The Perfect Accident (5/5)

We eventually found our way and negotiated the uphill climb and the sharp turns without incident.  The only problem left was that we were running out of gas.  We had to find a gas station soon.

Because we were unfamiliar with the place, we weren’t sure if there was a gas station along the road that leads to the Sta.Rosa exit.  We couldn’t take the risk of discovering there was none.  We were quite sure that in the town proper, somewhere in the vicinity of the Tagaytay rotunda, there would be one.  Yes, there was one along the E. Aguinaldo Highway a hundred meters north of the rotunda.

As we refueled, Mon and I discussed whether to go back to the road leading to the Sta.Rosa exit, about three kilometers from where we were refueling, or to take the E. Aguinaldo Highway where we already were.  Since I was behind the wheel, I favored going back to the road leading to the Sta.Rosa exit to the Expressway to avoid going through the towns, the intersections, and the stoplights.  But Mon convinced me to take the E. Aguinaldo Highway since, he said, it was night and he expected the road to be clear of traffic.  He was right.

The road to Manila was clear and we cruised comfortably along the highway.  But since the road was dark and there were no street lamps, when we came to a fork-road in the town of Silang and saw no signboards, we decided to take the straight road instead of the road that curved left.  But the road that curved left was the right road, the E. Aguinaldo Highway.  The road that went straight was the wrong road, the road that led into the town proper.  We knew we had entered the town proper because there were tricycles here and there, the road became narrower with many small intersections, with houses, shops and street lamps along the road, and lots of people going about.

We came out again into the highway after about fifteen minutes of slowly plowing the town streets of Silang.

Apparently — in hindsight — we were still too early for the rendezvous with destiny in Dasmarinas; and despite already getting lost in the Midlands, we lost our way again! just to be at the exact place at the exact time when that man would cross the highway.

 

To get lost, run out of gas, lose your way a second time, then hit a man at 80 kph along a highway all in one night, happens to very, very, few people.

But for a man to get hit by a van at that speed, and break no bones, damage no organs, sustain a six-inch gash on his neck without killing him, he had to get hit at a very precise angle.  This can only happen in the Perfect Accident.  And it happened only because the Perfect hand of God had directed it all to happen.

TO GOD ALMIGHTY BE ALL THE GLORY!

 

(Note: The man was given a minimum recovery period of ten days by the neurosurgeon but he opted to get out after seven days of confinement in a ward. He was discharged upon his own insistence, against the advice of the doctor, on the seventh day. And as he went home, he was happy and thankful—and so was I—that God had given him a second lease on life.)

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The Perfect Accident (4/5)

The victim also sustained a deep cut, a six-inch gash on his neck near his Adam’s apple. The cut was deep and sharp enough to cause the skin and flesh to open up like a pair of pouting lips; but not deep and sharp enough to snip the carotid artery, or rip the windpipe located just a breath and a heartbeat away.  Otherwise the victim would have died convulsing like a chicken slaughtered in the traditional way.  Unimaginable precision to the minutest detail!  That was all I could think of.

When I realized how close, literally, millimeters away, this man’s throat and artery were from being ripped and snipped, and how he had survived the force of the collision without any broken bones or damaged organs, I started putting pieces of the puzzle together and saw what (later) I had to call… The Perfect Accident.

I pieced together large chunks of how God in His sovereign wisdom allowed the events leading to the accident to unfold.  Events that, under normal circumstances, I would have passed over as everyday occurrences; but because of the near-fatal accident and the infinitesimal probabilities that accompanied it, I see, have become eerily superintended.

It all began when we missed refueling stops on our way to the wedding.  We skipped refueling at a gas station along EDSA where we were supposed to meet Joel, when he was running late for the rendezvous.  We decided to leave him and refuel later at a gas station along the South Luzon Expressway.  But we also missed this refueling stop because nobody was looking when we passed the gas station.  Every driver has missed a refueling stop once or twice without consequence — but not this time.

Later, before the wedding reception was over, a sketch of a shorter (new) route through the Calamba exit was being handed around for those with vehicles returning to Manila.  We took note of the directions and decided to try that route on our way home, instead of the usual route, the Sta.Rosa exit, where we came in.

So on our way home we took this route.  As we drove along the new route we began to feel that we were descending into what was becoming an endless road into abysmal darkness. Suddenly, the fuel warning light went on.  We decided to turn back knowing we were lost, descending into darkness, and now running out of gas.  (The refueling stops we missed now factored in.)

The pressure to find our way back and the fear of running out of gas along a dark mountain road was mounting.  Anxiety was beginning to grip us since the road from the Midlands (where we got lost) back to the Highlands (the right way) was a steep uphill climb and full of sharp curves.  It was darkness all around.

The Perfect Accident (3/5)

I stopped the van and turned off its engine near the entrance door of the Emergency Room (ER) of the La Salle University Medical Center at Dasmarinas, Cavite.

LORD, I ask You for the life of this man.  I pleaded in silence.

As the medical personnel were moving the victim’s body to the stretcher, I anticipated the declaration, “D.O.A.”  There was none — to my relief.

Praise God!

At this point, the security guard at the front desk called us to ask us questions about the details of the accident.  I asked him if I could first wash my hands because my right hand was red and covered all over by the victim’s blood.  (My right hand got soaked in blood because when we heaved the victim onto the floor of the van, we carried him face-down from the asphalt road, my right arm was over his right shoulder across his chest, my hand supporting him in his left armpit, his whole head resting on my arm.)

There was a sink on the side of the ER opposite the area where the man was brought.  I soaped twice, a couple of minutes each time to remove every trace of blood on my hands and arms, while glancing in the direction of where (I saw) they were resuscitating the man on a bed.

LORD, let this man live.  You said that the prayer of a righteous man avails much when putting forth its energy, (James 5.16)  I did what I believed was the right thing for me to do, that is, to rush him to a hospital where he can receive immediate medical attention.  There is nothing more I can do but to trust in You.  Let this prayer put forth its energy and avail much, according to your word.  I ask You for the life of this man.  I pleaded in silence.

God answered me in soft but clear whispers that encouraged me to plead more earnestly as my hope that the man will live increased; as we received partial reports from the doctors about the patient’s progress, as the night turned into day.

Just minutes after the victim was rolled into the ER, after examining and resuscitating him, the doctors were already talking to him.  Many of the things he said were coherent and made sense.  He gave them his name and address when asked. (This was the first hopeful sign that the man would live — that God had heard our prayers.)

But he was experiencing what the doctors refer to as “lucid intervals,” alternating episodes of mental clarity and unconsciousness.  The doctors suggested that the patient undergo a CT Scan to determine the physical condition of his brain and find out if there was blood leaking in any part of his brain that was causing him to lapse into unconsciousness.  If there was, then, they need to open up his skull and suction the blood out.  But that was if — and only if — it was accessible.  Otherwise, the patient was a lost case.  But if the CT Scan ruled out a “blood leak” inside his brain, then (the doctors suggested) the patient’s lapse into unconsciousness may merely be caused by his being (in fact) inebriated and drunk.

While we waited for the CT Scan result to come out, we were informed of the results of the patient’s X-ray.  He had no broken bones.  Unbelievable!  And none of his vital organs suffered any damage.

Thank You, LORD!  Praise God!

My prayers became more earnest as I became more hopeful that God had intended this man to live.

The results of the CT Scan, which came out at about one o’clock in the morning, three hours after the man was brought in, showed no signs of serious damage either to the skull or the brain of the victim.

O, praise God!

The skull suffered a very slight crack which the doctors said needed no operation because it would heal itself.  The brain had a very slight splattering of blood which the doctors said was no cause for serious concern as it, too, would simply be absorbed and heal of itself without needing surgery.

Thank You, LORD!  O, let this man live.

The Perfect Accident (2/5)

I saw three women looking on across the other side of the road so I walked towards them to ask where the nearest hospital was.  Brazenly I crossed the road with extended arms flashing open palms motioning to the drivers of oncoming vehicles to stop and let me through.

“La Salle,” said two of the women, “near Walter Mart, it’s just nearby.”

I returned to where the man lay.  A handful of residents from across the road have now gathered on the side of the road and around the van to see who the man sprawled on the road was.  Oncoming vehicles on both sides of the highway slowed down to see why there were people in the middle of the road.

“We need to rush him to the hospital,” I said as I urged Mon to help me lift the man into the van, “whether he’s dead or alive… it’s the life of a human being here.”

I pressed my forefinger and middle finger on the side of the man’s neck to check for a pulse beat.  None.

No!

Mon and I could not lift the man by ourselves so we asked for help from anyone among the crowd.

“Would somebody please help us lift this man to the van,” we asked the crowd, “we need to rush him to a hospital.”

One volunteered.  It was enough to enable us to heave the man onto the spacious floor of the van.  A big thud and a muffled groan.  Mon’s wife, Bekha, my wife, Jane, and my seven year old daughter, Maegan, who occupied the middle portion of the van where we laid the man, have moved to the rearmost seat where two other friends, Maribeth and Joel, sat.

“Does anybody recognize this man?” we asked the curious crowd.

Nobody recognized him.

“We need someone to come along with us to the hospital as a witness.”

Nobody came along.

“He’s a goner,” someone in the crowd muttered, “he’s dead.”

LORD, let this man live!  I pleaded in silence.

I went back behind the wheel of the van and drove along the same road looking either for Walter Mart or the La Salle hospital.

LORD, let this man live!  I pleaded in silence.

I had taken responsibility for the life of this man and I was bracing myself for the worst-case scenario — that the man in the van was indeed already dead.

What would happen to me?  Would I go to prison and be separated from my wife and kids?  I couldn’t bear the thought.  How would the relatives of the man react to the tragedy?  How could I face their anger?  That was fearful.  I was steeling myself for the consequences of the action I took of taking the man in the van and bringing him to the hospital.  I was convinced it was the right thing to do.

The thought of running away from the scene of the accident presented itself to my mind, if only for a fleeting moment, immediately after I knew I had hit the man.  The road was dark and I knew nobody could have seen us.  For sure, nobody could have made our plate number.  But the thought was gone as soon as it came because I did not welcome it.

I could run away from the victim but could I run away from my own conscience? 

And yes, no one saw me, none, but the all-seeing eye of Omniscience.  That was enough to lay the case to rest.

But I was gripped by a sense of responsibility for the victim that my first impulse was to rush him to a hospital because that, I thought, was the best chance he had.

“Do you see it?” I asked Mon.

“No, not a sign,” he answered.

We stopped at an intersection where the light had turned red.  While we waited for the light to turn green, Mon asked a pedestrian for directions to La Salle Hospital.

“Turn right at the corner,” the man said, “it’s just down the road — you won’t miss it.”

The Perfect Accident (1/5)

We were traveling along E. Aguinaldo Highway in Dasmarinas, Cavite in a Hyundai Grace van going home to Manila from Tagaytay.  We had just come from a wedding at the Tagaytay Midlands.

It was nine o’clock in the evening.  The weather was cool and dry.

The asphalt road was smooth and the segment of the road we were traveling on was flat and straight.  But the road was unlit and dark except for the beam of our headlights illuminating our path and the flashes of light from the oncoming vehicles on the opposite side of the four-lane highway.  Our side of the road was virtually clear of traffic, we were cruising at 80kph on the left lane passing one car after another every kilometer or so.

Suddenly, a man appeared right in front of the van.  He was obviously drunk since he was not looking in our direction as he walked across the road.  He was on the van’s path and I was going to hit him.  My heart leaped within me.

I took my feet off the accelerator pedal to step on the brakes while I steered the van to the left as far as my hands crossed over on the steering wheel to avoid hitting the man, then immediately steered it back again all the way to the right to avoid crashing into the oncoming cars on the opposite side of the highway.

As I steered the van to the left I heard a couple of loud thuds before I was able to steer the van back on the right track and bring it to a halt.

“Oh no, you hit him!” shouted Mon, the owner of the van, who was sitting in the front passenger seat.

I hit the man!  The loud thuds had told me that.  I thought I had steered clear of him because I lost him in my field of vision as I steered the van to avoid him.  But it was because my eyes caught the glare of the headlights from the vehicles I was about to crash into that I lost sight of him.

I brought the van to a halt, took off my safety belts, and turned my head out the open window and glanced back at the man I had hit.  He was on his belly, sprawled in the middle of the road, motionless, about ten meters behind where I had stopped.  I immediately backed up to a point where the man was now a couple of meters in front of the vehicle.  He’s not moving.

“I think he’s dead,” I told Mon as I got down from the van to get a closer look at the man.  Mon likewise got down and walked toward the man.  We both took a closer look at him. Motionless on his belly, the man’s head was turned to the right.  He was dipped in a small pool of blood from the neck up to his face.

He’s dead!  Nobody could have survived such an impact.

“We need to rush him to a hospital!” I told Mon as I was about to lift the man to carry him to the van.

“Don’t move him,” Mon answered as he walked back toward the van, “we need to call a hospital for an ambulance.”

We don’t have that much time.

an 8 year old girl and preachers.

an 8 year old girl and a boy who was either older or just taller, was having an animated discussion in the small coffee shop i was at.  they were a couple of tables (less than 10 feet) away from me, and i could see and hear them clearly.  i had the urge to take a video of them with my smartphone, but decided not to, for certain reasons — caution, being one of them; (although i knew both the girl’s parents and grandparents, who were also there with her.)

but there were lessons i gleaned from the way the girl argued with the boy, that (i thought) may be applied to preachers and preaching.

first, extemporaneous preaching is very effective; and by extemporaneous preaching i only mean that when you preach, it is not the paper on the pulpit you look at, to know what you should be saying; but the people you are speaking to, to persuade them about what is burning in your heart.

a quick second is: maintain eye contact with the people you are preaching to.  i have seen preachers keep constant or longer eye contact with their notes — one preacher had his eyes almost glued to his full manuscript the whole time he preached!  some preachers keep looking on the ceiling above; others, to whatever might be lurking out the windows!

a quick third: mastery of your subject is absolutely necessary.  sermon notes (but especially, full manuscripts) often act as crutches for listless preachers who have no mastery of their sermons — it disables them from speaking to people eyeball to eyeball and from the heart.

all these three i gleaned just because the whole time the girl was talking, she never took her eyes away from the boy!

fourthly, let your body talk.  how emphatic was the girl talking to the boy?  she swung her elbows, waved her hands, leaned forward — and glared at the boy with her eyeballs!  preachers should talk with their bodies as well as preach with their voices!  and the girl’s gesticulations were not studied theatrics — they flowed naturally (beautifully) along with her argument.

finally, appeal to Scriptures.  yes, quote renowned authors.  but make your final appeal always be to Scriptures.  for the girl, of course, her Scriptures was, ‘but my mom said…’ or, ‘no, no, no, my mom said…’ and the boy just haplessly resigns.  only the Scriptures have the power (by the Spirit) to silence your hearers’ contrary voices.  always appeal to Scriptures to establish your argument.

this girl (to me) is big deal!

my science project

beer below zero degrees or BBZ degrees — that’s the name of a place where they serve beer below zero degrees centigrade (exact temperature not available as of this writing.)  that is also the objective of my (latest) rocket science project.

for this experiment, i used 3 bottles of regular size san miguel pale pilsen, and put them in a small styrofoam ice box:

3 kilos crushed ice + 350 grams rock salt in a mixture:

which i dumped on the beers to cover them up (almost) completely:

i left the beers covered in the ice+salt bath for one and a half hours (5:30pm-7:00pm) while i had some stimulating discussion with an old buddy julio re: thermodynamics…

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i then took one of the pale pilsens out to check its relative temperature — no thermometers were harmed during the experiment:

beer ice.jpg

it — yeah, all three — emerged smoking cold out of the ice box, perfectly chilled and not icy and frozen; the beer remained chilled for a good 7-10 minutes after popping; before it got drained.

i am not a beer drinker: this is my science project.

Sa Aming Nayon, May Isang Grupong Uminom, Eh Lasing!  Pati Ako Lasing Eh!  Pati Ikaw Lasing! Sila Eh Nalasing!