HomeCommentaryThe house that Dario and Nene built

The house that Dario and Nene built

Every young couple dreams of a house which they can call a home, a space which they can call their own, and where they can freely bring up their children. But Dario and Felicitas (they call her “Nene”), a young people from Butuan, did not have the means to build one when they married in 1960.

So when Dario decided to pursue his college education as a working student in the city, he left his wife and his eldest son at his parents’ house in the hillsides of Oslob, Cebu. I can still remember that hill and I visit it from time to time when I am home.

It was on that hill where I prepared my homily for Mama’s funeral. It was here where I remember Mama crying each sunset watching the wide sea facing Siquijor and Mindanao.

During those early years, she was feeling alone. She was far from the people she loved. No familiar faces, no familiar sounds. Even their Cebuano was hardly understandable to her. She could not even share her pain with the young boy who just held her hand each afternoon. Never did she know that I felt her.

When Papa began teaching in the mountain school far away and Mama started to open her sari-sari store by the roadside, we transferred to live there. It was a small room beside her store. Everything was there — kitchen, dining, and bedroom all together.

Maybe Papa felt the space was a bit small for their growing family. Then, he began dreaming of a house they could call their own. Papa was a public school teacher, not an architect. But I can still remember one night when he asked me to help make our model house with cardboard, corrugated card sheets, and glue.

It was a beautiful miniature dream house he started to share with us all. And that miniature house became a reality. It was a very simple two-story house constructed slowly all through the years. We all grew up there, eleven of us.

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It was in this house where they taught us how to listen and talk, to study and learn, to pray and believe, to love and forgive, to ask for help and to help others who are in need.

It was here where we saw our parents share our meager resources with our neighbors. It was also here where we saw our neighbors come to help us when we were badly in need. It was also here that our small community came together to pray, their songs we can still sing today.

Mama and Papa already left us. And the house was also crumbling from being exposed to the elements since the 1970s. To preserve their dreams, to immortalize our memories in that home, we started to rebuild it. We contributed our little resources, also from the properties that they left us, to rebuild their house.

Papa and Mama dreamt for us. Through this house, we want to share their faith and their dreams with the rest of my siblings’ children and their children’s children.

Pope Francis in Laudato Si writes: “The history of our friendship with God is always linked to particular places which take on an intensely personal meaning; we all remember places, and revisiting those memories does us much good.”

“Anyone who has grown up in the hills or used to sit by the spring to drink, or played outdoors in the neighborhood square; going back to these places is a chance to recover something of their true selves.” (LS, 84)

Father Daniel Franklin Pilario, C.M., is the President of Adamson University in Manila. He is a theologian, professor, and pastor of an urban poor community on the outskirts of the Philippine capital. He is also Vincentian Chair for Social Justice at St. John’s University in New York.

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