DAVAO

Velez: Unsent for Adam

Fil-Choy

YOU are home at last.

You are relieved, after months of facing immigration hell here, along with two fellow missionaries from your church the United Methodist, Tawanda Chandiwana from Zimbabwe and Miracle Osman of Malawi. They questioned why you missionaries joined a fact-finding mission, which was beyond your missionary work. For that, they all send you home.

But then, what is home?

I went back to reading your missionary blog. You may remember in 2011, fresh from college in Ohio, you wanted an adventure. Two years into your mission internship, you reflected that you came here “willing and ready to be broken.”

Maybe you should define broken as being bruised and soaked from long treks and habal-habal rides to Lumad areas, getting sunburned from visiting evacuation centers, and getting sick from a sudden change in diet, and feeling homesick at times.

But you stuck on. There’s something in your cool manner and that smile that says you are part of this moment. You listen, you connect, you make things light, and you grew.

One of the first things that impressed me was after Fr. Pops was silenced in 2011. Your church organized an event the following year to help the mission set by Pops for Lumad schools. Schools and Lumad children were things you stuck close to. When your internship ended, you said over dinner that you love to come back as a teacher to Lumad schools.

You came back in 2017, as a Methodist global missionary, and as a teacher to Lumad high school students in Maco. You said you’re not used to being called ‘sir’ by the kids. It was a challenge teaching science in a zero-resource school filled with young people eager to learn. And you were both teacher and student on the life of Lumads.

In between teaching, you visited evacuation centers in Marawi and the Kampuhan of Lumads in their Manilakbayan in UP Diliman. You said you got lost in the Kampuhan grounds, but actually, you found your home.

You said you never liked politics and its polarizing effects. For you, your politics is “charged and magnetized towards justice for the people, fair labor rights and quality education for all.” It is impossible not to be involved.

It is sad that government sees you, Tawanda, Miracle and Sr. Pat Fox as undesirable. Their apologists “preach” that you stepped out from your “missionary” work. These apologists, they may not even taken one single step on the trails you made.

You remembered Leviticus 19:33 that said: “The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.”

Before you left, you said part of you will forever be left behind. You left memories, laughter, fun, ukulele songs. The Lumads, your friends in you mission would see you as Kuya Adam, friend and sojourner, Christ’s missionary. Salamat. Padayon. Cheers.

tyvelez@gmail.com


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