by Gemma Dalayoan
Posing for picture-taking and standing 5’8’’tall with a long black hair, and very beautiful oval face, 30 years old Aura Catherine Langas Guevara smiled with pride as she held her prize- winning, blue and silver lantern that won second prize in the Parol Contest held on November 2, 2014 at the Garden City Court. When asked how she made the Nativity Scene that was placed meticulously in the middle of her lantern, she explained. “I had to use several shades of nail polish to paint it.” Colours used for the cover of the star lantern made of bamboo frame were predominantly blue and silver with some tints of other colours to accentuate its attractiveness. When queried why she had used blue, she countered, “ because blue signifies peace and hope.” Then she smiled. Aida Champagne, president of the Filipino Seniors Group and the Manitoba Filipino Street Festival, as well as Chairperson of the Lantern Festival, also added, “ yes it is also a lantern of love. For Aura, it is a guiding light to serve as an inspiration for her not to lose hope that someday she would get better and conquer her life- threatening illness.”
Aura is a cancer-stricken mother of 3 children; two girls ages 6 and 5 and a 1 year old boy. She is married to a “very kind and supportive husband,” Ernesto, a nurse in Carman, Manitoba who arrived in 2009. He was formerly a doctor in the Philippines. Aura said, “ I have a rare cancer that travels in the blood.” She had no qualms about describing how she felt as a cancer patient. Her face didn’t show any sign of fear, and her voice didn’t have even a slightest quiver as she described her ordeal undergoing chemotherapy at St. Boniface Hospital almost every week. She said,” I have a very high tolerance for pain.” The thought that she has 3 young children and very supportive, kind husband gives her the strength and courage to face the challenges she faces as she undergoes intensive treatment almost every week for her cancer. To deviate her attention from her debilitating disease, she indulges in arts and crafts, especially now that the festive season is around us.
Aura’s passion and inclination towards artistic endeavours have started ever since she was a child. She recalled,” I never had a birthday cake when growing up, so I learned how to bake and decorate it.” As a child she was very shy; thus, she buried herself in creating something beautiful. Although mostly alone doing her baking, arts, and crafts, she felt happy. It was through her love for the arts and crafts that she developed a strong and special bond with her father who is very supportive of what she does. In fact, the two them, while in the Philippines, always competed in art shows and would win prizes to the delight of her mother and siblings. Her father and she again competed together at the Lantern- Making Contest in Garden City. Although a nurse by training, when questioned about what she wants to do now in Canada, she had no hesitation in answering,” I want to paint and indulge more in arts and crafts.” Her desire was fulfilled when Michael Arts hired her as an instructor in decorating pieces of cake using the Wilton Method.
Her passion for the arts and crafts will strongly sustain Aura as she fights hard to banish her life-threatening illness, and as she looks at her prize-winning star or “parol”, it will guide and instill hope in her quest for wellness for the sake of her loved ones, especially her 3 children and husband. She would remember and relate that it was the star of Bethelem that led the three kings to the birthplace of Jesus Christ, the healer and saviour of mankind.