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!