REFLECTIONS FROM CHALLENGING CONTEXTS TO FILIPINO EDUCATORS (AND TO THOSE WHO ARE NOT ALSO)

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Some things, they say take time to process, and others say that it just needs for a generation to pass. I’m glad I’ve learned that wisdom in life through the academe and in the ground.  As much as this country’s not yet open to a lot of things and ideas, and some in power wanting to keep things the way as it is (as it would derail their self-seeking and self-serving interests), I would just hold stand to my ground, and hope for the best, while preparing for the worst.
bytheocean
However, my heart goes out though to the victims and the conquered by the wayside: those who were, are and will be considered collateral damage being offered in this war waged in our political and social arena which is both idiotic and selfish. And this is not just on one side, but on both.  Many will be victimized either by atrocious means or by the ignorance of their actions as they will be played by the side they choose to support in holding to the promises their idols or backers made which are really illusory and usurious.
What sickens me in all this is the fact that while many are ignorant, educated people are not kind to talk to them, and rather belittle them and label them. Rather than educate them, they are being judged and labeled as good-for-nothings, and this galvanizes the ignorant in their support for what is not right in this world as they are fooled to take the stand of the selfish and the powerful who charade as their heroes . On the other hand, it also annoys me that people on the other fence, will let themselves be used and be made as instruments of division and the furthering of the ignorance of people for money and for self-seeking interests. And they will go to great lengths to revise, twist and fabricate lies towards a history that happened in fact and principle, taking to blame those who fought for what is right and true in the first place because they are either paid to do so, or that their fanaticism has blinded them because it would be inconceivable for them that the person or party they support can be a dubious character. Rather than face disillusionment which leads to humility and wisdom to accept that they can also make a mistake in trusting the wrong persons (which was the pattern in the last 40 years), they rather be blind and turn away focusing instead to defend the illusory life thinking that this what they’re asking for even at the price of their own humanity. After all, this is what their “Golden Age” is, like horses with blindfolds. And those who criticize even rightly armed with their education has taught them are branded as elitists and traitors. Even the other side is not at fault because rather than use their education to enlighten and build bridges, they consolidate their own arrogance, and belittle the ignorant majority. We are sick because we have allowed ourselves to be deluded by such patterns whether ignorant or educated.
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We haven’t changed from 40 years ago, and even for that one shining moment that we had proven that we can rise from tyranny and oppression against a dictatorship, we let it all slip away and go to waste as we just traded one evil for another in the name of a political culture that makes leaders into self-serving lords instead of becoming public servants. And anyone who seeks to affect change is eliminated no matter what side of the fence that person is on. This culture has and continues to be one of impunity as it makes people afraid, complacent and lazy destroying their potential and will to grow and develop into the nation and the values which made us unite in the first place.
And after saying this, many will say to my face again, “So what? You’re one of those self-styled analysts this FB culture has produced. Leave us alone and rather be one with the crowd! Know your place and let this government make its place.”
And this is where it has come down to. A culture of fear, of conformance, of “shut up or we will shut you up”, a democracy turned mafia-style. And that results into oligarchy and mobocracy. And it has become a cycle for us Filipinos. What we are was described aptly by Paolo Freire in his book, The Pedagogy of the Oppressed where in the class struggle when the oppressed usurps the oppressors, the change sometimes drastic that it compromises the ideals they stood for to conform to the trappings of power making them the new oppressors. And this sad analogy is what our country is right now.
My stand? It is simply this: I’m an educator, and it is my responsibility to educate no matter what side of the fence I am on. It doesn’t matter whose wrong or right as long as I can contribute into adding conversation in ways that are non-violent, non-judgmental, non-labeling, uplifting, empowering, peaceful and hopeful. I don’t care who is the right side or the wrong side, but I would want them to reflect to embrace what is right and shun what is wrong without belittling both as the labels we made for ourselves are just illusions that pit one against the other while it makes a few powerful.
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And this is what makes me and others who embrace this way and method dangerous in the eyes of the status quo for we liberate, destroy and change the perceptions of people that keep them in power. And this thing that we continue to do, it scares the powers-that-be and the lords who sold their souls to selfishness because it destroys their designs. Most of the time, they find ways to silence us, thinking it will hold us in check. But in the long run, they fail because balance always finds a way to make this world and the universe right.
It is not an easy vocation. Many people ridicule us, praise us, use us and even quote us for whatever reasons they have because we keep the ideas, the knowledge, the creativity and the fire of life going. We are like Prometheus who in giving fire to human beings is punished by the gods. We too are criticized, punished and even killed literally and figuratively in many ways by those in power whether they are persons consumed by power, selfishness and self-entitlement or even by ourselves through the work that we do.
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It is in the last analogy that galvanizes my stand as an educator and my whole point of being and continually striving to be an authentic Christian through ministry: we are but like wax candles that once catching fire, consumes us to the very end. Or be consumed by darkness when the fire is put off. In the same way, we have the fire of the Divine Presence whose spark enabled us to be agents lit by this fire. We are not the fire because at times, it is extinguished from us for whatever reasons or events life throws at us. Now we remain darkened candles, deformed and useless until the spark lights us up again. But no matter what life or the society throws at us, we move on forward until we are no more.
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Now more than ever, this is my call. I stand on my ground and convictions because I am an educator. I haven’t been here at this point in time nor have reached this stage by just mere hearsay and opinion or that someone or some others paid me or coerced me to support a red, yellow or whatever colors of the rainbow that powerful lords and parties had shamelessly dichotomize to justify their twisted and selfish propaganda and ideology. What people don’t realize is that the rainbow can only be appreciated for what is, when they are together and not apart. And this is why when we have eyes like the prism (a multi-layered) the black-and-white world we view becomes multi-layered and rich in colorful diversity. And when this is recognized, respected, appreciated and acknowledged as one and the same, then no matter what color you find yourself donning, you are the same as those who don’t wear yours. Amd as this diversity flourishes and develops, illusions are shattered, and we realize deep down, we are all one and the same despite the differences. And this is my call as with many others before me, with me and who will be with me as educators no matter where they are and what they are: to shatter walls and illusions, to bring light rather than curse the darkness, to build bridges, and to pass on to others what wisdom and intelligence the ages have left as legacy for us, not only for our fellow Filipinos and human beings, but also to our Common Home and the universe where it thrives.
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So let’s be more open, reflective and look the world differently. I side with no one yet would wish to side with those who seek the truth and what is good, and seek to empower and guide those who seek for it in return. EDUCATE: this is the call, the mission; this is what I am called to do as I take this identity; and this is what I stand for as many others who do so whether in the academe or on the ground. FOR WE ARE EDUCATORS, and God help those who stand in our way!
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In the face of a Silent God…

[NB. This blog is dedicated to the following:
First to two selfless people I have known in the ministry: Fr. Charito Collendres, former Chancellor of the Prelature of Infanta who lost his life in trying to save the lives of others during the typhoons of December 2004, and Bro. Ely Buenavente, AM who also passed away a year after due to leukemia.
Second, this is for the countless victims of the terrorist attacks staged by Muslim extremists this past year…
Lastly, to my mentor who has passed on, Fr. Colm McKeating, SSC whose insights on Theological Anthropology (From Grace, Creation and Sin to Eschatology) has served to deepen my faith in a God who is silent yet Present.]

bytheocean

Nov. 13, 2015…

Paris, France…

It doesn’t make sense…

It doesn’t make sense at all…

In a country where the Father Founder of our college hails from, found his faith and took his commitment on sharing God’s mission with zeal in his heart, in the place where we as Lasallians find the origins of the context of that same faith, zeal for service and communion for mission…

As Lasallians, we pray for what we need, and sometimes we pray because we are appreciative of what we have…

We pray at times as it gets deeper because there is acknowledgment in the presence of the Divine in what we say or do…

“Let us remember that we are in the (holy) Presence of God/the Divine…”

When the prayer becomes a conversation, we develop a relationship, and so we pray, “Live Jesus in our hearts forever!” because the prayer is not only in the sense of asking for something, but that a loving relationship is forged, established, later on developed and deepened.

When our Lasallian prayer begins to be translated into the way we think, say and do things, our contemplation becomes activity and mission that reflects our unique relationship with the Divine…

Then as it happens that way, we pray, “I will continue, O my God, to do all my actions for the love of You.”

There it is, praying and living the Lasallian spirit…

I was with Sir Aido Sepeda, giving this retreat to group of faculty members, when news of death, chaos and violence in different areas of France broke out…

My initial reaction was that of shock…

Then silence…

It struck my very core…

Ever since the very first ISIS news hit last June 2014, many didn’t pay much attention to it. I felt this was the effect of the very meddling that First World countries have caused since the time of the Bush administration in 1989, resurrected again in the 9/11 tragedy, and finally of the reaction of the Arab Spring against what was going on in the Arab States. When Mosul was occupied in 2014, the unthinkable happened with the establishment of a caliphate, a hermit kingdom that was in the style of the early Arab states.  And the scary part of this is that some who ventured into it (whether Muslim or not) had never returned.  I’m sure many of you have heard of the news of kidnappings, beheadings and tortures that they have perpetrated in the name of an extreme interpretation of the Islamic faith which centers on the three deadly concepts: revolution, jihad and armed conflict and war. And its militia is prepared to give their lives for their “faith” in Allah whom they believe blesses their work of war against the “infidels” (which actually translates non-Muslims = us).  Many had been beheaded, tortured and even killed in the name of their faith, even using the channels of social media as means of professing their misguided interpretation of their religious zeal. And believe me, they will continue to kill more.

I have to admit that I had been a bit desensitized by this a few years ago because I have already heard of the news of the Al-Qaeda, and their dealings with their enemies. Even in the Philippines, we know of the Jamiah Islamiyah, which is the arm of the Al-Qaeda network in the country.  I have known of their tactics as it is all over the news.  Since the beginning of the millennium, they have claimed a lot of lives including two priests, Frs. Rhoel Gallardo, CMF and Benjie Innocencio, OMI (both are whom graduates of MST).  While their deaths struck a chord in my heart, it was assuaged by the fact that after those deaths, peace work in the Philippines continued to flourish.

Then, Paris was attacked on November 13, 2015…

129 dead…

Just now as of this writing, a police raid was staged at Saint-Denis, and there were two casualties, one of them a woman who detonated an explosive vest as she charged against them.  I never thought that what I would say which could only be watched as a scene on a TV show, or even action movies wherein a part of the plot deals with a treatment of terrorism that the protagonists encounter in the development of their adventures in each episode can actually happen miles away…

Since the attack, and until now, I have been coming into grips with this reality…

Yes it was real…

It cannot be denied…It did happen…The violence was real, the deaths are real, and the war, the clash of nations looms on the horizon…

My faith in humanity is shaken once more to the core…

While my faith in the Divine stands grounded, I have a lot of questions to ask…

Why do people refuse to listen and instead given in to their primal instincts to kill, to maim and to devastate others in the name of some “misguided” interpretation of their faith?

Is it because we, as Christians have again forgotten what it is to love, to be compassionate and to work for the building of a world that is just and humane?

Does it take 129 people to die just for us to realize that the threat is real, that the violence is imminent, and that we have to rise as one human community to stand against the reality of war, violence and killing which is fueled by hate, greed and intolerance?  Or will the number grow because we keep on ignoring what the real problem is, and the devastation and destruction it will wreak havoc upon?

Tonight, I am hearing helicopters buzzing above my home along the almost midnight sky.  And while I am somehow reassuring myself that may only be transports for the world leaders who are attending the APEC summit done in my country this year, I cannot help but be afraid that somehow armies are being mobilized right now attending to some emergency which may have happened (though nothing is really happening, I hope so…).  Or that bombs may drop at any moment, signaling my last moment on Earth. Yes, one can become paranoid if one gives in to the fear and trepidation borne by those events last Saturday.

Yet the one question I have come to ask is WHY?

Why evil, why suffering, why killing?

Why do we as humans give in to the violence that is fueled by rage and anger?  Why do we fall under its spell whenever we are hurt, wounded and devastated?

It is in these moments that even when we turn to the sources of our faith (be it scriptures, prayer or even silent meditation), God seemingly becomes silent if we grapple with Him/Her the these questions. I do not know if many of you experience the same thing, but sometimes even after the tragic has struck, when we try to raise questions in the hopes of finding solace, comfort and calm through the answers, it seems nothing is forthcoming. As if, in the moment when we want God to be with us, She/He seems to be absent, or even silent…

2004…

In another time, I was also grappling the same questions as tragedy struck the towns of northern Quezon, Real, Infanta and Gen. Nakar when the typhoons Winnie and Yoyong hit them. In a time when I was undergoing drastic changes in my life (I took a leave of absence from my religious community as the family was facing a difficult moment as we were taking care of my Mom who was debilitated with the stroke), it was painful, sad and enraging to see a lot of people dead not only because of the storms, but also because of seeing the logs that destroyed a lot in their towns and in the lives of many.  It hearkened back to the years where the advocacy of the Prelature of Infanta was to raise consciousness among the peoples of not only building a “human” Church, but also a “cosmic” Church that is inclusive even of the care for the environment. And to hear the local government downplaying not only the issue, but also of those people who sacrificed their lives to save others, swelled the rage in my heart. It was obvious that what triggered the flashfloods as well as the destruction of lives and property was  the rampant illegal logging operations that destroyed the virgin forests of northern Quezon just so for the profiteering of the few. Even the priest who sacrificed his life saving the people in the barangay in the nearby river was criticized by the mayor because he was a “pakialamero”. The insensitivity and downplaying of the issue really pissed me off.

It was in these moments when I asked the God of my faith the same questions I mentioned above. And in grappling with the questions I have for him including evil and suffering, I also met the same silence…

Does this mean that God does not want to listen to us? Does it mean that God simply wishes to “punish” us with whatever he can dish out because we have done nothing to take care of the things assigned to our responsibility? Does it mean that our sins are so unforgivable that we deserve what has happened to us?

Could we say the same thing also of Paris, Bagdad, Syria and all the other areas that had been destroyed by the violent ambitions of those who are in conflict?

A tricky question really, and one that has seemingly two difficult images: 1) the seeming triumph of evil and suffering often viewed as punishment, and even as a portent to the “end-times”; and 2) the seeming “silence” of God amidst the suffering of the victims and the oppression of those caught in the crossfire.   And as if it was not even bad enough, we all raise our eyes up to God in the heavens as if we are pleading for Him/Her to come down and do something about everything that is happening.

Yes, we do live in a time where even our faith in a Divine Being is tested beyond limits.  And many go for the free fall of not anymore believing in the Divine because their prayers, it seemed to them, were not answered.  Others though never waver in their belief, but when one looks at it, that is all there is to it: belief.  Let me put it simply, there are two simple responses: 1) those who abandon the Divine they believe in, because in their hearts their God whom they believed before could do anything was powerless in this event; and 2) those who hold on to their belief in the Divine, not because they trust Him, but because this is the God (including their knowledge of this God) they were raised to believe in. No questions asked because to do so would mean either, 1) the reality of their belief of this God would be disturbed and that would merit eternal damnation; or 2) this is all they have, and all that they know, and to challenge it is to challenge their faith in the Church.

By this, it seems that we are faced with a God who is distant from us, and can do anything that She/He wants according to His/Her whims and wishes. God is up there, and we are down here…

Or is it really that way?

1985…

This was another painful time. I remembered that I lost my brother due to miscarriage. When I asked my dad, “Why did he have to die?”, I remember the best reply he gave me, and I never forgot that. The reply was not in the form of words, but it was in His silent sad face.  My father had known a lot of loss in his time: he lost a normal childhood, the chance of a good education and a good life, the love of parents who would take care of their children, a job and even livelihood. But none was greater than when he lost people he loved: my ate Joan in 1976, my younger brother in 1985 (we were supposed to name him Charles), and my mom in 2005. And I must admit he shed more tears on them than on his parents because he truly loved them.

And seeing that sad face made me realize and understand years later that he has no answers to the questions I asked. All he knows is that no matter what happens, he will be there with me even when I am sad and doubtful of what life is.  My dad is not used to showing emotions with us most of the time, but he sure knows to be that silent presence whenever we need support and help in life. He may not have the answers nor tell us of sagely treasures whenever things like that happens. What he guarantees however, is that silent as he may be, he will always be there for us.

And maybe that’s how God is (somehow) when we face these events and situations, and may appear like She/He is not there. I remember my old mentor, Fr. Colm McKeating, SSC telling us in his class, and now in his posthumous book, Light Which Dims the Stars about this seeming silent God who is “not and absentee landlord, but is continuously interacting with creation. Nothing happens in the world without God’s active participation.”[1]  It means that no matter what happens good and evil, God is there. Does this mean God permits evil and suffering to happen in the world? Painfully, yes She/He does. Does evil and suffering come from Him? Adamantly, the Christian faith tells us no however because if they do then the world, and all that is within it including us would not have been.  All creation in the universe even the violence as they appear in natural phenomena has its origins from the goodness of which God is. Furthermore, evil cannot create as only goodness can do that. Yet in a way God permits the evil and suffering that is born from the chaos of His creation, but it is so not to punish us and the world, but to respect the process this created world has in maintaining the balance of its existence. If there will be no chaos, then order will not assert itself. Without evil, the good will not flourish in the lives of those who uphold it.  Without death and suffering, then life will go on unchecked, and negate the possibility of those who have the potential to uplift lives however short the existence of these people may be so as to inspire others to do the same in the same shortness of life we share.

And when evil and suffering do strike, it must reminds us that God is active in their process not to perpetuate them, but to let us realize that we are but creatures who are being formed from that brokenness so as to become stronger and better in the real sense of the word. And silent though the Divine is during the process, She/He is there guiding us, watching us not from afar or from some distant place up there, but near enough to be with us because She/He wants us to grow from this experience.  When we are happy, God is happy through the people who share your happiness. When we are sad, angry and even question Him/Her, She/He will meet us at where we are, but not to argue with us, only to let us feel that She/He is just there, listening to us, accompanying us and struggling with us that we may grow open ourselves in His goodness and love.

You may not believe me as you read this nor am I offering or intending to give answers to the questions we may seek when we experience the tragic. All we can do really is to truly believe as in not just knowing about the Divine and the teachings upheld about Him/Her, but believing in the sense of exhibiting trust and abandonment to His/Her Divine Will because we are beloved.  In fact, if you feel asking those questions, show your doubts and even fall in disbelief in the Divine, be my guest to do so as this is your journey. What I can only offer in writing this piece is to share what I truly believe (which in the old English, is synonymous to being be-loved), i.e., that while God permits evil and suffering to happen in the world as a consequence of His active participation in the universe, by no means is He the source of it, but rather uses them to bring out the goodness and love in which the created universe was designed in the first place. Don’t ask me how it happens as it is a mystery to us, a mystery of faith as it unfolds. But, just like that day in 1985 on why I never understood why my father was silent on the death of my brother so it is with us when we meet God as we grapple with doubts and questions.  And just like it was only years later that I understood why it happened, and why my father only had that sad face as his response, God meets us with a wizened resolve as She/He slowly and gradually reveals to us what She/He intends for us as we grow from our experience of doubt, adversity and conflict during our further travels in life’s journey.

“Many goods (virtues) would disappear were God to permit no evil.” – St. Thomas of Aquinas

Notes:

[1] Colm McKeating, Light Which Dims the Stars: A Christian Theology of Creation (Makati City: St. Pauls Philppines, 2015), 224.

Five Steps to Rediscovering Spirituality as an LGBT Person | Nick Literski

I would like to share this especially to my LGBT friends out in the open (like my good friends Cherry​ and Helen Marie​), and even to those who are still in the closet…It might be of interest to you…Thanks!

Being religiously unaffiliated, however, doesn’t mean not being spiritual. In my practice as a spiritual guide, many LGBT adults have told me how they want to reconnect with spirituality, but they’re uncertain about how they can do so.

Source: Five Steps to Rediscovering Spirituality as an LGBT Person | Nick Literski

Post-birthday thoughts 2015

My birthday season this year is different than the previous years.  Whereas, there were times I asked for a birthday of silence and rest, now I am thankful that the Lord is blessing me with something new.  A new family, a new work and a new ministry.  And while I know that I am still on the “honeymoon stage”, I know that I am savoring every blessing and experience that comes along the way as these moments pass.

While I am experiencing the “new”, I have to be thankful for what came before as this is the spirit of a birthday celebration.  This is one of the great realizations that I have after I have passed the “summer of silence” a month ago (check out my blogs, and the future blogs I’ll be posting on https://spitfire0877.wordpress.com regarding this).

Hence, I am inspired to share some points and express some declarations as my birthday weekend comes to a close:

1) While my exit with the Alagad ni Maria was not graceful 12 years ago, I am cognizant of the fact that without them, I will not be the person I am who has passion for the ministry.  Therefore to my very first community, I will say the following:

a) While the years had passed, my stand is still clear about the blog post that had drove the wedge between us, and I will not apologize for the things I have said ago as this has been done out of expressing the truth. However, the context of that blog was the years 2004-05, and this was written by a young brash seminarian who was hurt by the historical events of the time (especially the deaths of my mom and Bro. Ely Buenavente, AM).  Their loss, and the circumstances that lay in-between gave me painful realizations so much that I experienced a sort of rude awakening, hence leading to that moment where I wrote that piece against my-soon-to-be former community at that time.  And though I was fully aware of the consequences of my actions, this was done as I was actually calling out the elders of the community during that time, and not the whole community in general.  Well somewhere along the way, it got out of hand and it reached the community in general. And I admit, it blew out out of proportion as it was interpreted to be an attack against the whole AM community.  And in this, I will ask forgiveness for the hurt I have caused to those who have been affected by it especially to those who have journeyed with me, and to those who were greatly affected for my emotions of anger and righteous indignation by receiving the ire of the elders at that time. I realized that though I was fighting for what was right, I have hurt a lot of people, drove a wedge between those who were in the community, and ultimately putting me and the community at odds.  It may had been the worst time in both our lives, both the AM and myself, and it wasn’t a good parting as I finally decided to part ways with them in 2006.

Some may say, “Why only now, at this time that you will ask for forgiveness?” I have only one answer to give: to see this in maturity takes time like wounds that heal over time. Sometimes, it takes a maturity of sorts to realize that who that person was then years ago is not the same person he is years after, and that is what I realize right now as I am not that same angry, passionate seminarian who rises up whenever he feels he is put down.  Yes, I have no regrets over what I said, but I ask forgiveness to the Alagad ni Maria in general for the hurt my statements have caused.  I know that I may not receive your forgiveness nor do I expect it to be granted, but I do know I can only live with it, forgive what needs to be forgiven (including forgiving myself), and make the future right by helping those who had been wounded as we are as I continue to journey in ministry on my own while learning the lessons of the past continuously.

b) I am also thankful to God for you because my passion for ministry which seeds was planted in my family, the schools I’ve been to and the parish communities I belonged to started germinating with you.  As I trace the steps of where my passion and my love for the ministry comes from, it always goes back to the call of “standing with Mary at the foot of the cross”.  And until now, I still carry within me that sense of mission while it has evolved in many spiritualities through the communities I have encountered (Carmelian, Marian, Benedictine, Ignatian-Marian, Claretian and now Lasallian). That while there are changing expressions of spirituality is not a hindrance in my journey. Rather, it made me realize that God is blessing me to call me constantly to share in His work no matter which community I belonged as I served them and learning their way fo life towards God.  No matter what I do and where I go in my journey, I recognize that it all started with the community of the Alagad ni Maria. Starting from becoming a KLM trainor batch 1992, to becoming part of Batch 1994 of the seminarians/AM Brothers to my not-so-graceful exit in 2006, the mission was always my rallying point in doing ministry.

2) The Maryhill School of Theology was the place where the young naive, obedient AM seminarian/brother was opened to the reality of “doing theology” in the world especially in the grassroots.  Frankly, my stand and conviction to leave the AM Community to be transplanted elsewhere came from the studies, experiences and encounters during my stay here.  Not only that, I have met a lot of wonderful people here from the Professors (Dr. Emmanuel Serafica de Guzman, Dr. Agnes Brazal, Padi Tom Maddela, Bp. Pablo Virgilio David, (+)Sr.Angelita Walker, RSCJ, Sr. Amelia Vasquez, RSCJ, Fr. Victor Nicdao, Dr. Dennis Gonzalez, Dr. Jun Bombongan, Fr. Ver Miranda, Sr. Kathleen Coyle, MSSC and (+) Fr. Colm McKeating, SSC to name a few), to my batchmates (SanGugma ‘Tol) who eventually became the GTP class of 2003, and to others esepcially in the ATEP who became my friends and are wonderful people who enriched my life (JayCab Cabrera, Pol Dinlasan, Joy Marzonia-Gallos, Ben Pormento Gemina, Chito Licuanan and fave sister from another motha’ Weena Salvador Meily), not to forget the staff past and present of MST, and of course ang paborito kong ate, nanay, kaibigan at kaututang dila, Tita Crisostomo.  No matter what your stations were, you touched my life, molded my consciousness and reminded me of the real nature of the person and mission of that great itinerant preacher from Nazareth, and the ideas and thoughts that developed from it in relation with the context of the globalized world where we live in, and my place in it.

3) With great joy, I will always be thankful to the Marian-Uganayan Community of St. Mary’s College of Quezon City for accepting this lost person whose unbridled passion was tamed and trained by the different persons, mentors and people who touched my life. In my transition to my return to the world outside the seminary, you were the first community who journeyed with me, taught me, mentored me, accepted me, supported me and even shared your generosity with me through the good times and bad. I will never forget my colleagues and friends who were very supportive.  Fondly, they called me “Papiyo!”, and it meant (and still it means) a lot to me because it established the “me” in the SMCQC as well as the cordial relationships, and for a while, made me forget the sorrows I was experiencing when our family faced the trial of taking care of my suffering mother for over two years.  I will never forget the HS Department during our retreat at Betania Baguio where you prayed for me and my family during those hours of need.  I am also thankful especially to the CifCom (formerly CESCA with our director and whom I considered my greatest mentor, Sr. Delia Servino, RVM) for opening me to new experiences especially the Bilibid visits, reach-outs, and to the older teachers and admin who introduced me to new responsibilities like the club moderatorship and the advisory (though I never lasted long, but I am still thankful). I am thankful to the friendships I shared (and still share) with the “breakfast club”, “the Year 3”, the 4th Year Faculty circa 2004-2005, the “‘Tipid gang” (my first advisory class of diverse personalities), and my Masayahin class.  And although I didn’t stay long, I now realized that I left at a time when I was looking for something more which the community could not provide anymore as I have outgrown what you have taught me.  Nevertheless, I will always fond memories with you.

4) I am also thankful, blessed and lucky to have been part of the Claretian family in the good parts and with its twists and turns, the successes and failures, and the closings and openings.  In my view, Claret was the acid test of the mentoring I received from the Marian-Uganayan Community of SMCQC.  Sometimes, I gave honor to the community, and sometimes I failed. I was appreciated by some, judged by many, but despite that, was considered a colleague by all.  While I may have lost a lot in the community, I was able to grow as a person, and gave me a lot of material blessings and growth opportunities.  It was in this period that I was able to connect with a lot of groups and ministries outside the school community which was possible because of her generosity to let me join them.  It was also my stay with them that I dared myself to pursue my unfinished business of finishing my MA in Theology major in Pastoral Ministry despite the obstacles laid in front of me.  I have nothing but thankfulness also to the FAITH Education and Enrichment Division Feedcsqc because despite the successes and heartaches, they were there to put up with me, converse with me and accept me for who I am, and helped me to grow as the person I am right now.  And while recently the door was shut on me to join them in the CMO (twice!), that event provided an open window where I made my graceful and silent exit as I am given the chance to continue the passion to be back to what I love: the ministry.

(NB. Sorry po kung d po ako makabanggit ng pangalan, pero alam ko sa aking puso na mahalaga po kayo sa aking buhay, maging kabati ko man kayo o nde ko nakasundo sa paglalakbay ng aking buhay.)

5) And finally to my love, Majella whose love, support, reminders and quirks made me grounded on my own two feet. It has been 6 years, and I wish that in our seventh, our love will grow towards commitment and further love. You have been my silent center, my anchor who sets my boat to rest.  We have loved each other, put up with each other, conversed, argued, and even at this point, stayed with each other. I have nothing but thankfulness and love for the gift of you which God has given me.

It is in all of these experiences that this person who has lived in this world for 38 years has been shaped, molded and journeyed. Yet, it has not ended, but rather it starts anew again at the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde which began this past month as Campus Minister for those of us have been called “together and by association”.  Whatever the journey requires me and wherever it takes me, I can only lay claim to where I came from, and in God’s grace to help me as to where I will go.

38 years…and still going on…

PS. Huling pananalita: Maraming salamat po sa mga nakaalala, bumati at nakibahagi sa aking pasasalamat at kasiyahan sa pagdiriwang ko ng aking kaarawan, sa pag-abot ko sa ika-38 taon ng aking buhay, lalo’t higit sa mga nakasama ko kamakailan lang sa Balai Indang na kabahagi ng aking bagong pamayanan sa Benilde.  Isang taos-pusong pasasalamat din sa mga nakasama ko sa Retreat Seminar 1 ng Year 2015 na naging kaalakbay namin sa proseso pati sa mga nakilakbay sa amin: Sir Neil Parinas, Ms. Ruth de Leon-Hilario at Sir Aido Sepeda.

God bless po sa inyong lahat!

Reflections on My Summer of Silence… [Part 2]

[Blogger’s Note: This is a blog which I will divide into parts since when I wrote and edited it initially composed of 13 pages.  Of course, a blog as I am now realizing not attractive to read unless you have some visuals on it.  So this is still a work in progress upon completion.  It had been over two months to the day I left my last community, Claret School of Quezon City, and a month of stay with my new community, the De La Salle-College of St. Benilde, from teacher to campus ministry; from the youth apostolate, to the academe, and now to the campus ministry.  It has been one hell of a journey.  Here lies the latest reflection on the story of that journey, and where it has led me since…]

Last time:

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These different casts of characters in CSQC were the people I worked with, and rather than be bitter and ungrateful to them, I would like to thank them for even a person like me has to experience adversity, pain and struggle.  It is like a seed that has germinated in good soil being tried and tested in the most adverse of conditions.  For a tree to grow as durable and as strong as it is, it has to weather the hottest of days, the most terrible of storms, the coldest of atmospheres and even the gentlest of breezes in a normal day.  Without even the CSQC experience, I would not have grown to be the person that I am right now who had the courage to make decisions in life, even leaving the institution so as to grow elsewhere.  And while as Shakespeare puts it, “Parting is such sweet sorrow”, I do this knowing that I believe God is calling me elsewhere to heal, grow and be life-giving again in ministry.

It had been a fruitful eight years for me…

“So why leave?”, you may ask

Prelude to the The Summer of Silence: TTY (TOXIC TWO YEARS!) and The Request Denied

How did I get here?  This is where the “summer of silence” came in this year…

Two years ago, there were a new set of administrators who came to the former workplace.  And while they brought the promise of doing their best of making Claret “great” again, much of what they had to do to achieve this was to give up what made the employee happy, in my opinion…

And I was one of them…

And I will not go into details anymore because that is past.  All I can say was that in the last two years while I still accomplished what the school asked me to do, it slowly turned me into an unhappy trooper.  Much of the sentiments I raised during this period had been valid (while there will be people who will disagree, this is just my opinion), but was not listened to.  Nobody even had developed the culture to seek out the state of the people who are working with them or even mentor them of the new trends that were happening.  Not being listened, being told to do what they are asking you to do even when you are left in the cold, and not checking whether you are happy or not, are recipes for an employee who will consider resignation and seek his fortunes elsewhere.  That much I realized when this previous school year is almost up.

Yet I didn’t want to leave either…

I had to be honest to myself: I was hurt, exhausted, burned-out and not happy as a teacher anymore.  But I did not want to go either, because to me, mission never ends.  To me, this was more than a job, but a ministry. But there was also the question: How can I give more when the “well is dry” (to borrow the words of one of the spiritual greats, Fr. Thomas Green, SJ)?  I saw myself not becoming effective to my pupils anymore. Everything I see in work is becoming burdensome to me, and I felt that if I continue to teach next year, it will be the “death” of me.  And since I am that wounded and hurt, I realized that I had to go back to the one thing that started everything for me in the first place: ministry.  I expressed this to FEED, my immediate community, and they have no problems with it.  Some were ambivalent, but most of them encouraged me to do it. And I really wanted to because for me, I wanted to do this for years.

I also had personal plans to stay with Claret at most for 10 years which means I wanted to prolong may stay for 2 more years.  I admit I wanted to stay for selfish reasons.  Sayang ang benefits eh.  Plus, I could get a lot of monetary benefits upon leaving.  And I can still establish something in ministry should I stay. I’ll be secure no matter what. And so in trying to stay in the institution while looking for ways not to be in teaching next year, I wrote to the Director expressing my wish for next school year. Alas, however as my letter was rejected telling me that the school needs teachers next year.  Somewhat a bit enraged because of making that decision without being called to talk about it (which I believed was the SOP for such requests), but willing to express my wish for the second time through dialogue and patience, I again wrote a longer letter a second time, this time explaining in mildly strong way why I wanted to be in ministry, and not seeing myself being a teacher next year.  As to be expected, I didn’t get an immediate answer.  And about this time, the institutional year was about to end. To add injury to insult (though not intentional), all the seminars I was asked to attend was pulled out from me.  Those that I had planned to attend, I decided not to attend as I had no way of asking funds from the school.  In my whole being, I just wanted everything to end, as I felt that I was so tired of being like this.  After the institutional year-end activity, I was dying to get out, go home, and stay away as much as possible knowing that I had enough after all of these grueling experiences during the year.

And that’s where the “summer of silence” began for me…

 

[To be continued]

Reflections on My Summer of Silence… [Part 1]

[Blogger’s Note: This is a blog which I will divide into parts since when I wrote and edited it initially composed of 13 pages.  Of course, a blog as I am now realizing not attractive to read unless you have some visuals on it.  So this is still a work in progress upon completion.  It had been over two months to the day I left my last community, Claret School of Quezon City, and a month of stay with my new community, the De La Salle-College of St. Benilde, from teacher to campus ministry; from the youth apostolate, to the academe, and now to the campus ministry.  It has been one hell of a journey.  Here lies the latest reflection on the story of that journey, and where it has led me since…]

Prologue:

Saying good bye to a journey of 12 years…

I am going to say “farewell” to 12 years as an educator in the Basic Education setting…

It had been fun, challenging, exhausting, stressful, nip-and-tuck and yet at the same, a blessing-filled experience…

I am now entering a new phase as the door has been opened to where “home” is…

“Going home” to ministry in a new setting…challenging, scary yet EXCITING…

But before I get to this point, let me start where all things start: AT THE BEGINNING…

In the beginning was chaos…

When I started treading out the path of an educator 12 years ago, I had an inkling of a plan.  This means that while I believe that plans change, there must be at least a direction, a path so that I won’t get lost along the way.  It started not with becoming a full-fledged teacher with dreams of rising higher in the ranks. I didn’t even had in mind to study or even go back to graduate school for the purpose of advancing my status nor had ambitions to teach in college to get a chair, become a dean or being recognized as a name in the academic field of theology.  Mind you, I haven’t even attained those yet, though I do have plans to study, but not for the reasons or patterns I have mentioned above.

Believe it or not, when I started all of this, I only had in mind that I needed a job to support my family, and help my sister in covering the expenses in taking care of my bed-ridden mom.  Having applied in three schools, I was accepted in all of them.  It only came down to choosing which school I would to work with.  While the first two schools I got accepted into showed promise as both were good schools (STI Cubao and Dela Salle Araneta University during her transition from GAUF), my instincts were telling me that there was something lacking, and that I needed more if I am to work, and engage in the field of becoming an instructor or teacher.  That’s when the third school popped in as an old friend of mine, Sr. Ma. Erlinda Cruz, RVM needed a Christian Living Teacher for the High School level at St. Mary’s College of Quezon City.  And I accepted the job for various reasons, three of which are the most important: (1) I needed it to be accessible to home so that I can easily go home and help Papa in taking care of Mama (and this we endured for 2 years and 3 months); (2) I wanted a school where I can start at the bottom so that if ever and whenever I reached the top, I can appreciate the journey, and the people who were with me during those times; and finally (3) to be a religious educator is a passion I share as I am graduate the General Theology Program in MST.

While my journey in SMCQC as well as my leaving it is already documented in my blogs, my now former workplace Claret School of Quezon City I didn’t care to share much.  It’s not that I don’t like the institution in general or that it had given me a lot of heartaches.  Though much of the pain and struggle of being an educator as well as my lack of success I had experienced there in CSQC, I am not bitter about it, not anymore at least.  On the contrary, I am thankful that the adversity I faced in a lot of people and in the systems there made me grow as a person.  While SMCQC had been a home and a community, CSQC was more of an acid-test having to deal with a lot of struggles of dealing with people whose opinions and personalities differed from one another.  Not much of a good thing lasted in the institution because with different personalities came different priorities. And when there are different and diverse priorities, well the programs and ideas become transient and fleeting.  Adding to that the ups and downs the institution has faced in the years that I have stayed there because there was always a feeling of discontent (which I project too to be honest) and a sense of not meeting the expectations you had been trying to get across.

Unless this blog becomes a gripe of CSQC (which is not my intention), I will have to balance my perception of my former workplace with the blessings I have received in that place, and there are plenty too.  Among them, (1) I had been blessed to be part of the emergent Faith Education and Enrichment Division (FEED) who reminded me of the sense of mission through the many activities and immersion I had experienced, and through encountering the diverse people there who contributed to the way I had shaped my sense of mission; (2) the place is where I met the love of my life, Ella Jamoralin, who helped me in balancing my seemingly negative outlook in life while I stayed in CSQC, and taught me and reminded me that despite the many complaints I have, I had to do something about it, i.e., be more pro-active than re-active; (3) the ability to grow in skill especially in caring for the needs of the pupils whether there were mentors or not at my side; (4) the chance to settle my unfinished business of achieving my MA in MST (which I did not to advance my position and salary as many would think of people like me taking MA), and in effect grow in my passion which is theology and ministry; (5) the many benefits I am able to get there (my former Claretian colleagues know this, and I don’t want to enumerate them anymore); and lastly (6) the people outside of FEED whose actions and intentions they continue to do for the good of the school, for their colleagues, and who don’t share the illusions of statuses and divisions most of whom are not teachers, but those who sacrifice every day of their time to serve CSQC whether as ASSA, FIRC or even as teachers (and you know who you are as we have shared a lot of conversations).

Ang saya talaga! IMG_8020 IMG_8061a

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Virtue boys

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These different casts of characters in CSQC were the people I worked with, and rather than be bitter and ungrateful to them, I would like to thank them for even a person like me has to experience adversity, pain and struggle.  It is like a seed that has germinated in good soil being tried and tested in the most adverse of conditions.  For a tree to grow as durable and as strong as it is, it has to weather the hottest of days, the most terrible of storms, the coldest of atmospheres and even the gentlest of breezes in a normal day.  Without even the CSQC experience, I would not have grown to be the person that I am right now who had the courage to make decisions in life, even leaving the institution so as to grow elsewhere.  And while as Shakespeare puts it, “Parting is such sweet sorrow”, I do this knowing that I believe God is calling me elsewhere to heal, grow and be life-giving again in ministry.

It had been a fruitful eight years for me…

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“So why leave?”, you may ask

This leads us to the next chapter…

[To be continued]