Looking Back: A Physician’s Story
Looking back, I have always been attracted to the priesthood. I remember when I was still five and my cousins come to visit, we would role play the mass with me as the presider. We usually use Fita crackers as hosts and coca-cola as wine; often we end up eating all of my auntie’s Fita. I could also recall that after we have the “mass”, I would get my mother’s stethoscope and role play as a doctor. Little did I know that I was called to be both. The attraction to missionary life came when I started school. For an entire year in my 6th grade I volunteered to help the teachers and sisters in their weekend apostolate to the street children. We would also go to slum areas and visit the poor and the squatters in our city. I was taught at a young age that Jesus was always there with the poor. In our parish however, my involvement was more liturgical and church activities. In both situations, my earliest recollection to missionary life was shaped by the Vincentian charism. After elementary I applied to enter a high school seminary. I was accepted but my parents refused, saying I was too young.
When I was in high school, I studied with the CICM, I continued to be involved with the mission related activities but with the emphasis towards foreign mission. After high school, I again applied to a college seminary. Again I was accepted by parents again said, I was still young that I might just change my mind soon. So I went to college and took up a science course. After graduating college, I went on to study medicine. Although it was challenging, it was a smooth sailing ride. But deep inside there was an unease, a longing that no amount of success over challenges could appease. It was during my internship year, when I had a n encounter with a little child dying that I decided to listen to the call.
I joined the Redemptorist as an aspirant and was admitted to join their program for young professionals in Davao. I made my choice. What made it more liberating was when my parents said to me, “Kung asa ka malipay, suportaram ka namo”. (Years later when a PLDT commercial with exactly the same dialogue came out on TV, I can’t help but wonder if our line was tapped.) After aspirancy I went to join nine other guys for the postulancy in Dumaguete. Of the nine, three of us are now Redemptorist priests and one in Australia. The postulancy was followed with the novitiate in Iligan. I was professed as a Redemptorist in 2003. I then went back to Davao for my theological studies. In my third year, I joined the RIMT for the missions in Iligan Diocese. These were times of challenges and insights as I continued to discern deepen my relationship with the Lord. It was in 2008 that I was ordained to the priesthood. After a year in ministry, I went back to finish my medical studies. I then took and passed the medical board exam with God’s grace.