Saturday, December 25, 2010


It’s that time of year again when the students have to shake of the dust of their vocal chords which have been placed in cold storage and tune them again to vocal brilliance as its time for “DING DONG MERRILY ON HIGH.” Yes the spirit of Christmas is in the air once again in Davao. As lights and street decorations come alive all over the city, here at SATMI, the students have been busy training and practicing their voices to bring Christmas cheer and joy and happiness and sheer wholesome yuletide goodness to the very people who have been actively supporting and cheering us on in our studies, apostolates and our vocation, the Redemptorist Oblates and Associates. These very important people behind the scenes pray constantly for each aspirant, each seminarian and each brother and priest who walks and passes through the doors our formation houses and seminaries and they also support the formation process materially through very generous donations and gifts. Hence the students each christmas, show their heartfelt appreciation for the invaluable support that has been shown and given to them by going to the homes and houses of our oblates and associates to sing christmas carols.

In addition, the students decided this year, due to greater numbers and also greater confidence in their vocal prowess, to bring christmas cheer through caroling to the inmates of the Davao city jail as well the patients at Davao Medical Center, the local government hospital. However in the end, it was not so much the quality of the singing that mattered, whether the right notes were sung, whether it was sharp or flat. What was important was presence that the seminarians came to visit, to drop by and to talk and chat and laugh. That is the spirit of christmas, Emmanuel, God being born to be with us as one of us. We are hence invited to be with each other, to share in the love that God so freely gives. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Loy Kratong

With the beginning of advent season, this is also another opportunity for the Thai festival called “Loy Kratong” to reflect our life with the water especially water in our life.

On the Loy Kratong night, at dinner, everyone wears their own costumes, especially Thai students because they have a new costumes,and it is Thai trandition and Thai festival. We also have Kratong making competition. We made Krantong by year level.Fr. Bom, who acclaimed the first year Kratong as the winner.
Tonight we enjoyed eating especially Thai foods which were served. Some of none Thai students who have experience Loy Kratong festival in Thailand were given the chance to share their espresions and experience. After dinner, all of us went to the pond in the middle of our garden for Loy Kratong floating. We hope that all of the Kratongs would float but our hope sometime, fails because the Kratong of the Second year sank as Fr. Bom foretold.

Why do we have Loy Kratong festival? It Is too long history. The interpretation and the meaning of Loy kratong are not only for fun, but it has a meaning for our lives too. In the tradition we believe that water is the most important for our life, so we come together in the river with our Kratong, say a prayer of thanksgiving and apologize the river or the water before we float the kratong. We believe also that when we are floating the Kratong we also floating the bad thing in our life.
We come together here not only to celebrate the festival only, but also the Kratong reminds us that we are also floating ourselves in the same boat in the wide space of the ocean. It is not easy to float our boat alone but with the helping of each other our boat will smoothly go to its direction, even though sometimes we encounter the surge of the wind or other storms of life.

Lastly, we hope that the Loy Kratong festival will continue to the next years. Thank God that we have beautiful festivals, and thanks also to the whole community who supported our festival celebration.


Thursday, November 4, 2010


Hardly a day had passed since the end of our mid year retreat that the students were off again. This time to Davao Del Norte and Compostella Valley for our much awaited community vacation. The students had given the community committee a very challenging task by requesting for a vacation that encompassed the elements of Sun, Sand and Sea as well as Scenic Views and Cool Mountain Air. I don’t think that mother nature in all her beauty and grandeur would be able to meet the demands of the students in one location at least here on earth. However the community committee did not let this seemingly impossible requirement from getting in the way of planning a fantastic vacation for the community.

In addition, the Philippines as an island chain formed by seismic and volcanic activity does offer though not in one location but in relatively close proximity the elements requested by the demanding students. Thus the plan would be to drop by a beach resort on the first day in Davao Del Norte close by to Tagum City before heading off to Haven’s Peak Resort in picturesque Compostella Valley.

First stop was Sun, Sand and Sea at Manaklay Beach Resort Some of the students spent the morning swimming and playing beach volley ball whilst others were content to just soak in the refreshing sea breeze and laid back atmosphere of the beach resort. After a packed lunch of pasta, chicken and water melon, the students were on the road again heading further east up into the mountains of Compostella Valley.

After a 5 hour drive through some challenging country roads, we finally reached Maragusan. Home of Haven’s Peak our mountain resort and home for the next 2 days. Passing through the town proper, our convoy of three vehicles were soon reach the base of the resort but due to a slight down pour earlier, the dirt road leading up to the resort itself became an impediment for our vehicles and thus one by one, the students and formators chipped in to push the vehicles through and up to the resort‘s entrance and carpark only to find that the final challenge lay in walking the 203 steps up to the resort itself. What a trek. The rest of the evening saw the students in various parts of the resort enjoying the cool and refreshing mountain air.

The next day was a jam packed, activity filled day from morning to evening as the students went river trekking, swimming at two different waterfalls and cold spring. The day was nicely capped by a relaxing dip in a hot spring. Well relaxing at first until some of the students decided to human trampoline the others one by one. All too soon on the next day, the vacation came to an end. It was a tremendous effort done by the community committee. Kudos to the guys who went out of their way to ensure a great vacation for their fellow students.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

“Disturb us Lord” SAT Students Mid-year Retreat

After a semester of studying, doing projects and extra-curricular activities, the SAT students had their four days last October 27 – 31, 2010 at the Dominican House of Prayer, Matina, Davao City. It was facilitated by a Passionist priest, Fr. Rogie CastellaƱo, C.P. His view of a retreat is to be disturbed by the Lord. He explained that people might find their life mechanical, scheduled or structured but a retreat is a time for the Lord to come and disturb these kinds of feelings. He further explained that it is not to make life more complicated but to breathe new life into it. It is more of putting things into new perspective. Therefore, he reminded us to pray, to be in silence and to listen to God’s message and God’s will after finishing the first semester.

And to facilitate us in the four days retreat, Fr. Rogie prepared series of reflection sessions. The first and second sessions were focus on reflecting the dry bones in Ezekiel 37. He emphasized that it is the breath of God that gives life to our lives. It is also the challenge to every religious to hope in God to renew them every step of the journey. Session 3 was about recalling our “sequel Christi,” our vocation story. Fr. Rogie encouraged us to remember the moment that we first responded to the “call.” He also wanted us to reflect on the ups and downs of our journey in following Christ. It is like to be in touch with the reason why we follow so that we will know where we are going.

Then, the rest of the sessions are all about deepening our “sequel Christi” with some reflections of the evangelical vows; poverty, chastity and obedience. These sessions reminded us about the meaning of these evangelical vows in relation to our formation and desire to follow Christ as a Redemptorist.
Aside from the formal sessions, Fr. Rogie also helps us in reflection with his downloaded videos from youtube. The videos were short films, some are funny advertisements to amuse us and some are serious dramas that made us stop and reflect about our own lives. In general, the videos were helpful to bring life and point of reflection while listening to the input. And our retreat days will not be complete without our creative opening prayers. We danced and pray through the steps of some bibliodrama dances.

On a personal experience of this mid-year retreat, I really enjoy the light schedule of the retreat. It was also helpful that Fr. Rogie gave a simple but direct message during his inputs and sessions. He was also dynamic in acknowledging the good things of the different cultures present. And the place was very inviting to reflect and to be in touch with our inner stirrings.

In my reflection, during the retreat I was disturbed by the Lord in a good way. I was reminded that what I experienced in the past semester is just part and parcel of my “sequela Christi,” my journey of following Christ. I am also reminded to be in touch with the life giving breath of God to refresh me every time I feel dryness in my life. “Breathe on me, Breath of God”


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Studendate Program Evaluation and Peer Feedbacking:

Looking Back with Gratitude and Continuing the Journey with Hope
The way we live our present life is essentially; how we learned from the lessons of the past; how we discover and appreciate the hidden graces that were and are there; and how we envision our future.

Last October 25- 26, 2010, the Redemptorist Students Community in Davao had its Mid-year Program Evaluation. It is an exercise of critically and honestly evaluating the success and the lapses in terms of the implementation and of the way students responded to the Studendate Program for the present school year. Although there were some gray areas in the process and procedure of the evaluation but the exercise was able to give them a picture of the past, with its graces and lessons.

There is a reason to be grateful since generally the evaluation on the different aspects of the program was good. The students also responded well to the program and did commendable efforts towards its implementation. They, however, are continually challenged not to be complacent. There is nothing that one can do to undo the lapses of the past- there is no reason to cry over a spilled glass of milk but there is reason to cry when one keep on spilling the glass of milk.

On the afternoon of October 26, 2010, after the formal program evaluation a co-formatorship exercise, peer evaluation, was held. The focus of this exercise was on the individual members of the community. It was a venue for the students to express their appreciations, their fraternal love and concern, and their constructive critiques to one another. Fr. Cruzito Manding, C.Ss.R., the student prefect, facilitated the activity. The process this time was different from what has been done before. Each student was still given a sheet of paper for them to write their feedbacks and for them to hand to the concerned individuals. Everyone was given an equal opportunity to give their written feedbacks to their fellow students. But instead of having the formal sharing of feedbacks done within the whole studendate community, they have it within their BEC and Batch groupings.

The Studendate Program Evaluation and the Peer Feedbacking were venues that allow the students to look at the past to discover and to be grateful for the hidden graces that were and are there while being open to be taught by the lapses that were done. It is, moreover, an opportunity to practically examine their visions for the future and a stepping stone for them to continue their journey with hope.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

SATMI Film Festival 2010: The Beginning

October 16, 17 and 18 of this year saw the budding and discovered the talents of the students as the SATMI Film Festival is fashioned. It is a response to the challenges of the times to create an attractive means to sow the Gospel seeds in the heart of the multitudes in a fast changing reality today. Started as the first year’s class requirement, it surprisingly pushed it luck into becoming a SATMI program. With the initiative of the organizer, Bro. JM, and the approval our Dean of Studies, Sr. Miriam, the Film Festival is formalized. To make it more appealing and as a SATMI’s effort, the second year students contributed to the creativity of the event through their exhibits while the fourth year students conducted seminars on scriptures on the 17th. The endeavor is great and ambitious. Consequently, though, despite its idealism and complexity, it made the students bring out their best in the enterprise. It has now become part of the SATMI history that etched consciousness to the needs of the time, meaning and beauty to the religious education of the institution.

Certainly, all of us learn to stand and walk with a guide. And sometimes, you will need a push to start pondering about a journey. Personally speaking, as we make the film, it feels like a baby learning the balance and the steps, and that, I believe, you will never know how far you can reach if you will not dare to take a step. The SATMI Film Festival is a great opportunity to experience something new in the institution through the trust and belief of all who have pushed it to happen and made us walk the path. It is a meaningful experience.

It makes me grateful recalling what have happened along the way. As we prepare and discuss about the movie, we could not find an assuring direction. Our ideas are scattered. Our concepts are confronted with the realities we encountered and need to address. We relied much on our inner resources and the expenses on our pockets and of course God’s providence. There are moments when we have to decide not to include a certain idea for time and financial constraint. There are a lot of considerations: cast, script, message, finances, time, venue, and devices. Amidst the odds, we continued the endeavor hoping to find a light on the way. God has been good. He provided. It seems so exceptional that things work out after all.

From the experience, I begin to be conscious not just how the story flows, imparts its message and ends but of how movies are created. It was a series of thorough analysis and repetitions in the taping. Tough situations make strong character. What is true with our experience is that the lessons learned mostly come from what we have been through and not what we have reached. I will always carry the inspiration that says, “Life is not about the destination but rather it is about the journey.” I will be forever grateful for the friendship built among the members of the group and the casts, the talents that was discovered, the support and encouragement of Sr. Miriam that we are able to come up with the idea, the tensions between us that made us strong, the guidance of God as we discerned for His message and His revelation in the generosity and kindness of the people we met and supported us along the way. These are the treasures worth keeping.

The seed has been planted. I am hopeful that this beginning will inspire the future of the institution. Time and circumstance is constantly calling for versatility in proclaiming the Gospel. God speaks through various ways.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Theological Synthesis

“I don’t want to be an eagle, nor do I want to be a worm. What I want is to simply be a priest with a soft heart but a sharp mind.”

After semester- long laboring, the final day had come (Though it was not really final and it was a week rather than a day.” On the last week of the past month (September), SATMI had devoted its whole afternoon for an event called “public lecture.” This public lecture was part of the theological synthesis of the fifth year students who were moving toward their graduation in the near future. 

Before I would tell about the actual experience from the public lecture, I would like to tell you a little bit about this theological synthesis. It had been a tradition here in SATMI that on the last year in their academic life, students would be asked to do systematic theological synthesis. It was a time when students would synthesize all the scriptural-theological-moral -pastoral learning they had for years in this institute and came up with a systematic presentation to prepare a ground for them before they would exposed themselves in their future ministry. 

This year, academic council had decided to change the method from synthesizing each subject separately to make it as a whole in order to respond to the given pastoral issue. After choosing the topic (pastoral urgency) prepared by the council, the students used their first semester to develop their topics in the related areas such as biblical, doctrinal, moral and pastoral aspects. In developing their topics on the basic area mentioned above students are ask to come up with a presentation (public lecture) of their topic at the end of the first semester before professors and other students. However the challenge did not end here and the work were still ongoing because students had to develop their topic into an academic paper on the second semester. 

Here we arrived at the point of public lecture; the week was heavy but fruitful for every fifth year students who worked so hard with their mentor (Bro. Ramon.) At the public lecture, after presenting their topic, everyone would receive feedback, comment, and suggestion from panelists to improve their work in the future (next semester.) It was a good academic experience indeed and we would like to use this moment to show our appreciation and gratitude for everyone who had also worked hard to make this project came true.

Personally, I felt more challenged to apply this method in our synthesis because in the process I did not only  have to review, summarize and remember the studies that I had for many years but also to be able to see their connection to the real pastoral situation, to make a criticism and to suggest some possible solutions on the ground I had founded from m study. It was a exercise of mind indeed that I was challenged to have a critical mind to see the whole picture of the pastoral issue I had chosen while at the same time be sensitive to the outcome of the pastoral guidance that I may give in order to respond properly to such an issue.

Even tough, public lecture was done, the study was still going on and there will be a lot to learn next semester. I at the moment felt that I started to become a minister with a soft heart and sharp mind as our synthesis intended. Thanks be to God.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Eden Nature Integration

Last September 22, 2010 was the integration for the First Year SATMI students in Eden Nature Park. This is part of our activities in studying Introduction to Sacred Scriptures with Sr. Miriam Alejandrino, OSB as professor. The said trip was participated by (15) fifteen first year students from different congregations, like C.Ss.R, TOR, Marist, CFIC and our guest priests Frs. Caloy and Meechai. Some were first timers in this place and some have gone here many times but they still consider this place a paradise.

We started our activities with the morning prayer led by Sr. Miriam. We experienced God’s presence among us and in the place. Of Course, strolling around the vicinity followed. As tourists, we were privileged to be toured and oriented to different attractions in the place like the bio-organic garden, the wonderful view overlooking the city of Davao, the different cottages of the indigenous people of Davao and many others. We also witnessed the beauty of God’s creation. We inhaled fresh air. We were greeted by the dances of flowers and trees in the vast fields, and the songs of birds which added to the inviting serenity that filled the place. Our morning activities ended with the most awaited part – snacks.

Our afternoon session began with a reflection on Psalm 127:1 “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build labour in vain, Unless the Lord guards the city, the guard keeps watch in vain”. We were instructed to express our reflection through poem, essay, drawing or song lyrics. As I reflected on the activity which Sr. Miriam gave to us, I realized that the main purpose of us coming here was to witness the integrity of creation, to appreciate and enjoy God’s craftsmanship. The text led us to a deeper level of reflection and contemplation, and enabled us to tap our inner resources as we childlikely basked in the unspeakable pulchritude of the “tall trees and the green world”. Nonetheless, we became aware that God was really present in us through his creation. Without him we are nothing. And we are challenged that in everything we do we should be anchored in God’s will.

Finally, we finished our individual reflection, the group was ready and set for the skyride. Everybody enjoyed the said activity and even wanted to have some more rides if it had not been for the expensive cost. Most of us were first timers to take this ride yet certainly we enjoyed. Before we left the area we capped the day with our last ritual prayer led by Sr. Miriam and off we went... Home sweet home .


Thursday, September 30, 2010

CPE the Orang Asli Way…

CPE the orang asli way…

If you think that culture shock only happens in a foreign country, then think again! After only a year back in dear ol’ Davao, it was time for us to pack our bags once again and head o the wonderful world outside to ‘test our skills’ and ‘sharpen our swords’. Nope, we are not going into the native Amazon jungle, but yes, we are heading off for our Pastoral year back into the comfort of our own country, or so we think …

We had a little break once we got back to Singapore/Malaysia, had a month of community visits and finally settled down in Kuala Lumpur to start our 10 weeks long Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program. I was personally very excited as I have not had the chance to really work or experience any form of pastoral interaction in my own country. The opportunity to really talk to the people, getting to know the local context, and to look deep into my own self all at once in this program was indeed very exciting for me.

But soon, the initial excitement turned into hard work and frustration. Loads upon loads of assignments started to be piled on us, and we seemed to be using every single breathing moment working on papers. The visits were filled with anxiety as I struggled to fine tune my ‘pastoral care’ for the patients. I had one thousand and one things going on in my mind when I spoke to the patients,as I tried to find the right words to say and figuring out the right gesture to show my concern. Luckily , it was only a phase, soon, I sort of had a better grasp of things, and everything started to fall into place, and that’s when I started to have time to sit back and reflect.

One of the most surprising realization I had was the fact that I actually know very little of the reality in my country. As I took time to talk to people of various walks in the hospital, I started to see the concerns and the issues happening around the place. I realized that in reality, nothing is ever perfect or ideal. There were cracks in the harmony that was presented, there were danger lurking in the peaceful outward presentation. People were worried of the state of the country; they were worried of safety, of economical stability, of racial tension, of the future of the country. On the other hand, I was also pleasantly surprised by the optimism that was shared by some. My one-sided perception of racial tension was altered as I met beautiful people of other races who opened up their hearts and shared with me in deep fraternal bond. My fear of religious unrest was soothed when people of other faith dialogued with me in deep sincerity. I was somewhat touched and edified. This was the first time that all my idealistic view of my country, our races and our religion was altered and readjusted with ground-level interaction and dialogue, and that was to me a truly enlightening journey.

That aside, the unending processing of verbatim and other self awareness reports had also helped me understand myself better. I learnt a lot in the manner I deal with people, and managed to ‘field test’ a lot of methods to dialogue with people more effectively. One important thing I learnt of myself is that it is very difficult to have a good conversation when you have your own agendas building in your own mind. When before the other finished what he/she has to say, you already have all the response prepared in your mind, then you have lost the ability to truly listen and to know what the other really wanted to express. As I worked on this art of listening, I realized that actually most people don’t really need me to talk much. All I need to do is to show that I am truly listening, and people will (almost miraculously) open up and pour out their inner world to me. It was truly an amazing realization for me. I never knew that by just keeping silent I could get so much out of the others. I almost felt like I have gained a new super-power, and I can’t wait to get back out into the real world to try out these new found abilities

Of course, tough as it is, the CPE is not constantly all work and no play. We did have some very enjoyable moments with our midterm break where we went up to Genting highlands and ran wild like little kids again. We also had some interactions with the casts and crew of “The Reluctant Saint Musical” (another long story for another day), and finally we had quite an exciting time towards the end planning our own graduation and saying goodbye to all whom has helped us during our stay.

The 10 weeks flew by in a flash. Before we knew it, it was gone. But for all of us, it was definitely a precious time of self awareness and personal growth. As we packed our bags up again and headed off to our respective mission community, we brought along with us the joys and the learnings of this wonderful time. We have managed to arm ourselves with better ammunition and shield, and now we are ready to head into the world and face the giants. Mission immersion…. HERE WE COME! (-Terence)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

“when heroes come to dine and cartoon characters come to life…”

Last Sunday, September 26, 2010, as I entered the community refectory I was surprised to see Superman, Wolverine, Green Lantern and the Men in Black. I thought I was dreaming because I too saw Aladdin, Ryu and the Prince of Egypt. Later, I found myself enjoying a sumptuous dinner with the boy named Russell (of UP) with his colorful balloons. I remember he was proudly showing me his ID picture. As I was refilling my plate at the buffet table, Edward greeted me with his skin glittering like diamonds but I was wondering where Bella was at that time. During that night, I also rubbed elbows with Indiana Jones, a pirate and a gangster from New York. I met a lot of hero-looking pals. Some of them looked familiar but I had forgotten where I met them in this world. And oh, I also met a Greek god with some white puffy hair style. Why were all these heroes here to dine with us? Why had these cartoon characters come to life? What’s the occasion that they all came to celebrate?

I was not dreaming. This was not fiction or any embellished story. These characters really came to life last Sunday during the monthly community celebration for the month of September. Much was the effort given by most individuals in putting on their fictional character costumes that they really looked almost like the characters I only see on TV. The BEC of the month: St. Gerard hosted the said costume party to honor the birthday celebrants of the month. Neil was lucky enough to have a costume party on the day of his birthday. But it was not just for him. As it was also a celebration for Allan (Ryu), Gilbert (the Greek god), Lhionnel (Russell), Dominic and Morris (Superman). That day was also the feast of our dear Blessed Gaspar Stanggasinger.

We spend the night with some games and ice cream for everyone! We were lucky to have with us Sr. Evelyn Flanagan, PBVM. She is here with us for three weeks to help us improve our English. She was also one of the judges during that night together with Fr. Caloy and Fr. Allen who proclaimed the winner for the Best in Costume. They proclaimed Superman, the Greek God and Russell for the third, second and first prize respectively.

On behalf of everyone who enjoyed the celebration, we would like to thank the BEC of the month for the efforts they have exerted to make our community celebration colorful, lively and enjoyable.

merci beau coup!


Tuesday, September 14, 2010


The afternoon of Friday September 10 saw the Redemptorist Community, students, priests, sister and even staff head down to the St Francis Xavier Major Seminary (Remase) for an afternoon of physical interaction, in the form of basketball and volleyball.

This was the first outing and match for our newly formed Varsity Teams who as previously blogged have been practising very hard. We were warmly welcomed at Remase by the Rector of the Seminary Msgr Abel Apigo who is also our professor for Church History here at SATMI.

Our Varsity Teams wasted no time and in their brand new designer uniforms, they were soon on the courts warming up. Shouts of “Eye on the ball, eye on the ball” reverberated around as the players started their warm up routine.

Meanwhile, the cheering squad were also busy getting ready ensuring that they had to the best seats in the house so as to maximise the effect of their moral boasting, power giving, spirit filled cheers, shouts and whistles led by none other than our very own Dean of Students, Sr Miriam.

After a short prayer for a fare game and a petition that no limbs, appendages, fingers or toes would be harmed during this afternoon's friendly matches, the players entered the courts, the referees stood ready, Msgr Apigo and Fr Cruz eyes turned to heaven, and it was GAME ON!

Both the Basketball and Volleyball matches were played simultaneously providing non-stop action for the spectators and cheer squads. Encouraging shouts resonated up and down the courts as the captains of the teams gave their instructions, encouragement as well as the occasional lambasting to their teams. The cheering squad were screaming, squealing from one side to the other “Go go Ryan”, “Volleyball quick turn turn”, “Go Felise”, “Turn back turn back to basketball”, “Go Bird”.

It was a nail biting afternoon as the scores for both sides were very close and each side gave its all. Did it really matter which won or lost? For me, it really does not. What is more important was that it showed that it is possible for people of diverse backgrounds, cultures, personalities and abilities to come together and work as a team and in working together also have fun.

In the end there is only one winner..God. For we are all working as brothers and sisters in all we do for the proclamation of the Kingdom of God. In that, both the basketball and volleyball matches proved that we all have in our own way, whether as players, reserves, supporters or formators, we each have our place in the proclamation of God's kingdom. Until next time, this is Mark signing off.