Our Hideaway

Christi Simus Non Nostri, Let us be of Christ not of ourselves

By Churchill Aguilar

The author, who lives in Cagayan de Oro, was a Columban seminarian during his college years. He contributes regularly to the Mindanao Gold Star Daily, where this article first appeared. He wrote about his late sister in Remembering Ate Bem in the September-October 2012 issue of Misyon.

My last project left me so exhausted that I could not even write an evaluation report two days after it culminated. So I decided to grab the strongest coffee at my favorite coffee shop in Centrio Mall. Coincidentally, I met two missionary priests who were once my brothers in the Columbans. The bond we had brought me back to my seminary years. Let me share with you my vocation story.

Fifteen years ago, Fr Bernard Steed, an Irish Columban, visited my high school with his ‘magic bag’. From it he took lots of stuff, with each piece of which he shared stories of young men who crossed boundaries to experience the adventure of their lives. I couldn’t help but be drawn to the spirit in him as he passionately narrated how his friends broke the boundaries of language and culture and found happiness in far flung areas of the world.

A few months later, the experience shook me enough to change the career plans that I had prepared for years, to my Dad’s disappointment. I left my family to join Father Bernard’s group, the Missionary Society of St Columban. There I saw and experienced what he had shared in his stories; I had a good run.


A ‘Pilgrimage of Life’

A reaction paper by Mitch Owen Gil G. Ledesma

The author is studying Medical Technology at Colegio San Agustin, Bacolod City (CSA-B).

This year we celebrate the Year of Faith. Because of this we had a ‘Pilgrimage of Life’ on Saturday 1 December 2012. A pilgrimage is a journey of grace, it a spiritual journey of faith towards God. Pope Benedict XVI began his apostolic letter Porta Fidei, announcing the Year of Faith, with these words: The ‘door of faith’ (Acts 14:27) is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his Church . . . To enter through that door is to set out on a journey that lasts a lifetime’. The ‘Pilgrimage of Life’ made me ask how strong my faith in God is and what I must do in order to serve Him.

During the pilgrimage we visited many churches here in Negros Occidental and I learned a lot about their history. One example is San Isidro Labrador Church in Binalbagan. I learned that that was where the Augustinian missionaries first planted the seed of Christianity and that San Isidro is the Patron of Laborers, a true model of hard work.

After that we continued travelling and had the chance to share our experiences, opinions and views on how we relate our work to our faith and trust in God. Through that, I realized that in everything we do, we should know why we are doing it. We must always bear in mind that God is the source of all our knowledge, wisdom, skill and talents, so we must work through his grace and for his glory.

Bangon Cagayan

By Erl Dylan J. Tabaco

The author, a Columban seminarian, writes about the disaster that hit his native Cagayan de Oro City, Mindanao, last December. He has appeared a number of times in Misyon, most recently in the January-February 2012 issue, Revitalizing the Church: Bringing the Gospel to the Deaf.

While on my way to the airport for my afternoon flight back to Manila, I saw a big streamer with the words ‘Bangon Cagayan’ (‘Arise Cagayan’). This mirrored the sad faces of many in Cagayan de Oro City (CDO) where severe tropical storm Sendong (international name: ‘Washi’) had struck a number of barangays (administrative districts) in the city during the night of 16-17 December last year.  It took the lives of hundreds of people and caused much damage to infrastructures and property.

On the other hand, the streamer encouraged people to remember that there is always hope amidst despair. I recalled my own experience that night.  In my 25 years I had never experienced that kind of catastrophe. It was beyond my imagination.

Remembering Ate Bem

By Churchill G. Aguilar

This article first appeared in the Sun*Star, Cagayan de Oro City, on 17 July. It is slightly edited here. The author was in the Columban College Formation Program in his college days, when he studied at the University of San Carlos, Cebu City.

Editor’s note for non-Filipinos: ‘Ate’(AHteh) is a Tagalog term of affectionate respect for an older sister or for a woman to whom you relate as to an older sister.

In her illness, I saw strength: a paradox I witnessed in the life of my eldest sister, Ate Bem.

At age six, Ate Bem was diagnosed with rheumatic heart disease. Since then, the hospital had been her second home, yet it never took the smile off her face.

Ate Bem was very determined to live a normal life. Even with her absences from school, she always managed to be an honor student. She never made her illness an excuse to escape from her responsibilities as the big sister to her five siblings.

Across Cultural Boundaries
By John Wang Zongshe

John and Joseph Li Jiangan are the first seminarians from China to join the Columbans. After a year studying English in Manila they have just begun their spiritual formation year in Cubao, Quezon City. They told their vocation stories in our May-June issue.

John Wang on a carabao

‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age’ (Matthew 28:19-20, RSV CE). Inspired by this passage, missionaries have been trying to evangelize people in foreign countries. Through two thousand years of effort, people in most countries have heard about Jesus and some have believed in Him.

Weaving a Dream

By Mercy B. Gawason

The author is a young Subanen who works with Subanen Craft.. She and her companions at Subanen Crafts recently visited Negros Occidental and dropped by the Misyon editorial office in Bacolod City.

There’s no easy way for the poor to reach their dreams. They have to work and sacrifice for it. There are lots of thorns and obstacles that you can encounter but if you really want to achieve your dreams in life, then you'll find your own strategy. No matter how difficult it is you must go on. As they say, poverty is not a hindrance to success. Never forget where you have come from and always remember decisions you've made because you’ve put God first in all things and believe that with God nothing is impossible.

Revitalizing the Church: Bringing the Gospel to the Deaf

By Erl Dylan J. Tabaco

The author is a Columban seminarian from Cagayan de Oro City.

I grew up in Holy Rosary Parish, Agusan, Cagayan de Oro City, where church organizations flourished at the time I got involved in parish activities. As early as high school, I was already working in the parish and I was really amazed by the parishioners’ dedication in serving the Church. Among the organizations, Ministry to the Deaf caught my attention and I was motivated to work with it. I remember one time at Mass there was a Sign Language interpreter. I told myself that someday I would be standing there in front ministering to the Deaf, bringing the Good News to them. With my desire to be part of the Ministry to the Deaf, I studied Sign Language for two months and worked with the Deaf community for a year.

‘Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God’ (Matthew 5:9).

By Rose Jessica ‘Jet’ F. Octaviano

our hideaway

The Marines of the Church

By Reynante Bantigue

our Hideaway

In my exposure in Negros Occidental, I was able to visit the places in the Diocese of Kabankalan where Columban missionaries have greatly involved for 61 years. Many of their contributions were noticeable: schools and churches they built, various communities organized, many programs and projects initiated; all in the service of justice and the uplifting of human dignity is uplift. I was very impressed.

By ‘Laura’

The author is in 4th year college in Bacolod City, majoring in Information Technology.

In my early years I could clearly tell how difficult it is to be born into a family where you long for love and care. Where there is only a little food that can satisfy your starving stomach. Where you can almost feel your world is spinning upside down because you can no longer stand the scarcity. Where you walk to school empty-handed, no ballpen, no trendy bags such as your classmates have, no paper or whatever.

My mother had to scrimp from her small wage. I tried selling ube candy in grade school when I was just a Kinder II student. I can vividly remember how my classmates laughed at me because I used a Lady’s Choice Mayonnaise jar for my water. To make the humiliation even worse, the jar broke because I was too careless. How I was so envious of my classmates having everything they needed. If only I could, I would work more than my mother did every day and every hour of her life. I used to cry a lot in silence thinking how my life was a mess. Like any puzzled kid, I protested, ‘Why me?’