By Bro. Josefino Rona
Birth of Carmencita in Sweet Sail
July 7, 1975
July 6, 1975. Choly was due for the delivery of our first child, Menchie. We had to leave for the City of Cebu. Choly was not confident about staying in Tandag to have Carmencita delivered at the Provincial Hospital. We took the bus from Tandag to Surigao City, some 200 miles to the north along rough and rugged coastal road and across high mountains.
God was so good. Choly in full term never suffered a bit of inconvenience. Or perhaps she just didn’t complain. But I could see that she was peaceful and happy.
We took the Sweet Sail interisland vessel for Cebu. The weather was fine. The sea was calm. Everything went very normal .
July 7, 1975. But then, at about 2:00 after midnight, Choly’s labor began. She started to have contractions at close intervals. I did not know exactly what to do. I placed my confidence not in what I could do, for this was my first experience. My confidence was with Our Lady and with the Infant Jesus. I knew they would have their way.
Two elderly ladies. Choly’s labor intervals were a half hour apart in the beginning.I requested two elderly ladies to assist Choly while I would go around the ship to look for a doctor or any kind of help now that Choly would have to deliver.
I went to the captain’s cabin on the upper deck of the ship. I inquired from the one in charge whether there was no resident doctor, nor was there anyone indicated in the roster of passengers at all in the ship. There was no one indicated in the list. The guy even showed me the cabin’s medicine cabinet. It was empty.
A newly graduate gynecologist from Velez Hospital. But before I left the cabin I paused for a moment of prayer. “Lord, I do not know what you have in mind. I place all my trust in you. Mother Mary, I know you have always guided me.” Then as I looked at the closed cabin door in front of me, I continued my prayer. “Mother, whoever would be outside this door, I will wake her up.”
I opened the door. There was a cot almost blocking the door, for the ship was filled with passengers. A young lady was fast asleep on the cot. I just wondered whether the lady was a doctor because she had a stethoscope around her neck. She could be of help in my predicament. “Excuse me, Miss….” she awoke, “do you know any doctor here in the ship?” Startled from a deep slumber she answered graciously, “No, I do not know of any doctor here in this ship. But I have just finished my studies in gynecology. I just lack practicum. Why? what happened?” I told her my plight.”Where is your wife?” she continued. She got up to make herself ready to assist Choly.
As I was going down the stairs to the lower deck of the ship, I saw that all the passengers were all asleep except for the two elderly ladies and Choly whose labor was becoming more intense this time.
The Blessed Mother Mary. BUT, miracle of miracles, I saw “someone” else standing by the left side of the far stern end of the ship, some 30 meters away. A LADY IN WHITE! I knew it was the Blessed Mother Mary. She was glowing pure white as in a mist. Perhaps the light was a reflection from the flourescent light above her. But no, she was much, much brighter than any of the lights around. Perhaps it was my tired eyes playing on me, I thought. Nevertheless, I saw her standing there. I could not see her face clearly, except that she had a dazzling glow of pure misty white.
Then I saw her extend her left arm pointing to someone on the right side towards the middle of the ship as if guiding me where I should go. I pointed to the direction where she indicated in order to confirm her instruction. She nodded approval.
A doctor passenger. I went to the other side of the ship among the rows of passengers and came before a guy who was sleeping on his back on the cot with his hands behind his head as in a pillow. I looked at the lady, as I pointed at the guy. The lady nodded her head. I woke the guy “Sir, do you know of any doctor in this ship?” “Yes,” he responded in surprise, ” I am a doctor!”
What Providence! I turned my head to where the “lady” was. There was no lady! The white dazzling glow disappeared. Everybody was down in bed asleep. It was about 3:00 o’clock at dawn.
I told the doctor the situation. Immediately he got on his feet and instructed me to bring Choly to the captain’s cabin for emergency delivery. The two ladies and the young lady gynecologist assisted Choly go up the stairs to the upper deck where the captain’s cabin was. The cabin was used as the delivery room. The ladies attended to her delivery.
After we brought Choly to the captain’s cabin, I tried to check the stern of the ship to find out whether there was a lady dressed in white among the passengers. There was no lady of that sort. There I knew who the LADY I saw could be.
The Delivery. The doctor had no equipments to perform delivery. He therefore had to use emergency measures. He asked for a basin of hot water. He also asked the ladies around whether they had a pair of scissors, cotton, strings, etc., whatever he needed for emergency. Whatever the doctor asked, the ladies provided. Amazing! The ladies had them.
In the meantime, I was trying to comfort Choly assuring her that God was with us, the Holy Infant had always been guiding us and the Blessed Mother promised to be with us. There was nothing to be worried nor be alarmed about. We just had to put all our trust in God’s Providence. She was calm although struggling a bit during her labor. I tried to help her breathe deeply together with me.
The ship was still four hours away from the port of the city of Cebu.
The labor interval was becoming shorter. The doctor told Choly to hold the baby so we can reach Cebu. But how could Choly do that when Nature herself had her own course. The baby wanted to get out and Choly could do nothing about it. She had to let go. Then the time came.
Before the final push, I and Choly prayed together. We closed our eyes. Contemplated on God within us and I prayed. “Lord, you have brought us thus far. You have always assured us that You will be with us in our need. You promised in February Lord, that I should not be afraid. And whatever I need I just come to You. Lord, this time I really need You. Choly needs You. We all need You. Only You can deliver Choly and us.”
Then I put my hands over her womb. Instructed Choly to breathe deeply together with me, and together we made a push.
After about seven deep breaths and push, lo and behold, a beautiful baby gently came out as if from a deep dream. There was not even a cry from the baby that was heard. Beautiful Carmencita came out. She had wide eyes. She yawned. Closed her eyes and went to sleep, comforted. That was all. She was a lovely little babe. I could see the smiles of heaven. The angels. Mother Mary and Little Jesus. What joy! What miracle! A baby born in the ship! Everybody was in tears for this wonderful miracle!
The lady gynecologist-to-be with tears in her eyes thanked me for allowing her to serve her “practicum” in this emergency case. She could not believe it happened to her in this manner.
A special car. The ship arrived at the harbor of Cebu at about six in the morning. My problem was how I would bring Choly home in that condition. I felt so helpless. I knew no one in the ship. All I had was my faith and trust in the Lord and the Blessed Mother. I was just wondering what they would do with me and Choly at those moments and how they would arrange the situation in helping us.
So while I was trying to find out what to do, never losing my conscious contact with Our Lady and Our Lord, I learned that the incident that a baby was born in the ship spread among the passengers . People started inquiring who the mother was. This led us to know that right in the ship among the many people passengers there were people who were known and close to us. Choly had some distant relatives who were with us in the ship. I also came to know that the Provincial Auditor of Cebu, a very intimate family friend was in that ship. The limousine that fetched him provided us the ride to his beautiful home on top of the hill just behind and above the Provincial Capitol of the city.
A personal doctor. Upon reaching his residence, my younger brother, Virgil, a new doctor, gave the full medical guidance and care to Choly. He arranged for everything for Choly’s complete rehabilitation.
Menchie’s baptism. Fr. Generoso Alasagas, the brother priest of my brother-in-law, Severo Alasagas, husband of my sister, Mana Nellie, was also in the city at that time. Little Carmencita got baptized four days after. To her name was added Dominique for a second name.
Carmencita means “a little or sweet song.” Dominique means “coming from or dedicated to the Lord.” Her name was to remind me of what the Lord had told me in February of 1974 saying, “Let your life be a song offered to me for the work that I want you to do.”
As I saw Menchie growing every day, I could see the beauty and wondrous care and generosity of the Lord to her and to my family through her. Menchie is the first concrete manifestation of the love and Providence of the Lord for Choly and me. God has paved the way for the education of Menchie. She became a high school scholar with an education grant from the Tulong Dunong Program of the Ateneo de Manila. Her College Education Plan (CAP) brought her through college. She got her first job in Guam when the whole family migrated there. Menchie has grown and become a generous and humble mainstay for the family assisting her mom and me. God has provided her with a wonderful and pleasant disposition, a generous soul, a practical and smart intelligence, loving and caring to all the other members of the family. I cannot thank God enough for His gift of Menchie.
Menchie has been a pillar in the family, generous to the family.