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Those we lost before Christmas

by Jericho Zafra

WHILE Christmas is a celebration of family, birth, and togetherness, some Filipinos mourn the coming of this season. 

For a mom, giving birth to her child is the best Christmas gift. But for a son, losing the reason behind his birth takes a lifetime to accept and an eternity to move forward – and even Christmas is like a desolation more than a celebration.

This is the case of Kurt Angelo Manallo, 14, a Grade 10 student who lost his mother in August 2021. 

His mom succumbed to COVID-19 at the height of the Delta variant, which, at the time, was the highly-transmissible and dominant variant of concern by the World Health Organization in the Philippines. She was unvaccinated and was among those hesitant to get inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine.

After his mother died, Kurt Angelo started to feel the strain of his mom’s absence. He began losing his childhood to deal with the repercussions of his mom’s sudden death. 

“When we lost my mom, I really didn’t know how and where to start. I am an only child, I only have my mom who’s with me every time, especially when my father is working on the farm,” Kurt said in Filipino.

Since his father had to spend more time working, Kurt assumed all the tasks left by his mom, chores that she usually did not allow him to do.

“I didn’t know how to cook or even do the laundry because mom did want me to do the housework, so when she died, I didn’t know how to start. I do all the chores now while dad works in the field. I’m still young, but I was left without a choice and I have to do these tasks,” said Kurt.

He likewise said that because of his situation, he was able to learn how to cook and follow his mom’s steps in doing proper laundry. 

But he asked if he really had to learn this the hardest way – while grieving. 

When asked how his first Christmas went in the first year of his mom’s demise, he said it was “difficult” because he felt envious of his cousins who celebrated Christmas with a complete family, even if they did not have appetizing  food on their table.

“On our first Christmas, Papa and I just slept. We turned off the lights because it was hard, but if Mama was alive she wouldn’t let Christmas pass even without a simple dinner,” he said.

But it seems Kurt’s struggle is yet to end. A month before his mom’s death anniversary, he almost lost his father due to dengue while the latter was undergoing preparations for inguinal hernia surgery. 

He said since he was not even allowed to go inside the hospital. He was left alone at home while only getting updates from his relatives about his father’s condition. 

“If mama’s still here, I am so sure she won’t let this happen to me,” he said. 

His father recovered, but was not allowed to work for months to heal the wounds from the operation. 

The dilemma did not end there. They had to make ends meet in order to survive the months while his father was barred from working. Luckily, he said, they were able to overcome the situation.

This year marks the second Christmas without his mom. 

Kurt said “the burden is still different.”

But added that he had to accept the reality that she’s already gone. But she’s “never forgotten.”  

“We may lose her, but her teachings and dreams for me will never be wasted. I promise to succeed for my mother and I think that’s the best Christmas gift I would give her even if she’s with our Creator now,” he said.



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