The Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals (BCBP) has risen up to the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic by transitioning to online events. Two years after its National Anniversary Celebration (NAC) was canceled by safety lockdowns, the BCBP mounted in July 15, 2022 its first hybrid NAC—a combination of face-to-face and online gatherings.
Close to 300 BCBP members, mostly from the host area South Metro Manila Region, gathered at the SM Aura in Bonifacio Global City for the Friday Night Worship Assembly. Over 20,000 members from across the country and different parts of the globe joined the online event either as chapters doing watch parties in auditoriums or restaurants, or families gathered in their homes.
At the SM Aura, the BCBP members came in droves, all clad in navy blue shirts, with IDs dangling from their necks. Behind the face masks, they were wearing smiles of excitement to finally be with their BCBP brothers and sisters in person once again. Organizers constantly reminded them, however, to always be conscious of safety protocols, observe social distancing, do frequent sanitation, and maintain limited physical contacts.
Keeping the program in order were the couple Arvin and Erika Sanchez from BCBP Makati Chapter who served as emcees for the event. Formerly based in Bangkok, Thailand, it was their first face-to-face experience of the NAC, which made it extra special.
As in the past 41 NACs, the worship experience has been one of the highlights of the weekend event.
BCBP President PV Beley led the praying and exhortations in between songs of praise led by the Alabang chapter Music Ministry team. In his exhortation. Mr. Beley acknowledged BCBP leaders who have shepherded and continue to guide the community in its 42 years of existence—from its Spiritual Director and Founder Fr. Herb Schneider, to former presidents and chairmen namely, Larry de Larrazabal, Manny Banigan, Louie Morales, Manolet Siojo, Bobby Lavina, Larry Veloso, Bobby Atendido, Manny Jimenez, Bong Pelaez, Roy Calleja, Joey Avellana, Joffe Almoro, Tito Serafica, as well as those who have served in the Management Committee and the Board of Trustees.
Mr. Beley noted that the past two years have been tough and difficult for everyone. “We experienced anxiety and sadness. But we never felt alone. During the difficult times, we had one another. We came together as a community to support those affected and needed help. And we took comfort in the presence of the Lord. He never abandoned us. Because of the Lord we didn’t lose hope,” he said.
ROADS TO DAMASCUS
The worship assembly featured the mini-sharing of five BCBP members from various chapters. The sharers, namely, Hanz Dy from Quezon City, Mark Ganaban from Imus (Cavite), Sam Balo from Cagayan de Oro West, Joanne Pabalan from Las Piñas, and Lucy Legaspi from Makati – gave an account of their encounters with our God.
BCBP Chairman Caesar Altarejos said that like the apostle Paul, the five sharers traveled their respective “roads to Damascus”, the path where they rediscovered God and found new purpose in life.
“While Paul’s experience was uniquely dramatic, it was in their daily struggles that our sharers rose up. They rediscovered God in BCBP as well as their purpose in life. They learned to surrender to God and to obey His leadings. At their most trying times, God called them to this community and their response propelled their transformation,” Mr. Altarejos said.
“To many of us, BCBP has become also our road to Damascus. Here, God has set us apart! Here, He challenges us every day to rise up and become His servants and witnesses. No matter our hardships, handicaps nor impediments. He calls us to change our ways and imbibe BCBP’s core values. He calls us to humility and submission. He calls us to Serve and Live the BCBP Way of Life,” he added.
Embracing God by Hanz Dy of Quezon City Chapter
Hanz Dy shared about his journey from his “vague sense” of who God is, from his early formative years growing up in a multicultural family background, that progressed on throughout his years working with a multinational company. Like the Hebrews in their 400 years in Egypt, his true sense of God became muddled with his focus on corporate success, and extreme thoughts and beliefs of people he met.
Mr. Dy also talked about the growing coffee business managed by his wife Jem, about business practices that were not in conformance with standards. The seeming growth of the business further blinded them about those wrongs. He shared insights on his struggles in faith, business, and health when he got infected with Covid-19.
Mr. Dy’s journey has had its turning point, when a friend invited him to a breakfast meeting with the BCBP. This led him and his wife to complete the BCLP, and in committing to bringing Christ to the marketplace. Through God’s love manifested in the teachings, sharings in the community, the Dy couple has risen up to faith and trust in God, come sufferings and lockdowns or not.
Entrust our cares to God by Mark Ganaban of Imus Chapter
Mark Anthony Ganaban recounted how he rose from the challenges of having Generalized Anxiety Disorder to fully trusting in God. It was not an easy journey to speak of but his challenges made him cling to the Lord even more.
For six long years, Mr. Ganaban was beset with anxiety. It manifested through tightening of the chest, difficulty in breathing, and limbs going limp. Despite repeated trips to the emergency room, there were no concrete medical findings. The constant anxiety attacks necessitated psychotherapy sessions and anxiety medications. The distress about impending anxiety attacks led him to self-prescribed treatments. The costly treatments tossed him close to bankruptcy and strained his marriage that almost resulted in an annulment.
God’s intervention came in 2018 through the BCBP Christian Life Program. Drawn to the realization of God’s perfect love, teachings of BCBP and company of same-minded people, Mr. Ganaban’s struggles with anxiety diminished over time. Despite the worrisome COVID-19 pandemic and the adverse impacts of the Ukraine-Russia war, he has remained at peace and trusting of God’s lofty plan. The passage in Philippians 4:6-7 resonates in his mind and heart: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
Gratefulness in adversity by Sam Balo of Cagayan De Oro West Chapter
God promises everyone a life full of blessings. But inevitably, life also has a good measure of trials and adversities.
Sam Balo shared that he has a faint recollection of his father because he died when he was a mere six years old. He questioned God for taking his father too early. He cannot imagine how difficult life will be, especially for his mother who has five children to raise.
Despite the misfortune, Mr. Balo was able to pursue a medical degree and graduated in 2000 as a surgeon. That time, he promised himself to offer free medical services specially to widows and single parents like his mother. He even goes the extra mile by donating to scholarship programs for the last 22 years. To Mr. Balo, “the hands that help are better than the lips that pray.”
His membership in the BCBP strengthened his resolve to be a better person, not to earn praise from people, but to give back to God and glorify Him through good deeds.
The time of the pandemic has presented an opportunity to help people. Along with other well-meaning physicians, he volunteered for the free online telekonsult (consultation). He even set up a version of a community pantry. A message that resonates in his mind and heart is, in good times and in bad, we need to rise up, be kind and generous, out of gratefulness to God.
Life driven by God by Joanne Pabalan of Las Piñas Chapter
Ms. Joanne Marie Grace Pabalan or Jojo to her family and friends tells of how as a young adult she yearns to know more about God. This yearning has helped her find her true passion and mission in life. She believes that we are designed by God not to have the same path, not to fit in, but to create something beautiful in our lives. She explained how a career shift led her to bring young people closer to Jesus wherever she is, whatever she does, and whenever it may be.
In Jojo’s sharing, she tells how her life is driven by God both in her profession as a Lasallian formator and educator and a member of the BCBP as she continue to serve the Lord despite the challenges, including the pandemic.
She encouraged everyone to know their individual purpose in life and that in finding that purpose, it should always begin with God. Her sharing manifested to us that what matters most is not what others say about our life but what God will say. As in Isaiah 26:3, “You, Lord, give perfect peace to those who keep their purpose firm and put their trust in you.”
In closing, she said that we are capable of great things and that the beginning may seem to be the hardest. But we should not give up and instead, we rise up! We step up to God’s call for our mission continues – and that mission will always be God’s eternal glory!
The inspiration behind Rise!
Lucy Legaspi, a member of BCBP Makati Chapter, was not spared from the havoc brought about by the COCID-19 pandemic. She lost two loved ones early on, her husband was hospitalized and early this year, her household (except for a son) was downed by the Omicron variant. During this time, she held on to God, attending on-line mass daily and contributing praise song lyric videos for BCBP TV. She found comfort in music. Listening to praise songs helped her overcome the feelings of powerlessness, worry and weariness.
During preparations for the NAC42, Makati Chapter was assigned to be the Music Ministry for the event having been the winner in the NAC41 Praise Jam. The idea of composing an original NAC42 theme song was suggested and consequently approved. Lucy worked with her music partner on the song.
Sometime in January this year, Mrs. Legaspi contracted COVID-19. While in quarantine, she was able to put together the lyrics of what is to be the NAC42 theme song, “Rise Up!” She translated her pain, challenges and experience to a prayer to the Lord, weaving the words to the music beautifully composed by her music partner. She wrote, “heal us Lord from all our disease. Save us, Lord and grant us Your peace. We are His people. He is our God.” Lucy believes God used her fears and anxieties towards strengthening her faith and service to Him through music in our community.
Article written by Junep Ocampo, Head of BCBP Communications Ministry with contributions from: Gary Manalo of Bulacan Central Chapter, Hailey Ferrer of Los Baños Chapter, Dette Joven of Calamba-Makiling Outreach, Maricris Cabalhin of Sta. Rosa Chapter and Pinky Arias of CAMANAVA Chapter.