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The BCBP’s 29th National Anniversary Celebration, NAC, was successfully held in the Pines City of Baguio April 17-19. More than 3,000 BCBP members participated joyfully in Friday’s spirit-filled worship, Saturday’s inspiring breakfast, and the afternoon’s Holy Mass, dinner and program. Annie Salvador, BCBP Baguio, tells us about the weekend in her blow-by-blow account as written in her diary. Pictures of the weekend celebration may be viewed in the Gallery on this site.

NAC DIARY, 2009

By Annie Salvador, BCBP Baguio

Countdown, Blast Off, Mission Accomplished!

As early as Monday, the 13th of April, members of the National Anniversary Celebration, NAC, Steering Committee began to receive news of brothers and sisters from all over the country as they began their journeys. They traveled by air, by sea and by land, from points in Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao, and California, into the Cordillera Region and up, up to the mountain city of Baguio, with the good Lord guiding their way and ensuring their safe passage. What started as a trickle quickly grew into a torrent of arrivals and the City of Cool soon filled up with cars bearing BCBP stickers and visitors wearing BCBP T-shirts of numerous designs and colors. BCBP country was gearing up for its 29th National Anniversary Celebration.

Meanwhile, service team members from the North West Luzon Region worked on the final preparations: completing the delegate kits, mounting streamers, setting up the booths and venues, coordinating with caterers and drivers, medics and volunteers . . . praying, praying, praying. The proverbial last minute was fast approaching, and as in all other big events, it was threatening to burst at the seams!

Early on Thursday the 16th, members of the BOT-Mancom arrived. Although many of them elected to rest after their long trip (others having traveled all the way from Mindanao the day before), many also went along on the special excursion planned for them. The group visited the Lourdes Grotto, the Brown Madonna, and the newly inaugurated BenCab Museum. After lunch, time out for a nap became a very attractive option, yet the most enduring of the lot went on to the Philippine Military Academy to complete the tour.

As the BOT-Mancom meeting progressed later that day, NAC delegates continued to arrive and check into their lodgings.

Day 1: Friday, 17Apr09

The first official NAC event was the Golf Tournament, and despite the light shower, BCBP’s hardy golfers – forty-five of them – teed off at 7:00am and enjoyed Baguio Country Club’s Golf Course. Over in Teachers Camp, the rains managed to deter many of those who volunteered for the Fun Games, and albeit brave, there were too few of them left, so the 12st BCBP National Friendship Games were unable to proceed.

Up the garden-flanked steps of Albert Hall, registration procedures encountered first-hour glitches. Thankfully, for the most part, these were overcome by resourceful service team members and cooperative, patient delegates. Notwithstanding the snags, the venue soon took on the atmosphere typical of BCBP anniversary registrations: noisy with greetings between long-time-no-see friends, bustling with the business of the hour, chockfull of comings and goings and all things in between.

Behind it all, there was music, provided by Baguio players especially contracted for the day. No doubt the indigenous, acoustic and mellow sounds helped to cool many a temper and made many a wait seem shorter. The early bottlenecks soon gave way to more manageable traffic as the day wore on. Before long, registration activities petered out, and delegates, with their kits in tow, began flowing back for the Merienda-Cena service.

The menu was purposefully Northern: garden vegetables in a strawberry vinaigrette; native sayote tops with a stylized bagoong dressing; pinikpikang manok, a unique style of chicken tinola; pigar-pigar, beef roasted and cooked with liver; pinulpog (roasted pork belly) with blood sauce; boneless bangus done a la pobre; red mountain rice; and finger-thin banana turon with ice cream. The meal, served in two large Mess Halls, was planned in two seatings, an arrangement designed in order to accommodate the large number of diners. Music was provided by homegrown Baguio artists: flutist Alex Tumapang and the Daluyon, Singing Lawyers and Blue Braz bands.

Alas, the unpredictable Baguio weather refused to cooperate, making it difficult for some members to get to the dining venues and transfer to the Baguio Country Club afterwards, for the worship. However, the Lord seemed pleased with the huge turn-out. Soon the BCC Multi-Purpose Hall was packed wall to wall with around 3,300 attendees, and the Prayer Assembly started in good time.

National President Larry Veloso opened with brief welcome remarks and then introduced the year’s national leaders to the assembled members. To begin the worship, his exhortation alluded to Biblical mountaintop encounters with God and invited all members to “therefore, open our eyes, our ears, our minds and our hearts and take time to listen, to wait, to watch and be ready to encounter our Risen Lord in all the people, places, and events that will come our way during this weekend celebration.” (Read his exhortation in his Kapatiran column, “Listen To Him”, June issue).

The songs, beautifully led by a joint Dagupan-Las Pinas Music Ministry, backgrounded a beautiful worship and paved the way for all members in the body to pray for BCBP’s leaders, and these leaders in turn to pray over the members as they gathered in small groups to minister to one another.

After the worship, a very significant announcement was made: the launching of the BCBP Community Portal, rendering the Kapatiran, the BCBP’s National Magazine, online, along with a host of other services and links for members and friends. This project, spearheaded by National Service Coordinator for Programs and Services, Joey Avellana, makes the BCBP more current, accessible and indeed global, and its launch during the Baguio NAC was a distinct honor for the hosting service committees.

Later that evening in the crisp, chilled Baguio air, NAC delegates boarded their cars and their service shuttles and rode back to their lodgings, eager for a good night’s rest and warmed by the Father’s love in the midst of brothers and sisters.

Day 2: Saturday, 18Apr09

One of the innovations in this year’s NAC was the No-Breakfast registration option, to allow for those whose hotels had breakfast service, or those who simply wanted to linger before starting the day. As a result, a full third of the delegates opted to forego the Breakfast service at the Baguio Country Club and just join the 9:00am plenary at BCC’s Multi-Purpose Hall. All told, over 3,400 delegates and guests came to the Breakfast Program, mostly garbed in brightly colored NAC T-shirts.

Music for the 29th Anniversary Grand Breakfast was led by the Music Ministry of San Fernando La Union CIT, and the program was very ably emceed by Laoag’s Mike Paderon and SF-LU’s Mary Ann Francisco. A very special touch was provided by none other than Father Herb Schneider, SJ, BCBP Spiritual Director, who, in lieu of the customary narrative on the BCBP’s history, regaled everyone with a personal recollection of the very first Breakfast in 1980, at which he was present and which he himself had initiated.

The Anniversary Breakfast sharers were Baguio’s Lanny Tampinco, Cebu’s Jourdan P{olotan and Cagayan de Oro’s Bong Pelaez, representing Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao respectively. These brothers, who are shining members of the BCBP, shared as much about the Father’s love for them as the ways the Spirit has worked in transforming their lives, and their ensuing response, as fleshed-out by their efforts to walk in Christ’s ways. All this was reinforced by the scriptural response, Psalm 16, as read by immediate past President Bobby Lavina. As always, those who came away from the Breakfast took with them a fresh infusion of the joy which comes from being in a personal relationship with the Lord. (See the June issue of Kapatiran for these three sharings).

By 11:00am everyone was ready to enjoy a few hours of free time. Shuttles busily transported those who wanted to go back to their lodgings, while NAC IKOT jeeps started their rounds. The NAC IKOT was a special city tour service provided by the hosts for all registered delegates. Using the NAC ID as a ticket, delegates were able to alight and board at any of 15 pre-designated stops all around the central Baguio area, allowing them to sightsee, shop and spend their free time more conveniently and enjoyably. The service ended at around 4:00pm, giving delegates enough time to get ready for the evening’s activities.

The Anniversary Mass is a particular highlight of every NAC, and this year’s was no exception. The Processional was led by tribal Igorot gong players in a special Cordillera tribute, followed by the Celebrants: Baguio Bishop Carlito J. Cenzon, Fr. Ronald Bonayon of Laoag, Fr. Fernando Gaila of Baguio, Fr. Paul Manzano from California, and Fr. Herb Schneider. Bishop Cenzon, in his homily, issued challenges to the BCBP, initially since he expressed a lack of acquaintance with the community, but mostly through his question, “Are you for real?” The Bishop dared each member to be as professed, in principle and in reality, echoing God’s call reflected in the Anniversary theme “Be My Witnesses in the Marketplace”.

Likewise, the Prayers of the Faithful resounded the summons to be witnesses, putting desires into deeds and aspirations into action. The prayers were delivered in tandem by member-couples who also helped to translate the prayers into their dialects: Pampango, Cebuano, Chavacano, Ilonggo and Ilocano. For this special touch, thanks go to Noel and Merly Gomez, Jigs and Tina Mateo, Bebot and Dinah King, Lino and Daie Genel, Gau and Lorie Arancillo, Bernie and Celia Duldulao, and Jojo and Hazel dela Cruz.

Communion was relatively quick and smooth, thanks in large part to a score of brother Lay Ministers who volunteered to assist. The Anniversary Mass proved once more that it is always a joy to celebrate the Eucharist with brothers and sisters in Community.

The Baguio Country Club reported later that the Saturday dinner service for the NAC was their largest ever. Close to 3,500 meals were served, and 2,300 of these were in the Multi-Purpose Hall. Immediately after the Mass ended, there was gridlock in the MPH perimeter aisles, where the buffet tables were set-up, as eager diners positioned themselves. However, since the volume was too large, lines were unable to form and there was no flow. It took a while before the crowd was untangled, unfortunately, resulting in some frayed tempers, increased blood pressure levels, and lowered blood sugar levels.

Yet the bright side prevailed. Helpful brothers and sisters stepped up to sort out the situation; many more patiently waited for their turn; the service staff of the BCC handled themselves competently and with discipline; and the dinner prepared for the delegates was indeed delicious. In the other dining venues – the Training Center and the Ballroom – the flow was smoother and some groups from the MPH decided to have their meals in these areas. In due time, the program was ready to start.

In honor of 2009 being Baguio City’s centennial, the program and party theme of the NAC was “Kwela Ka, Pinoy,” and everyone was enjoined to come costumed in “imaginative Filipiniana.” In keeping with this, the song and dance numbers presented by the St. Louis University Glee Club and Tanghalang SLU were native in flavor, including shadow and mime presentations utilizing the centerstage video screen. Especially featured were very well-prepared musical numbers by select Chapters: San Fernando Pampanga, Iloilo and Cagayan de Oro. Towards the end, leaders and members of the host chapter for the next NAC were called in to extend their invitation for one and all to come to Davao in 2010.

Day 3: Sunday, 19Apr09

For the first time in NACs, a Medical and Dental Mission had been organized as an integral part of the celebrations, and early on Sunday, Baguio members trooped to the DSWD Building, joined by President Larry Veloso and NSC-PSD Joey and Lulu Avellana. The Philippine National Red Cross was also present to supervise a simultaneous bloodletting activity. At morning’s end, a total of eighty-nine indigent residents of Baguio City had been served, providing the NAC organizers a most humble way of giving thanks for so many blessings.

In the meantime, the thousands who had come to Baguio for the weekend were now leaving the city. Some, in continuance of their holidays, were bound for forward destinations like Sagada in the Mountain Province or Laoag and Vigan further north. Many more were homebound, reversing the directions they had sought a few days before. Each one, for sure, had distinct and personal memories of another NAC to mark another BCBP birthday.

Whatever these memories, each BCBP member will do well to remember President Larry’s words on Friday evening: “My prayer is that every activity we do will truly become a prayer of faith, an act of worship, an opportunity to share our love with the brothers and sisters around us, and an opportunity to encounter our Risen Lord in a personal and intimate way.”

Editor’s Note: For and in behalf of the entire BCBP Community, we warmly congratulate the NAC 09 Team, ably headed by the energetic couple Nelson and Annie Salvador, RCD Northwestern Luzon, for a job well done! Despite many unforeseen challenges, especially in the number of delegates attending who had failed to pre-register causing logistics difficulties, the Team gave us a truly memorable mountaintop experience, a weekend that was blessed as early as Friday afternoon when an awesome double rainbow stretched over the NAC venue, assuring the participants of the Lord’s blessings and the fulfillment of His promises. Truly, God is good!

We look forward to next year’s landmark National Anniversary Celebration, the BCBP’s 30th, in the City of Davao. Register early and come prepared to celebrate the goodness of the Lord with all our brothers and sisters in the BCBP Community. See you there!

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From Bong San Agustin, BCBP Manila

I would like to share my experience during the 29th National Anniversary in Baguio City. It was during the Praise and Worship led by Bro Larry Veloso that I felt so light as if I was floating in the air, grabe parang yong line sa song “Footprints in the Sand” when Jesus said in reply to the complaint why was there only one set of footprints in the sand, “My son, it was then … when I carried you.” I could really feel that GOD was there “carrying” me, or in Tagalog: “karga-karga NYA ako, parang pinag-heheleng baby”. Thank you, Lord, for always taking care of us.

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