By Bong Pelaez, BOT Chairman, BCBP Cagayan de Oro
Last March 2012 Beng and I were invited by AMD for NL Willie Simbul to share our personal testimony during BCBP Santiago Chapter’s 4th Anniversary. I confirmed immediately and in less than a week e-mailed our plane ticket itinerary. I would like to share with all of you our memorable experiences:
Day 1 – March 23 Arrival – Our First Day
10:30AM – Beng and I were fetched by AMD for Northern Luzon Willie Simbul and his governance team at the Cauayan (Isabela) Airport, 45 minutes drive to Santiago City, Isabela. We rode in a black limousine van owned and driven by Mission Director Oyie. Our back up was a 2012 Toyota Land Cruiser V8 driven by PSD Tony. WOW!!!! A humbling experience but just like P-Noy……. we did not have the “Wang-Wang”.
3 to 430PM – We toured Magat dam, a MUST SEE if you happen to be in Isabela.
6:30PM – Dinner and AGM with the BCBP Santiago Governance at RCD Claud and Aida Gonzaga’s farm house. We were welcomed by torch lights from the entrance (100 meters)to the residence. Another WOW!!!! Fresh organic and home grown fresh green salad and home made vinaigrette replaced the traditional “pinakbet”…… You can invite Claud and Aida to be your couple sharers. As a bonus you can request them to give a weekend organic farming retreat. Claud warned me that he would pick my brain which he did for 3 days, and vice versa I asked him all about organic farming.
12MN to 1AM – Beng and Berly had their one on one….and scared away the mosquitoes with cigarette smoke.
Day 2 – Saturday – 4th Anniversary of BCBP Santiago
6AM – 4TH Chapter Anniversary Mass at the parish church
7 to 8AM – UNLI buffet breakfast at the parish formation center…. I enjoyed the boiled okra and fresh tomato dressed with ” bagoong alamang”
8 to 930AM – Our Breakfast Couple Sharing. Fr. Herb, we exceeded the prescribed 20 minutes . Our conscience bothered us that the total plane fare cost the National Office Php 21,000 which would come out to Php 1,050 per minute of sharing. We extended the time so our sharing only cost Php 400 per minute.
10 to 12NN – Action Group Meeting Workshop and Open Forum with the BCBP regional chapters (Santiago and Tuguegarao) and Nueva Vizcaya Bayongbong Outreach. I asked the BCBP members to maximize in “picking the brain plus experience” of the invited National Officer(s) “para sulit”….
6PM – Parish Anticipated Mass officiated by a Burmese priest. I was fascinated by the priest’s observation on how the schools in the Philippines conduct their graduation rites. Awards, medals, and the ‘MOST’ certificates consume so much time. In Burma, according to him, graduation is completed in 15 minutes since medals and awards are given immediately after the events. That makes sense. But … It is more fun in the Philippines since 15 minutes is only the introduction of the guest speaker….
Day 3 – the climax of hosting and home stay
12MN – I slept while Beng and Berly had their one on one.
Climax No. 1 – 1:30AM – Beng woke me up and we rushed to the “flooded” bathroom floor. Water was profusely coming out of the water closet safety valve. SOS. I told her to wake up AMD Willie to turn off the water main line while I pushed the safety valve to its original position to minimize water discharge. It turned out that Beng had broken the safety valve while closing it to conserve water.
Climax No.2 – Beng also turned off the water heater connected to the master bed room in order to conserve electricity. Poor Berly, our host, had to bear the cold shower that morning.
10 AM – Cauayan Airport at last. Climax No. 3 – Santiago Chapter Head Gerry and Lina handed over to us a fiberglass icon of the Lady of Piat, the patron of Tuguegarao City. The airport security would not allow Beng to hand carry the icon of Mama Mary for security reasons. Beng explained the possibility of damaging the icon if it was checked-in. Security officer say NO with finality. Beng turned ballistic like Madam Senator. She said she doubed that she would be crazy enough to hit the pilot with the icon during flight. Final verdict- icon to be given by Lina to Beng in the NAC 32 venue.
Home. We reached the Cagayan de Oro airport that evening exhausted but with fond memories of Santiago, Isabela. We were blessed and glad to be hosted. We now have new found friends from Isabela.
In summary, life is all about relationships. This trip we rediscovered in new ways what we had known right along – BCBP home stay is more fun!