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A Trip Down Memory Lane to a Barrio

By Fr. Bill Sullivan

It was a rainy Sunday morning in San Marcelino, Zambales, Philippines. I was to celebrate the San Isidro fiesta Mass in barrio Pili. Pili was a Village far from town. The problem was getting there. The road was always treacherous even in good weather, and this was the rainy season.

We depended a lot on the Rodriguez family for transport. They owned the local sawmill and old army weapons carrier, leftover from World War II. That would be our mode of transportation. The driver was to pick us up in front of the rectory early Sunday morning.

At 5 AM the weapons carrier arrived at our doorstep after purchasing stuff at the market. The truck arrived loaded with bags of rice, cornmeal, live chickens, and pigs. On the very top sat a good number of people. My helper and I sat beside the driver. This was typical of a trip to a barrio fiesta bringing lots of goodies and people.

Off we went bouncing along the road hitting potholes and mud puddles that splashed up on us. We were doing fine until we came near barrio Delanawan. The road was narrow and very muddy. The weapons carrier couldn't make it through the deep mud without assistance of some kind. The driver and his helper quickly jumped off the vehicle and pulled a winch, a strong cable, from the front bumper. They tied it to a coconut tree about 10 feet or more in front of them. Then, the truck could move with the aid of the winch. They kept doing this until we were clear of the mud. It was the winch that save the day getting us through the muddy road. Without it we were dead in our tracks. The rest of the day was very festive and went off without a hitch. We had Mass, baptized many children and spent the rest of the day mingling and celebrating with the people of the barrio.

Now retired, Columban Fr. Bill Sullivan resides in Bristol, Rhode Island.

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