CEBU CITY—I died. I saw God … then I just woke up.”
That was how 87-year-old Laura Duterte Banzon described in Cebuano what she said was the most extraordinary experience in her life.
Banzon, then 26, was afflicted with acute pneumonia and was brought to Sacred Heart Hospital in Cebu City in 1952. Two days later, she died.
An hour after she was declared clinically dead, she roused back to life.
Her physician, Dr. Dayday Borbon, considered it a miracle when her patient recovered from her ailment and didn’t suffer any side effects during the 60 minutes that her heart didn’t beat.
A woman of faith, Banzon believed that the miracle that happened 61 years ago was simply a reminder that people should not question the existence of God. Her experience also made her a devotee of the Holy Child Jesus, whose feast day is held every third Sunday of January through Cebu City’s biggest and grandest celebration, the Sinulog.
Banzon described her state of lifelessness in the hospital.
She saw herself lying on the bed while her family was crying. Then a narrow road that could barely fit a person appeared on the side of the window. It was long, steep and bright, but dark on the sides.
She followed the path and heard a voice telling her to sit beside him. “Sit to my right, daughter,” she was told.
The man was tall with deep-set brown eyes and was wearing a snowy robe with a blue-green shroud. She thought that man was St. Peter, but looking intently at his eyes, she felt his sacredness and thought she was seeing God.
Little angels flew across the cloudless white sky. All had tiny wings and were smiling. Some were playing while others were talking.
The man told her that they were children who died at a very young age.
No sun, moon or stars, but a garden of flowers with different colors as if these were plucked out from a painting. One thing she noticed: it was a very peaceful place.
The man told her that it was not her time yet. So she had to go back.
“An angel will escort you back,” the voice said.
Then she woke up. Her family was speechless.
The experience strengthened Banzon’s faith, especially on the Holy Child Jesus.
During the feast of the Sto. Niño, she would make sure she would join the foot processions, as well as the nine-day novena Masses.
But two years ago, she slipped inside her “sari-sari” store and suffered a leg fracture. She underwent surgery to replace a femur at Velez General Hospital. Her physician Dr. Alejandro Mediano, advised her to refrain from too much walking.
Her condition had stopped Banzon from joining the religious activities. She had to content herself with watching the live TV coverage of the procession and offering a prayer to the Sto. Niño.
Banzon lives with her husband, Manuel, 86, on F. Ramos Street in Cebu City. She has six children and 18 grandchildren.
The devotee said she tried to live a pious life.
“We will all meet God soon. That is why we should be good. We should feel ashamed if we remain sinful. We must be ready to meet Him,” she said.
Banzon said she was happy that God gave her 61 more years to enjoy life. Now, she is more than willing to meet him a second time.