SAF 44 widow: Missing a husband on Valentine’s Day

CAGAYAN, Philippines – She was excited about the thought of her husband coming home, finally, after 7 months. 

Just like in the past, Virgie Viernes looked forward to sending a text message to Police Officer 1 Oliebeth Viernes today, Valentine's Day – a few weeks before his homecoming – to tell him how much she loved him and to always look out for himself.

February 14, 2015, should have been  another memorable Valentine’s Day for Oliebeth and Virgie. But the Mamasapano clash – tagged as a "massacre" where 44 elite officers, including Oliebeth, were killed – had changed that.

The Vierneses, married for 12 years,  have two children – an 11 year-old and a 7 year-old.

Mabait po siya (He's kind),” said Virgie of her husband, whom she described as dependable.

ENDURING LOVE. Virgie Viernes and her children. Photo by Raymon Dullana/Rappler

ENDURING LOVE. Virgie Viernes and her children.

Photo by Raymon Dullana/Rappler

“August pa noong last kaming nagkita. Nagkausap pa kami nung araw bago siya pinatay. Ang sabi niya, 'Ma, mag-iingat kayo, kumain na ba kayo'? (We last saw him in August. We spoke the day before he was killed. He said, 'Ma, keep safe. Have you eaten?')” Virgie said, recalling her last communication with Oliebeth, via text message.

Oliebeth always reminded his family to take care of themselves even if he knew he needed it more. Most people would call it "care." But for Virgie, it was the love of her husband talking to her every time he would text her that word.

Oliebeth was supposed to come home in Tuguegarao in March. He came home earlier.

Virgie still could not believe that he is gone.

“Hindi ko lubos maisip na biglaan siyang nawala. Di ko alam kung paano tumayo bilang ama at ina sa mga anak. Ang hirap isipin (I cannot even imagine that he would suddenly be gone. I don't know how to stand as both a mother and a father to my children. It's hard to comprehend),” Virgie said. 

Virgie sat in the same room as her husband, whose coffin was draped with the Philippine flag, as befit his death in the performance of duty. Her eyes brim with love everytime she spoke about Oliebeth – an enduring kind of love.

Oliebeth and Virgie's days as husband and wife may be over, but their love is forever. It is just a goodbye for now. –