Tuesday, October 20, 2009

On Pleasure, Leisure and Celebration

To celebrate the successful presentation of the first years and the Johannine class in their final project with Sr. Miriam, we had our integration in Mergrande last October 17, 2009. More than that, it was also an opportunity to unwind and be merry after the end of the first semester. Together with us were Sr. Miriam herself and Sr. Claire, our liturgy professor. Our Indonesian brothers also joined us in this day of relaxation.

Before spending the rest of the day in Mergrande, the first years and the Indonesian brothers, together with Srs. Claire and Miriam headed to Eden Nature Park. As soon as we arrived in Eden Nature Park, which is an hour drive from the city proper, everyone was filled with enthusiasm anticipating on activities that lie ahead. After paying our entrance fees, we decided to take our snack first before engaging ourselves with the available recreation facilities in the park. But while waiting for the snack, some were too excited and tried the “Indiana Jones” experience. After taking the snack, we proceeded to the other side of the park to try horseback riding and the “sky-rider”.
Following the equally breath-taking and exciting experience, we had the tour around the park. While on the service shuttle together with the tour guide orienting us about the park, everyone took pleasure in looking in the scenic view within the vast privately-operated park. Gardens occupied with fruit bearing trees, ornamental flowers, edible plants and cultural displays depicting the natives were the main attractions on the park. Picture taking, by the way, was never out of sight. Almost at every stop, we manage to pause and pose for a shot. We then ate our lunch at around 2pm and headed back to Mergrande to join with the other group.

In Mergrande, the second years and some of the fourth years (Johannine class) had already begun swimming, drinking, eating, talking, playing (in short, relaxing) when we arrived. That’s what the integration is all about. So we also joined them making the most out of the precious moment to relax. At around 5pm, we gathered together along the shore for our evening prayer. Sweetly caressed by the sunset breeze, we enjoyed singing songs afterwards while sipping beer and chatting, enjoying each other’s stories and laughters.

Oh, before I forget, though it was the end of the semester, Sr. Miriam gave us a short task: reflection paper. Each of us tried to find our own time and phase responding on the two points for reflection. Well, good enough to keep us always aware and grounded on our own direction and vocation.

We ended up the day with a sumptuous meal. Thanks to the kind-hearted sponsors.

See you on the next semester!


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

SATMI: the School of Arts

Here in SATMI, besides theological study, students are also encouraged to develop and maximize their own talents and skills in non-academic areas such as music, arts, acting, etc. Thanks to Sr. Miriam, our Dean and professor in Scripture, who gave us an opportunity to express those gifts because she realizes that one of the things that are very important in studying the Scripture is the interpretation, how we make a biblical message become relevant and meaningful in our daily life and present and particular context. And it will be more interesting if we do it with our talents and creativity, which was exactly what we were doing on October 10, 2009, the presentation of our understanding and interpretation of the Bible that is not in a form of written paper but in a more creative way.

The event began with the presentation of the first year, which is part of the requirements for their course on the Introduction to the Sacred Scripture, on one of the famous stories in the Bible, the story of Jonah and the whale. However, Jonah was here depicted as the Church in Asia with all the difficulties and challenges it is facing. Like Jonah, the Church is reminded that it is only the instrument of God in His plan for salvation of humankind. Therefore, it has to follow not its own will but the Will of God. The presentation was the mixture of input, audio and visual presentation, dances and some tableaus. And I’m telling you, many new stars were born that afternoon.

The continuing presentation was about the Book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible. Actually, this was the result of the negotiation of the students with the professor, Sr. Miriam that the presentation would be done in a bigger scale presentation so that it would substitute the final exam. And fortunately, Sr. Miriam was kind enough to agree with the deal. In the presentation, the book of Revelation was interpreted as the book that tells us of the battle between the two forces, good and evil, that exist in the world and within each and every one of us. It is also the book of hope because we are told that in the end of this war, with the help of God, the goodness will reign victorious over sin and evil.

During the planning we all agreed that we would like as many people as possible to benefit from our presentation, so we decided to invite our friends, professors, benefactors, and some parishioners to come. And in the end of the show when all the lights were turned on again, we were quite surprised to see that the seats that we provided were not enough for all the people that came that afternoon. Finally, before everyone dispersed, Sr. Miriam gave a closing remark and orchestrated the angel clap to officially end the show. Wait! It couldn’t end just like that. Something is missing here. Oh! I remember. We had some snacks together. That’s how it actually ended. ^__^


Monday, October 12, 2009

Do Not Fear

Our Br May-T shares with us a very beautiful reflection on 'FEAR', drawing inspiration from the movie "Batman Begins". hmm.. guess we should be watching more superheroes movies huh?

Watching movies is one of the means that we do to recreate ourselves. Especially if the movies could leave some insights or messages to enrich or inspire our souls, it would be worth spending time and money to recreate. Recently, after finishing a long term assignment, I had a chance to once again view my favorite movie “Batman Begins”. I can not remember since when it has become my top three favorite movies, but I found myself watching it again for the fifth time. As I was watching up to the flashback after the little Bruce Wayne felt down the deep well and was attacked by the bats, and as his father rescued him and brought him to his room. There, I got something in their conversation.

His father: “You know why they attacked you, don’t you? His father asked calmly “They were afraid of you.”
Little Bruce Wayne: “Afraid of me?” on the bed, the little boy responded curiously.
His father: “All creatures feel fear.”
Little Bruce Wayne: “Even the scary ones?”
His father: “Especially the scary ones

I paused the movie and reflected for a moment, thought along with that paradox and agreed that it makes sense.

We always think that the scary one is forceful but actually it works another way around. The scary creatures that seem to be strong and know no fear, actually they are very fearful. They threaten so that the others will not harm them; they, in fact, react out of fear. This explains to me not only about animals but also people.

People can be scary as well (agree?), not by the way they look (alone) but by the way they treat other people. When a person treats others with harsh words, insensitivity, bad mood, coldness, arrogance, superiority, etc, they become scary. We might experience that some people make us feel like it is easier to walk away than to make friends with. Some people leave us a print of fear rather than of love. We tend to fear them, don’t we? (Some might say that they are not afraid but just do not want to get close.)Yes, we do not just tend to but we do fear. As a result, fear becomes our disposition without us realizing that it is a wrong reaction to react to fear with fear.

Another important thing that also needs to be considered is ‘power’. Like what most people think, the ‘scary ones’ might also think that they are forceful. It could be or just seems to be. If they consider that the ability to threaten others is power, they might be right. But if they realize that they are incapable of even taming the fear inside themselves, it is telling that they are just seemingly powerful. So, we better do not let those illusions convince us so.

Then what should we do? We need not to fear them or even to fight them, instead give them a surprise, by being a friend to them; a friend who does not fear them and does not want them to fear. We need to help them let go of their dreadful actions and show them some signs of love and acceptance. It is only then that the changes might happen, because by doing so we begin the process of breaking the fear and building the trust in their minds. But first we must be aware of the fear in our hearts and do not let it scares us or drives us away.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Day of Hits and Misses

An unusual recreation we had aside from the normal activity of going to beaches and resorts. This time round, it is an urban recreation. We practically caught the attention of many other onlookers when we shouted “Yeah, knock it out, Hoo-ray, strike, etc…in this recent recreation of Bowling at the NCCC Mall where we spent our relaxing day. Surely, it was loud for anyone to hear us when we cheered for our own group members. The excitement level was high the moment we started playing since 2 Pm for a consecutive of 2 games.

Accompanying the students were three of our very own professors namely, Sr Miriam, Fr Bebot and recently returned to Davao, Fr Allen. Sr Miriam was one who was acquainted with the ‘fairlanes’ bowling , however this time round, she upgraded to the bigger ball version and proved to be graceful and accurate even though she has to bowl in her habit. Seldom has she got to recreate with us in a sporty way until this time and she was really grateful for such a beautiful experience.

Throughout the game there were bloopers that were comical and hilarious. Apparently, many of us were first timers and we could not help but burst out laughing whenever someone ‘washes the drain’. Without names mentioned, one drop the ball nearly at another’s feet and that triggered the ‘accident trauma’ sentiment that we were carefully avoiding during this sports tournament period. Certainly we do not expect casualties even in this game of bowling. Thanks be to God, accident rate was zero this time.

While some were busy playing, many others were munching away the packed sandwiches and soft drinks that the Team of the Month prepared. Indeed, bowling is a game of precision which requires aim and technique. Nevertheless, the afternoon was communal in the sense that we had fun and exhaustion. Fr Bebot made a joking remark that he never knew bowling could be a form of exercise in the midst of an air-conditioned environment. Perhaps he might consider this as his form of workout… we never know !

At the end of the day, the average score for the four groups were just above a hundred with the group ‘fight for peace’ emerging as the Champion to seal the victory. A very competitive game amongst us.
The great thing about bowling is it can be played at any level; as a recreational activity or as a competitive sport. Personally, I had fun too. I have never tried to master the skill but instead just enjoy laughing at myself and others while having a great time.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Bike for a Cause: Help Save Our Earth!

Four of the students joined the “Bike for the Environment” with Fr. Picx last September 13-14, 2009. It was a campaign against the construction of a Coal-Fired Power Plant in Maasin, Sarangani Province. They travelled from Davao to Maasim via General Santos City. They were also joined by 4 bikers from our parish and more from the neighboring towns of Sarangani. They were met by hundreds of delegates in Maasim for a mobilization headed by the Redemptorist Itenerant Mission Team which is currently having its mission in the area.

The scorching heat of the sun pierced through my skin as I traversed the highway of Sarangani riding on a bicycle. What only gave me a sense of relief was the wonderful sight of the clean waters below – along the coasts of the nearby municipalities. But sooner or later these clean waters, and the fishes that have provided food for the inhabitants, will soon be gone when the construction of a coal-fired power plant will push through. Furthermore, not only the intense heat of the sun will kill all the trees and damage our skins but also the air we breathe will choke us to death. Eventually, every one of us, anywhere we may be, will suffer much if we will not act in order to save our environment from its relentless destruction.

The “Bike for a Cause” was our simple way of showing our great concern for what is happening to our world today. The climate change caused by the so-called global warming has continued to affect us. Strange occurrence of the seasons this year is a manifestation of this: unpredictable rains during the summer, heavy storms in some parts of the country while other parts are experiencing unbearably hot weather and a lot more. These things have affected us so much that we find it necessary to make a move now. The simple way of bringing to people’s consciousness the ill effects of our misuse and abuse of the environment will hopefully touch their hearts and compel them to do their own part of helping to save the earth.

Each and every one of us, whether we like it or not, will really be affected for the things we do to our nature. The degradation of our natural resources and the pollution in our lands, waters and air in exchange for a temporal “apparently good development” will make us all suffer in the end. However, there are still some things which we can do to prevent all these. Information dissemination is just one way. Each of us, in our own little ways, can contribute to the salvation of our world if only we consciously do it.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Other Side of the Coin

Every time when I think back of “The Reluctant Saint” (TRS), only wonderful memories flood into my mind. I think back of the preparation, the rehearsals, and then the big night, the lights, the sounds, the dance, the drama, the singing, the euphoria of being on stage, the applause the spotlights, the friendships, the memories…

But yesterday, as I went for my GKK apostolate, I experienced for the first time the tragedy that was somewhat caused by TRS.

Our group leader brought us to a house, of which the father of the family met with a horrible accident on his way back from the performance of TRS. While on the motorcycle, he lost control of the bike just about 1km away from the church, he fell and crushed his head onto a metal bar nearby. All this happened in plain sight of his horrified family members who were in the car just behind him. After rushing to the hospital, he was pronounced brain-dead, at the mere age of 41.

As I stood beside the vegetated body of Joey Aguelo, looking at his body which had lost almost half the weight as compared to the chubby photo placed by the bedside, I was at a total loss of words. As I listened to the mother sharing the experience of coping with the situation, with the 8 year old daughter saying, “I am tired of praying, papa never gets up even after all our prayer.” And the 5 year old son quietly sitting beside the father and whispered “ daddy, it’s my birthday, please wake up and celebrate with us and don’t die!”, all, I could do was remain silent.

Suddenly it struck me, all my years of studies, all the inputs of scriptures, dogmas, philosophies and theologies… I could not think of a single sentence that was appropriate for the moment. All I could do was to offer my presence and my prayer.

Lately I have been very occupied with studies and assignments, inside me I knew I needed a balance, but externally I could not find a way to do so. I felt so distant from reality. As I visited Joey everything came into perspective. Beyond the walls of SATMI there are many lives and realities going on. Humanity is in motion. At times when we are so caught up in the ‘study’ of life, it is good for us to put down what we are doing and look at life itself. Recently our community was discussing on the value of going out, although the reasons might be many, but maybe one good thing is that stepping out of SATMI at times reminds us that we are still living in reality.

Typhoons had come and go, tsunami and earthquake had shattered lives, and I’m still thinking of how best to pass my exams. That doesn’t seem too right. Of course, I can’t dash out and start changing the world now, but it definitely helps for me to have perspective, and be aware of the world out there.

So, as we approach our anniversary of TRS, can I kindly call upon all who were involved, the students, the youth, the audience, the supporters, etc. to all keep in mind the person of Joey, let’s pray that St Alphonsus will shower his special protection upon him and his family, and may our mother protect and intercede for him always. Let’s also occasionally look beyond ourselves, and be reminded that there are other lives out there.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Reds Vs White

On 30th this month we had THE GAME of the semester: Basketball between Redemptorist and Remase. Our brothers really poured their hearts and souls into the preparation for the match. I have never seen such enthusiasm and passion. The brothers literally skipped meals, and rushed through prayers just to have their practices. I was all ready in my mind to write this article with wonderful quotes like “It is not all about winning, but it feels darn good to win!”, but sadly, sister reality had a mind of her own.

Anyway, firstly I would just like to touch on this whole thing about the term “friendly match”. I am really starting to wonder why we always call these matches “friendly”, when the atmosphere of game is anything but! Ignorantly I did a stupid thing of trying a crack a joke with one of our brothers who was in the game, he turned and looked at me with a stare that reminded me of a lion who is all ready to pound on a helpless antelope. Even now when I think back of the stare it gives me the shivers.

So back to the game… We started off pretty well, both parties were ‘friendly’ enough and the Reds were gaining some initial potential. With our “cheering squad” and “pom pom girls” we were pretty positive of our victory (even our dear Br RJ was all well and played with optimum shape, praise the Lord for that). However, somewhere through the game the Whites (Remase students) started utilizing their deadly shooter who kept scoring three pointers and forced the score apart.

Our brothers fought back courageously, with varying tactics and change of players, even Fr Cruz joined in and gave some valuable strategy advice. However, it seemed like lady luck was not on our side that day. We managed to draw the score very close towards the end of the game, closing to 3 points different, and while Br Shawn was attempting a three point shot, he was tackled, and was thus given 3 penalty shots. Our hearts stopped and all eyes were glued to Shawn. Sadly, Shawn did not make the shots (but no worries Br Shawn, ITCHSsss OK!  a little internal joke :P)

There was about 6 seconds left after the penalty shots, and our drama king, Br Ryan attempted a shot almost from half court. Normally in a Disney fairy tale, this would be the time when the ball miraculously got into the ring and everyone hailed in ecstasy, but, unfortunately, we were not in a fairy tale, so we gracefully lost the game with 3 points difference.

Well, don’t worry brothers, there’s always another game. Maybe next time we should concentrate more in style, have everyone smile and play extra courteous, and then maybe we can call it the friendliest game of the year. Even if we lose then, we will lose extremely gracefully, but if we win, boy oh boy, we will feel DARN GOOD :P