By Philip Portillo
Seminars, here and there. . .
Ever since the Postulancy program began, seminars on Journal Writing, on the Dynamics of Community Life, P.I.P.E.S. (Personal Integration Process Encounter Seminar) 1 & 2, Human Sexuality, Genogram and Celibacy assisted us in better understanding ourselves and deepened our awareness of whatever issues we have in life in order to face the future with confidence.
All the seminars mentioned, except P.I.P.E.S. 2 and Celibacy (because they were held in Iloilo), were held in the Holy Family Retreat House-Cebu handled primarily by the RRM or Redemptorist Retreat Ministry.
Already finished with Postulancy seminars, now I ask myself what I have learned from this processing and input. Generally, it has been a really of big help for me in the many aspects of my life as a formand. It has provided me an avenue to look at myself from different healthy perspectives which enabled me to be more attentive to surroundings that may or may not affect my vocation. But specifically, the seminars have made me more grounded in my vocation to the Redemptorist missionary life.
One thing I have realized after digesting all those processes and inputs that were given us, is that aspiring to become a Redemptorist missionary and live a lifestyle of a religious is not easy, Challenges always lie ahead but despite these challenges, I realise I have not only my companions on my journey but above all God journeys with me as well. My issues do not define who I am, they serve as reminders of who I was, and they challenge me to become the person God wants me to become. And this, for me, is the purpose of my formation as I go through different stages of it.
. . .and mission exposures anywhere!
We are seven Postulants and we have to be divided into three teams for our apostolic exposure in the parish, in the church or on the Ayungon mission. So we help in the Holy Communion in the Church or on the Ayungon mission spear-headed by Fr. Colm, CSsR. or in the parish B.E.C’s. Each apostolic exposure lasts for more or less two weeks. In the parish apostolate is we have our regular leg work and house visitation, gathering the youth for an activity or if needed we facilitate recollections as well. In the Ayungon mission exposure with Fr. Colm, we have our prayer meetings, youth gatherings and leg work. In the vocations, we go to the different schools for vocation campaigns mostly in Negros Oriental and some parts of Negros Occidental. We also help in facilitating recollections. The most recent recollection was with the first year or grade 7 of the Dumaguete Science High School. There are more ahead for us because they requested again for further recollections.. We also created a vocation exhibit near the main door inside the church as part of our help in promoting the Redemptorist missionary vocation.
Finally, an Ilonggo speaking place… I am about to learn Ilonggo at last. Our SAKADA exposure was in Hinigaran, Negros Occidental. We were there for ten days from September 10- 18.
The house that I was staying in was not yet completely finished and it was the only house that could accommodate me according to my Tatay Miguel, my foster parent. The house, when I went there, had no door or beddings yet. The roof was built the day before we arrived and the door was only finished the night I arrived there. The roof was not that well finished and the rain still poured in on me! Unfortunately, it was rainy season and in the middle of a typhoon at the very time we were in Hinigaran. And it really rained most of the time at midnight until dawn. I had to cover myself with a blanket and wear a jacket and with anything that could possibly keep me dry and allow me sleep. But all to no avail. It was destined to be a wet night but thanks be to God I did not get sick!
One memorable experience also was when Tatay Miguel told me they have no CR in their house and what was interesting was the following words he uttered, “bisag asa ang CR namo diri to. . .” I replied, “ok lang tay, naka-experience na bitaw ko ana. . .” though I have not experienced that yet but as BDO would say, “We Find Ways.” By God’s grace, it was successful. By the time I was done, I said to myself, “hay salamat sa Ginoo, makatulog na gid ko.” What a relief!
What was a very striking experience for me while there was when I celebrated my 20th birthday In that setting, the “tubohan” setting. I, together with kuya Marley (a fellow Postulant) celebrated our birthdays there since we have the same birthday exactly on September 16 and kuya Marley had his 35th b-day that day. Actually, it was a post-celebration of our birthdays since I only told my foster parents that it was my birthday during that night before we went to sleep. Earlier they did not know that it was our birthdays, so, they surprised us the day after our birthday. They serenaded us, and they prepared good food for us as well greeting us happy birthday. I have never experienced that kind of birthday celebration. It brought me to tears when they serenaded us because it seemed to me that I belonged to their family. I will surely miss them.
My experience in Hinigaran has taught me a lot. I had lots of first time experiences there like the “taps-karga” of sugarcanes, helping in the irrigation for the rice fields, chatting with the Ilonggo people, etc. The people and the experience itself taught me simply to become a person capable of learning and willing to experience. Those experiences are just foretaste of what awaits ahead. My experience in the SAKADA prepares me for another adventure, perhaps a harder and more challenging one. And it is only when I am willing to experience it all and to learn that I can accept those challenges ahead.
The Maramag mission experience “. . . denying themselves and always ready to undertake what is demanding… Redemptorist Constitution #20
We volunteered ourselves to join in the Maramag Parish mission in San Andres Parish Maramag, Bukidnon. When we arrived there, full of excitement and burning with zeal, we were told about what would happen for the Whole Parish mission and we were divided into sub-teams.
I was assigned in Brgy. Tubigon (the place where the newly erected Redemptorist mission station . Our sub-team was composed of kuya Ryan, a lay missionary and our mission coordinator, Fr. Fons, CSsR, Miguel (Postulant), Neil (collegian), Fr. Neil, CSsR, and myself.
Leg work, medical missions, house visitation, conducting recollections to the youth and purok leaders, celebrating mass, etc. . . were among the activities throughout the Parish mission. Indeed, it was a very busy time but successful and enjoyable. It was also during the mission that I had further personal insights and insights into the challenges of missionary life. How will I take care of my vocation. It is only by denying myself and being always ready with God’s help to undertake what is demanding. This certainly speaks of a true Redemptorist missionary.