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.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Jail and hospital apostolate

After I heard that all 2nd year students would have a pastoral work at Davao Medical Center (DMC) and at Davao Jail, I was really excited because it would be a new experience for me. We, 2nd students, altogether have 10 students. We were divided into two groups. In DMC after the Sunday 7.30 am mass, we would help in giving a communion for the sick and visiting them as well.

Visiting patients makes me realize that there are many people who have worse conditions in life than us. Most of the patients are poor and could not pay for the expenses of the medicine and their stay in the hospital. I still remember when I visited a 10 year-old girl who had a kidney problem, lying on the bed. Her aunt shared to me that she had not enough money to pay for her niece. I believe there are many other patients who have the same problem. I also visited bone cancer patients. When I saw their eyes, it seemed that they were desperate in their life. It made me have pity on them. To see the patients’ condition, I understand that there are many people who are facing more difficult problems in life than me.

For the jail apostolate, there are almost 1000 detainees for male. They are separated into two zones; under 50 years old and over 50 years old. And there are almost one hundred female detainees in another side. There are around 20-30 people per cell (room). The mass started at around 7.15 Am. What amazed me was the way they sang the songs; it was very lively as though they sang them with their sincere heart. When I visited a male zone, I saw a woman who came to visit her husband. The wife was weeping and embracing him tightly. He was trying to soothe and stop her wife from weeping. When I saw this, I was really impressed by that moment.

The experiences I had from the jail and hospital apostolate make me realize that life is both a hope and also a struggle. Both patients and detainees are waiting for a person who cares and concerns them. Our presence is meaningful for them all. Perhaps these experiences would remind us of what Jesus has told us “I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me (Mt. 25:36).” It is a good opportunity for me to visit them and more importantly it makes me reflect more about my own life. I sometimes never thought and appreciated much about life until I experienced both the patients and the detainees. Now, I really appreciate and extremely thank God that he has given me many things and is also always with me. However, let us care and love one another in the community. I feel that I understand my own life better when I experienced other people’s lives that have worse conditions than my own. If we have hopelessness, disappointment, difficulties, sadness, despair in life, we need to ask God to enter into our heart and let God help us with our journey in our everyday life.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Varsity Team

Living in this community, we are not only expected to develop our spiritual dimension but also the physical dimension. Last month, the human committee purposed the community to have the basketball and volleyball varsity team and it was responded positively by the community. It is showing that all the members in this community are gifted and willing to develop that gift.

In each team is composed of 15 players. These varsity teams are formed to respond to the need of having friendly games with the church groups and other seminaries such as Eucharistic minister group, REMASE etc. These varsity teams are working very hard to improve their skills of what they are playing. As of now, both basketball and volleyball teams already had some friendly games and the results were quite good! Of course we won (wink!).

This coming September 10 will be a big challenge for the basketball varsity team because they will have a game with REMASE seminary which they lost last year. They hope that this time the history will not be repeated again since this time they are well prepared unlike last year (accusation). We as community cannot do but wholeheartedly support them.