journey has began. I'm on my way to the
Over the years I have developed close relationships ‑‑ within the family, with some confreres (especially Karl), and with the lay members of the mission team. I have also been able to maintain contact with my old friends (like Ann and Cynthia) and develop new ones. Just recently I experienced a beautiful friendship with Carol. I am going to miss all of them and I'll be entering a world of strangers.
I'm also going to miss my hermitage up in the hills of Busay. I built it with my own hands and was hoping I could spend my sabbatical there ‑‑ spending time in prayer, silence and solitude, writing theological reflections, writing poetry, playing the violin, painting, running the mountain trails, reading, planting corn and raising chickens.
Leaving these behind and launching into
the unknown is
not easy. But I have to respond to the
needs of the vice‑province and the formation program. I am also hoping
that doing higher studies in theology can provide me with the competence in
doing grassroots theologizing and thus help the basic ecclesial communities and
the pastoral workers systematize their reflection on their experiences and
praxis. I hope my two years in
How is the "war correspondent"? I hope you are experiencing peace in your heart in the midst of the continuing spiral of violence. If ever you feel drained and depressed don't forget to close your eyes, take a deep breathe and count down from ten to 0 ... It's been a long time since I left, I wonder how's everything back there. I miss the country, the people, the work and the friends I left behind ‑‑ especially you. Did you receive the postcard I sent you?
I am still in a period of adjustment
Adjusting to student life is not that easy. It's been eight years since I left school. So back to the classroom, the books, research paper. Classes started three weeks ago and since then I've been very busy. No time for sightseeing ‑‑ no time for love. I am taking four courses this semester. There's one course that's really interesting: Spirituality & Relationships. It covers a lot of stimulating topics like understanding oneself, human sexuality, personal growth and development, midlife crisis, friendship, community life, etc. We do a lot of reading, reflection, journal writing and discussion. It is helping me a lot in reflecting on my past experiences (especially our relationship). I'm really glad to be a student once again. No heavy responsibility.
I am living on a three‑room
apartment with two other guys‑‑an Irish Columban priest assigned in
Well, I'll have to sign off now. I still have a lot of reading to do. Please give my regards to Edith. I constantly remember you in my prayers.
Greetings from your old alma mater!
I'm living here in Corcoran house on a
three‑room apartment with an Irish Columban who was working in
The ISW program began with the 8‑day
Please give my regards to the confreres. I hope everything is going well there. I'd appreciate very much if I get news about developments in the congregation and the country.
for remembering me on my birthday. I was
great to be alive. That's what I can say
after surviving an earthquake that claimed so many lives a few miles from
here. The freeway that connects
Last night I attended a meeting of the Pax
Christi, an international peace movement inspired by Christ, Gandhi and Martin
Luther King. Last month the American chapter of Pax Christi came out with a
resolution asking the
My sympathies for your recent heartbreak. It seems that the mental screening is not working. "It's better to have love and lost than to have never love at all". What can I say except quote that cliche. You don't have to blame God for this. Who knows that was a blessing in disguise. That guy would have given you endless heartaches and misery had he married you. You deserve someone who can really love you as much as you love him. I will continue to pray for you that you may encounter him.
What is God up to? That's the question that you are asking. It's going to be difficult to answer that because we can never enter the mind of God. But I believe that our experiences whether joyful or sorrowful have a message to convey to us. The message is about the ultimate meaning of our existence. Perhaps you are asking why is it after four love affairs you have not found the man who can really love you that much to make you happy forever and ever. The truth is no man can ever love as perfectly as you would want him to. Only God is capable of such love. I wonder if you are really aware of the extent of God's love for you. I believe that beyond our longing for love is the yearning for God.
I've been reflecting a lot about my life. One of the patterns I have discovered is the passion and yearning for beauty, intimacy and love. The fantasy that occasionally enters my mind is that one of these days I am going to meet the most beautiful woman and develop the most perfect, loving relationship and commit my whole life to her. What I have realized after all these years is that there can be no such woman and there can be no such relationship and that I can never commit myself totally to any human being. No woman can ever love me that much and I can never totally love any woman. I have realized that my passionate yearning for beauty and intimacy is actually the longing for intimacy with Divine Beauty. It is God alone who can ultimately fulfill my need and longing for love and beauty. It is to God alone that I can totally commit my whole life. Whatever love that I experience with my fellow human beings is a pale reflection of this Love. So don't expect me to leave the priesthood just because I have fallen in love with someone. Falling in love is an experience that I will always treasure. If ever I leave the priesthood it will be because I have lost faith in the reality of God's love and my whole existence has no meaning.
I am very happy that you have finally freed yourself from the effects of the brainwashing by the RVM sisters. As long as you called me padre it was difficult for me to relate to you as an equal and as a true friend. When you refused to call me Picx and insisted on calling me by that "patriarchal" title I felt you were trying to put me on a pedestal or you were trying to box me in my role as a priest and confessor. To tell you the truth I am always uncomfortable with being called "father" or "padre". Thanks for calling me by my name. So I formally withdraw my threat to call you Sister Carolyn.
Well, I was surprised that you've been reading the life of St. Francis. What have you eaten this time that you're reading the lives of the saints? Are there no novels in Josefina? Joking aside, Francis is one of my favorite saints.
"Les Miserables" is in
Karl will be coming to visit me on November 4 or 5. I'm looking forward to seeing him. We have a one week vacation starting next weekend up to November 5.
So all the best. Please give my regards to Edith. Will be keeping you in my prayers.
Dear Ramon ,
Season's greetings. I hope that by now everything is all right and you'll have a peaceful and quiet Christmas. I was worried about the recent coup attempt. I would have become an exile had it succeeded. It's sad to know that the situation is getting worst.
It's getting colder and colder. I hope I can survive the winter. I'm fortunate there's no snow in this area. The fall semester will be over next week and I'm looking forward to our Christmas break and inter-session.
past four months have not been as quiet and relaxing as I expected. A disastrous earthquake last October
shattered our sense of security. We've
been shaken by numerous aftershocks and we are living in the shadow of fear
that a bigger quake might hit us anytime (that means between now and the next
30 years). The war in
also attended a meeting of a Philippine support group and I was asked to share
my experiences and reflections on the
Please extend my Christmas greetings to the confreres.
Carol called this morning from
this past few months I have been trying to come to
terms with tragedy that I experienced more than three years ago. I just realized that I have not really gotten
over the shock and grief over the brutal killing of my mother. At that time I just felt numb, I couldn't
feel anything, I couldn't even cry. All the grief and anger were repressed inside.
I have been carrying these feelings ever since.
My psycho-therapy in
I have realized that it was the "unfinished business" that prolonged the period of mourning. I felt so much my mother's loss because it happened at a time when we were in the process of becoming more intimate and affectionate. We were not really that close when I was a child or when I was growing up. My assignment in Iligan gave me the opportunity to develop a closer relationship with her. When she was killed I felt that she was snatched away from me. It was difficult to accept the reality of her death. It was even more difficult to let go of the "mother‑complex". That's why every time I dreamed of her, it was as if she never died at all. I think it was the euphoria after the EDSA Revolution that drowned my grief. When the euphoria wore off and I again faced the reality of suffering and death, grief and anger surfaced once more. The recurring nightmares expressed the pain and terror I felt.
There is one thing that we can learn from our personal experience of suffering and tragedy. It is compassion. For us pain and death are no longer news reports or statistics. We can easily identify with the victims, we know how it feels, we are in solidarity with the suffering humanity.
I'll offer a mass for your father. I'll also keep you and your family in my prayers during this period of bereavement.
attending a despedida party tonight
for a Mennonite leaving for the
I hope you are doing O.K. as you go through the grieving process. I know it will take some time. No need to hold back or suppress your feelings‑‑ that will just prolong the grief. I hope there is someone there with whom you can process what you are going through. Numbness is the usual reaction to tragedy. Tears can help wash away grief and soften the shock. The most cruel thing we can do to ourselves is to hold back the tears and live like zoombies. The more we get in touch with the depths of our pain and sorrow the better it will be for us. I know how you feel and I grieve with you. I am enclosing a wonderful book that has helped me a lot, The Courage to Grieve.
be having a poetry-reading on February 8 here in
CNOP is planning to organize a "sister‑community program". It means that a church‑based group or
community here will establish link with some BECs in the
Please extend my warms regards to the community and the team.
Happy Valentines! I hope you finally found your Valentino. I know how lonely it is to celebrate Valentine's day alone. As usual I don't have any Valentina, but I'm not complaining. This is something that I will have to get used to all my life. I'm in a period of my life that I feel so vulnerable and alone that I can easily fall in love. I'm just fortunate that I haven't met the woman in my dreams, otherwise I'd be going through a crisis. Anyway, I don't think I'll ever enter a relationship that has no future and will end with a broken heart.
I don't know whether to feel amused or to feel sorry for you after reading your last letter. Imagine, falling in love with a military man who is planning to become a priest. That would be a good story‑line for Regal Films. It could either be a tragedy or a comedy. Joking aside, I'd been wondering why you are easily attracted to men who are religious and unavailable. It is possible that you are attracted to the qualities they embody such as holiness, spirituality, dedication and commitment. I told you before that falling in love is a religious experience. Beneath our passionate yearning is a longing for intimacy with the divine. The divine qualities are already within you waiting to be developed. I think it is important to look within your heart and listen to what God is trying to tell you. Through these experiences God may be trying to reach out to you.
Thanks for sending me your photo, you look younger and prettier that I wondered whether it was a camera trick or a matter of retouching (ouch – joke only). It will always remind me of you. The only problem is it makes me miss you all the more.
By the way, please stop imagining about your funeral, that's dangerous (esp. if you use the mental screen). Besides, it would be too much for me to bear.
The spring semester started the other week and I'm buried in my books again. I have to maintain the straight A's I got last semester. My poetry reading last week turned out well. I still have to prepare my keynote speech for next month's conference on the Philipines. I have also began my training for the marathon and I'm trying to lose 20 pound so that I will be fit to run this May.
All the best in your new job. I hope you'll hear the wedding bells this year. But please, try to pick someone who is not thinking about becoming a priest. Competing with God can be frustrating. I'm constantly praying for your safety and hapiness.
for the update and the ballot. It is
frustrating to know that the situation in the
I'm doing fine here. The spring semester started last month and I'm again busy catching up with all the readings and paper work. I got straight A's in all my subjects last semester and I hope I can maintain these grades this semester. The courses I'm taking this time are more difficult. Besides the ISW course, I'm taking the following subjects: History of Theology in the 20th century, Foundational Questions in Theology, and Liturgical/Sacramental Theology. I'm also attending a weekly dream workshop. A couple of weeks ago we did the Enneagram. There are so many interesting courses I'd like to take but the maximum load allowed is only 12 units per semester.
The spiritual direction program here is splendid. I meet my spiritual director every other week. We also have regular recollection and faith‑sharing with my ISW group.
poetry reading went very well last month and there's a group who is interested
in publishing my poems. Last week I was
the keynote speaker in a Conference on the
The spring semester will end on May 24. I still don't know where to go this summer. I'd like to do some parish/supply work. I wonder if Pat O’Connel can arrange something for me. I prefer a parish where I can practice my Spanish so that I can be ready for the language examination next semester.
Please extend my warmest regards to the confreres. I hope things will get better.
Are you listening, God?
Can you hear me?
Are you here with me
or am I talking to the wind?
I feel so alone and helpless.
I am an alien in this strange land.
I have no friends
just classmates and acquaintances.
I miss the barrios,
I miss the people I have lived and worked with.
Can you fill the emptiness within?
Can you fill this loneliness?
It is your absence that I feel.
How I long to feel your loving presence.
I cannot see you.
I cannot touch you.
I cannot feel your embrace.
Faceless One, let me see your face.
Absolute Spirit, it is your warm body I need.
are you really here?
or are you the product of my imagination?
Am I talking to you?
or am I talking to myself?
Reveal yourself to me
O divine mystery.
We are having a one‑week spring break so this gives me time to catch up with my paper work and correspondence. I prefer to be out in the beach or the park to enjoy the new spring but I have to write a paper on "The role of Liturgy in the Formation of the Basic Christian Community" and another paper on "The Theological Method of Leonardo Boff".
My academic load is heavier this
semester. I have limited my
extracurricular involvement. In spite of
this I find the subjects quite interesting.
Most of my classmates in the “History of Theology” course are doctoral
students and the course covers the development of theology from the first world war up to the present (the theology of Barth,
Bultman, Tillich, Niehbur, Rahner, Schillebeckx,
seems that my refutation as a "faith healer" is spreading. Last week, a Filipina doctor who has cancer
came for healing. She had been to three
medical centers and was told that she has terminal cancer. I don't know if I succeeded in healing her
but she experienced pain‑relief and I taught her healing meditation. I
intend to follow her up. Over the past months I have healed cases of migraine,
backpain, stomach‑ache, sinusitis, elbow problem, allergy, colds, etc.
The nuns in
weeks ago, I was the keynote speaker in the conference on the
hope this letter reaches you before you begin your thirty‑days retreat.
I'm looking forward to your final profession.
I wonder what will you be doing after
that. I hope you can come back to
Please give my regards to the community and the team.
Happy Easter! I'm still actually at the middle of the Holy Week but the spirit of Easter seems to be in the air.
weekend the ISW group went to the
We barely have six weeks more before the end of the semester. I can't believe how time flies so fast here. I'm glad I still have another year. A lot of my classmates in the ISW are starting to feel depressed that all this is going to end soon and they will have to go back to reality. The question everyone is asking is: is there life after ISW? Being a veteran of the ISW I think you are familiar with this feeling.
So far I have found my experience here very worthwhile and therapeautic. Last semester's course on Spirituality and Relationships was very helpful. I have an excellent spiritual director whom I meet every other week. The dream course with Jeremy Taylor is just fascinating. I have come to terms with the tragic and traumatic experiences in my life. The healing process is continuing.
be doing supply work at St. Basil's Parish in
So all the best. Please give my regards to the confreres.
Dear is leaving for the
How was the retreat? I hope you are all set for the final profession. Has the date for the big day been finalized? I wonder where will you be this next triennium.
called me last month and told me she was coming to the
attended the gala presentation of Nettie Wild's "Rustling of Leaves"
This is the final week of our classes. I still have one unfinished research paper. We'll be having our closing parties this weekend.
be working in a parish in
thinking of writing a licentiate thesis on "Doing Theology from The
Grassroots." I'll begin doing some
research this summer. I'll try to
correlate our experience with the Latin American experience of doing theology
in the context of the Basic Ecclesial Communities. I wonder if you can send me any material that
you think might be helpful. The primary
sources that I will need will be documented liturgies, reflections, poems,
psalms, songs, plays, study month proceedings and seminar materials that
contain the emerging theology from the grassroots. Your
Please extend my warm regards to the community and the mission team.
tel (415) 549‑0907
you can see I have a new address. I just moved in to this studio‑apartment
last May 31st. I actually took over from
a Columban who had just finished his masters at the JSTB.
He left me a lot of things‑‑furnishings, table, percolator
and even his bicycle. It is located in
an old building just in front of the
I like most about the place is that it gives me a beautiful view of the
I went to
Last week I received your letter and communication you sent through John Dear. I'm saddened by the news of Berting's departure from the priesthood. Ben Ma told me on the phone that Gil is also on a leave of absence. Well, it seems that confreres in my generation are going through the midlife crisis. I hope this won't demoralize the others. Congratulations, by the way, on your re-election as vice-provincial (or is condolence more appropriate?). I'm sure you'll need a sabbatical after the end of your term, considering the number of crises you had to handle and continue to face within the vice‑province. At least your r-eelection has insured some stability and continuity.
be leaving for
St. Basil's Rectory
637 S. Kingsley
Los Angeles, Ca 90005
Warm greetings from the city of
received your letter and
clippings the other day, finally. It was forwarded from
ended on the last week of May and I transferred to my new apartment on May
31st. It's actually a bachelor's pad on the third floor of an old apartment
building overlooking the
arrived here in LA on
the 15th of June. I'm working on a
parish that is at the heart of the commercial district. The church and the rectory are very modern
and beautiful. I have to get use to the
opulent atmosphere. I'm at present
occupying a suite reserved for cardinals.
It's really a five‑star accommodation with its own sala, color TV,
phone and fridge. This is the room that
the retired archbishop
Well most of my time is spent in celebrating daily mass, hearing confessions, preparing daily homilies, house blessings, and counseling. A good number of people come for healing. Word has gotten around that the new priest can heal (the parish priest started the rumor). There are many Filipinos in the parish and I get many invitations for lunch and dinner. On the whole, I'm enjoying my stay here although I don't think this is the kind of lifestyle and work I should be doing. I miss the barrio mission and the barricade
I hope that by now you have fully recovered from your cough, colds, and depression. I'm glad to know that your "love affair with Philip Morris is over". I do hope that you'll find the time for a longer break. A vacation and a retreat would do you good.
So long for now. I do miss you and you are remembered in my prayers.
Dear Ramon, Willy & P,
I just got back here the other week and I'm all set for the fall semester. It's great to be a student again without any pastoral responsibility. I'm looking forward to a more relaxing year.
summer work in St. Basil's turned out quite well. My only regret is I wasn't able to go to
Classes will start next week. I will be taking the following subjects for the fall semester: Trinity, Ecclesiology, Christology, and History & Theology of the Eucharist. During the intersession I'll take "Issues in Third World Theologies". I won't have anymore classes during the spring semester. All I have to do is to write my thesis. I'd like to write about doing theology from the grassroots base ecclesial communities. By the way, I got the final grades last school year and of the eight subjects I got seven A's and one B+. Nobody's perfect.
So all the best for the new triennium. Please extend my warm regards to the confreres.
I received your letter the other week but I've been too busy to respond immediately. I still have three research papers to finish. This has been a very tough semester. I think I will need a sabbatical after this!
was here last month. This wasn't really
part of his itinerary but I asked him to come for a meeting with the Church
Network on the Philippines (CNOP). The
Philippine Resource Center also sponsored two events for him. In one of the
events he gave a talk on the
Gartlan called from
semester will end in three week's time. I'm running the
California Marathon this coming Sunday.
I'll be spending my Christmas here and New Year in
semester I won't have any classes anymore.
All I have to do is take my language examination (Spanish) and write my
STL Thesis. The tentative title for my
thesis is: “The Basic Christian Communities in
looking forward to joining you and Emy in
So all the best. I hope you a happy Christmas at the eternal city. Extend my regards to Emy and Louie.
body is still very sore and stiff after the marathon in
I've been very busy this last few weeks trying to finish my research papers and preparing for class discussions. For my Christology class I'm writing a paper on "Christology from the Grassroots." It's about the image of Christ in popular religiosity and in the BEC. For my Trinity class I submitted a paper on "Trinity as Divine Community: the Paradigm for the Christian Community." For the Ecclesiology class I am concentrating on the "Ecclesiology of the Basic Ecclesial Community". This has been an opportunity for me to reflect theologically on our experience in the missions and the BECs.
Thank you very much for the books and the MSPC materials. This is a great help for my research. I particularly like your book -- I read it twice already. It is beautifully written.
is a growing opposition to the
be spending my Christmas here and possibly go to
I am enclosing a poem I wrote recently. I wrote this for someone I recently met -- a Cuban-American girl doing her masters at UC Berkeley and who is also a member of Pax Christi. Her name is Veronica.
On a cold and moonless night
in an outdoor cafe in
I confided to you
that I only write poetry
when I feel the angst.
You told me
you only write poetry
when you are in love.
A few hours before
you were only a stranger
that I met while reading my poems
in that cold and dimly lit church.
Suddenly it seemed
I've always known you.
I could feel your warmth and excitement
as I sat beside you.
It was like a dream
that I didn't want to wake up from.
I wished that night
would never end
but we parted ways
in the dark.
(and I didn't even get
your last name
or phone number)
I've been gazing at your alluring image,
in my mind.
Questions continue to torment me:
when will I see you again?
How close can we be?
Am I at the threshold
of danger? or of opportunity?
Is it really you that I long for
or the thou within and beyond me?
Was it just a dream
that I won't even remember
the day after?
Or is this only a fantasy
of a lonely celibate
in a strange and enchanting land?
Greetings from Bezerkeley! It's been raining here for the last few days and it's getting colder and colder. But it's nothing compared to typhoon Rufing.
I get news about the
semester ended a few days ago. It must
have been the toughest semester so far with all the heavy reading requirements
and voluminous paper work. The extra‑curricular
activities added to the burden. I got
involved in several Pax Christi activities‑‑ commemorating the
death of the six Jesuits in
be spending my Christmas
with my relatives in
I was able to finalize with Noel the
class schedule in
Belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Sorry I was preoccupied with so many things that I couldn't answer your letter immediately.
the start of the war in the
spring semester is just starting. All I
have to do this semester is write my thesis and take my Spanish language
exams. The title I have finally chosen is: "The Basic Christian Communities in
The May 20‑June 28 schedule you gave me is fine. With regards to the preparation the students can make for the course, I suggest that they read beforehand the following: Lumen Gentium (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church), Gaudium et Spes (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World), Ad Gentes (Decree on the church's missionary activity), Models of the Church (Avery Dulles). These are basic materials that I expect them to read before the start of the class. They may also read the following if they have time: Church: Charism and Power (Boff), Ecclesiogenesis (Boff), Community Called Church (Segundo), The Church (Kung), The Church with a Human Face (Schillebeeckx), Foundations of Christian Faith (Rahner, pp. 323‑401), Ang Mahal na Birhen (CBCP pastoral letter on Marian devotion), proceedings of MSPC I‑V (Mindanao‑Sulu Pastoral Conference).
The most important preparation that the students can make is to reflect on their own experience of the Church and the BCC, and also Marian devotion. The first day of class will be spent in finding out the basic theological questions and problems about the Church, the church's mission and Mary. We will formulate the theological agenda and determine what are the questions that the course will try to answer. So I expect them to come with a written answer to this question:
In your experience in working among the poor in the BCCs what are the theological questions/problems that have emerged about the Church, the mission of the Church, Mary?
The answers should include the questions coming from the people and church workers, and the theological questions and problems that the students themselves are personally grappling with.
be leaving for the
So all the best. Please give my regards to Abdon, the students and the community.
Kumusta na? I've been very busy joining peace demonstrations, preparing for my Spanish language exams, writing my thesis and preparing the Ecclesiology course that I forgot about answering your letters. I finished the language exams the other week so that's one less problem to worry about. The war is over so it's all quiet on the streets now.
Bishop Fortich was here the other week
on a speaking tour about the Zones of Peace.
I was asked to read my poem "The Children of Candoni" as a
"warm up" before his talk in
thesis is shaping up now. I have
finished the data gathering stage and I'm now starting the writing phase. In spite
of the hard work this is something I really enjoy doing. It gives me the opportunity reflect on our praxis and experience
in the missions and the BCCs. This is also the opportunity to study in depth
the BECs in
was originally planning to go with the Pax Christi group to the
will be going back home this May 1. I should be in Iligan by the second week of
May. I'll probably be in Tubod by May 13.
I'm looking forward to seeing you in
It's still Palm Sunday but it will be Easter week when you receive this letter. So happy Easter! The rainy season is finally here. That's good news for those who were worried about the drought. That's bad news for us who want to have a good time. It can be depressing to be holed in inside this apartment facing the computer the whole day while it rains outside. I haven't been able to jog lately.
I'm half way through my thesis and I think I should be able to finish it by the middle of April. Last month I did the Spanish language exams and got the result this week. I've been classified as having primary proficiency in the language. It was actually a very easy exams. All we did was to translate a 400-word Spanish theological article. I was lucky that it wasn't an oral exams.
had a retreat last weekend with Bishop Gumbleton, the president of
received a good news from Missio-Aachen. They have just approved my scholarship for
this year and is sending me 10,000 marks. I'm not sure
where they are going to send the money, here or in
Now for the bad news.
I just got swindled! Last January
I saw this travel agency in
plan to leave for
Please extend my regards and Easter greetings to the confreres. See you soon.
I celebrated my 10th anniversary of ordination. I invited Veronica, Sabra, Art
and Dennis to come over to my apartment for the celebration. They are all
members of the Pax Christi. We
celebrated the Eucharist in the sala and then had dinner of spaghetti, fried
chicken and salad. I cooked the
spaghetti and chicken myself while the gang prepared the salad. I thanked everyone
of them for the gift of friendship. We
have become close to each other during the last six months. We've been together at the rallies and demonstrations. We were part of the group that met regularly
to prepare ourselves for making the vow of non-violence. We've gone outing together several
times. As I leave
I have already completed the requirements for the licentiate. My thesis has been approved by my adviser and two other readers. So it is time to go -- time to move on. Time to say goodbye. I will surely miss this enchanting place and the people that have touched my life.