I continued on digging at the same time wailing and they couldn’t stop me. I needed to see my father for the last time. Finally able to dig him out from the ground, I opened the casket, held his corpse in my arms, and apologized for the years that I had not been there for him. I whispered to his ears that I would avenge his death. Rain started to pour and I returned him to his casket. I walked away, leaving him with my promise.
By Edmundo Nicart
My younger days saw me as a disobedient son. I didn’t obey my parents who were telling me to finish my studies. Instead I moved out from our home. I came from a very poor family in Samar where my father was a fisherman and my mother was a housekeeper. I have nine siblings and I always knew that my father’s earnings were not enough to sustain all the mouths depending on him. I was thirteen years old then when I moved out, thinking that if I did, it would be one less mouth to feed. That was the only way I could help my family that time. Or so I thought.
I traveled as far as Mindanao. I was able to survive by doing odd jobs mostly related to fishing. I’ve been to Bicol, Leyte, and then I finally settled in Manila where I got a job by selling fish at the fish port in Pier. I met a girl there who soon became my wife. All I had in mind back then was to earn for my family and if possible to help my parents in the province. However, an incident turned me from being a simple vendor into a vicious murderer.
One busy time at pier, I was preoccupied in looking for customers and failed to watch my merchandise for a brief moment. When I returned my fishes were gone. I was robbed. I investigated and found out that my brother-in-law had witnessed who took my fishes, but thought they were my companions. I knew the guy he pinpointed to so I went to that guy and confronted him. He denied it but then suddenly four men came and one of them struck a knife at me. Thinking these men were determined to kill me, I retaliated despite my bleeding wound. I took a knife out and struck it at the neck of the one who stole my fishes. I also hit two among the four men but they were able to survive. The other two got away. Consequently, I was imprisoned for murder but only for a few days. They let me pay for bail because the one whom I killed was a notorious robber being hunted by the police.
After being freed, I promised myself not to get into trouble again as I didn’t want to worry my family. At the back of my mind I began to feel some pleasure at having taken the life of evil men who did me wrong. There was something inside me saying that no one should dare lay hands on me or I will end their lives anytime, anyway I wanted it to be done. I did try my best to live a normal life for my family, but there was a burning feeling inside me longing to kill again. I became afraid even of myself, thus my dilemma.
In 1986, I received a call that my father was murdered. Right then and there, I swore to myself that I would seek revenge on the one who killed my father. My family and I went to the province and it was exactly my father’s burial when we arrived there. I stayed in a dark during those times. I was preoccupied with revenge. The following day, I returned to the spot where they buried my father. I dug his grave with my bare hands. In that spot the earth was loose because in the province they do not dig very deep. The people around the cemetery were alarmed with what I was doing. Police came and even a priest but I didn’t mind them. I continued on digging at the same time wailing and they couldn’t stop me. I needed to see my father for the last time. Finally able to dig him out from the ground, I opened the casket, held his corpse in my arms, and apologized for the years that I had not been there for him. I whispered to his ears that I would avenge his death. Rain started to pour and I returned him to his casket. I walked away, leaving him with my promise.
I sent back my family to Manila and I remained in the province with my kin. I was consumed with the thought of revenge. It was the first thing I thought of whenever I woke up and the last thing on my mind before I slept. I had forsaken myself, barely eating as I had no appetite. I grew very thin. I even had forsaken my own family in Manila who were asking for support. I neglected everything. My relatives didn’t have any idea what I was planning to do.
After some time, my cousin informed me that the man I was looking for was spotted in a nearby barrio for the fiesta. I went there stealthily and successfully found him. He was playing bingo when I saw him. I stayed behind his back and waited for the right timing. Since people and noise were everywhere due to the celebration I was barely noticed. When I found the timing I readied my knife, I swiftly but strongly held him in the neck so that he wouldn’t be able to move. Then I stabbed him. I couldn’t count how many times I pounded my knife on his bloodied chest. I didn’t stop stabbing until I was sure that he was completely dead. I couldn’t care less with the chaos that people around me made when they saw me killing that man in front of them. They screamed and ran but I didn’t move. I surrendered to the police when they arrived. Even though I was successful in executing my plan to kill the man who murdered my father, I didn’t feel satisfied at all. I was imprisoned for two years.
Within those two years, my family never visited me. Somehow I understood them because I neglected them for quite a period of time. I learned that my wife was forced to find work to sustain our household. Also they couldn’t afford the fare to visit me, as it was expensive. With the help of my kin, I was able to pay the bail.
During my days in prison, I couldn’t find remorse in my heart. I was saying to myself I just did what must be done. After bailing out, I didn’t go home to my family yet. I went to Cavite instead, hiding myself. I felt like I needed to get rid of myself from the ones I love because of what I had become. Whenever I looked at myself in the mirror, I was seeing a ruthless killer, not anymore the innocent vendor nor the responsible father and husband I once was.
While hiding, I felt hollow inside. I resorted to drugs, gambling, and alcohol. At the front of the tiny house I was hiding in was a hall being occupied by Born-Again members for their fellowship. Many times, they were inviting me to attend to their gatherings but I always declined. I refused the invitations because I felt that a criminal like me was not worthy of any religious undertaking. But one time, they scheduled their gathering during the time they knew I was still asleep. I was awakened by their noise. I could hear them loud and clear from my place. They read a passage about wicked men who have done crimes. In my mind ran a thought, “Are they talking about me?” I listened intently. This time they were reading the passage of how those criminals can still be forgiven. By then, tears in my eyes started to well up and I fell down on my face without me noticing. The verse touched my heart. I cried a prayer after that, asking for forgiveness and for God to take my life instead so I would do no more harm to others. Understandably, God has other plans for me for I didn’t die that night.
Since then, I always found myself longing to hear those verses from the Bible that they read. It came to the point that I went to their fellowship to ask for a copy of the Bible. They gave me a copy and I excitedly read them. Although I couldn’t understand much the Holy Scripture I kept on reading them, every single day. Eventually, I was joining the neighbor’s fellowship so that I can have company as I read the Bible. They read the verses but couldn’t explain them. Despite this new belief I found, I couldn’t stop my vices and then a new kind of fear developed within me: I feared death – ironic for someone who had claimed the lives of others. I actually fear to die without having properly attended to my family’s needs. I went home and my family still welcomed me. My wife waited for me to return. She knew I would return.
I resumed selling fish at the fish port and although I was attending the Born-Again services in Manila, I knew I was still much the same. I was still into vices; I was even playing tong-its (Filipino rummy card game) with my companions in that fellowship group. The only difference was the longing for the words of God that was absent during my earlier years. I even got a sideline then when I got involved into illegal fishing trade. The fishermen were using dynamite to capture fishes. I didn’t stay long in that business though because the people who involved me got caught by the authorities.
Eventually, I met someone at work who became my close friend. Among my peers, Bro. Ronnie is the kindest and most behaved there. I felt that I could trust him. Upon disclosing things to Ronnie of what I had been through in life, and how empty I felt despite the Born-Again fellowships, he suggested that I listen to a radio program called Ang Dating Daan. So this was Bro. Eli Soriano! He read the verses and explained every detail of them very clearly. The verses that I kept on reading before yet couldn’t understand became very clear to me when I heard him explain them.
Eventually, my vices left me as I got addicted listening to Bro. Eli every night. He comes out very natural and you know in your heart he is telling the truth. When I learned about a scheduled Mass Indoctrination, I immediately joined.
On June 11, 2012 I got immersed in the water of baptism at Apalit, Pampanga. I couldn’t put into words how I felt after getting baptized. I was like floating, walking on that water and stepping into the ground again with the real sense of being born again. I am now a changed man. I stay safe within the confines of the Members Church of God International (MCGI) where Bro. Eli constantly teaches us how to live life properly. I know now my direction and the better things to aspire for.
God is truly merciful. He saved me from the darkness that was consuming me, of the desire to claim the lives of others. I have repented of the grave offences I have committed and I knew I was forgiven, for He called me and led me to His true church. If I had discovered His true church and teachings earlier, I may have not done those crimes I did. I may have reacted differently in those situations. Perhaps those things I have experienced including being affiliated temporarily with the Born-Again were not mere consequences. They paved the way for me to appreciate differences.
I have not yet met Bro. Eli in person. Yet when I heard him preach, explaining Bible’s verses, I became a changed man. I was a vicious monster turned into a harmless sheep because I saw the light.