told he needed surgery and during his three weeks’ confinement met another Filipino patient, Sr Karuna Placino DC, recovering from a gallbladder operation. Among the friends of the Daughters of Charity who visited both patients was Ms Remedios Macaraeg of the embassy staff. She belongs to the Association of International Charities (AIC), connected with the Daughters of Charity. Mr. Mateo opted to have further treatment in the Philippines. The Sisters arranged for this in San Juan de Dios Hospital in Manila, run by their congregation, and the embassy provided tickets. By chance, three Thai novices of the Daughters of Charity were on the same flight, on their way to an inter-Asian meeting of young religious, and one Sister going on a home visit. Pepito and Jimmy were deeply touched when seen off by the rest of the Sisters and the embassy staff. The Sisters had also arranged for transport from NAIA to the hospital.
God’s loving providence showed itself abundantly in protecting the two survivors and moved the hearts of many. They got into Thailand without visas. Their situation mobilized others to help them improve their lives. A member of the AIC pledged to send Jimmy to the high school of the Daughters of Charity in his hometown, San Jose, Occidental Mindoro. Can we call this coincidence? If we say that nothing happens by chance, then were this father and son chosen to be survivors for a mission? Their situation evoked love in a foreign land and created effective linkages between people who saw above all the dignity of the person.