Why Ilog Maria
It was February 1987, it had not rained for 5 months, it was called El Niño. I called my mother long distance telling her the situation. All the black pepper, coffee and other crops that I had planted for the last four years, were dying.
She said, "sunduin mo ako, aakyat ako dyan sa farm, magdadasal ako, uulan." (Fetch me, I will go with you up to the farm, I will pray, it will rain.) My mother is a woman of few words and very strong faith.
She started praying the Holy Rosary at about 9:30 am. The three of us hardly ate lunch. I was with my girlfriend, Violaine.
At about 3 pm, it became very dark. Then we heard a clattering. Ice was falling as big as marbles on our tin roof and the ground. Then the thunderstorm, downpour - deluge. It lasted for about 30 to 45 minutes.
We heard my mother crying above it all. She had asked for, and was granted, a miracle.At about 430 pm she said, "iuwi mo na ako, sasabihin ko sa Papa mo."(bring me home, I'll tell your Papa."
We had to engage the four wheel drive of my old Land Cruiser as we left. The muddy ground was very slippery. When we reached the highway, 700 meters away, it was dry. It was dry up to Manila.
Violaine and I had gotten married the next month after that miraculous downpour.
Fast forward to 1994. I had gone to town to the local office of the Department of Trade and Industry. We were applying for a trade name for our little livelihood.
They asked me what name to give. I said I would ask my wife.
We agreed that it was to be "Ilog Maria Honeybee Farm" in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary with whom my mother, Lilia, had prayed for rain.
It was to be an auspicious name for us.It was to be the start of our journey to the Lord. A journey marked with many signs as wondrous as this first one. A continuing journey..