Nurturing friendship and spirituality

My very good friend, Ms. Gina Villagonzalo (second from left)
My very good friend, Ms. Gina Villagonzalo (second from left)

THE last two weeks have been incredibly tiring due to attending several seminars and workshops. At the same time, I was also expected to submit the academic schedule and the respective instructors to handle it.

My schedule was so packed that I needed to sleep at 11:00 in the evening and wake up as early as 5:00 in the morning. But God is always good that despite the busy days, I had the chance to attend the second AOSF Social Formators’ Colloquium with the theme Better Together: Accompanying the Youth of Today on July 14-15, 2023, for all curricular social formation program formators of Arrupe Social Formation (ASF), National Service Training Program (NSTP), Service-Learning Program (SLP) and Seniors’ Integration Program (SIP).

I must say that the said colloquium is so spiritually enriching, from the day it started until the end. The presentation of Sir Dyester Abo-abo about “Understanding the Youth of Today” was so interesting that delved into the youths in terms of their disposition about being a Filipino Catholic and their views on religiosity. This will hopefully help us appropriate our formative instructions in meeting the youth where they are and walking with them toward the deepening of their faith and works of justice.

While the talk of Fr. Aik Maung, S.J about “Better Together: Accompanying the Youth of Today” emphasized how political situations can significantly impact various social issues, including those affecting the youth. It highlighted the necessity for global collaboration to address the complex global challenges experienced by today’s youth.

On the second day, we celebrated the fruits and commemorate fellowship among the pool of formators from three curricular social formation programs. I was so excited that I arrived as early as 4:30 AM, but when I entered the Ateneo de Davao (AdDU) bus I realized that there were two people earlier than me. Amazing! I thought I was only the one very excited to join the activity.

Another blessing is to be welcomed by the ARRUPE staff with sweet smiles and greetings that calm everyone’s heart. I can still remember how Ma’am Precious Kyrie Undag tapped my shoulder when she saw me, so welcoming that it touches my heart. She is also one of the brains in ARRUPE, I love how she articulates her thoughts.

While waiting for the bus to depart, I noticed the new ASF coordinator of AdDU, Ma’am Marinar Castro.

Although we had only briefly met last week, I was hesitant to approach her. Fortunately, she not only has a beautiful face but also a kind heart. It seemed like everyone in the crowd had known her for a long time, as she exuded humility and friendliness.

Eventually, we all made our way to Banana Beach Resort in Tagum. As I stepped onto the premises, it felt as though heaven had embraced my spirit. The sight of the sky and the gentle dance of the beach water with the cool wind was truly enchanting. It was a divine gift after the hectic days we had experienced the previous week.

Above all, the games organized for us at the resort fostered teamwork and motivation. We engaged in healthy competition, which challenged our problem-solving skills and creativity. The most memorable aspect was establishing trust within our teams. My mentor, Ma’am Gina P. Villagonzalo, played a significant role in this regard. I am grateful for her willingness to share her experiences in serving the Lord and continuously praying for our heartfelt desires. She always reminds me of God’s love for us and His faithfulness to His promises.

Ahh, this will be one of my unforgettable experiences, we all felt loved and valued throughout the event, and I left feeling truly rejuvenated. I extend my heartfelt appreciation to the ARRUPE staff organizers for their meticulous preparations and delightful surprises.

Thank you, too, to the generosity of Ma’am Icar Rana Lopez, Sir Khevin Pepito, and Ma’am Johna Marie Tabanguil. Yes, this encounter will remain in my heart, truly an unforgettable experience.

Indeed, our two-day colloquium reaffirms Fr. Pedro Arrupe S.J.’s statement that “Only by being a man or woman for others does one become fully human.”


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