By Vangie Estrella
The Pasig District of CFCFFL, with Tony and Dorie Liza at the helm, has decided to do away with extravagance and pomp this Christmas; instead spend time and resources to those with less in life as a way of concluding this ‘Year of the Poor’ with an exclamation mark. In response, the Pasig cluster under Efren and Bles Gabrillo deemed it wise to do outreach activities to the CRIBS Foundation in Marikina City and to Tahanang Walang Hagdan in Cainta, Rizal. Our chapter was commissioned to the New Beginnings Program of the CRIBS Foundation, one of the major programs that addresses the healing and recovery of sexually abused female minors aged 7 to 17 years old.
On Sunday, December 6, 2016, our chapter’s servant leaders assembled at the CRIBS compound as early as 12:20 in the afternoon for their 2:00 PM time block. Freddie and Cecille Nadres were the first ones as they bring in the still-hot pancit and other food stuff. Unit leaders Jules and Doris Salengua and family, together with household servants Roel Del Rosario and Martin Tan and their respective wives were part of the “early birds”. Manny and I were with Jojo and Reggie Aquino when we greeted other servant leaders as they arrived in droves: Lito and Lyn Abainza and family, Andy and Lau Altea, Manny & Cora Pagatpat, Gina Alcover, Jorge and Lani Torres and family, and Nonoy and Melba Trono. We were joined by Perry and Maligaya whose Singapore-based son Paolo delivered a big box full of assorted toys and a check for the CRIBS children. The Maligaya couple were part of our first household in Riverside Pasig way back in 1992. As the servants and members of the other chapter led by Danny and Nora Amul came in, together with our cluster leaders, Efren and Bless, the usual orientation for first-time volunteers was made by the CRIBS staff. And off we went to our respective assignments.
There were 26 children in the New Beginnings program and they were all smiles as they settled in for our “show”. Our 1 ½-hour interwoven activities centered on the story of Jonah and the Big Fish. Three daughters of our servant leaders led the paper-folding workshop or origami. Janel Torres demonstrated how to make a simple whale, Althea Abainza worked on a paper boat, and Sandy Salengua taught how to make a representation of a person. Even the Titos and Titas joined in the paper folding activities which they found enjoyable. We showed a cute video of a 7-year old kid enthusiastically telling the “Jonah and the Big Fish” story which I recapped with some interaction from the children. Then sis Reggie Aquino, also a former St. Paul preschool teacher, distributed clean bond papers, crayons and glues and instructed them to paste their origami output on the paper and draw other elements as they understood the story. She capped her workshop by asking volunteers up front and described their work of art. Many shared their insights on lessons learned.
After a hearty shared meal, the New Beginning girls asked us to stay as they did an energetic dance number which delighted everyone. They rendered a Christmas song that sent chills to our spines. For whatever reason, I can feel the pain from their eyes as they sang despite the smiles painted on their faces. Many of us held down our tears as the song ended. Finally, the New Beginnings girls gave a simple card of thanks which is reproduced and can be found in the photo section of this blog.
We realized, thus, that these teens who have less in life in terms of family relations, need caring people and attention. We know that our simple and casual visit has made inroads into their hearts. Before we left, we handed a sizeable amount to the Foundation as a token of our love. Now we know what sector we will help as we observe our next year’s theme “Rich in Mercy”.
By Lani Araneta Torres
A few months back, the ICC Chapter of Pasig decided to conduct a Strategic Christian Life Seminar (CLS). After several meetings and ocular inspections for the venue, our leaders finally set the date, chose the service team and the site of the CLS. They agreed to have it on November 28 and 29 at Betania Retreat House in Tagaytay City. The service team was headed by Jorge and Lani Torres assisted by their household members, namely, Andy and Laura Altea as Assistant Team head, Jojo and Reggie Aquino as Team Servant, and Manny and Cora Pagatpat. The last three couples acted as facilitators, too. Our chapter leaders , Manny & Vangie Estrella, were in charge of the Music Ministry and registration while our unit leaders, Lito & Lyn Abainza were overseers.
Except for some couples who served as advance party, the rest of the team motored to the venue in the morning of November 28, as the registration opened as early as 7 AM. The program started promptly as planned. We were lucky to have speakers who were much willing to share their time and impart their valuable experience in the community as they discuss the topics with clarity and conviction: Talk 1- God’s Love by Andy Altea, Talk 2- What It Means To Be A Christian by Freddie Nadres, Talk 3- Repentance and Faith by Ansel Beluso, Talk 4 & 5- The Great Commandment by Efren Gabrillo, and Talk 6- Life In the Spirit by Doris Salengua. The mini-talk was rendered by our Chapter Servant, Manny Estrella and was immediately followed by the talk on Receiving the Power of the Holy Spirit by our District Servant, Tony Liza. The night concluded with a powerful worship session led by Bro. Tony.
After a hearty breakfast the next morning, Talk 8- Growing in the Spirit was done by Vangie Estrella while the last talk, Transformation in Christ, was given by Gary Guarnes, the Area Coordinator for Eastern Visayas. There were group discussions after each talk and the participants gladly shared their life experiences. The First Sunday of Advent Mass was held in the chapel and was participated with the CFCFFL brethren and nuns and staff of the retreat house. Before parting ways, a sharing session ensued where all participants affirmed God’s wonderful work on them – an awakening for many things they previously took for granted. Later, they were grouped and introduced to their respective household heads.
DURING GROUP DISCUSSIONS
AT THE HOLY MASS
THE SERVICE TEAM
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Conducting a Life in Christ Seminar (LCS) at San Guillermo Parish in Buting, Pasig City was just a dream for us, knowing the challenges that lie ahead.
How do you take just one step when you know that there is this sensitive part of the body that you just cannot easily move? When good friends fall apart due to differences in opinion, a pain is left in the heart. Not to mention there was this feeling that the parish is simply not yet ready and so how do we make it ready? We don’t know. That is how it is in our parish.
The initial plan for LCS remained a plan for several months. Those assigned to lead and assist had several personal challenges. We planned again, this time reaching the parish priest. Somehow it did not flourish even if support is all out. Some strange force is working against us.
God made His first move. A young and enthusiastic priest, Fr. Michael Ortega, came to our parish and into our lives. He enjoys church activities and encourages everyone to continue with what is already working. A glimpse of hope woke us up but still how do we pursue LCSC? His being there does not change the fact that CFCFFL and CFC Global are still not the best of friends like we used to be.
God did His next move. The letter from us with Bishop Milo Vergara’s endorsement encouraging LCS in the parish landed on the hands of CFC Global. Father Michael, for some reasons, gave it to them. Being good soldiers that they are, the challenge is to know what it is all about. Again for months, it remained a plan. Do they ask us to join them? Do we teach them? Are they the first participants?
The questions ended when Father Michael formally apologized to CFCFFL for the mistake and took the letter from CFC Global and forwarded it to us. Now, what do we do? We don’t want this to be a reason for CFC Global and CFCFFL to widen further the chasm of their relationship. It took us several meetings and timeline settings including self-convincing that we take this opportunity to bridge that gap. We again drafted a doable plan that seems to be mutually acceptable. There is no stopping us now.
On October 4, we met with the CFC Global group to iron out details of this joint plan with respect to the fact that they first received the letter and they, too, want to do LCS but just do not know how to go about it. It was a fruitful meeting. Work was equally divided and delegated.
On November 7, we had our bonding session to rekindle the friendship. Everybody brought food to share. We had games. It was so enjoyable that they still raved for more. Like the old times, we were one again.
On November 8, our CFCFFL group went as far as Bataan to observe how LCS is conducted. Again God was there with us. We had a breath of fresh air. We met brothers and sisters there – Bro. Jeo Liban, Bro. Regs Queddeng, Bro. Frank Abian of Cainta, and Bro Lito of Morong, Bataan to name a few. Everybody was gracious and thankful. We also participated in some given activities.
We conducted the joint LCS on November 14, 2015. When we reached San Guillermo Parish, some members of the Parish Pastoral Council were already there. Everybody was working on their assignments. The registration table was a busy area. Even Father Michael asked for a name plate and joined the group discussions. We had great speakers: Bro. Allan Santiago and Bro. Chito Angeo from CFC Global, Bro. Dan Magtibay, Bro. Hernan Casas and Bro. Allan Gaddi from CFCFFL.
The true test of this effort is measured by the attendance. Guess what? There were 108 faithful, including the service team, who responded to God’s call. When we were almost done, Father Michael asked that the collection basket be passed around. For a while we thought “for what?” but as obedient disciples we did and the proceeds were handed over to him.
When the last talk was over we asked for Father Michael’s blessings. He surprised us by thanking everyone, with special mention to CFCFFL and CFC Global. He was really happy of the outcome. He handed over the collection basket to the representatives of the two groups, Bro. Danny Nieves and Bro. Marlo Flores, as LCS seed money so that the LCS and related programs will gain ground in the parish. His appreciation did not stop there. He also gave each group an envelope with cash gift as token.
For us, the Life in Christ Seminar was a journey orchestrated by God. He sent a medium to make possible the impossible.
Truly everything happens for a reason in God’s perfect time.
By Chody Doris Salengua
Chody Doris Salengua
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The assembly was updated by the chapter servant, Manny Estrella, on how the LCSC movement is making inroads into the parishes in different parts of the country and abroad. He underscored the importance and urgency of bringing back nominal Catholics to the fold of the Church. Nominal Catholics can be found almost everywhere, even in our own families and households. He pointed out that NOT 100% members of our Catholic families attend Sunday masses. Starting from our own family is a clear and simple step towards New Evangelization. Estrella also called for more workers for enlistment to the LCSC movement.
We moved our monthly chapter assembly from the ICC Formation Center to Room 208, Sunga Building of the Pasig Catholic College to give way to the solemn prayers offered to the late Bishop Francisco San Diego, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Pasig, whose remains lie in nearby Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.