With the celebration and deacon ordinations set for 16:00 on Friday and yesterday being a six hour travel day back to Cagayan de Oro now is the first real chance I have to sit down to write this. It’s now Sunday morning and I will have the 10:00 English Mass at our parish of the Immaculate Conception, only a 5 minute walk from here. I do hope to have this journal entry done and sent long before I leave for that.
Friday’s celebrations were simply marvelous! The parishioners of St. Isidore the Farmer did themselves proud in providing a wonderful liturgical atmosphere for the six deacons to be and their families. Obviously it was much easier for the 4 Filipinos to have their families attend the ordination. Though I’m not sure, I believe the majority of them come from the island of Mindanao since that’s where we have our major presence — although 2 of the 3 Filipino students I have come from near Manila on Luzon.
That’s not to say their Vietnamese brothers did not have family present and even though English and/or Cebuano are foreign to them, they seemed to fit right in to enjoy and watch their sons and brothers being ordained deacons by Archbishop Al Sudarso, scj, of Palembang, Indonesia.
I wish I had enough bandwidth to embed a short video I took at the start of the Mass. Friday marked the third day in a row where we had heavy rains during the late afternoon, usually between 15:00 and sunset. Friday saw the heaviest downpour though with less thunder and lightning. The roof of the new church is metal and does not have much, if any, soundproofing and the din the heavy downpour made in the church almost drowned out the singing and praying. Lucky the church has a good sound system that could rise above the deluge Mother Nature was dropping from the sky.
Bishop Emanuel Cabajar, CssR, of Pagadian concelebrated the Mass and preached. This time he did it in English. The Mass and ordinations took about 2 hours. Thanks to the rain the temperature in the church was rather comfortable. While we had fans near us the outlets have as yet been hooked up leaving the fans as mere decorations — thank goodness the rain cooled us down.
After Mass we returned to the old church which, like the other day, served as our dining hall with the same Pagadian catering service handling the reception. As with the two previous meals they served this one was heavy on meats and rice, but with no vegetables to speak of but at least two or three kinds of fruit, especially pineapple and watermelon. As we foreign guest have learned any celebration would be a disaster if roasted pig were not there in abundance. We had two for the crowd to devour. I went up once or twice to try to get a piece, but I couldn’t get near the action. Clearly the Filipinos love their roasted pork and nothing goes to waste!
I was wondering where the show would take place and soon learned it was going to be at the local school gym. Don’t think of a gym in our terms, this is more like a covered outdoor stadium with bleachers on one side, a roof covering the entire expanse with the sides left open — better to keep things cool for fans, players/actors alike.
We were also lucky the rains had stopped several hours before we headed over to the gym. You did have to watch where you walked once leaving the main road as it then became a dirt track. Once again, my smartphonecame in handy not for calling, but for seeing using its build in flashlight. As I’ve written before that has been one of its most useful features on my trips to India and the Philippines since calling is much too expensive.
As for the show itself the members of St. Isidore the Farmer’s parish and its many chapels did themselves proud. The show opened with an adult choir, that included our own Br. Yohanes Baptista Sismadi, scj, singing the Philippine national anthem. This choir would ma e another appearance during the course of the evening as one of the adult acts.
Immediately after the national anthem a prayer/dance was offered as the benediction for the evening. The dance would play the most important part of the evening’s entertainment. The show lasted about two hours and interspersed between some of the acts was a narration of the 25 year history of the SCJ presence in the Philippines. During the course of the show we had young girls (maybe between 8 and 10) come by with water and sweets for us to enjoy. As the SCJs were the honored guests we were seated in the front row on chairs in front of the bleachers and close to the stage — that made my taking photos with my iPhone rather easily.
Instead of adding more words, let me add a few photos of some of the acts. Note the teenagers performed many of the dances and I was amazed at the various routines they had to learn and how well they were able to carry them out. Of course, the little kids act was a scene stealer, especially one little girl who was soon lost as what to do and made up her own dance, including a long stint of simply sitting on the floor and waving her arms. I do know, parents, friends, parishioners and all the SCJS present went home with light hearts after such a delightful, and I do mean that, evening of entertainment. Dumalinao may not be Broadway or Hollywood, but on this night they don’t take a backseat to anyone.
By Fr. Tom Cassidy, scj