He could have explored other jobs after he graduated from college.
But Adrian Aba, then in his early 20s, chose to stay and serve Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal as the prelate’s personal nurse for eight years.
The 31-year-old Aba did not have any regrets in serving the cardinal.
In fact, he said the length of time he spent with Vidal was the best period of his life.
“Cardinal Vidal was more than a family and friend to me. Most people say I’m lucky to have served the cardinal, but I would always respond to them that I’m just blessed,” said the native of Tanjay City, Negros Oriental, in an online interview.
Not an ordinary person
“Cardinal Vidal was never an ordinary person. Despite his weaknesses, he has the purest of hearts. I can attest to his holiness and immense love for everyone. He was one of the kindest and humblest persons I know, and truly a man of peace,” he added.
Last February 2017, Aba recalled the cardinal weeping profusely while hugging him as he bade him goodbye as he decided to leave and pursue a nursing job in Dubai.
That was the last time Aba saw the cardinal.
When he learned about Vidal’s death last Wednesday, he could not help but grieve the loss of someone who has changed his life.
“How could I easily accept the loss of a man who had become a great influence in my life?” he said in a message sent to Cebu Daily News through Messenger.
“More painful is the idea that I could no longer see nor touch him in person, that sweet, bubbly and gentle old man whom I had the privilege of serving. I will surely miss our daily ‘lokohan,’ ‘biruan,’ and ‘halakhakan.’ Still, I could not contain the pain for now,” he added.
Aba said he wanted to come back to Cebu, but his work had made it impossible for him to attend Vidal’s wake and funeral.
“It was heart-wrenching to watch my friends’ videos of his remains at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral. It took me one day before things got clearer in my mind that Cardinal Vidal is gone,” he said.
In serving the cardinal for eight years, Aba said he was given the chance to meet several people and visit places here and abroad, highlighted by personal encounters with Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.
“A lot of fun memories and thousands of photos to reminisce, rare privileges enjoyed, places travelled, multifold religious and laymen became good friends, and virtuous lessons learned,” he said.
But more than the trips and privileges, he said, it was the chance to learn many things about life and spirituality that made his stint with the cardinal worth it.
“He had always been a good comforter, a spiritual adviser, and a mediator between conflicting groups or parties. I have witnessed how His Eminence became the people’s favorite. Regardless of one’s religion or beliefs or social status, he had generously reached out to all people without measure,” Aba said.
“I thank the Lord for giving him into my life, for the unique opportunity of being part of his journey as God’s servant. Despite my own shortcomings, I can always feel that I am loved by him so dearly, making my work with him bearable and unforgettable. Indeed, he is an epitome of unconditional love,” he said.