Mga Batang Mosum: Plastic, Suklay at Poster

 

 

 

Pangatlo sa apat na anak ang batang nasa pinakakanan. Pinakamatanda ang nasa kaliwa. Mga anak sila ni Primo, "kaabag" (lay minister) dito sa Mosum. Isa sa pinakaliblib na kapilya namin. Bago magpasko iluluwal ng nanay niya ang panglimang anak.

Pagpunta ko sa Mosum nung Martes, nasalubong ko ang apat na magkakapatid sa daan, papasok ng paaralan. Simpleng plastic ang kanyang school bag. Siguro mas praktikal, para di mabasa sa ulan ang pilas-pilas na notebook at maikling lapis.

READ THIS GIRL'S STORY BELOW... AND BE THANKFUL TO GOD FOR WHAT YOU HAVE RIGHT NOW.

Putikan ang damit nila kasi maputik ang daan dahil kakaulan lang. May limang kilometro ang layo nila sa paaralan. Binabaybay araw-araw ang ilog, sapa at matatarik na bahagi ng bundok. Dahil bata at mapaglaro, mga alas nuwebe na sila makakarating sa eskwela.

Putikan ang damit nila kasi maputik ang daan dahil kakaulan lang. May limang kilometro ang layo nila sa paaralan. Binabaybay araw araw ang ilog, sapa at matatarik na bahagi ng bundok. Dahil bata at mapaglaro, mga alas nuwebe na sila makakarating sa eskwela.

Pag uulan, at dahil walang masilungan, tyak basa sila papasok ng eskwela. Maulanan...mainitan...ayos lang. Sanayan lang yan. Pero di hamak na di nawawalan sipon mga batang to.

Sa hapon, limang kilometro ulit ang lalakarin para umuwi. Madalas late na sa hapon nakakarating ng bahay kung di man madilim na. Mapanganib ang kasukalan...pero nasanay na ata maghintay nanay at tatay nila. Araw araw.

Yun nga lang, pag malakas ang ulan, ang hirap tawirin ng ilog. Baha kasi. Madaling araw hinahanda na ng nanay nila baon nila. Walang de lata dito. Di uso yun. Gulay at tuyo..ayos na. Minsan saging na saba.

Natawa ako sa ate nya. Kasi ang pinakamahalagang gamit sa bag nya, yung kanyang suklay. Lumang suklay. Kung sa kabataan sa mga siyudad, cellphone ang kanilang buhay, suklay naman ang sa kanya. Lumang suklay.

Di rin uso sa kanila na suot ang tsinelas pagtumatawid sa mga bundok. Nakaapak lang sila. Ang tsinelas nasa loob ng bag, kasi baka mapigtas. Sa eskwela na lang isusuot. Mahal kasi ang bilihin. Mahal ang tsinelas.

Nung Martes ding yaon, bandang tanghali, pumunta ng barangay clinic ang kanilang nanay. Asawa ni Primo na lay minister namin. Nasa kanyang ikawalong buwan sa pagbubuntis, lalakad ng 10 kilometro balikan, para magpa check up. Sya lang mag-isa pumunta kasi nauna na mga bata. Si Primo naman kailangan ihanda ang ipapagiling na mais sa bahay para may kainin sila. Astig di ba?

Di uso dito ang buntis na maarte. Dito ang buntis kailangan maglakad ng malayo, magsuga ng kalabaw, magtrabaho sa bahay at sa bukid. Parang wala lang, di ba?

Halos ganito ikot ng buhay nila araw araw... Maliban sa Linggo. Kasi nga Lay Minister si Primo, buong pamilya nya nasa kapilya. Sya din ang napapakomunyon sa mga tao at nagbibigay konting homilya tuwing magdadasal sila kasama ng iba pang pamilya sa Mosum.

Maliit na pamayanan lang ang tinutukoy ko. Siguro mga 20 na pamilya. Magkakalayo ang distansya ng bawat bahay. Siyanga pala, ilan sa kanila pag magkakasakit, di na umaabot ng klinika o ospital. Dun na lang mamamatay. Kadalasan, malaria.

Walang kuryente sa Mosum. De baterya ang kanilang transistor radio. Di nila alam ang laptop, facebook, ipod, iphone. Pero syempre, hehe..kilala si Manny Pacquiao.

Walang mga poster ng artista sa dingding nila. Pero meron mga poster ng mga politiko namin. Siguro nakarating doon ang nagbigay ng mga yun nung nakaraang eleksyon. Ang popogi ng mga politiko namin sa posters nila. Ang gagara, kaso di pa sila nakakarating ng Mosum. Pero at least, may silbi yung poster. Pangdepensa sa malamig na hangin sa gabi at para di makapasok lamok na may malaria dahil nakatapal ito sa butas ng dingding. May purpose di ba? Mabuhay kayo!

 

 

A Touch of Interculturality

    This is a great day. Far from the deafening noise of the city, I relish this precious moment where I am alone in this beautiful place. Before me nature paints the beholding sight of Navacerrada accented by the blue bright sky. No one is around -- just me and my thoughts. I could hear birds chirping like a greeting, a blessing, a song. Such reception soothes my mind and brings tranquility to my heart. I could feel the cool autumn breeze breathing softly, ever gently of God´s presence. A blessed day indeed and everything feels just so right.

    As I sit here gathering my thoughts I could just imagine myself walking serenely along the pine-laden path of La Granja, feeling the earth over which Claret onced walked, lost in meditation. I recall my life and look deeply with new eyes to what has become of me while following the Great Voice -- the same voice that lingers deep inside me ever since my heart heeds to its promptings. From the time I accepted the Provincial Council´s invitation to come to Spain, I knew then that life would be different. It was an invitation to go from my country to the land that they will show me and that is Colmenar Viejo. Now, I´m barely four months here in Spain, living practically with missionaries-in-formation from varied cultural persuasions. An "inter-cultural seminary" as our formators would call it. It is a coming together of young Claretians from Asia, Africa, America and Europe to live as a community binded by a common charismatic vocation. This idea of " interculturality" envisions the future missionary community where harmony is a project amid plurality lived in fraternal fellowship.

    I was uncertain how I would fare living in a community of varied tones, colors, language, much more in a foreign land where I am a complete stranger. Nonetheless, those uncertainties which clouded my vision were short-lived. From the gloomy horizon arose bright friendship, an appreciation of diversity, a rainbow has appeared. Just when I felt alone in the cold, I experience the warm wide welcoming arms of my new found brothers. Little by little, I started to talk, later my long-held smile came. Then a little while gestures of fraternity poured in which brought much confidence in me, such that I could now afford to "laugh heartily".

    In a community such as ours, simple gestures like a smile, a pat on the shoulder, a warm embrace, a buenos dias greeting, or even an hasta mañana just before we go to bed --- all serves to disarm human barriers. In our inevitable differences we strive in faith to live as a community believing that our communion is in itself a mission. Without my knowing, I began to pine for their presence, not least their stories. What used to be a stranger is now a revealed brother to me, a sweet anticipation in each promise of dawn. More than our academic formation, we aim to form a community where diversity can be a source of strength, support, life-giving for a future missionary. Just before I left the Philippines, someone told me that everything happens for a reason and there´s a wealth of meaning left to be discovered in each new circumstance where we are in. I must say that my saying Yes! to this inter-cultural seminary brought me to greater understanding of who I am, where I am going, not least the meaning of future missionary community. I know I have not gone even half to what this intercultural community way of life would be for me, I still have a lot to realize, to experience, to feel, to anticipate, to wonder and to discover along the way through the end of my journey. I´ve only just begun.

Life in Jamaica: A Personal Reflection

Kingston, Jamaica. In June 2001, Reverend Len Brown, C.M.F., Claretian Provincial of the Eastern U.S.A. Province, officially presented me to the province membership to serve in the Archdiocese of Kingston, Jamaica for at least a three-year period of time. Placed around my neck was a special mission cross. I was to be joined by two other members of my province, Reverend Tom McGann C.M.F. and Reverend Tom Joyce C.M.F. as well as Claretian priest, Fr. Christopher Udeani, C.M.F., from Nigeria, Africa.

The three priests with whom I serve arrived in Jamaica August 16, 2001, and I arrived September 21, 2001. Prior to this time, I served for 11 years as a campus minister in Springfield, Missouri with college students associated with Catholic Campus Ministry. I participated in the Dedication of a new Catholic Student Center shortly before leaving for my new mission in Jamaica.
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I have found that there are many churches in Kingston. They include not only Roman Catholic but also Methodist, Anglican, Baptist, and Pentecostal. There is also a group called Rastafarianism. Others refer to them as Rastas. A true Rastafarian does not eat meat, wears long hair and some believe in Jesus Christ. The long hair is to remind others that they are likened to the person of Jesus Christ who they believe is a great prophet. Their God is Hessilossi, a man and the 225th grandson of King David, who died in Ethiopia. Just as the Rastas believe that King David, a Nazarene, did not use scissors and combs neither do the Rastas use scissors and combs. The different churches influence one another.

Recently, the four of us Claretians were invited to attend an event sponsored by a local Open Bible Church. I was not able to attend, but Fr. Tom McGann C.M.F., pastor of the two churches we serve, did attend the Dedication of a new building. The previous Catholic Archbishop Emeritus, Most Reverend Samuel Carter, was truly ecumenical. Catholics and non- Catholics were present at his recent funeral. He truly reached out to his non-Catholic brothers and sisters. It has been edifying for me to see the ecumenical spirit among the Jamaican people.

Since becoming a Claretian Missionary Brother in 1985, I have never regretted serving wherever I have been sent. While in Jamaica, various people have asked me why I am not a priest. I continue to learn over the years that God has a mission for me as a brother. My mission is to be the best Claretian Brother wherever I am. For me, the word 'presence' means so much. No matter where I am serving I have learned that I receive and share God's presence! Keeping this in mind gives me the strength to realize my call no matter what obstacles I face. Serving as a Claretian Brother has been and is very rewarding. I can go to bed at night knowing that I have done my best. As a Claretian Brother I have the opportunity and flexibility to serve where the needs are greatest.

I currently serve the youth in both of our Jamaican Claretian parishes, St. John the Baptist and Our Lady of the Angels. I assisted for one week this summer at a youth camp on the north coast! Yes, I got to go swimming in the Caribbean during the week. I was on the staff of the Christ in Others (COR) Retreat for youth between the ages of 16 and 21. I helped organize a Bible Quiz for our youth in three of the parishes in our deanery (our two parishes and one other). Each of the three Claretian priests and I have taught Catholic religion in both Catholic schools connected with our two parishes. I had never taught Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, or 4th graders until this past year. They were a handful but I persevered.

I have also served as a religious brother meeting the needs of the poor, leading worship services, and making it possible for the citizens of Jamaica to have free and fair elections. I continue to appreciate what I have been given by my parents and teachers over the years, a good education! One day, not too long ago, a young man in his early 40's came to the front door of the rectory. His first name is Mark. He had been laid off from his work in the food and beverage industry, a large part of the economy of the island. As many of you know, last year September 11, changed many people's lives. Mark was one of those affected by the tragedy.

Mark has two daughters, ages 11 and 17 who were in need of getting help to attend school. The older daughter would be going to college while the younger child would be in first forum (about 7th grade in the States). I contacted the school where the younger girl was attending to see how I could help. With the help of a friend's financial contribution I was able to assist the younger daughter to get the rest of her books and have money to pay for lunches.

There are great needs here in Jamaica. I am grateful for what I have experienced thus far. Only God knows what lies in store for me as I continue to be of service to God's people.

Thomas Haerle C.M.F.
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Pastoral Year in Claret School of Quezon City

ANTHONY CARREON, CMF shares his pastoral experiences. "Besides being huggable and lovable, his presence was captivating at Claret School of Quezon City especially among the kids."

This is the picture of Anthony Q. Carreon, cmf among his colleagues in the campus. Toni or Antz has been journeying with many young boys at Claret as a friend and as an elder brother. Being young at heart, he was able to relate with the pupils and students with joy and with dedication although it may not have been that easy at times.

In one of our fraternal conversations, he was able to relate his pastoral year experience with me…

Nature of my work…
I was part of the campus ministry team. My primary apostolate in the school was to facilitate recollections and retreats among all the pupils and students-from Grade 3 (Elementary) to Fourth Year (High School). Besides this, I also helped the Bible Sharing groups by giving them some insights or points for reflection. I also taught songs to the teachers and students to make our liturgical celebrations alive. And to directly facilitate the liturgy, we have formed a liturgical team whom I helped in their formation program. Besides, we (campus ministry team) also gave assistance in the exposures and out-reach programs of the students. During spare time, I stayed in the office and listened to students and teachers who came to me with their varied concerns asking for some direction and enlightenment.

I loved the work although it was not my choice…
To be a campus minister was not my preference and expectation. I was dreaming of being sent to Zamboanga del Sur. I was indeed surprised when I received my assignment-but later, I realized that God has his own plans for me and that everything happens with a purpose. Being a missionary, I humbly accepted the assignment which I started to love later on. Of course, during the first months, I really had a difficult time to adjust. Initially, the work was quite tiring for me-not to forget, there was the difficulty of relating with different personalities in school. But as time went by, I went out of my shell and started to really get engaged with people in the campus. Eventually, being with them and sharing with them in their pains and joys, became a source of meaning and strength for me.

There were challenges and I learned to cope with them…
I consider the recollection and retreat-giving a challenging one. It was really tiring with so many pupils and students. Aside from their big number, they would also ask many questions about God. And living in a post-modern culture, they would easily get bored with long talks and conventional presentations. Hence, I would prepare well before meeting them-and one preparation was my personal reading. Likewise, together with the team, we tried to go down to their level so that we could engage with them. We thereby prepared materials and modules that would suit their age and life situations.

schoolpaintingMy significant experience…
I remember with fondness when the kids (especially those in the primary level) would come to me and share their joys and problems without hesitation (although they may seem trivial); and at times would only drop by to say "hi". Some of them would come and ask me with a child-like curiosity regarding my vocation. And it would make me smile when at the end of our discourse they would say, "We want to be like you in the future." These kids would remind me of my childhood and of my vocation journey and such would uplift my spirit.

My insights and reflections…
One of my realizations is not to be result-oriented. Sometimes or oftentimes, one may not find any clear impact the campus ministry has in the lives of the kids-and it may be frustrating to note this-but who knows what is really in their hearts. What is important is that I was happy sharing with them…my life and my vocation…and I just hope I have left a mark in their lives which they will remember when they are grown ups. I may not be able to see the fruits now, but what is important is I have sown some seeds of values in their hearts.

Presence is indeed vital…
For pupils and students to see a Claretian brother journeying with them is indubitably vital. The youth sector is one of the primary recipients of our mission; and in the school we have hundreds of young people. Therefore being with them in the school campus as a campus minister who could engage with them, and listen to them is a clear response to our mission in the Church.