My favorite uncle, NORBERTO CATOLICO CATALUÑA, died this 7:00 a.m. (16 August 2013) in Culaman (Senator Ninoy Aquino Municipality), Sultan Kudarat Province.

He died due to an acute ulcer. (Namatay sa gutom?)  It made me sad because I was not able to help him fully with the tuition of his eldest daughter.  I paid some of the tuition but not lately. The good thing, however, is that my cousin graduated with a BS Accounting course and I intend to help her in her review for a CPA exam.

Uncle Nonoy or Uncle Norbing was one of those uncles of mine who gave me care since I was a toddler until my early years in elementary school. 

All the four brothers of my mother (Marianita Catolico Cataluña-Causing Sr.) watched over me, cared for me, secured me from harm, and carried me over their shoulders everywhere we would promenade.  The youngest of them, Venancio Catolico Cataluña, died while I was first year in high school; Uncle Bebot died also of acute ulcer while I was watching him gasp for his last breath at the South Cotabato Provincial Hospital in Koronadal.  Uncle Bebot called for me (his favorite nephew) before he was going to say goodbye forever.

Uncle Nonoy is elder than Uncle Iko (Francisco Catolico Cataluña), who lives with his wife Auntie Omeng (Salome) in Malungon, Sarangani.

Aside from Uncle Iko, Uncle Nonoy was another chess sparring partner of Atty. Bernardo Catolico Cataluña (Uncle Dodoy), a CPA-Lawyer. But Atty. Cataluña has been in comma for about four years now after a stroke. He is now a useless lawyer and a useless CPA.  Last July, I gave him a check as my help, without knowing that Uncle Nonoy also needed some help.

Uncle Dodoy's wealth that he had saved from his decent practice in Davao City have almost all gone now.  There is almost nothing left for his maintenance that he would let all day pass without a medicine.   It was like me allowing him to count his days left on earth.  It was like me a ruthless nephew.   But what can I do if I have also financial problems of my own where all my small income from practice would go to servicing the debts I did not contract but which I must pay if only to save my parents' house and lot?  After losing another uncle, will I allow myself lose Uncle Dodoy?  I will not, Auntie Baby (Priscilla, his wife).

All of my uncles are poor now. But I am proud for all of them.

They all have lived their life decently. They have not stolen money from the government or anybody else.  Uncle Iko retired as a municipal assessor of Malungon. Uncle Nonoy was still an active employee at the Municipality of Ninoy Aquino when he died.  Uncle Dodoy never stole from the Central Bank while he was tasked to manage and oversee Banco Filipino in Cotabato City.  When he became a lawyer, he won cases left and right but he only earned decently.

My Aunt Mercedes Catolico Cataluña-Pradas, a widow of amiable-but-strict Uncle Edilberto (Edil) Pradas, also retired decently from the South Cotabato Provincial Hospital without any record of administrative violation, like her husband.  She loves Uncle Nonoy, too.

My Aunt Violata Catolico Cataluña-Lapason (wife of Ramon Lapason) was also a worker in the government and in a non-government organization. She retired decently before she died a lonely woman, seeing her small property going away to foreclosures due to failed ventures.  Her cause of death was complications from IUD.  She was then a brother's keeper of Uncle Nonoy in the later years of her life.

My Aunt Diding and her husband Venancio (Uncle Vincing) Catolico are perhaps the luckiest having a good life courtesy of a daughter who looks after them and she being the youngest sibling alive.

My mother, Marianita Sr., the eldest of them all, is now 77 and is very strong walking to and fro everyday from our house to anywhere in the City of Koronadal.  She must be crying a lot for Uncle Nonoy.

Nevertheless, she retired as a secondary school teacher in English and Math. She also served for ten (10) years as a councilor of Koronadal and the thing that she did to make me so proud of her is when she refused all offers of contractors to construct school buildings as she was the chair of the school board. 

When she started as a councilor, our house was made of elevated bamboo floor, bamboo walls, bamboo windows, bamboo doors, bamboo stairs, and nipa roofs.  My father was going rounds as a photographer using Yashica square camera with black-and-white films.  Whatever they earned, they would buy cement and my father would fabricate hollow blocks and piled them one on top of another until he reached the roof lines for a decade.   It was so because they wanted to level up the house to the stature of my mother as the only woman councilor of our town who, in addition, scored a record as the first independent candidate to win in elections in Koronadal town when there were only two parties (Nacionalista and Liberal).  When my mother served her last day in office, our house was barely a box of hollow blocks without any finishing at all, without any paint, and the roof was already made of bare GI sheets that sometimes leaked during rains.

They are all children of Alejandro Cataluña and Priscilla Catolico Cataluña, a couple who migrated from Calinog, Iloilo to South Cotabato to start a new life sometime in the 1930s.

I am proud of their family. I am proud of their legacy. I am proud of Uncle Nonoy.

Uncle, your dreams never die. It will grow, rest assured.
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