I CAME from a visit of a friend who celebrated his birthday two weeks ago at Executive Homes in Cala-anan. "What is your birthday wish when you have all enjoyed all there is in life, especially now that you are busy with helping solve the problems of roughly sixty five card bearing members of Ako, Ikaw Gihiusa sa Dios?” I ventured asking in jest Retired Military Officer RJ Cabigon.

This founder and chairman of the anti-insurgency organization answered: “Just one wish Ric: I hope God would grant my fervent wish of reaching 120 years old!”

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He must be joking I thought, but seeing the sincerity written all over his face reminds me that it’s really long life what each one aspires for -- especially when one reaches near the homestretch, the evening of one's life after the sunrise and sunshine. But that when you have dedicated your life in service for others.

We have seen that in the experience of early Patriarchs in the Old Testament reaching in fact over a hundred of years in average. It gradually went down after the first deluge. According to the Guinness Book of World record, Japan has the highest has one of the highest life expectancy rates in world—at 86 years old for women and 84 for men. Ours is not that far from statistics, at 76 years or over. The lowest by far is 36 years something for women and 34 years for men in Botswana, Africa.

But regardless of age, the bottom line is that life is only given once. We are definitely living on a borrowed time. There's no way extending it. We may with science and medicines but no way of sustaining that far. We have to die to live again. Unless the grain of wheat shall fall on the ground and dies, it shall remain single wheat and not give life, says the wisdom of one Jesuit song "Behold the Way of the Cross."

But never mind living it once for as long as we live it right, and for others. That makes that chance of living once more than enough.

And why worry death? It's simply beautiful. It's not only an opportunity of getting complete rest; but most importantly, a rare chance of finally seeing God face to face. But we need not wait the experience of happening it to us. We can't just sit down and philosophize about it. The fact is we are experiencing death each day as every second, minute, hour, day, week and month that little part of life is taken from us, theologian and eschatologist would say. That we have to die is only a bonus to live again because life is a continuum. Hence, the importance of the immediacy of time, above all things.

Pasture might be greener over in the other field. But why not look the horizon right in your own backyard? That's how Chairman RJ Cabigon discovered and finds fulfillment even just in simply helping others find their way, solving their own problems. Nothing is impossible with God, he enthuses, feeling secure traveling far and wide addressing the problems of all his members who are spread in Region 10 (Northern Mindanao).

Among practical Catholic gentlemen, we normally find that expression shown by joining Knight of Columbus. It's not easy receiving the fourth degree honor as you are put at far with great knights in history. But that's because of being emboldened to savor the sweetness of what it is to serve your own parish, council, community, youth, family and nation in the best capacity you can. By all means, you can join any other civic or religious organization. There you'll have your day full serving God through different ways. Just be consistent and the rest would follow suit. Most specially, you'll not suffer any identity crisis.

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Talk about bloodletting, resource mobilization for certain activity, sports and training the youth as squires—all these are possible without much fanfare. This is what exactly what the newly formed Oscar Ledesma Assembly headed by SK Atty. Agus, Fourth Master SK, Susing Arandil and Faithful Navigator Col. Tony de la Cruz have been doing. Similarly, SK Joe Balili's generosity allowing his Knights Printing Press facilitate correspondence among different councils is laudable. No wonder that different councils of this Assembly from Apovel to Terryuhills, Bulua to Candida and Barra all the way to Bulao and Opol are reaping recognitions from the Supreme Council in New Haven, Connecticut, as they have been meeting their target in different activities.

Congrats most especially to Grand Knight SK Henry Pizana and Membership Dir. SK Greg Menenses, the Program Director, of St. Peregrine Council of Terryhills for finally breaking into the awardees circle. Of course, this recognition would have not been made possible were it not to able support and participation of Fr. Eddie Magtrayo of Immaculate Conception of Bulua, who similarly breathe and live the ideals of Knight of Columbus in the parish.

As we say it, “Surge!” Congrats guys, it's no mean feat but you have shown the way. (rfmaulion@yahoo.com)