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1000 Years of Talks with God

With Gratitude comes FAITH…

Continuation of Jocelyn Galura’s 60 Minute Address at Auckland NZICC Convention Center

Mama Evelyn was big on gratitude. She said it would lead to FAITH, and once we had faith, no one could stop us or derail our dreams.

I imagine to you sitting here in the audience today it seems inconsistent that Mama would take all seven of us to church on Sunday and be laying with as many as twenty different men five days a week. Saturday was a family day where we all had fun together but not Disney fun. More on that later. First, allow me to explain the dichotomy between holy Sundays and Mama’s not-so-holy weekdays.

Mama was religious, or more accurately – spiritual. She would take four of us to services at a Catholic Mass early Sunday morning, then the other three to an Assembly of God Church late morning, alternating who went to which church each Sunday. She wanted us to experience the reverence to God in a Mass and the Pentecostal excitement of the Spirit in a charismatic service. Plus, I think my mother needed to fill up her soul with good vibrations in preparation for her challenging and dangerous life on the streets during the week.

The little ones loved the “holy-roller” church. That’s what my four-year-old sister, Rescheil, named it. She didn’t mean any disrespect. We liked the glorious singing and occasional outbursts in tongues. Then, Pastor Garcia would interpret what the worshiper was saying. He said these were two gifts from the Holy Spirit – speaking in tongues and interpreting languages. I listened closely, but to me it sounded like my baby brother, Angelo. I couldn’t interpret his babbling either. I was hoping I would someday discover my special gift from the Holy Spirit. On my sixteenth birthday, I did. Perhaps it will become evident to you as I finish today.

It was difficult for the toddlers to pay attention at the Mass services as there were long periods between songs, but Carmalita, Dalisay, and I found it easier to pray in that church amidst the relative solitude. Mama? She was beaming at every church service, and no one sang with more conviction than her, joyful tears unabashedly streaming down her face. We all joined in, even Angelo. His second word after “mama” was “hessis” which we figured out was “Jesus”.

Oh yeah, Saturdays – yay! Well, it all started one day when Mama and I came home with a humongous calendar. It had hung at Robinson’s Supermarket just four blocks from our barrio and being January of the New Year and all, the store manager let her take it. He said, “Why do you want last year’s calendar?” Mama told him that she liked to collect them, but truth-be-told, we just couldn’t afford a current one. That money might fill Angelo’s bottle for a day.

So, here we are, five of us sitting on the floor. Two of us got to sit on chairs which was a reward for an especially good week contributing to family goals. On this particular Saturday, Dalisay and my two-year-old sister, Mirikit, won the “chair award”. “Miri” as we called her was beaming, giggling with glee the whole time. It was her first chair award, her rite of passage from babyhood. 

Mama put Carmalita in charge of marking the calendar so that it would reflect the year 2010 not 2009. Three-year-old, Diwa helped as we older ones were teaching her how to write numerals. The 3’s looked like E’s, and there were plenty more “unique” markings, but in the end, we had our 2010 calendar. And Angelo had his milk. 

Six months ago, after my address in Honolulu, a wealthy businessman asked if he could buy one of our calendars. I said, “OK, if you want.” I sent it to him when I arrived back in Manila. Two days later I received a Fedex containing his thank you, a picture of the two of us standing at the podium together after my Hawaii presentation, and a check for $50,000 USD. (Spontaneous applause) 

“Thank you! I felt the same way.” (Spontaneous laughter)

Please forgive me if I have tears or pause sometimes as I tell you about the Galura family, especially Mama and Carmalita. I apologize if anything I say sounds solicitory. We are not victims. Like Mama kept reminding us, “Only YOU can make yourself a victim, because even if you have been treated unfairly, it can lead to only one of two outcomes – a defeat or a learning experience.” The babies didn’t understand with their intellect, but somehow, we all understood with our spirit.

You may wonder what was so great about Saturdays? Well, THAT was the day when we colored in the days we had eaten the previous month, the days we had enjoyed a rare dessert, and the days we ate meat. Not rat meat, store meat! We had months when only two days went by without food for everyone. If you were three or younger, you always got something. Once you hit three – another rite of passage – you were a BIG GIRL or BIG BOY now, so you shared the sacrifice.

Now how about this “gratitude to FAITH thing” that Mama was always preaching to us? It may be difficult for you to understand that starvation makes everything problematic. Faith, hope, love – you can barely consider those things when your torso is in pain and focused on food-food-food. On those days you want to sneak out to the dump to join other families to find something – anything – to temper your hunger. So those Saturdays were a day of “proof” that we had eaten almost every day the previous month so we could have hope for the next month. It gave us an intense faith in God and each other. Mama was right again: 

“FAITH for our future is borne out of gratitude for our past.”

Many of you must be thinking what a terrible example Mama was, such a hypocrite. Church one day followed by prostitution five days. I appreciate what you must think and feel. I can only share with you her reasoning for living a double life and hope you will judge her more with your heart than your brain. I had to learn to do that myself, you know.

I was with Mama for virtually every man. I held her clothes so that a dishonest patron would not take them. When we were in a place where I could get far away from what they were doing, I took advantage of that opportunity. Somehow from ages 7 to 10, I could block it out by humming softly, but by the time I hit age 11, it was too much. I cried almost every time, not letting Mama and her customer hear me lest it interfere with his pleasure and mama’s tips. Every outburst by me might mean no food for someone. And while Mama was always the last to eat, she needed her energy and to retain her good looks to make more money, so food was essential for all eight of us. One Friday afternoon after her work was over, Mama sat with me by my favorite tree near our house. 

“Jocelyn, I know this is hard for you, but any other job will not pay for the bare essentials we need. I have no other way to keep us all together, and even if I tried to give some of you children away, you would likely end up in an orphanage which can’t offer more food and clothing, and certainly not the love you need.”

I wish I could tell you that I was strong and could answer, “It’s OK, Mama, I understand. I know you do your best. I know that schooling for me is not possible so we can feed our family. I know you do this because you love us.” I wish I could tell you that, but I can’t. What I can tell you is that I cried uncontrollably. Mama would hold me until I had no more tears left. Then she would say, “Let’s walk home to our family now, Mahal Ko” And for a month or two I would be fine.

Evelyn Maria Lucernas Galura was nineteen when she finished a two-year course in hospitality services. She quickly gained employment at a tourist hotel near the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila and rose in rank and pay. That was the good news. The bad news was that she was making too much money and at the “old age of 25” lost her job to a younger, lower-paid employee. A case for unions? Fortunately, she found a factory job, so Mama and Papa were still OK financially. The average salary today in Manila is about $18,000 USD, but closer to $12,000 for females. In today’s dollars, Mama could make about $24,000 – enough to keep our family together, send the four little ones to school as they aged and save a few pesos for us three older ones to start a business someday. 

One blessing from God to Mama was that after one of her few monster customers brutalized her, she could no longer bear children. Her reaction was typical: “Only YOU can make yourself a victim, because even if you have been treated unfairly, it can lead to only one of two outcomes – a defeat or a learning experience.” Today, she looks down on six survivors who internalize her counsel.

Next week, we’ll continue the story and delve into Blog 4 of 13: Galura Family discovers what FAITH means to the human condition.

Mumpa Lawrence Durbin

MUMPA Lawrence Durbin, is an award-winning essayist, and Best Selling Author. A connoisseur of mysteries and thrillers, he writes extensively on the fantasy of all fantasies – human immortality. 

1000 Years of Talks with God, Science and Methuselah Speak! , release date November 15, 2021, is being relaunched by popular demand with a trilogy of thrillers to follow, each illuminating a newly-discovered aspect of human immortality. 

Mumpa became interested in the twin mysteries of physical and spiritual immortality thirty-five years ago while living in St. Augustine, Florida near the site of Ponce de Leon’s 1513 discovery, the Fountain of Youth.

He is a participating member of American Writers and Illustrators. MUMPA received his degree in Education and Government from Kent State University and a CFP degree from the College for Financial Planning in Denver, Colorado. He has been a CFP instructor at the University of Akron, operated a 14-person firm for a dozen years, and has traveled the globe extensively, asking the question we all end up asking at some point in our lives…

Is that all there is? 

Fortunately for the rest of us, MUMPA answers that question convincingly with unimpeachable proofs, thrills, and a fast-paced, entertaining style…


How to Be Grateful and Faithful No Matter What

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