Team Fernandez: Family is where life begins and love never ends

Team Fernandez: Family is where life begins and love never ends

HOW many would fly from South America to Davao City, Philippines all in the name of love and family? Today, I wish to write about such a long flight home. 

My maiden name is Frances Nina Ong Fernandez. I boast of a Chinese-Spanish lineage. Thus, Ong and Fernandez are surnames I proudly write. I belong to team Fernandez.

​My long journey in embracing my graced history began on January 15, 1978, when God entrusted me to Engr. Catalino Fernandez and Mrs. Lydia Ong. I am an only child. I was fatherless in 1989. Officially became an orphan in 2021. I left Cebu in 1997 in order to be a missionary teacher in Malabang, Lanao del Sur. The rest, they say is history.

For the last 27 years, I have dedicated my life here in Mindanao. I consider myself a “Misyonerong Bisdak diri sa Mindanao.” I love my life and ministry.

​My Fernandez lineage is a big clan. My father had 11 siblings. You can just imagine how many grandchildren my Lola Eyay has. When I left Cebu for Mindanao, I realized that the Fernandez clan had reached this part of Mindanao.

I remember when Nelson and I got married, Engr. Ceferino Fernandez, my 4Blue Parent, became our Ninong. I heard that in Ulas, Davao City, there’s a whole compound of team Fernandez.

​What is the essence of family? Why did God assign us to a specific bloodline? How important is knowing your family history and dynamics? In ASF 1000, we allot a whole module on Tracing and Embracing our graced history.

Somehow, the reflection questions there rubbed off on me. Since leaving Cebu for missionary work, I must admit I have missed family.

​In fairness to all of my cousins on both sides, we have tried to keep communication lines open. Since most of us have left Carcar, Cebu to find our life’s vocation and pursue our passions, I noticed that for Team Fernandez, we were all over the globe. Some were in Canada, Germany, Florida, and London, and since my Papa was a Marine Engineer, he was also able to travel the world as a seafarer. 

Last year 2023, Kuya Oliver Ubas reached out to me and asked for my number. I asked what this was all about, and he told me Cheryl Ubas, another cousin would call me.

A certain Jonathan Fernandez, our long-lost cousin is looking for me. Jonathan came from South America. Jonathan has been looking for me for many years now. It turned out that Tiyo Menoy whom we had not seen in more than 30 years, had come home to Carcar, Cebu to look for family. Jonathan was one of the three children of Tiyo Menoy.

​We may leave home and travel abroad for various reasons but we always come home to family. Blu Gre MTS Café will always be memorable for me since Jonathan and I met there for the first time last November 2023.

What touched me the most was that he moved his flight back home to Guatemala so he could meet me in person. His other siblings had already flown back, but he chose to extend his stay, flew the nearest flight to Davao, and met me. Thank you, Lord, for family. Thank you, cousin Jonathan for the love. Thank you for looking for me.

​In our hearty conversation, we shared each others’ memorable moments with our respective dads who were siblings. My Papa Lino was the eldest of a brood of 12.

According to Jonathan, Tiyo Menoy always mentioned his deep gratitude for my Papa’s generosity. Tiyo Menoy and his siblings were taken care of by my Papa. It was always in Tiyo Menoy’s request that Nina should know about how generous his Papa was. This point of our conversation made me very emotional. This long-time dream of looking for me has been more than 30 plus years. 

Tiyo Menoy always had fond memories of my Papa Lino, who to them was Manong Lino, the eldest. Family is love, and God in His mighty providence brought it to fulfillment in 2023. 

I am most grateful to Jonathan for this sincere gesture. Family love is given and this love is most gratefully received. I showed pictures of me and my Mom and my Papa. I told him these were the only ones I had since my Papa passed away when I was 10 years old. Jonathan then scanned all the pictures I showed him and entered family details on his phone. I told him we should meet again and probably organize a reunion of sorts for Team Fernandez. He happily said yes.

My meeting with Jonathan was one of the Top 2 blessings for the year 2023. I realized, too, that as I embraced lovingly my beloved kids in Padre Pio Home for the last 15 years, God also took care of my need for family. By Frances Nina Fernandez-Bitang/Contributor


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