Story and photos by MARK FRANCISCO
THE year was 1942. Fierce fighting broke out between the Japanese forces and Filipino guerillas embedded with the United States armed forces in Asturias, Cebu. In the course of the fighting, 24-year-old Sergio Sudaria was separated from the group.
Alone and weary with no food in sight, Sudaria walked miles and miles in the desolate jungle of Asturias. With no compass in hand, Sudaria did not care where his feet would take him – as long as he could find food.
Then he found a bird humming. Sudaria slowly probed on where the sound came from. And there he saw it.
The singing bird was good news. Not because it lullabied him but because Sudaria wanted it as its meal. And so he began attempting to catch it. But each time, the cunning feathery animal would hop and fly away. So Sudaria would follow it. And followed and followed he did whichever direction the animal hopped and flew.
Until Sudaria stumbled back onto his platoon where rations abound.
It was that moment in 1942 that Sudaria was given a second chance at life. Today, Sudaria is still living at 100 years old.
It is with this feat that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) honored him as a centenarian.
In a simple rite at the Claveria municipal hall last May 26, Sudaria was given a token by DSWD 10 representative Rosanna Akut.
The emotional Sudaria accepted the token with deep gratitude while recalling that harrowing event in his life more than 70 years ago.
For after that second chance in life, the war had ended. And Sudaria settled down, bringing his children to Mindanao, first in Damulog, Bukidnon in 1964 and later in 1973 in barangay Patrocinio, Claveria, Misamis Oriental where he has called home for the past 40 years.
Blessed with eight children, Sudaria became a farmer and tilling the soil for corn crops.
Fast forward to 2017, Sudaria is now blessed with almost 200 grandchildren, great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren.
Yet he remains to be healthy and even manages to walk without a cane, exercising within the confines of his neighborhood everyday accompanied by two of his great-grandchildren.
Sudaria is indeed living a long life. All because God made that bird tease him, hopping and flying until he reached his platoon.
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