Fr. Ivan and Fr. Emy
By Fr. Emy Maningo, C.Ss.R.
I met Fr. Ivan long, long time ago! I began working more closely with him when I was appointed the Regional Vocations Director (RVD) for the Cebu Province, from 2000 to 2005. We worked together on the R.A. Program (Redemptorist Associates); we asked people to pledge monetary donations in order to fund our formation programs. Whenever I did my vocation campaign in Iloilo, I would take time out to play tennis at the Iloilo Sports Complex. There, I met Manny, one of the regular tennis players and we became friends. He asked me about our Redemptorist Missions and how he could help. I suggested that he contribute some amount regularly in order to finance the formation of future Filipino Redemptorist missionaries. Well, he pledged a pretty good amount. He started to give a check regularly to Fr. Ivan for the R.A. Fund. Since then, every time I would go to Iloilo for whatever purpose, Fr. Ivan would always tell me, “Could you please go down to the tennis court and thank Manny for me?”
When Fr. Ivan was bedridden, I was blessed to have stayed in Iloilo for a considerable period of time. So, I would visit him often. There was a time when he was no longer responding to anyone who visited him. I spoke closely into his hearing aid, “Ivan, this is Emy, your friend. Tomorrow, I am going to play tennis with Manny. I will let him win so that he will give you more checks for the R.A.” Well, his eyes opened, and he struggled to say, “I hope so,” and smiled. The caregivers and those around him also smiled; Fr. Ivan was responding again!
So, no way would I not attend Fr. Ivan’s funeral. I traveled from Cebu to Iloilo by boat, which was supposed to arrive at 9:00 a.m. – that should have given me enough time to attend the Funeral Mass at 10:00 a.m. Well, the boat actually docked at 11:15 a.m. (the TRANSASIA boat is now 45 years old!). When I got to St. Clement’s Church, the funeral entourage had just left for the cemetery. Thank God, there was one vehicle available. I drove it, and got to the cemetery just in time to see Fr. Ivan’s coffin, before the cement block was lowered into the earthen grave, in order to cover the coffin. So, I gave Ivan a blessing, and I told him, “Ivan, my friend and confrere, the best blessing is left for last!”
Thank you, Ivan, for your friendship. Thank you for your deep love for promoting Filipino vocations to the Redemptorist Congregation. I know that, now, you have better resources in order to continue promoting vocations; not only for the Philippines, but also for the Redemptorists in the whole world!