July 1, 2017

Only God!

By Atty. Cesar Petate as told to the Testimonial Ministry

I once asked myself that famous follow-up question popularly used to gauge one’s reasoning or intellect: the big “WHY?”

I grew up as a typical boy. I actively indulged in playing basketball and badminton thinking it would help me become healthier, more fit, and appealing, therefore less prone to any untoward physical health condition in the future. But, the real reason behind my being a sport enthusiast is my father who was bedridden for 9 years because of 5 brain attacks or strokes.

Before his passing, my father worked as a security guard while my mother, who is still with us by God’s grace, is an ordinary jewelry retailer.  Hand in hand, they did their best to support and provide for our family. Our parent’s sacrifices paved the way for me and my three (3) siblings to finish school and earn our respective degrees in college.  I, the youngest, became a Lawyer. Passing the BAR exam on my first try is an added bonus.

Because I witnessed the nine (9) long years of my father’s agony being bedridden, I took the best of care of my body and stayed away from vices as much as I could. I disciplined myself with good eating habits, proper exercise, and sports.

Despite my active lifestyle, I became a quadriplegic because of a life changing accident that happened on 15 March 2011.

One night, after office hours, a friend asked me for the usual round of drinks. I hung out with him in a bar that time without any inkling that CHANGE was coming.

We had two bottles of beer and we were done. I hopped into my car confident I could manage to drive myself home. But, I forgot the most important thing: to buckle up!!!

I met that fateful accident. I dozed off while driving and my car crashed into a concrete barrier somewhere in Macapagal Boulevard causing severe damage to my cervical 6 and 7 spinal cord. The doctors’ pronouncement that I had a 50/50 chance of surviving made my family so sad.  What made me even more depressed was the doctor’s findings that even if I recover from the wounds and body injuries I sustained, I will forever be confined to a wheel chair for the rest of the second life I was given.

Several measures of getting final relief from my condition preoccupied my mind during the months of solitary confinement at the hospital and at home. I entertained thoughts of taking my useless life through stabbing (but I could not get hold of a knife as my family kept it out of my sight); shooting myself (but I didn’t own a gun); jumping out of the window (but we were only in the ground floor and I could hardly move). I did manage to throw myself off the bed (only to end up with a lump on my head!).

While lying in my room, I chanced upon Bo Sanchez on TV.  Watching him inspired me to move towards a new perspective and direction. I was struck by his story of a mother who never gave up from pulling her son from the alligator’s mouth until the alligator let go. It’s the same with God, He will never give up on me. Each week, I get recharged at The Feast PICC. When I was brought home, the Feast nearest my place, Alabang, became my newfound home where I now attend with my 2 daughters and supportive loving wife, Irish.

With a renewed spirit, I was led by the Lord to show greater love and responsibility. Together with my co-volunteer “Kumpanyeros” (lawyer colleagues), I serve with FLAME (Free Legal Aid Ministry and Encounter) by providing free legal counselling for our Feast Alabang Community. My heart’s desire to help counsel at the NBP (New Bilibid Prison) is also in my list of priorities.

This rationale for my new life answers my big “WHY?” and brings peace to my heart;

I may no longer be physically fit to play defense in basketball, but, I can still defend a case in proper court!

You might observe me uncontrollably leaning towards my right (because of my spine fracture); that is the time I lean on to God when I get tired!

My encounter with the Lord as a result of the accident was not an accident! Because of my encounter with Him, I know I AM LOVED despite my imperfections and frailties!

ONLY GOD can heal my pain and brokenness! With GOD, I can do all these!