By: Lady FELE MANN
Lyn's real name is Villalyn Casabuena but hardly anyone among her many friends know her as Villalyn but simply Lyn. She works as a Training Relief Shift Manager in KENO at SkyCity Darwin, a 5 star hotel and Casino well known in the Northern Territory of Australia as the most favourite place to go for relaxation and dining, and if lucky in the slot machines, keno, roulette or black jacks, become an instant multi- millionaire. Skycity is now a 5 star hotel where high profile rollers, celebrities and wealthy people from Interstate and overseas stay while on holiday in Darwin. A number of new tourists in Darwin who tried their luck by gambling at SKYCITY were lucky and had gone back to their countries as millionaires.
What has endeared Lyn to the hundreds of staff at Skycity Darwin & Casino is because of her warm, friendly, and positive attitude - both as a co-staff employee and as a friend. She adheres strickly to the code of ethics of SKYCITY DARWIN & CASINO - to be friendly and helpful to everybody, like an Ambassador, to maintain the good reputation of Skycity Darwin.
Lyn's co-staff - Vangie, Jun Yagong, Betty and others describe Lyn as easy to work with, loyal, understanding, and lovable. You can entrust your personal life to her and she keeps the secret to herself - with her lips sealed to protect the person. She is in a habit of comforting and counselling anyone who needs her advice; shuns people who are known as trouble makers, slanderers, and slimy persons when it comes to dealing with people. She believes in being lovable and enjoys the company of adorable people. They are the kind who can be relied on in times of disasters and calamities. She never expected in her wildest dreams that someday, she would be a victim of the worst kind of superstorm that nearly demolished her physically, mentally, emotionally and spirituality, had it not been for her strong, solid and abiding faith in the Sovereingty of our Almighty GOD.
When Lyn learned, after watching the news on the Filipino Channel Television (TFC), about the last Superstorm or Hurricane Sandy not long ago that wrecked the East Coast in America and left over 6 million people greatly affected and millions of properties destroyed, Lyn was greatly horrified. She listened to the news intently and felt so much pain and sadness in her heart for the many victims of Hurricane Sandy. According to the news many cars in the East Coast, especially New York, New Jersey, Manhattan, Virginia, Washington DC etc, were swamped and swept away and crushed by falling debris. . Nearly the whole East Coast in the United States was paralysed because of Super storm Sandy. The Super storm was declared by President Barack Obama as a Major Disaster that wrought havoc on the entire transport system and it would take ages to recover. America, known as the superpower, was left powerless against the assault of destructive super storm. It comes any time, any place and anywhere as it did in the Philippines few years ago which until now millions of Filipinos still suffer from the devastation caused by these horrible typhoons . Lyn felt the pains and sufferings of those victims. Hardly she knew of the impending super storms that life will throw at her unexpectedly which gave her much more pains than the pains she felt for commiserating with them.
In life we are all subject to storms of all kinds regardless of our circumstances, color, creed and where we live. That is why, we are reminded any time to be ready so that we can withstand the impact it can create and so that we are able to survive the catastrophies. As life is made up of a cycle of trouble and triumph, it's important to have an anchor to turn to for support. And that anchor who remains a solid anchor is GOD alone. But how to be triumphant in the midst of big and complicated troubles is almost an impossibility, unless of course God's hand prevails, coupled with our determined effort and purpose to stick to GOD for better or for worse.
Superstorms come in different sizes, colors, forms and impact. The kind of Superstom that wrought havoc in Lyn's life is of another kind or form. It cruelly assaults the mind, body and soul and if she has no solid anchor like strong faith in GOD, she is ruined completely. But she survived and not only that she even thrived wonderfully. Before we will deal with her superstom, and how she has successfully overcome the worst ordeal that has threatened her very existence, let's first know more about Lyn's life history to give us a clue on the strength of her character.
Lyn & Mario's Groomsmen
Lyn & Mario's bridesmaids
Lyn & Mario's wedding organiser Betty Grimes
Lyn Caylan, who later married Mario Casabuena and became Mrs Lyn Casabuena, was born on 27 August 1960 in Manukan, Zambaonaga del Norte, Philippines. Her parents Zosimo Caylan and Eustaquia Jamito had 10 children - 5 boys and 5 girls inclding Lyn. She finished her high school at the Foundation University in Dumaguete City and finished a Bachelor of Commerce Degree at St Vincent's College, Dipolog City, major in Banking and Finance and minor in Management. She worked as Clerk Receptionist at the Insular Bank of Asia and America in 1980 and a front desk clerk and receptionist at Duke's Apartel in Manila in 1980. In the Philippines when she was young she was trained by her parents to survive by practising enormous courage when faced with adversities in life. Her mom and dad had enculcated in her mind to worship the Lord with gladness and sing to Him with joyful songs. They kept on telling about praise and thanksgiving to God which bring the believer and the Lord to be so close together. Most of all Lyn firmly believes that when we praise God often in our lives, we are in great postion to receive His blessings; praise melts our hearts so that we are no longer hardened by sin or disappointments.
Although Lyn and I are not that very close friends before her wedding with Mario Casabuena, we have high respect for each other. We sometimes met and had good talks and laughters enjoying humorous jokes and local news about our fellow Filipinos. Lyn kows me well in Darwin as a consistent community leader who had been spearheading fundrasing functions for the orphans and the poor people in the Philippines for over 20 years and the many kababayans whom I have successfully helped in their critical times in my capacity as President of the Filipino Club Darwin Inc and TMI Global Australia, as NT Commissioner for Oaths and a Registered Interpreter and Translator. I learned of her good character from her closest friends who also are my friends. They love and adore her refined manner, loving and caring concern for people especially those in need and her genuine friendship to those she comes in contact with.
"Can you be our "Ninang" at our wedding on March 30 at the Cyprus Community Hall?"both Lynn and Mario enthusiastically approached me one day last year. "Of course, I'm honored! At last you have decided to have a blessed and fulfilling relationship by having your marriage blessed" I exclaimed!! "That's it Ninang to be, we are seriously in love with each other and have decided to celebrate our relationship with our many friends in the presence of a marriage celebrant."
As their Ninang at their grand wedding, I prepared the Wedding program and had them printed as my donation. Jun Yagong, one of the Relief Managers was in charge of the Entertainment including karaoke singing and Betty Grimes, another relief Keno Manager, played major roles at the grand wedding. As I was chosen the EMCEE in the programme we all had a good night and the wedding was thoroughly enjoyed by the big crowd. Lyn and Mario's wedding was the talk of the Filipino community. I myself enjoyed it tremendously. That was my chance again to maintain my skill in emceeing which I am very fond of doing. Both Lyn and Mario sang melodious tops songs like "My Love will see You Through, Ngayon at kailan Man, Always, Tanging Ikaw and Endless Love" were loudly applauded by the big crowd and some of Lynn's close friends were almost in tears of joy. The cheers and applauses were almost deafening. Once again Mario Casabuena, who won as a Champion for few times during our karaoke singing contest to raise funds for the orphans, exhibited his talent in singing. He was gifted with a very good voice like Garry Valenciano and Martin Nievera which would delight all the people in the crowd.
"What was the big super storm in your life that people were talking about?" I asked Lyn one evening after our dinner at Casuarina Club where we often go to relax after a hectic day. Her whole face became sad and serious. "If possible, I don"t want to talk about it any more as it happened long time ago but because I've got over it now, I can answer it with less pain in my heart. Kirk Chisholm, my eldest son with Stewart Alexander Chisholm whom I divorced many years ago because of forcing me to practise his religion that has many taboos like against Christmas, against birthdays, and against blood transfusion among others, has committed suicide by hanging himself at our home in Alawa," confided Lynn. After a long silence she continued " He was only 19 when he committed suicide in October 2001. I almost died of sorrow but I had to keep on living because that's the right thing to do. It was like a huge hurricane or super storm in my life that nearly toppled me to death but GOD has intervened. He answered my prayers to let me move on and to just leave his soul to GOD's mercy. It brought big relief in my heart, mind and soul. He truly is a merciful GOD!" she looked up above as if to say thank you to GOD.
Lyn and Mario were on the same plane with me when I went to the Philippines to attend the TMI Convention in May, 2012. We had a nice chat at the Airport while waiting for the plane to arrive. They were going to have another wedding in the Philippines and enjoy their honeymoon as they both were engrossed in their respective jobs and needed some awesome relaxation to freshen up. They were a picture of happiness and contentment with their faces full of smiles. You could see contentment and happiness written in both their faces. They bought some souvenirs at the airport to give away to friends and families and couldn't wait to see them. I couldn't wait to see my friends, families and co-writers of TMI too whom I dearly love in my life. This is the big consolation of Filipinos going back to see their families and friends after quite a long time. It's a heavenly feeling which words are inadequate to describe..
Lyn looked devastated when I came back to Darwin. I learned from some friends that she had to come back right away after she heard the terrible news that Michael, her other son age 24, committed suicide after suffering a long depression over who takes the custody of their 2 children. Michael 's depression led him to drugs and alcohol and extremely worried over the thought of losing the children and the huge cost of court battle over custody of the children. Their life was in disarray, full of problems, arguments, turmoil and sadness and couldn't take it any more. So he committed suicide and included the 2 children in their suicide. It was one of the most horrible news that affected many friends. The case is still in the Magistrate court and will continue on March 30, 2013.
When I chanced to meet Lyn and asked what actually happened she said "I received 3 text messages from Michael when I was in the Philippines; the first text says"How are you, Mum?, the second one "How are you, I miss you very much; the third text "I wish you were here so I could talk to you, I'm sick of feeling like a shit. My own family doesn't care except you".
Brokenness can come to the life of every person in many ways - disappoinment, sorrow and sin. Even if God instructs us to go one way but we are determined to go the other way. That's what happened to Michael, he went the other way and he failed to follow the right way which led to frustration, depression and ultimately suicide. The death of Michael who even sang a nice song during Lyn and Mario's wedding broke Lynn's heart. In her deepest grief, she filed a long leave from work at Darwin Skycity Casino to recover from her sorrows which nearly incapacitated her if not for her strong faith in GOD. Her abiding faith in GOD that He wouldn't abandon her has given her the grace and the strength to go on living in the midst of adversities which looked like a superstorm indeed. She grieved with all her heart and soul but GOD' grace is much more sufficient than her griefs. I reminded her that to quit, to run, to escape and to hide away to focus her grief wouldn't solve anything at all. We only become angrier and more embittered that will hurt our whole being badly. As the great Winston Churchill aptly said "Wars are not won by evacuations". Bravery, Courage and mostly prayers are the true answers in order to win through life.
I discovered that Lynn's true grit was that she trained her thoughts to be optimistic. My last words to her before we parted was "It's good because by tapping into your passion and determination you can truly pass beyond your grief and succeed in all areas of your life. God alone can give us the comfort and restoration we need". There were twinkles in her eyes no longer sadness. Her laughters were once again mixed with joy. We enjoy each other's company which is full of fun, jokes and laughters.
When we went out again to have another dinner, I asked how happy is she in her marriage to Mario. She said she is completely happy with Mario because he knows his role as a husband, a partner and a lover. He is very industrious and hardworking man and helps a lot in the work at home, unlike other husbands who let all their wives do all the work at home which make them unhappy and dissatisfied. The word sharing is not followed and before long the relationship would break. "I am happy that I married Mario because we have many things in common: love for music, desire to help the needy people, understanding each other's feelings, he is gentle and kind . He verbalizes his love by saying I love you often which gives me a warm feeling inside".
What a joy to know from Lynn that they both spark something exciting to enhance camaraderie between them. That's a trademark for true love. According to statistics women speak 50,000 words a day while men 25, 000 words a day only. It looks like it's the other way around for Mario with his often comforting words "I love you". When I asked Mario what he feels about Lynn, he said "Lynn is my life; I've waited for a long time after my first wife died years ago but when I found Lynn, life became a wondrous thing for me - so worthwhile that I'm determined to love her for as long as we live." "WOW, what more can I say, !" I exclaimed loudly and we all laughed while enjoying our sumptuous foods with roasted pork, vegetables, calamari, fish and salads.
At this writing, Lyn and Mario are good examples of a happy and satisfying relationship and it's a joy to see them both happy, especially Lynn who has gone through a lot of painful ordeals for losing her 2 beloved sons who committed suicide in separate years and in questionable circumstances. George Sanders, famous British actor who played The Saint, a series of private detective movies committed suicide said "Life is too boring". Although Lynn reared them as good kids and as a good mother, she can hardly understand why his 2 sons who committed suicides took their own lives by their own hands. There are many things in this world that we can not understand - human as we are. But God who knows the past, present and future happenings in our lives and who alone can decide our destiny is the only one who is competent to judge, no one else.
Lynn who lovingly calls me "NINANG" and enjoys my company often when we go out for dinner is highly commended for her patience and endurance in bearing sufferings of the worst kind. She survived beautifully the 2 worst super storms in her life. I'm reminded of what my favourite preacher used to say in his preaching "There is one consistent trait that moves even the weakest person to move on to triumph - and that is true focus. The men and women in the Bible who accomplished great things for GOD's kingdom had great focus. Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon and Mary more trained their eyes firmly fixed on HIM can bring some of the greatest victories you will ever know."
GOD alone has led Lynn through impossible situations by fully trusting Him during her most difficult times and great ordeals. After I interviewed Lynn and saw her strong focus in trusting GOD, the author and protector of our faith, I couldn't help remembering the many courageous people who passed this earth to heaven who are now enjoying everlasting life with GOD.
"You have the mark of a champion, Lynn!" I whispered to myself when I have gone home after our interview for the Timpuyog Journal Magazine and the Philippine Community Herald Newspaper. Champions lean only on GOD in any circumstances like the 2 super storms you've gone through. May your future life with Mario be full of rich graces and blessings for the rest of your life". I closed my eyes and imagined myself in the company of all my favourite Saints in heaven - St Teresa of Avila, St Francis of Assissi, St Peter and St Paul, etc, when it's my turn to say "FATHER, I'M COMING HOME!!!".