She said she would die in the Philippines. She was here for around 20 years, according to Sister Jin. At 86, she was still handling the finances of Santo Rosario. The youngest amongst her siblings, she hailed from Italy, went to Taiwan, and stayed in the Philippines.
I went inside the missionary house not knowing that her remains were just about to be brought out for burial. There were nuns and lay people, guards and Italians. I never met Sister Carmela. It was only my second time in the house.
When the coffin was carried into the waiting vehicle, the lonely crowd broke into a solemn applause. An onlooker (me) would know and understand, without having even seen her in the flesh, that she touched many lives here. The house's staff members were dabbing at their eyes.
She must have known some kind of peace in the Philippines for choosing to stay here for the last 20 years, and for deciding to die here. And for telling her relatives in Italy that if she died, they were not to fly here but should rather donate the travel money to Santo Rosario Manila.
Probably the kind of peace she found here was the same peace that eluded so many Filipinos, locals who spent their entire lives here. This peace, I presume, is not determined by one's nationality or location. It's the kind of peace and happiness that are found only in the heart.
March 8, 2013
(Cafe Breton, after a short visit to Santo Rosario)