How This Year is Going to be Depends On You

By Jessan M. Cabunsol

Jessan is a third year BS Civil Engineering student at the University of Negros Occidental -Recoletos. Presently, he is also the editor-in-chief of the Tolentine Star, the official student publication of the university. Jessan is an active Kwaderno volunteer too. 

It is one of the most awaited holidays around the globe. This is the time for change – new hope, new life, new styles, new look, and everything that needs to be renewed. This holiday is New Year’s Day.

Aside from Christmas, New Year is one of the most celebrated holidays all over the world. For thousands of years people have been celebrating the good life, hope, and everything about goodness at the beginning of every year.

by Marla Halili

Marla Grace Halili, 23 years old, works as a Customer Service Representative in Bacolod City. Here, she shares the essential lessons she learned last year and how she is facing 2015.

365 days over. Can you believe that? Days pass by like a blink of an eye and here we go again. Another year full of possibilities. Each year we have these goals to accomplish, but by the end of the year, out of all those things what have we accomplished? That’s why I’m not fond of making such promises because we don’t know what’s in store for us in the upcoming days. I’m not saying that we should stop making plans but that we should have an ‘ACTION’ plan.

By Gracebelle Montecillo Parreño

Seven years ago, someone broke my heart. It was shattered into pieces to the extent that it even made me think that it couldn’t be repaired again. It made me weak and I lost my self-esteem. I started questioning myself if there was something wrong with me. Then my mother came into the picture and said to me, ‘Come to Him and pray for him; surrender all your heartaches to Him and you’ll be alright.’

From then on, I became a frequent visitor to the Adoration chapel. I always cried there and I spent months talking to Him, sharing my problems with Him. Every time I left that chapel, I felt great as, if I was whole again. I became strong; I got back my confidence and became a smiling person.

I was like that until I graduated from college. Then it was time for on-the-job training (OJT), I tried my best with all the companies that came to our school but I ended up a failure. At first I asked myself if I had done wrongbut then came to realize that I just needed to trust Him in whatever plans He had for me.

The new couple sharing a chat with Misyon editor Fr Seán Coyle.

Three months later a company came along and I was hired as their new OJT employee. I met many people, learned practical things and befriended all of them except one. He was my mentor that time and we hated each other. He seemed to be so cruel to me; he didn’t want me to tag along with him. But on 1 May 2010, we were chosen to attend the production that day, only the two of us. It was the time that he knew I existed. We spent the whole day talking to each other and enjoying each other’s company.

That didn’t last only one day. Our friendship continued as time went by. After a few months, he started to ask if he could be my guy. I was so hesitant at first but then I offered God a prayer and asked Him if he was the one he had created for me. I gave him a chance and accepted him. After four years we decided to get married, and he is now my husband.

The Gift of Deafness

By Fr Thomas Rouse

Father Tom worked in Fiji most of the time from 1977 until this year. He is now based in Lower Hutt, near Wellington, in his native New Zealand. While in Fiji he served as Regional Director for some years. He served two three-year terms as Regional Director of the Columbans in Fiji, from 2007 until 2013.


It was to the credit of the Columbans that I was accepted as a candidate for priesthood. That was back in 1969 when I was completing Form Seven in high school at St John’s College, Hastings, New Zealand.

I was accepted despite the fact that I was not only deaf but I also suffered a serious speech impediment which was a consequence of my hearing disability. My deafness was more peculiar rather than pronounced. I cannot hear high-pitched sounds. As a result, I cannot hear many of the consonants in my own ‘native’ English language.

‘I will help you carry your cross’

By Luda Egbalic

When I was a child I used to visit San Isidro Cathedral in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, where I grew up. I would go to the Mass Media Center and read stories of the saints. I was inspired by their good deeds and sacrifices for the Lord. One time when I was praying and gazing at the big cross on the altar, innocently I said to myself, ‘When I grow up, I will help you carry your cross. I will serve you.’

Around Malaybalay City.jpg
Malaybalay City, with San Isidro Cathedral, lower left.

After my college days, I joined the Canossian Volunteers Philippines. In this program, I was happy serving people in urban and rural areas of Mindanao and Luzon. We called ourselves ‘young missionaries’. 

Christmas Written, Unwritten, and Rewritten

By Ashraf Khater

Ashraf was the editor–in-chief for two years of Tolentine Star the official publication of the University of Negros Occidental – Recoletos (UNO-R) in Bacolod City. He graduated Magna Cum Laude last March as a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering. Ashraf was born in Saudi Arabia and raised there until he was 12. Here he shares his experience of Christmas with his fellow student writers. 

Christmas is a time when people pause for a while and enjoy the merriment with friends and family. For Tolentine Star, the official student publication of the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos, (UNO-R), Bacolod City, Christmas is more than just that.

It has been an annual tradition that Advent/Pre-Christmas parties are not just mere get-togethers and food-laden events, but full of learning and its own team building in its own right. Every year, the publication goes on an excursion to celebrate the bond that we have shared and the hard work that we have accomplished throughout the year.

The author with his mother during his graduation day.

The graduating batch is tasked to prepare the festivities, which involves team-building activities. This is a sign of movement and a means of conveying important life lessons to the group of writers that would lead the publication the following year.

Installation of Fr Leo Distor, First Filipino Columban Parish Priest of Malate

On the Feast of St Joseph the Worker, 1 May, Columban Fr Leo Distor was installed as Parish Priest of Our Lady of Remedies Parish, Malate, Manila, where the Columbans have worked since 1929 having taken the parish at the invitation of Irish-born Archbishop Michael O’Doherty of Manila at a time when the Philippines was desperately short of priests.

Installation Mass. L to R: Fr Distor, Fr De Claro, Fr Patrick O’Donoghue (then Regional Director)

CLM Mission-sending

The mission-sending of Luda Egbalic and Jenanydel Nola, who form PH21, took place on 14 May with Mass celebrated by the Regional Director Fr Patrick O’Donoghue at the Columban Lay Mission Center, Cubao, Quezon City. Both are from Mindanao, Luda from Bukidnon (Diocese of Malaybalay), and Jen form Maitum, Sarangani (Diocese of Marbel). They are now in Korea.

Fr Patrick O’Donoghue signing contract of Jenanydel Nola.

Discovering the Different Faces of Jesus

By Richelle H. Verdeprado

As he recalled his missionary story, Peter Dong or Lee Chon, a 32-year-old Columban seminarian, journeyed back to Jilin province, in the central part of northeastern China. Reminiscing about his hometown and childhood he recalled how his family has always been with him. He told how he would travel 20 kilometers with his parents and brother on bicycles on Sundays to attend Mass. Consequently, talking with him gave me an idea of how it is to live in a village where your family was the only Catholic one and you have to close your windows and doors when you pray. It made me realize then how God can still continue working in our lives despite all the barriers the world can build. It made me realize that faith can still grow beautifully amidst unfavorable circumstances.

The author and Peter after their interview.

After finishing middle school, Peter started thinking about the path he would be taking. He wasn’t physically strong, thus, he could not just take any course. His father opened to him the idea of entering the seminary. Instantly, his mind remembered their place which had a chapel it but had no priest. Though he knew very little about what it is to be a priest, he had just no objection. He didn’t know where such a desire to try was coming from. He just found himself one day with his 21 classmates, preparing themselves to become diocesan priests.