My 80 years in life-A A +A
The Living Spirit
Saturday, February 9, 2013
LAST February 5, I celebrated my 80th birthday. A real milestone in my life!
For that occasion, my family and friends had organized a grand celebration at the De Luxe Hotel in Cogon at 4:00p.m. The party lasted until late in the evening. It started with the celebration of the Holy Eucharist officiated by Fr. Rene Soldevilla, parish priest of Claveria.
My wife had invited Fr. Rene to celebrate Mass for this occasion because he is a very close friend of mine from the days that he was still a seminarian and participated in our BCC-CO program of Horeb Center.
In his sermon, he focused on that program of the Basic Christian Community-Community Organizing. From that program, he said, he learned so much about the importance of Christian community life and involvement of lay people in the life of Church and society. Personally, I felt touched by what he said about that program. I had set up that program of Horeb Center in Cagayan de Oro in 1990 after I had left the priesthood and got married to Angging, who lost her husband in the Antongalon Massacre. That program was very dear to me; for me, it was as if I never had left the priesthood except for the fact that I could not say Mass anymore and hear confession and distribute other sacraments.
In the program, I continued doing the same pastoral work as I was used to do as parish priest in San Francisco. Actually, I never had wanted to leave the priesthood if it were not for Angging and her children.
After the Mass, there was a big supper with two lechons, donated by my sister-in-law Lou. My other sisters-in-law JecJec and Lorelei donated the wine and a huge birthday cake. And my son Melascom had bought lots of beer and soft drinks. There was also a magic show performed by the boyfriend of my daughter, Reuben Lardizabal. I really can recommend that show for parties (no advertisement intended).
During the program, many of my relatives and friends shared their feelings and experiences about me. It was very consoling for me to hear these testimonies. And then I shared also with the audience how I felt that day and I shared my own experiences in life.
Eighty years old, I couldn’t believe it myself. First of all I remembered what happened to me very recently, on Christmas Day. I have mentioned this already in one of my previous columns.
Early Christmas morning I went for a walk in our farm in Lala, Lanao del Norte. What a beautiful weather, only a slight breeze in the air. All of a sudden there came a coconut falling down from high above me and it dropped right in front of me on the ground. One step further and it would have fallen on my head, had cracked my skull and I could have dropped dead right there on the spot. I stood back for a while and I realized that it was Christmas day. Jesus became man, God becoming Immanuel, ‘God with us’. I realized that God was with me right at that moment, protecting me from death. My hour had not yet come. I got another lease in life.
There is a big difference between knowing a mystery and personally experiencing a mystery. That is what I did at that moment; I believed again in miracle. (To be continued)
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Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on February 10, 2013.