My Father – Samuel Ordona Nisperos or simply Samuel Nisperos – told my mother – Rhona Terrado Nisperos – on October 17, 1996 that he was leaving for Manila and would be back the following day. My mother gave him P100.00. That was the last time we saw my father alive.
On September 8, 2003 at 3:00 PM, my fraternity brother in the International Order of DeMolay, Lorenzo “JR” Cordova was seeking shelter from the rain when he overheard a visitor, a certain Dr Basio, a retired UP Entomology professor asking a faculty member at the UP College of Forestry if he knew where my father’s relatives are. JR said he knew me and immediately, he sent me a text message inquiring what my father’s name was. The rest was history as JR then informed me that my father’s body was in the morgue of Funeraria Popular in Rizal Avenue in Manila. The sad part was that there no relative wanting to claim my father’s body.
We never had any news where my father has been for all those 7 years. The grudges I felt towards my father have long been gone. What I do know is that he had sons and daughters with other women that I haven’t met yet.
I know that I have to meet them. Meeting them can somehow ease the pain of not meeting my father alive since 1996. We share the same blood and I think this was my father’s way to meet me after all those years.
I have helped people not bound by blood. It is fitting that on the road to my success I can have a sense of completeness of knowing that I have half-sisters and half-brothers that I can extend my hand.
Let me share you my bizarre story.
The events described earlier started in a series of coincidences. In the late evening of August 31, my DeMolay brothers and I were having a discussion over bottles of beer. In the middle of our discussion, the topic about family came about.
We talked about my missing father. I vividly remember that I cried when we talked about it. My family was desperate back then to know where he went and where he is. I didn’t now why my they said it, but everyone assured me that one of these days, his father will return or arrive.
The conversations stretched up to past midnight – and that was the time that my father was dying.
I called my aunt Elvie immediately after I found my father. I am intensely sobbing when I informed her that father body is in the funeral home. I telling myself that this could be just a prank but when my aunt confirmed the body. My worst fear just became a reality. It was 11:00PM that time. I went to the funeral home even if I didn’t know how to get there.
My aunt said to me that said that her body literally froze when she saw my father’s body. When they got to Funeraria Popular, she immediately spoke with the funeral home attendant and immediately asked to be brought to the morgue. When they removed the white blanket covering the body on the stretcher, she confirmed that the corpse was indeed that of my father’s.
My relatives from Australia told lots stories of coincidences and signs that my father is indeed coming back. My other aunt Nitz said that a day before my father died, she dreamt that my father was coming out of a cave, smiling. Then our grandmother, gave her blessing with a hand gesture in the form of a cross. Then he faded away.
My aunt Myrna also saw Sammy and their father in her dream on September 1, the day Sammy died. Though this story is a bit humorous, she dreamt that my father had her gold bracelet so she forcibly took it back. Sammy slapped her and so Myrna slapped him back. Maybe this is a sign that they were still going at it. They were competitive when they were still kids.
The important decision at that moment was to be able to give my father a decent memorial and burial service, something that he deserved event though we haven’t heard from him for 7 years. I decided that to have the wake in Los Banos Laguna to more time to be with my father. We really missed him for many, many years.
Another incident happened when I accompanied my father from Manila to Laguna. When I called my mother that we are arriving from Manila, light bulbs on our house suddenly lit up – maybe a sign from a husband telling his wife. My mother told to herself that this could be his way of telling me I’m coming home.
I arrived at the mortuary around 2:30AM. From 2:30 AM till 6:00 AM, I was alone in the chapel. I stood in front of his coffin asking him questions. ”What are you thinking?”, “Why did you leave us?”, “What did you do in that 7 years you were missing?”, “Did you really love your family?” are some of the questions I repeatedly asked him as if he will answer.
I was furious of what he did yet part of me was happy that he is here, after all those years of searching. I even threw the bottle of beer I was drinking that time. I felt it was a movie. Long and behold, I was in that movie and it was the saddest part.
When we knew the details of his whereabouts before his death from the police, we decided to visit the last place he stayed. We were so surpised that he just stayed in Metro Manila. The owner of the boarding house is a certain Vicky, wife of a policeman.
Vicky said that my father started to reside there as a bed spacer since November 9, 2002. Sammy introduced himself as Victor Bagon. I really didn’t know why he would use a different name. maybe people who don’t want to be found will make strides to reveal their identity.
On top of his spring bed were his personal belongings, a sports bag which contained his clothes, a box containing a pair of boots and a carton which contained his pillow, plastic mat, portable cold water jug (already brownish due to long-time use), a small hot water thermos, a small kettle, frying pan, plates, fork and spoon and a small, gas-operated gas stove.
My heart was crushed when I saw his body lying dead. What made my heart even more devastated was when I learned the lowly living condition in that boarding house, considering the comfort and convenience of our home he abandoned.
Below the stairs of the boarding house was a small store where my father bought cigarettes every day. It was owned by a Lady named Virgie – my father called her Inday. Inday related to us that for the past four months, my father did not have money to spend as he said he was waiting for some money from abroad. According to Inday, there were times when Sammy said he only had 5 pesos so he asks Inday to sell him rice and would request soup from leftover food. All thise time, Inday said that she felt sorry for my father. She even volunteered that she would contact his family. He didn’t want any of it.
The owner of the boarding house narrated the events that took place on August 31. She said that my father and his roommates including a visitor named Benny were having drinks in their room. At about 11:00 PM, my father excused himself to go to the comfort room. His roommates became worried when he did not come back to continue drinking so they went for him and found him sitting at the floor of the comfort room.
His friends helped him to get up but he did not want to and said that he would just rest for a while and will get up by himself later. After more tries and offers to bring him up to the room, his roommates left and went to sleep as they have been drinking since early that day. In the morning of Septmber 1, people in the boarding house found him dead in the comfort room.
Vicky later narrated that about 3:00 AM of September 1, my father touched her forehead and told her, “Vicky, go to the restroom, I’m dead”. My father must have died at about that time.
My father – in the mold of Victor Bagon or “Tatay Viktor” – was loved by most boarders. The boarding house is an old building situated along the street of Padre Campa, very close to PSBA. It has several rooms and at the time of my father’s death, it had 42 boarders composed mainly of seamen and students. My father occupied a room fronting the street and shared the room together with 3 other males, all claimed to be seamen searching for jobs.
My father introduced himself as one coming from Mindoro and Batac. He claimed that we – his family –are living in the U.S. and that he did not want to bother them as they were happier without him. This convinced some boarders because at certain times, he would give them U.S. Chocolates apparently sent by the family.
My father was nice and kind to all of them. He helped some students with their school assignments. Throughout his stay (Nov 2002 – Aug 2003), he would converse in proficient English and other languages such as Japanese and Spanish; even Latin in some instances. They suspected he was an intelligent, well-educated man.
He never left the house as everything was provided for him. They thought he lived a good life. Although he did not have a full-time job, he had sufficient money, food and mobile phone load. They were told by my father that he was managing a “mission” through his mobile phone. His mission was financed by the members, mainly by a woman called “dentist”.
My father was called Supremo because he was the leader of this group called the “Stone of Sacrifice” composed of 18 people (9 men and 9 women). Most members live all over the country. Some of them, identified as Frank, Benny and Sol (a lady from Cagayan de Oro, allegedly Sammy’s sister) often visited my father around midnight or during the early hours of the morning.
My father’s visitors frightened the boarders as they looked weird and strange. Some boarders suspected they are members of a cult. However – as told by the boarders – my father assured them that they are normal people who are helping him accomplish a mission.
My father’s mission – according to his group – was to unlock a treasure for the Filipino people at a designated time. He will make the poor rich and convert the Philippines into a paradise. Sammy claimed he alone had the key to this so-called treasure. The reason he did not want to leave his room was because he was in disguise and that the people were after him. His members must have believed him as they continued to support his mission financially until the time of his death.
His roommates said that the few time he left his room was when he visited “Submarino”. No one knows whether this submarine existed or not. During one of his trips to the submarine, one of his roommates saw Tatay Victor’s passport and discovered that his real name was Samuel O. Nisperos. He asked Tatay Victor if he knew who Samuel was but he then said that “he didn’t know that person”
His roommates said that my father was a heavy drinker. His constant drinking companion was Randy, a Muslim meztiso from Mindanao. When drunk, he would only speak in English. During one of their drinking sessions, Randy punched and kicked Tatay Victor (my father) and left him bleeding. The roommates said that my father must have said something that really offended Randy. Vicky rescued him and reported the incident to the police. She wanted to sue Randy but Tatay Victor urged not to forego for he has already forgiven him.
During the last four months prior to his death, my father would start drinking at 3:00 AM and would only take a break to take a quick bath. He wouldn’t eat and spend most of his money on liquor. There were times he complained of stomach problems but never sought medical help for it.
Vicky interpreted this as depression caused mainly by his separation from his family. She said that each time that family became the topic of the conversation, tears would roll down his cheeks when he talks about his children. He told Vicky that he had wonderful children. She also said that Sammy was not able to pay his rent for the past four months but she did not demand payment because Tatay Victor was a good man to the extent that she would even let him live there for free forever.
The day before he died, Vicky’s niece, Necy, who was the person in charge of the boarding house, noticed that he was very happy that morning. He was making everybody in the laundry room laugh with his jokes. According to all the boarders, that was the only time they saw Tatay Victor wash and fold his own laundry. When he finished doing the laundry, he polished and scrubbed his room. That night, he went to every room and sought forgiveness from every boarder. He died a few hours later.
On my father’s wake, 8 members of his group “Stone of Sacrifices” had been holding vigil for several days and stayed for the service and the funeral. His group was very noticeable as they appeared different and detached from the norm.
They hardly slept as they would pray the rosary at 3:00 AM, as ordered by my father while he was still alive. Conversations between the family members and his group revealed that my father appeared to have spiritual gifts, as evidenced by his floating body or bright light emanating from his body when in trance or deep prayer. The members of “Stone of Sacrifice” believed that a certain “Chosen One” will emerge and continue the mission of their group.
My father lived and died a mysterious man. The question I asks is, why? What happened to him? Events surrounding his life and death are both puzzling and inexplicable. To most, he lived an enviable life. He was gifted with good intellect, superior writing and speaking abilities.
He had a successful career, starting from his lecturing position in UP, followed by project management of Marcos’s projects and other consultancies and yet for some unknown reason, he disappeared completely from his family and friends. During his disappearance for seven years, there were known sightings of him, however, he refused to talk or acknowledge any of his friends or family.
Was it insanity? Searching for a better life? Sheer greed and selfishness that drove him away from people he love which eventually led to his destruction? If he was insane, how did he manage to convince several people to join his cause and support him throughout his mysterious disappearance?
His followers were fully convinced that he was a chosen man, endowed with spiritual powers and that he was going to liberate them from poverty. Did he have illusions of grandeur? Did he really believe he was someone else or was he just fooling himself?
If he was searching for a better life for his family, why did he have to abandon his loved ones? Why did he not share his money with his family, considering they had limited means? Or if it was greed, why did he die a pauper, considering he had full financial support from his members? Was he aware of his doings? Was he deliberately conning people? Was he never remorseful of his deeds? Everyone has questions but no one has the answer.
What I do know is my father was blessed with a devoted wife and beautiful children. Although we had experienced ugliness, poverty and cruelty from him, we never gave up. For all those years, we had shown indestructible will and determination to survive. We remained loyal to him.
I want to share the strength and courage I learned during those time of distress to my half- brothers and sisters. I know they are also in search of answers. I want to tell them that our father is now dead but there are reasons to live for the future. We are here and we want to help them in case they need us.