Friday, April 20, 2007

Julia Campbell: A Kindred Spirit Moves On

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on:
nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it

-- Omar Khayyam

I do not know Julia Campbell personally. I'd known a few Peace Corps Volunteers in the years immediately preceding 1972 before Martial Law was declared in the Philippines. One of them is Alvin Hower who taught at Notre Dame of Dadiangas College and eventually married a local girl I also know, Prima Guipo. I am familiar with the volunteer work being accomplished by the Peace Corps in third world countries such as the Philippines. But, sadly, I hardly knew Julia Campbell before she made the headlines.

But I feel a certain kindredship with her because she taught kids how to read, write and speak in English and teens the rudiments of campus journalism. She was a freelance writer/journalist for the New York Times and People and Star Magazines. She maintained a blog. She was a kindred spirit indeed.

Irony ruled over her life in the Philippines. At 38, after surviving the terrorist attacks in New York, she decided to "drop from the rat race" and joined the Peace Corps. Her last blogpost was titled, Buhay pa tayo (We are still alive) because she noticed that whenever she asked Filipinos in Sorsogon and Legaspi where she was assigned how they were, the usual answer would be: Eto, buhay pa. In it, she wondered if during the onslaught of Typhoon Reming in Legaspi last year, she would be drowned by the rising flood waters in her small apartment away from her family and friends.

She was reported missing April 8, Easter Sunday which traditionally marked the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Ten days later, her body was found in a shallow grave in Banaue, known for its rice terraces. This Peace Corps volunteer who loved communing with nature met a violent death.

Her pictures flashed on TV screens worldwide showed a woman with a warm smile which must have won over a lot of Filipinos who love to smile at the slightest provocation. Her volunteer work at Donsol, Sorsogon and at Legaspi had certainly touched a lot of lives there. After her unwarranted death, her caring and endearing ways and generosity with her time and talents while assigned to this country must have surely touched a chord in the hearts of people like me who came to know her, albeit belatedly. To me, Julia embodied the essence of the Peace Corps - volunteers who genuinely care about the people they work and live with, see the need and rally every resource they can find to meet it, and put a lot of passion in everything they do.

Her family and friends may find consolation in the fact that Filipinos are now bombarding the heavens with prayers and saying decades of the Holy Rosary for the repose of soul of Julia.

Thank you for caring, Julia. Vaya con Dios (Go with God), my kindred spirit.


rolly said...

I am having problems posting comments. This might come to you twice. Please delete the other one if if does.

Anyway, her untimely death is very unfortunate. I, too, do not know her personally but I can surmise she is a passionate, dedicated woman who works for a very good cause. May she rest in peace.

batjay said...

naiinis ako sa nangyari. she came to us to help and this is what we gave her in return.

she was almost as old as i was and as i read your post, i think about what her life must have meant.

JMom said...

I just heard about her in another blog. It is so sad. I feel sad that her life meant so little to someone else. She sounded like a passionate woman. Like Batjay said, I noticed too that she is in her 40's. I'm amazed by people who are my age, considered middle aged and should be sliding down the other side of the spectrum, who still take chances and follow their passions. What a loss... and what a shame her purpose was cut short in our land.