Thursday, April 28, 2016

Eulogy for a dear friend

To the bereaved family – Alex, Michelle Kaye, Mark Kelvin, Marvin Kenneth, to the relatives and friends of Venelyn, to our beloved SMRVS teachers who are around, to my dear batchmates of SMRVS Batch ’84, a mournful day indeed for all of us.

It pains me to know that our batchmate, Venelyn, is gone too soon. I only learned just last October 24 that she was diagnosed of breast cancer when the Manila Group of our Batch met for the first time just to rekindle our high school days together. So it dawned on us that we should hold our Batch Reunion as soon as possible, without telling Venelyn that she was one of the reasons why we had to hold it soon enough.

What the batch core group was planning then was that there should have been benefit dances during the reunion where we continue to raise funds in a fun way. At the back of our minds, whatever should have been raised during that reunion during the benefit dances, the amount should go to Venelyn’s financial needs, no matter how small the amount may be.

But it did not materialize anymore because we had so much fun rekindling our high school days because we missed each other so much.

We saw how Venelyn was so happy in spite of her condition. She coordinated the seedlings of narra trees that we planted in SMRVS early that morning. I coursed through her the copies of the program that were distributed by our ‘boys’ of the batch to our batchmates. She was so involved in our solicitation campaigns through our group chat. She joked around to ‘sing’ some Christmas carols to some of our batchmates just for them to pitch in some amount. All the while, she was up and about, chatting with us in our chat room, planning things out, rekindling memories, posting old pictures, goofing around with some in the chat room. She was full of life once more, after hibernating from her online life for a while. At the back of our mind, if only she knew we really wanted her to feel happy and be back to life once again.

At times, we even thought of pairing our own kids with the kids of our batchmates. Some eventually ended up calling one another ‘abalayan’ without even their kids knowing about it. It was our way of having fun and make our routine life back to the carefree days of high school.

The last time that she was still felt as strong as ever was when she went to Dagupan for her therapy. Then, she hibernated once more. For some days, she was not online. The days went weeks. We began to feel her absence in the chatroom. Some batchmates were trying to cheer her up. But her usual online life was no longer there.

Then Lani Grace messaged me about her condition. Maybe just a few days left, she told me. My reaction was “God, it’s too soon.”

To lose someone like her, a loving mother, a loving wife – I know it is painful, even when one expects it way ahead because of her condition. I experienced it myself when we lost my mother. I was thankful, though, that the physical agony of my mother finally ended, and that she would start a new life as our faith taught us. Up to know, there is always that pain of having lost my mother in a battle against health.

But life’s reality is like that. Eventually we will all die from this earthly life to be born again in the afterlife. Death is an enigma for us because we do not know how it feels and where are we really headed. Christ showed us that if only we have faith in Him, there is an everlasting life that we should look forward to.

Venelyn’s earthly life might have ended. I guess, she had given the best of herself, knowing her. She grew up well. She was raised well. She studied well. She poured herself well into her work and career. She loved well enough, especially to her husband, Alex, and her prime jewels, her children. The first time that I saw Kaye, I saw Venelyn in her. I saw her two boys very much like their mom - simple, courteous, refined, warm, respectful, loving.

Alex, Beng did not leave you alone. You have your three children as living legacies of Venelyn to you. She is with them. Love them more than ever.

Kaye, Kenneth, and Kelvin, support each other more than ever, and love your dad or papa, more and more each day. To lose a mom is difficult. To lose a spouse is losing a half of one’s self. There is the feeling brokenness. There is the feeling of incompleteness. Breaking up is incomparable to this kind of losing someone you love so dearly.

Goodbye, Venelyn. Finally you can say what St. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

So long my dear friend. The batch will miss you, but your memories will linger on and on.

God be with you…. Til we meet again.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Despedida Response... Excerpts

Despedida Program
April 18, 2016
FLC Gymnasium
St. Paul College of Bocaue
Bocaue, Bulacan

[Greetings here]
Perhaps among those who are leaving this year, I am with the longest experience here in St. Paul College of Bocaue. Twenty-seven years to be exact, including my one year study leave in 1995 and one year personal leave in 2008.

Through those years, I have given the best of myself, the best years of my life, the best productive years a young professional could muster. Thanks to Sr. Ma. Milagros Amos, SPC, my first school directress and high school principal. She plucked me out from many when she came to St. Paul University Philippines in 1989, and sent me a telegram to report to St. Paul College of Bocaue in May 1989. All I was thinking then was to give myself two years to serve SPCB because it is too far from home. Another teaching position was waiting for me in Cagayan where the Principal of a government school promised me a good teaching position in his school.

That was what I thought.

In my next year in SPCB, Sr. Milagros made me the Student Welfare Committee Chair for Boys. Discipline was a big priority. There were rising fraternity groups luring our Paulinians. I was able to curb the proliferation of these gangs and fraternities by even reaching out to those who were recruiting them. I earned the ire of both students and parents due to the strict disciplinary measures we exacted on those students who erred. Many were recommended for transfer. There were no entertained padrinos. During that time, SPCB was overwhelming with enrolees that it had to be first come, first served, first admitted basis. That was the reason why SPCB Igulot was conceived.

I witnessed how the papers were processed. I witnessed how the holes and the foundations were dug. I was among those who prepared the papers for the time capsule. I served as the emcee of the ground-breaking ceremony. I personally assisted then Malolos Bishop Cirilo Almario as he lowered the time capsule, together with the school administrators and the members of the SPC Provincial Council.

As the building began to rise, Sue, Kevin Paul (our first born), and I, together with the late Miss Eugenia Manalastas and Miss Milagros Pascual, stayed here in Igulot to oversee the arrival of the construction materials. I had to wake up late in the evening to account the number of iron bars and bags of cement being unloaded, in spite of the presence of the security guards. At night time, though I had never handled one, a shot gun was issued to me for our protection, as there were no fences yet around.

In Igulot, we enjoyed what nature provided us. After a heavy rain, we would fish for gurami and luwalo for exciting viands. We raised itik and pigs as part of the income-generating investments of the school to augment its budget. We lived a simple life. The roads were dusty and rough. But we managed. There were moments when we had to walk from the town proper to Igulot. Nonetheless, we enjoyed.

It was on our first year in Igulot when we had to carry heavy boulders of rock, escombro, and lay them down for the road. In its early months and years, the CAT I of Mr. Manolo Kalata, began with tree planting inside the campus, where even the teachers were given seedlings to plant. Now we see the acacia trees, the narra trees, the eucalyptus trees all around. Even while it was raining hard, students and teachers alike planted trees along the road going to the Queen of Angels Monastery. I knew I planted mine as one turns left from the corner of St. Paul’s Road coming from the campus.

We grew up with the school. My two children, Kevin Paul and Kamille Marie, grew up inside the campus. Until the Sisters’ Convent was finished. By then, Sr. Milagros was transferred to SPC Paranaque.

Sr. Edwardine Columbano, SPC took over. She facilitated the construction of the FLC Gymnasium. The Sr. Marie Celine P. Santos, SPC became the Directress-HS Principal, where she gave the biggest adjustments in salaries after having raised the tuition fees to 30%, in consultation with parents in a general assembly. She proceeded to constructing the HS Building. But she did not experience using the building herself. She was transferred to St. Paul College of Ilocos Sur, as she was replaced by Sr. Estela Sebastian, SPC. It must have been very tight years that ensued. Our salaries were almost pegged to dormancy. Thanks to the effort of ranking the employees. When Sr. Bernadette Racadio, SPC took over, the loans were gradually diminishing, and the school was picking up once more. But the school maintained no tuition fee increase policy. So salaries were once more relegated to the background. But the wave pool was constructed. Then the St. Paul Spiritual Oasis. Nonetheless, overloads of teachers made their take home pays a little competitive with those of other schools.

This is just one part of the so many wonderful memories that I had with our beloved SPCB.

It was during my stint as the Secretary of the Paulinian Family Circle was registered to the Securities and Exchange Commission. I was the one who prepared the documents, including most of the provisions of its Constitution and By-Laws. We registered the official name as Paulinian Family Circle – HS Department, Inc. Any amendments that were done, were likewise submitted to the SEC during the subsequent reigns of those who took over the leadership. Even regular financial reports were submitted to the SEC then.

One of the major projects were the intercom sound system of the now Grade School Building. Another was assisting in the financing of cementing of the roads in the campus, including the construction of the covered walk.

Through the years that we were inside the campus, we were entrusted with a lot of things, including being guards at night time. The entire school was our playground for Kevin. The Sisters who saw Kevin’s childhood became his lolas. The younger Sisters, grew fond of him. Kamille’s birth signalled our beginning to stay outside of the campus, as the Convent was already done.

In my more than 25 years of having been with SPCB, I did not simply serve locally. I had served also at the national level. I served as one of the trainers in leadership congresses especially those facilitated by Sr. Felicitas Bernardo, SPC. I likewise served as a member of the Science Core Committee since its first National Paulinian Science Congress in Dumaguete in 1998 with Sr. Veronica Borbon, SPC, Sr. Evangeline Anastacio, SPC, and Sr. Angeles Ilagan, SPC as the Chairpersons, until the last Congress held here in SPCB. I had served in the many SPC Educators’ Congresses since the time of Sr. Teresita Bayona, SPC, as the Assistant Provincial for Education, until last year.

I owe it all to the Sisters who saw a lot of potential in me. It was my joy to be of service not just to SPCB, but to the SPC Education Ministry as a whole.

I thank God that in spite of the so many responsibilities, I was still able to write textbooks that circulated nationwide. I was able to author, co-author, coordinate, edit the production of 8 science textbooks, 8 computer textbooks, and 7 elementary science textbooks. Through these books, I knew I was multiplying myself as a teacher, not just to my own students but to those who used my textbooks through the years.

That is why it pains me to go, at the peak of education changes here in our country. I am leaving my post as the HS Academic Chair having maintained high standards and having set general directions that the HS Department may pursue. I see SPCB as the center for Academic Excellence in Technology Integration as I dreamt it to be the Digital School of the Future at least here in Bulacan.
No. I did not resign. Because to resign is to severe a beautiful employer-employee relationship. In fact, I wrote several drafts of my letter to Sr. Maria Remedios Cayetano, SPC, our present School Directress. No, I was not resigning. Then it dawned on me that I could go for early retirement, as it is allowed in the CEAP Retirement Plan. So I did.

My filing for an early retirement is not at all planned. It just came, because the opportunity to shorten my preparations for our twilight years opened unexpectedly. If I won’t grab it now, it may never come again. I am in a rush. I don’t know what documents to prepare. I am not certain of the future, but I have to move fast. If and when things will not materialize the way expected them to be, I leave it up to God to open other doors for me.

I have not even said goodbye to my beloved students. I would have loved to do so. I have not even informed yet my father about this. Nor my brothers and my only sister. I have not even talked to Kevin about this. I prayed hard to our Lord to accompany me in this new journey.

But I have to move so that the school will not be left hanging on what to do next, should I simply move out as the school year has already started. I have to take this bitter pill of facing the consequences of my decision to pursue what is offered abroad, in case it will not materialize.

To all the Sisters, teachers, maintenance, staff, personnel, parents, students, I had been working with through the years, I am leaving full of memories of each one. You know how I led as an Academic Chair in the HS Department. You know how I pursued quality work, academic excellence, managerial reasonability, while cultivating camaraderie, understanding, and friendship. For me, when it’s work, it’s work. When it’s about relationship, it’s relationship. When it is school matter, it must remain a school matter. I knew the boundaries of my duties and responsibilities. I knew where to stand. Forgive me with whatever shortcomings I may have committed through the years, as I also would like to be healed of the pains that remained in my heart through the years.

I leave SPCB with a heavy heart, because I am not prepared to leave, and because I see the dawn a new SPCB the way I dreamt it to be.

Thank you to all the Sisters, teachers, parents, students, benefactors, friends, acquaintances, who, in one way or another, have become a part of my life. I am a Paulinian because of your inspiration.

Once a Paulinian, always a Paulinian.

God bless all of you.

Friday, April 8, 2016

My Five Loaves of Bread and Two Fishes

Image from

The Gospel today reminds us of the Feeding of the Five Thousand through the miraculous 'multiplication of the bread and fish' by Jesus.

And the source of the five loaves of bread and two fishes was a boy, who must have brought them for his own provisions, but instead, gladly offered them to Jesus and probably waited what Jesus would do to them.

The question on why were there no adults who offered first some bread and fish to Jesus remains quizzical. All the story said was that one of the Apostles pointed to a boy who brought with him some food provisions. Perhaps at that time, the boy was about to eat and the apostle saw him.

I guess, the analysis that probably each one brought some food with them might really be the reality then. It took a boy to cause them to share whatever food they must have brought. In other words, the miracle happened because a boy showed them the example of sharing - breaking one's bread for others.

Well, a miracle is a miracle. It could have been the seemingly impossible, like Jesus prayed over the five loaves and two fishes then all of a sudden they multiplied by themselves then fed the five thousand or more people, with left overs!

How it happened is beyond us. But what the boy did was also full of lessons.

If each one would bring out something to offer for the good of humanity and all of creation, then it is like this miracle of feeding the five thousand.

There is power in numbers, especially if this number is exponentially treated. In unity, there is strength. Generosity of heart brings about more good than harm.

Today, I would like to bring out my five loaves and two fishes. Oh no. I started it yesterday. Ooopsss! No. I had been doing it for so many years. Offering not just a little of myself. Many times, more than what I could do. More than what I could afford. More than what is expected of me.

Five loaves and two fishes. From a boy. To Jesus. To many.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Letting Go and Letting God

Image from
It is hard to let go, especially of people you hold dear to your heart. Well, it is not just people that we often can not let go. There are places and memories that we simply can not let go in our lives because they remind us a lot - beautiful, wonderful, unforgettable, or maybe unpleasant experiences.

But to let go is to free one's self in order to move on, fly again, and wonder on what is next. It is allowing God to stir your float in middle of a vast ocean of uncertainty.

It is in letting go that we discover there's a lot more to life than what we fear of. It is in letting go that opportunities of growth abound, and you would regret it if it was the other way around.

To let go is to let God take care of you. To let go is to let God be with you. To let go is to confirm one's faith in God's almighty power and generous providence.

To let go is to have faith.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Moving Up, Moving On

This year witnessed the birth of a new meaning to the phrase "Moving Up". Now, it refers to the ceremony accorded to the Grade 10 students who have finished their Junior High School after 4 years. This is in lieu of a Graduation Ceremony of the good ol'' days. Now they can't claim yet as graduates of high school level because they have yet to graduate from high school after Grade 12.

But they have to move up as they move on.

In life, we do a lot of moving on. Moving on every after a fall. Moving on after a relationship breaks down. Moving on to another state or phase of life. Moving on after a tragic incident. Moving on after a terrible experience. Moving on towards a better situation. Moving on to continue the journey.

We have a lot really of moving on episodes in our lives.

In fact, everyday should be a moving on towards what is better or the best.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

25 Years Ago

On April 2, 1991, I saw the completeness of my being and my family when my wife, Sue, gave birth to Kevin Paul, in Cagayan. I was inside the Immaculate Conception Major Seminary in Guiguinto, Bulacan attending the then Secondary Education Development Program (SEDP) Orientation Seminar-Workshop.

My heart leaped with joy. My feelings were inexplicable. My spirit wanted me to go back home to Cagayan to be with them, but my seminar won't allow me.

Way back then, I still had spare money to buy my newly born Kevin a Casio Keyboard, which to my mind, might inspire him to love music as he grows.

True enough, he loves music, indeed. He excelled in it as he grew inch-by-inch. When he was a little boy, he would sing to his heart's desire. Oh, we loved to see him on stage belting out songs he knew. I was teary eyed when he sang the Psalm on his First Holy Communion in the Church.

Today, I celebrate again that same old feeling. I feel nostalgic about those good ol' days.

He is now a geologist. A professional.

But my child. My son.

Happy birthday, Kevin.