The Higher Story



By Dolly Castillo

April is my best month for selfish reasons, it being my birth month, April 12th to be exact.           I came into the world, the tenth sibling, on the Friday before Good Friday.  This is called “Biyernes Dolores,”  translated from Spanish as Friday of Sorrows.  History has it that the name has stuck to me prefaced by Maria in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  This is  to dilute the sorrows and pains implied by the name Dolores.  The Philippines is predominantly a Catholic nation, one of the great legacies handed by the centuries of Spanish regime.

Bear with me as I explore the life of one individual, myself, in bringing out hidden treasures and pitfalls of self development and transformation.  I’m the only one who can best know myself and I feel very comfortable in sharing.   Such an aim is not meant for self-glorification, but rather a lesson in the infinite capacity of a man or in this case, a woman, to improve one’s self.  By way of stories, a tableaux of incidents reveal my struggles, my doubts, fears, and insecurities overcome by insights of courage, understanding, compassion and being loved by the greatest Almighty Lord. I grew up in Iligan city of the province of Lanao del Norte in the huge island of southern Mindanao.  My government – employed parents joined the thousands of immigrants from the islands of northern  Luzon and  Visayas.  The call was to populate the Island of Promise – virgin forests and abounding natural resources tempered by being out of the capricious typhoon belt – the scourge of the other big islands.  I remember studying at night using flickering kerosene lamps.  I thank the good Providence my eyes didn’t suffer.  To this date, I only use readers for deciphering numbers.  No modern gadgets like television or computers in those old days.  A sole radio station blared out the same program so that I can even follow the flow of a drama program from one end of the city to the other.  Physical games of running and jumping kept me fit like a growing reed.  Add to this the free interactions with those other creatures – BOYS.

To keep the sanity of our home, my parents disciplined us by having us do household chores on top of our gruelling school schedules.  Sleep was a luxury I couldn’t even grab on weekends.  Student Catholic Action sessions, school dances and declamation/oration practices filled the already jam packed weekends.  Discipline spilled over to school and homework timelines.  Wholesome fun and play balanced the rigid schedule – all in the name of future success, professional growth and big bucks pouring in.  I deviated from the monetary gain angle.  My fond wish is just to have a little of enough for my simple needs.  It has kept me happy and contented.  I applaud those who earned their pinnacle of success and riches, but.  I’d still settle for a quiet pastoral life, giving back to family, community, and God.

I went through it all in silence and obedience, clinging on to the noble hope that this will all be for my good.  Patience was instilled in large doses that I still draw on in this life in Canada.  It de- – stresses me and keeps me centred in my priorities.  Nature was our delightful playground – climbing trees, catching butterflies and dragon flies, capturing fireflies in bottles for all to gawk  at, swimming in the river and sea. All these for free and in endless dosages. Yes, I was a timid and very quiet child growing up – observing, listening, and journalizing a lot. – Turning in my mind complex ideas and attitudes and coming to a point of peace and compromise.  As I view the world and people now, with the moral compass I have nurtured through the years, I feel I can never be lost.   My firm conviction is, I have become a woman for all seasons, – who can’t be frazzled by any negative stimuli.  Truth and goodness guide me in responding to any situation.  Truly caring for your fellowmen always works in beautiful reciprocity!