Sr. Pilar was laid to rest yesterday among her sisters in the RGS community who have passed away before her. The final words to the final chapter of her life have been written and her book of life is now complete. Friends and acquaintances who have visited her ashes and stayed with us for the past 3 days of her wake haveall gone home, bringing with them inspiring and touching memories of a nun who has spent her life being the selfless champion of women and the helpless. Still, I feel that the events of this past weekend and the days of the wake have taught us something about Sr. Mary Pilar Verzosa, RGS.
September 7, 2012
I received a text that says Sr. Pilar collapsed during one of her talks in De La Salle Cavite and that she was brought to the ICU. I was thinking how strong she was the last time I saw her, which was just in the senate a few days before that, and I kep t telling myself that she will be okay. I wasn’t worried at first, but the texts that followed told me that the situation was indeed very critical. Our executive director called me every so often to ask me to write updates about her situation, and in one of those conversations she managed to tell me: “be ready with a write up….” I needed no explanation, but I was in shock. Here she was telling me over the phone that Sr. Pilar had virtually no chance of making it, and nothing short of a miracle could save her. My lips were dry and my sweat was cold.
I couldn’t believe it.
August 18, 2012
I have been tasked to attend this day’s Pro Life Lecture Series talk in order to introduce the speakers and help out in any way I can. Sr. Pilar introduced me to the audience as “our very talented writer and editor of our magazine, who is also a very good film maker…” the praises went on to the point and I was getting embarrassed, but that was Sr. Pilar for you. She always made it a point to heap praises upon praises on us even though what we did was nothing compared to the magnitude of her work for the past three decades. Prior to the talk, she gave us all some goodies from her recent trip, and asked me to order pizza: one pepperoni, one cheese, and one just for me, any flavor I wanted.
After the talk, we all sat down for lunch with her and the speakers. Apparently, one of the speakers was Hanna Klaus, whom Sr. Pilar has worked with ever since the inception of Pro Life in the 70s. I remember them recalling fondly all the places they have been to, all the talks they organized, the audiences… Sr. Pilar remembers them vividly and with so much joy.
September 8, 2012
I received this text:
At 10;30 on Saturday evening, a decision has been made to discontinue Sr. Pilar’s meds that regulate her blood pressure and heart beat. The artificial respiration continues as well as the medicine that controls her brain edema. She is still in a coma. There is a request that she be moved to a regular room so her loved ones could be with her.
To be honest, I was still hoping that Sr. Pilar would come out of the coma and walk away from this with the best of health. Sr. Pilar can’t leave us. No, not during these times when the fight against the Rh bill and the other anti-life bills are at its fiercest. We need her physical presence, and her inspiration. Not now, sister. Not now. Please.
September 9, 2012
Sr. Pilar passed away at 4:44 am this morning…
I woke up to this text. I felt that we were all orphans now that Sr. Pilar has gone up to heaven, along with other pro-lifers Atty. Mia Zafra, Atty. Adrian Sison, Manny Arejola, and Manny Amador. Are we ready to fight the RH bill alone? Let’s face it: Sr. Pilar is a very inspirational rallying figure. A warrior, no matter how good he fights, still looks to his captain, because the captain inspires and rallies his troops for them to fight with greater morale.
In our case, Sr. Pilar is more than just a captain: she is a friend, a mother, a protector, and a sister to us all. I am at a loss as to why all the good people seem to be the first to go.
September 11, 2012
This evening was dedicated for her pro life family. People kept saying in their eulogies that Sr. Pilar was responsible for them being immersed in the pro life advocacy. Sr. Pilar was a good teacher because she was a hands-on and deliberate teacher. She not only made sure that she saved women from the dangers that awaited them, she also made sure that there will be generations of pro-lifers that would come after her to continue what she has started.
Mayor Atienza told us the story of how he fought former DOH secretary Juan Flavier who wanted to introduce the contraceptive mentality into the country. He said he was reluctant to oppose Sec. Flavier at first, but Sr. Pilar egged him on, saying, “Ang liit-liit nyan, natatakot ka!” And from that moment on, Mayor Atienza fought Flavier all the way, to the point that Flavier never wanted to be in the same place where Atienza was.
September 12, 2012
The chapel of the RGS sisters were full of friends and loved ones, all gathered for the funeral mass of this woman who gave so much to save so many. Archbishop Tagle gave the homily, and reminded us that Sr. Pilar was ‘ready for the harvest’ and may have been the reason why the Lord called her to be with Him. He also reminded us that even in death Sr. Pilar was fully alive in her faith.
During communion, the choir sang one of her favorite songs, “Sino Ako”. She always made her audiences sing this song in her talks, and to be honest I didn’t appreciate the song right until that moment when I realized that that song was literally Sr. Pilar’s life in a nutshell:
Hiram sa Diyos ang aking buhay
Ikaw at ako’y tanging handog lamang
Di ko ninais na ako’y isilang
Ngunit salamat, dahil may buhay
Ligaya ko nang ako’y isilang
Pagkat tao ay mayroong dangal
Sino’ng may pag-ibig, sino’ng nagmamahal
Kundi ang taong Diyos ang pingmulan
Kung ‘di ako umibig
Kung ‘di ko man bigyang halaga
Ang buhay kong handog
Ang buhay kong hiram sa Diyos
Kung ‘di ako nagmamahal, sino ako?
Sr. Pilar’s life has been all about love. Who are we without love? St. Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, reminds us that “ If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” Sr. Pilar may have done all she has done in her life but if she didn’t do it with love, all that would have been for naught. And this is perhaps why we celebrate Sr. Pilar’s life. It was a life full of love, and it was a life that was lived well because of love. That’s what her life was all about, and if we can summarize her life in one word, that word would be love.
September 13, 2012
I made the last thank you letters for the friends who have attended her funeral. Soon, we all have to move on from her death and get back to work; personally I have been in a daze since this all began, and there’s nothing more Sr. Pilar wants than for me to get back to my usual routine. The memories of this past week will be forever etched in my memory and in my heart. Her life and her example are things I want to emulate, and I know Sr. Pilar has inspired even more people to follow in her footsteps.