The Personal Testimony of Bro. Hansel Magno, BCBP Davao East
I am Hansel Andrion Magno Jr. born in the beautiful city of Davao to Hansel Gonzales Magno Sr. a native of Cateel, Davao Oriental, and Gestrudes Encarnacion Andrion origianlly from Naic, Cavite but who was raised here in Davao. We are three children in the family and I am the eldest. Although we were sent to a prestigious private school, my parents did not give us all the luxuries that we wanted compared to our classmates. Since we did not own big “haciendas” my parents would always inculcate in us that education was the only tangible inheritance that they could give us. They were strict disciplinarians. This was because my parents had earned their education as working students, and my grandmother was a fish vendor at the Bangkerohan public market. My grandfather had died early so my mother and her eldest sister had to work at an early age to augment the income of the family.
I was able to finish elementary and high school without failures. It was in high school that I learned to smoke and drink just to be with the company of my influential friends. I opted to be identified with “uso-uso” at that time. But thankfully these did not affect my goal of finishing school. My grandmother wanted me to become a doctor and so with my father since his income could already afford it. And so I was enrolled again at the Ateneo taking B.S. Biology in preparation for medicine proper.
College time was an exciting time for me since it was the first time to be with the company of women. I had girlfriends but I was not serious with anyone because of my aim to earn a degree. I tested drugs which gave me ecstatic experiences but later on made my mind and body weak and dumb which I did not like. However I didn’t stop my smoking and drinking. I was focused on finishing my preparatory course because everyone in my family was encouraging me. I finished B.S. Biology without failures and passed the entrance examination to medical school.
My father decided to enroll me here at DMSF, in Davao, and promised the support I needed especially in the financial aspect. We were the fifth batch of medical students at DMSF and some parents and friends doubted whether DMSF was at par with the other medical schools since our school was new. But after graduation and internship, we took the board examination and all of us passed the exams and not only that, two of our classmates made it to the top.
I vividly remember that when the results were in the news, I was in a remote barrio of Maragusan serving as a rural health doctor. There were no newspapers there and we only had the radio to listen to the news. I could hear the greetings of congratulations of some of my classmates who passed the exams but my name was not mentioned. I was anxious for I thought I did not make it. The area at that time was impassable by four-wheeled vehicles because of steep and muddy roads. After two days of waiting I decided to backride with the parish priest on his motorbike going to the town of Tagum where I could take a bus home. When I arrived home in mud soiled clothes, I was embraced tightly by my father who he was crying hard and praising God for the blessing. That was when I learned that I passed the exams. It was a big accomplishment on the part of my parents. It was also a big success for me because I was now a full fledged doctor with a bright future.
While everybody in the family were still in a joyful mood I broke the news to them that I was planning to get married to Nilda, my sweetheart since second year proper. I was in a hurry because she was pregnant and I had promised her that I would take full responsibility of the consequences of our intimate relationship. Although my parents were dismayed, we were married two months later on February 7, 1987. Nilda Cabang Magno is a pure Ilocano from Pangasinan, now connected with the Davao City Council as an assistant division chief.
II. Personal Struggles before the BCBP
Before the BCBP, two tragic events happened to us, that led me to the realization that I was not in control of everything. The first event was that our newborn child died six days after she was born because of intracranial hemorrhage brought about by prolonged vacuum extraction. I was praying while the baby was struggling to live at the Nursery knowing that if she lived she would have cerebral palsy. I prayed to God to grant what was best for us. His decision was to take her away from us; it was painful for us and my parents because she was their first grandchild.
The second tragic event was when a fire burnt down our house destroying everything we possessed. At that moment I tried to ask God how could He allow such horrible misfortune to happen to us. I was complaining to God why another tragic incident had to shatter our lives again. We were just recovering from the tragic loss of our daughter and now God took away all our belongings. It took me some time to forget the incident and to move on with our lives.
In Psalms 6: 9 and I quote “ The Lord hears my weeping; he listens to my cry for help and will answer my prayer.” Unquote. Good the house that was burned was insured and my father in law decided to construct again a small 20 sq.m. house for Nilda and me. We humbly accepted it and we were content because we wanted to live away from the influences of our parents.
During our early years of marriage I was not centered on the welfare of my family. My only obligation was to comply with the financial aspect of the family and nothing else. God was not prioritized in the family. My wife at one time wanted to separate from me without my knowledge. Good she did not accede to the temptation otherwise a third tragic event would have happened to our lives.
In our second year of marriage I decided to enter residency training in Internal Medicine and was accepted at San Pedro Hospital and graduated three years later. After training I immediately went into private practice, since I had a family to support. Like any other profession, starting to practice needs patience and hard work. You have to market yourself and start first treating your friends and relatives.
III. Introduction to the BCBP
As a practicing Internist I was given a chance to be accredited as one of the medical examiners of an insurance company whose manager was a member of the BCBP. She invited me to a BCBP breakfast and I gave her a lot of alibis because I was very much skeptical of Charismatic communities. Later on I could not give anymore excuses so I heeded to her invitation. When I attended my first breakfast in the BCBP, I was surprised by the people I saw. They were all kind and welcomed me with open arms. I was wondering how such people whom I knew to be busy with their businesses still had time to meet and talk about how God had made miracles in their lives. I thought Charismatic groups were for the old and retired but I was wrong. I saw it was good and it impressed me specially the sharing of life testimonies. The more I attended the breakfast fellowships the more they gave me wisdom and understanding about how God works in our lives. I later on invited my wife; both of us became regular attendees in the breakfast fellowships. I took the BCLP first and after a year my wife followed me.
One important goal at that time aside from my relationship with Jesus was my career. My dream was to pass the Diplomate exams in Internal Medicine so that I would be eligible to enter any hospital that I wanted to apply to. During my daily prayers, my supplications were to ask the good Lord to give me a stable income so that I could plan and build a bigger house for my family to live and enjoy life. True enough I was given a job to teach at a college in the department of physical therapy. There I earned a good income while I was still starting to practice in a hospital that we were trying to develop. It took me four years to decide to take the specialty exams. I was hesitant to take it the difficult exam but my daily encounter with God gave me the confidence to take it. When the results were released, I was one of the successful examinees. God is really Kind and Merciful. It was a great blessing to my career as a doctor. From then on I was promoted to be the Department Chairperson of Internal Medicine at Brokenshire Hospital. God was generous to my practice providing me with the needs of my family, including the resources to construct a decent house for my family, and my practice.
Another wonderful blessing is being able to care for my parents. My father is 82 years old and a cancer survivor for five years now. My mother, who joined her creator last March at 80 years old, had been confined to a wheelchair for the last eight years due to a paralyzing stroke. God had a purpose in making me a doctor so that I would have the privilege to take care of them.
V. Impact of the BCBP to My Family
I was lucky that I joined the BCBP in my early thirties when Nilda and I were just starting to build our family. Before the Brotherhood I was not focused on the affairs of my family. I was more attached to my drinking buddies, gambling and “sabungan” or cockpits. This was always one of our arguments with my wife. I usually came home on a Sunday night drunk and penniless. “Manalo man pero maubos din sa blowout.” Good that my parents would accompany my family to Sunday Mass in my absence since they wanted to be always with their grandchildren. In short I was out of touch with God and with my family.
When I decided to stick with the BCBP, my life started to change. I tried my best to evade from my friends. I started to join my family in attending Mass. It was also at this stage when we attended the BCMR 1 (Brotherhood Christian Marriage Retreat) here in Davao. There were a lot of values that we learned from that memorable Retreat. It made a lot of changes in our family life. Lucky charms, nude calendars were thrown out.
We started to practice the making a sign of the Cross on the forehead of our children before they left for school or activities outside the house. Even until now as grown ups they still cherish it because it gives them security and assurance that our love for them is always present. We pray as a family and after the Mass they will always make “mano” to us as a sign of their respect. As the years goes by we see them grow to be good Christians. My wife and I are optimistic that we have planted the right values in our children. Our family is close to each other and we are happy about it as parents. Prayers is a part of their lives because they see it in us. We hope that what we imparted to them will still hold through until they have their own families. I have never regretted the decision to bring Christ into our family.
VI. Impact of the BCBP to My Personal Life and Profession
Signing the commitment card in the BCBP was an uphill challenge for me. I started to pray and read the Bible daily. It was at first difficult but little did I know that God was working in me to give me joy and happiness because of the wonders of prayers. Daily prayer time and Scripture reading are now part of my daily habit. I always intercede for the needs of my brothers and sisters in the community and for my patients. I pray the Rosary daily and attend Sunday Mass and days of obligation as often as I can. Before when I woke up in the morning, the first thing that would come into my mind was always of worldly things. But now the first thing that comes into my mind upon awakening is God.
My immersion with the Brotherhood has affected my way of dealing with my colleagues and subordinates. I always deal with them with utmost respect, fairness, and professionalism. As much as possible I practice by example. If ever I will be judged, then there would be nothing that I can hide from my detractors. I have said this because one cannot remove intrigues in the working place.
Last year I informed our medical director that I would end my term as department chair that December 2010 with the reason that Nilda and I were given a responsibility to shepherd a new chapter in the Brotherhood, BCBP Davao East, as Chapter head couple. I said to myself, God is calling us for a new service this time serving our brothers and sisters in the community. It was a difficult decision, for my department staffers and residents did not want me to relinquish my position. But I trusted God had a different plan for me.
VII. Life in the BCBP Community
The journey within community is not that easy; there is no perfect community. There will always be challenges and trials but what is certain is that we have the Lord we can hold onto. We are already 15 years in the Brotherhood and we do not regret it a minute of it. We praise God for our perseverance for we are witnesses to His glory in our lives. The action groups give us spiritual support, true friendships and love. Although sometimes we experience spiritual laziness, the good Lord will always reveal to us that He is real through the sharings in the breakfasts, assemblies, and action groups.
The Lord has also given us the opportunity to be servants in this community: as action group leaders, unit leader, programs and services director, and now as Chapter Head. These responsibilies have made me more humble and aware of the needs of my brothers and sisters in the BCBP. We are joyful for we believe we are privileged to work in the vineyard of the Lord, to live the BCBP way of life.
I still have some quarrels with my wife. I still lose my temper whenever I get angry especially when referees make a bad decision. I also commit mistakes. But what is important is my willingness to repent for such mistakes and pray that they will not happen again. I may not be yet a perfect person, but I am striving to be one that would delight God. I always remember this passage from the book authored by Max Lucado entitled “Don’t panic” and it says “ Next time you are disappointed, don’t panic. Don’t give up. Just be patient and let God remind you he is in control. It ain’t over till it’s over.” End of quote.
To the readers of my sharing – I pray that God would start working in your lives. There is a saying which says “it’s better late than never”. I end with this prayer from 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5 and I quote “Finally, our friends, pray for us that the Lord’s message may continue to spread rapidly and be received with honor, just as it was among you. Pray also that God will rescue us from wicked and evil people; for not everyone believes the message. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and keep you safe fron the Evil One. And the Lord gives us confidence in you, and we are sure that you are doing and will continue to do what we tell you. May the Lord lead your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s patience.”