Summer of 1984, first week of April, after attending a diocesan-wide (Diocese of Cebu and Bohol) Christian Education Seminar together with some clergy, we went straight to Parian Area Mabini Street near Colon Street in Cebu City where the Parish of the Holy Child IFI was located. I could not go home since the last trip going to our town left at 4:00 in the afternoon. The team from St. Andrew’s Theological Seminary (SATS), Quezon City who would conduct examination for seminary applicants had already arrived. The venue for Visayas Exam that year was Cebu City.
I met the team led by Fr. Don Edwards with the late Fr. Ciriaco Lagunzad, both members of SATS Faculty. I had the chance to talk with the applicants from Bohol (the Late Rev. Bunju James Galera III), Surigao (Rev. Arsolin Almodiel), Camotes, Negros and two from Iloilo after dinner. They were convincing me to take the exam since there was no applicant from Cebu. The clergy present that time also rejoined and told me to consider taking the exam. I responded I did not have the requirements needed like recommendation/endorsement from the parish priest in my home parish, the three sectors: women, lay and youth and supporting documents as well as letter from the parents.
The late Fr. Demetrio Galarido the parish priest of Cebu City vouched me saying as a very active youth leader in the city church and member of Diocesan Christian Education Committee, he could endorsed me provided I would comply necessary requirements for seminary application after taking the exam. The next day, Right Rev. Porferio de la Cruz, the Diocesan Bishop handed his endorsement to the team before the exam began.
One afternoon, coming from SCVS class, my mother handed me an envelope. It was a letter from SATS Registrar informing me that I passed the exam and had to prepare all necessary documents for my entry to SATS. That I would bring them with me to the seminary in June.
That June 1984, I was supposed to enroll my third year of Bachelor of Science in Commerce since I missed a semester in college due to family financial constraint. That was why I enrolled in ICS (International Correspondence School) with Freelance Journalism Course which was very favorable on my part, for I was able to attend and participate seminars and training conducted by the diocese to the different parishes.
Came the end of the week when father arrived from work. That evening, my father and I had a long discussion. After updating about social issues,(he was actually my mentor to my social awareness) he began asking my plan in relation to my entry to the seminary and continuing the BS Commerce plus my ICS course. It was indeed a heart to heart talk with papa, who assured me that whatever will be my decision, he would respect. Whoa, I was so touched that I admitted to him that I did not want to continue Commerce anymore, that I just took it because I heard him and mother talking after my High School graduation saying it was me who would become accountant -lawyer instead of him. To date, my father was preparing to leave Cebu City for board exam review in Manila, March of 1964. However, my mother was admitted to the hospital due to Eclamcia and that papa was made to sign a waiver “Save the Mother” after the doctor told him that mama’s condition was very critical and that he had to decide either to save the mother or the child. Being the first “apo” (grandchild) of my mother’s family, my grandpa refused to honor the waiver but instead insisted the hospital to use all means, have specialists or whatever in order to save both. In fact one of my uncles fainted at the hospital lobby when he knew about the waiver. To make the story short, mama gave birth to a 4.3 baby girl, six months and fourteen days old, “eclamtic child” on April 3, 1964.
Papa’s parting word that evening talk was, ” I know Tabuelan is not only your world anymore because you have gone to different places in the diocese (Cebu, Bohol and Camotes). I want you to see a wider world and broaden your horizon. Wherever you go, you have my trust and support. I will respect your decision and very sorry you were forced to take Commerce because of what you heard before. Rest assured I did not expect you to follow my footsteps. I know you can make it.” I went to my room with tears feeling happy and thankful for papa’s understanding and support. It was very opposite to mama who out-rightly opposed my coming to the seminary, leaving my hometown, saying: “What if you will get sick, whom you can turn to? What will happen to you in Manila? NO! It was very far and I do not want to ride a boat nor a plane, so I can not visit you. So do not go, just take another course if you do not like commerce. Just stay, okay?”
(to be continued)