Smiles from the Heart

Sonrisas

“WE may be naked and toothless, but we are blessed; for our spirits are undaunted and our laughter pure. We are children of Filipino earth. Our smiles brighten up every dark cranny in the land.”

 SOMETHING in a child’s smiling face irresistibly captivates and disarms. It does not seem to matter whether one takes snapshots of happy kids in a posh urban village, in an impoverished shanty town where this photograph was taken, or anywhere else; smiles of children are essentially the same. Like many of life’s subtle mysteries, a child’s smile is universal yet unique, innocent but resilient, optimistic and authentic.

We are reminded of man’s innate goodness each time we see these little ones smile, because they brim over with qualities that best define our humanity: gentleness, warmth, sincerity and exuberance. Yet their power to inspire and touch lies largely on our readiness to open our hearts to rediscover the child within us all; and to view the world, perhaps for the first time, with new eyes.

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Sonrisas del Corazón

“Es verdad que estamos desnudos y sin dientes pero poseemos una fortuna: nuestros espíritus continúan imperturbables y nuestras sonrisas son puras. Somos hijos de la tierra Filipina. Nuestras sonrisas iluminan hasta los últimos rincones oscuros de nuestro país.”

Hay algo en la cara sonriente de un niño que irresistiblemente nos cautiva y desarma. Da igual que se esté tomando una fotografía de niños felices en un distrito urbano rico o en una empobrecida población callampa donde se tomó esta instantánea, o en cualquier otra parte; las sonrisas de niños son esencialmente las mismas. Como muchos misterios sutiles de la vida, la sonrisa del niño es universal y sin embargo inigualable, inocente pero pertinaz, optimista y auténtica.

Cada vez que vemos a estos niños sonreír, nos viene al recuerdo la bondad innata del hombre; estos pequeños rebosan de las mejores cualidades que definen nuestra humanidad; ternura, cariño, sinceridad, y exuberancia. Aún así, su capacidad de inspirarnos y alcanzar nuestros corazones depende largamente de nuestra voluntad de abrirlos, para redescubrir al niño que todos llevamos dentro; y para mirar al mundo con nuevos ojos, quizás por primera vez.

Bacolod City, Filipinas

Junio 2013

 

Eulogy for Wilford

Wilford Dy Lim. born April 23, 1959 in Iligan City, Philippines passed away on August 21, 2012 in New Jersey, USA. He is survived by beloved wife of 20 years, Maribel, daughters Melanie & Michelle, mother Giok Tiu Dy, and siblings Wilson, Richard, Johnson, Jane, and Fanny.

To Maribel, Melanie & Michelle Lim: Shalom, Wilford

Wilford and I shared a few circles of friends and spent a lot of bonding time during our college years in U.P.

I recall when I first met Wilford, I noticed that he had this light-footed way of coming near, almost like he walked on air. Without much fanfare, he’d sneak in and before you knew it, he was already close by. He liked doing things unannounced, and whenever he had the pleasure of catching you by surprise, he would draw out those imaginary pistols from their make-believe holsters, shoot you with his pointer fingers then he’d flash that all-too-familiar sheepish grin. ‘Gotcha!’

Yes, Wilford, after all these years, you got me again.

I knew Wilford as the silent-type, except maybe in the few instances when we’ve had too much to drink, and became (slightly) inebriated {:>). He was a man of few words who preferred that his actions speak for him. Yet there was something about his demeanor and his piercing gaze that gave you the impression of so much more going on inside of him. Wilford was the kind of person who did not want to needlessly bother anyone else with his own problems, so when news of his demise had reached me with the revelation that he carried his personal cross while he confided his suffering only to his closest of kin, I was deeply saddened though not completely surprised. Wilford was not one who’d demand attention to himself, and now I realized that the way he preferred to enter our lives was the same way he chose to leave us — quietly.

In the exuberance of youth, we were inspired by lofty books like ‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull’ and other writings of Richard Bach. Looking back, some passages come to mind:

The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life. Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof’ ’ and ‘Don’t be dismayed at good-byes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends’   

Just as stealthily as he came without the usual ‘hellos’, Wilford had gone too soon, and true to his nature, he left without the customary ‘goodbyes’. As often as he expressed his gratitude to the people in his life who touched him, his presence also had a profound influence on everyone who had the privilege of knowing him. This fellow weary wanderer is home now, and yet though he and I seldom traveled side by side on our journey, Wilford always was, and will always be close to my heart.

As long as I live, I will remember Wilford as that unassuming, loyal, and generous friend with a unique deadpan sense of humor. Truly he is well-loved by family, friends, and community. I pray that Wilford has found the peace that he was searching for all his life, and that those of us who now mourn his passing, will not find it too difficult to come to terms with our loss.

Goodbye for now, Wilford, and thank you, brod, for the memories.  You will be greatly missed.  And when we meet again, dear friend, in that place in the Sun where there are no more tears, we will have many stories to tell.