Life as I Live it

By Claudette I. Galacgac

The author finished her Bachelor of Arts in English, major in Language at the University of South Eastern Philippines in Davao City. Claudette has been involved in campus journalism since high school. Here, she shared how reading an article in Misyon has touched her and has made her look back her experiences too.

Upon reading the article Dealing Positively with Life Despite Uncertainties (Misyon, September-October 2012), I could say that I have wasted my time grieving over silly and petty matters. Unlike the author, I don’t have a disability affecting any aspect of my life, only financial instability. Ric is a polio victim but he has managed to keep a positive outlook on life which has led him to where he is now. The story of his life somehow changed my perspective.

What Yolanda has done

By Richelle Verdeprado

Shortly before Christmas the Assistant Editor and Editorial Assistant of Misyon, Anne Gubuan and Richelle Verdeprado, went to the island of Panay, west of Negros, and visited the municipalities of Sara and Estancia in the north-east of the island and the north-east of the province of Iloilo to help in the aftermath of Supertyphoon Haiyan/Yolanda.

Last 8 November was supposed to be like any other day in the lives of Filipinos. For the children I was able to talk with on Friday 13 December, it was supposed to be another day of playing in the fields and along the shore and for some another day of learning at school.

But something happened that day that made these children hide under their beds and when their houses were destroyed, made them run as fast as they could to seek solace in the hills, in the houses of the well-off in their community and then in the evacuation centers. There was something not ordinary that day that has made the children tremble with fear, cry hard and then pray on their bended knees. That day typhoon Yolanda came in so fast and then left the country with unimaginable destruction and deaths. That day came and has left these children with awful memories.

Philippine Conference in New Evangelization

By Fr John Keenan

The author is a Columban priest from Ireland who first came to the Philippines in 1966. Apart from a few years working in Britain he has been here since then. He is chaplain at Centro Escolar University, Manila.

To mark the Year of Faith and the New Evangelization, which ended on 24 November, the Solemnity of Christ the King, a very inspiring Philippine Conference on New Evangelization (PCNE), convened by Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, was held at the Pontifical University of Sto Tomas (UST), Manila, 16-18 October 2013.

Located in the Quadricentennial Pavilion, an ultra modern arena with seating accommdation for some 6000 people on three raised terraces, it was indeed an awe-inspiring spectacle enhanced by colorful cinematic, light and sound effects. The altar on a raised colorful platform served as the focal point for the vast crowd of participants. Masterly planned and organized by some 60 people under the able leadership of Henrietta T. de Villa, former ambassador of the Philippines to the Holy See, it can serve as a model of conference planning for people anywhere in the world.

In his homily at the opening Mass Cardinal Tagle welcomed delegates from Brunei, Taiwan, Jakarta, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Japan, India and the USA as well as from all over the Philippines. This was shortly after the devastating earthquake in Cebu and Bohol in which some 186 people lost their lives and 583 were injured. Many ancient and historic churches were also destroyed. Cardinal Tagle expressed his solidarity with the victims and their families. The collections at all the Masses of the conference, to which the religious, priests and bishops contributed, were to offer them some help and support.

The theme was ‘God Can Make All Things New’..

According to the Cardinal the whole point of the PCNE is a humble contribution to the construction and strengthening of the Church rooted in Jesus, His words in the Spirit in the midst of ruins. Quoting what God reputedly said to St Francis, ‘Build my Church, rebuild my Church’, Cardinal Tagle said that the people of Cebu and Bohol have promised to do this. They are the real living Church.

The journey of the Church in the Philippines and the role of Popular Devotions in the New Evangelisation was ably explained by Fr Catalino Arevalo, S.J.
Archbishop Emeritus Leonardo Z. Legaspi OP of Caceres explained the great devotion which the Bicolanos have to Our Lady of Peñafrancia.

Our Lady of Peñafrancia

Celebration of Our Lady of Peñafrancia, Dublin, Ireland, 2012

Interview with Ms Salvacion Napano – Volunteer Prison Chaplain in Hong Kong

By Fr Pat Colgan

The author, from Northern Ireland, is a member of the General Council of the Columbans since September 2012 and based in Hong Kong. Ordained in 1994, he worked in Fiji before his present assignment.

Sally, can you tell us something about your childhood and your early involvement in the Church?

Father Pat and Sally

I was born in Guimaras, now an island province in the Western Visayas, on 14 September 1961. I am the fifth of eight siblings, five boys and three girls. My father was a rice farmer and my mom a busy housewife. Although our church was far away from the village, we always went, and I can remember dreaming about being a nun. I used to play at being one, dressing up in a veil!

Filipino Maids in Hong Kong Cope with Loneliness [Video produced by UCAN, an independent Catholic news service].

Was God Alive in Estancia?

By Jimmy A. Badilla

In obedience to the call of the Church to spread the Good News, Neocatechumenal Communities all over the world initiated a ‘Great Mission’ during the recently ended Year of Faith - reaching out to as many people as possible and hoping to share the love and mercy of God that they themselves have experienced in their lives thereby offering hope and salvation to the desolate, the forsaken, the downtrodden. Yolanda victims need the love of God more than all the material things that many of us want to comfort them with.  It is good, proper, and just that we give them whatever relief items we can afford, but above all as Christians we are called to let them feel how God works in our sufferings, how He wants to be with us as we agonize and bear our burdens, how He wants to give us hope and invite us to believe that after all ‘Man does not live by bread alone but by the words that come from the mouth of God’.  Popular Missions of the Neocatechumenal Communities in various typhoon-hit places in the Philippines are ongoing.

Estancia, Iloilo, is the Tacloban of Western Visayas. People died. Houses and properties were destroyed. The future seemed bleak and uncertain as no immediate chance at normalcy could be gleaned, except some reported plans from Canadians and other foreign groups to give sustained support for rehabilitation to those severely affected by Supertyphoon Haiyan/Yolanda. And the Philippine Government's usual promises that yet await concrete results.

This is what I ask of you. Be shepherds with the smell of the sheep. POPE FRANCIS

Meanwhile, the people of Estancia needed to grab at any good thing that might come their way just to survive: food, used clothing, tarpaulin or thin roofing--anything that could help them try and rebuild their lives once more. They need to move on. And they need people, too, to talk with them, feel their pain, their loss, their suffering. They need somebody to empathize with them. They need some shoulders to cry on to. They need to feel that God is alive through their fellow men.

Christmas in Another Home

By Clarace J. Galeno

The author works at Riyadh, Saudi Arabia as a nurse. She grew up in the parish of Holy Family, in Bacolod City which was run by the Columbans before. Clarace used to be an active member of the Legion of Mary while she was still here. Here she shares her longing for Christmas at home and how she tries to celebrate it in a country that doesn’t believe in it.

Clarace with colleagues as they try to celebrate Christmas in their workplace.

One of the sure ways to uplift a Filipino spirit is to have a thought of Christmas. It is always a positive memory that we all hold dear in our hearts. Mine is no difference, having grown up in a close family that keeps Christmas tradition faithfully. It always brings a smile recalling those 9 morning masses preceding Christmas -It brings a smile to see the Christmas lights in each home, the decors, gifts, and lovely Christmas carols, and the spirit of faith, hope and love that it all evokes. Those were such happy memories to start. Yet, changes do occur.

In 2007, I started working as a nurse at the Emergency Department in one of the hospitals in Riyadh. December is wintertime in the city but I never expected it to be that cold. I thought Riyadh is a desert country and so it would always be scorching with dry heat.

Winter then was the busiest time in Pediatric Emergency. Most children who were brought in were suffering from various respiratory problems. It was Christmas Eve but I had to work for a night shift duty. Of course, it is not always a happy disposition to work during such time when every Christian would want to spend it with their love ones together instead. The call of duty demanded me to be in the hospital and to do the job. It was really a chaotic night with all those different cases to attend to that I had forgotten that it was already midnight. It was Christmas!

Fond Memories Bring the Light

By Fr Niall O’Brien

This article was written by the late Fr Niall O’Brien, founding editor of Misyon  for The Visayan Daily Star, a daily newspaper published in Bacolod City, where he had a weekly column. Father Niall died on 27 April 2004.

‘Fond memories bring the light of other days around me.’ So go the words of a 19th century Irish melody by Thomas Moore. That’s the way I feel when I remember Christmas as a child.

In my family there were strictly no presents given throughout the year, except birthdays and Christmas but particularly Christmas. I had many maiden aunts and bachelor uncles and they added their presents to those of Santa Claus so there was quite a pile waiting for us we new awoke at dawn on Christmas morning.

I recall not being able to sleep with the excitement. My parents could hardly go to bed at midnight before we would wake up. They used to leave three wineglasses and a tiny trace of sherry in the bottom of each glass to show that they had had a drink personally with Santa Claus. That third glass was proof that he had been there and it certainly convinced us.

I recall skating on the road outside our house at 2:30 am on my new roller skates on Christmas morning. I wonder what the tired neighbors thought because roller skates in those days were metal and made a terrible noise.

Christmas with a Purpose

By Richelle Verdeprado

The author, a social worker by profession and a campus journalist from elementary school through college, joined the editorial staff of Misyon in October. We have published a number of her articles in previous issues. She is from Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental.

Each year of my life I’ve celebrated Christmas in a different way. When I was still living with my family in our simple town, we used to celebrate Christmas with neighbors. We would share whatever we had with each other and would all end up having more than enough to eat for the celebration. In the eyes of the child like me that time, such a spirit of sharing made me wish for everyday to be like Christmas Day. That was a decade ago.

Richelle and her classmates in graduate school spending Christmas at Sagada, Mountain Province in the northern part of the Philippines

In 2011 I spent the Christmas Eve with the girls and Sisters in Holy Family Home, Pembo, Makati City. It was a night of prayers and laughter, a night of singing and hugging, merriment and reconciliation. For each girl in the home it was another night of being with a family, a family where they were being cared for and loved. By this time, I wasn’t a child anymore. But Christmas has its magical effect of bringing out in everyone the simplicity, innocence and joy of being a child once again. No matter where you are or who you are it just comes out naturally for you to be excited in giving and opening gifts, in putting up decorations in your house and in dancing to the beat of songs that we only hear when Christmas approaches.

Some Reflections on the Community at Mass

By Rowena D. Cuanico

The author, from Samar, is a former Columban Lay Missionary who served in Fiji and the Philippines. She is a frequent contributor to Misyon and other Columban magazines.

Weng with her Fijian friends

I often go to Mass at a chapel located in a shopping mall in an affluent part of town.

People are dressed nicely in fashionable clothes and shoes, carrying fashionable bags. They come mostly with their families. Some also come with their well-uniformed nannies and caregivers in tow.

Sometimes I would wonder why nannies and caregivers have to wear their uniforms. Is this to set their employers apart and bestow on them some status or prestige? Or is this to distinguish these nannies and caregivers from the rest of the congregation and assign them their place in society? I feel sad that even in a faith community where there should be ‘no more Gentile or Jew, servant or free, woman or man’, you can still identify their positions in society simply because of the uniforms some have to wear. I can't help but wonder,  is this how far we still are from the Kingdom of God whose dawning we have come to celebrate?