Tuesday, December 15, 2009

MY COMMUNITY AND SUPPORT GROUP

I joined Couples for Christ (CFC), a Catholic organization intended for the renewal and strengthening of Christian family life and which highlights fellowship among its members. My membership in the said organization was made possible when I learned about the holding of its Christian Life Program (CLP) Seminar from our former Administrative Officer, Nida Arganoza, who encouraged and invited me to join the said seminar.


I’d like to think that that was a pleasant coincidence since I was really looking for a religious group where I could meet my need to belong. I’ve been all alone for so long in Olongapo and that was a pretty boring situation. Besides, solitary living has made me vulnerable to stress as well as depression. There was just no one to turn to during trying times.


Anyway, I attended CLP and finished the seminar last May, 2009. That officially made me a member of the CFC – Servants of the Lord (SOLD) ministry.


In the SOLD ministry, we hold our household meeting every Thursday under the able leadership of our very pleasant Team Leader, Ronald Rondez, of the SBMA Labor Department.


Although our household meeting isn’t carried out regularly at present, every SOLD member looks forward to holding said meeting regularly in the coming Thursdays or any day of every week it will be scheduled.


The CFC, being a Catholic organization has, somehow, helped put my Christian values in place. I have found new friends and acquaintances who made me feel wanted… who made me feel I belong. I honestly believe and feel that my membership in the CFC is instrumental in my mapping out of plans and personal programs for improvement for 2010. The CFC has become a godly and lively community for me. It is my support group.


Some of the activities at the CFC that made me socially active were the CLP Seminar held at the San Roque Parish Church (Subic Chapel) and which wound up on December 3, 2009; the CFC-Zambales 20th Anniversary celebration held at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center (SBECC) on December 5, 2009; and the CFC Family Day held at the covered court just opposite the Lyceum of Subic on December 12, 2009. I am uploading some pictures I personally took during said events.


THE CHRISTIAN LIFE PROGRAM (CLP)


The Subic Chapel (San Roque Church)


The Christian Life Program (CLP) class


The CLP graduates


CFC-ZAMBALES 20th ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION


CFC-Zambales 20th Anniversary banner


Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center - the venue


A joyful anniversary celebration


Anniversary Raffle Prizes


Attentive Audience


Bro. Ronald Rondez, SOLD Team Leader


Happy until end of program


Mark Cruz, Youth for Christ Leader


YFC Leader Mark Cruz


COUPLES FOR CHRIST FAMILY DAY


Family Day breaktime


Covered court opposite Lyceum of Subic


CFC Family Day


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

VINCENT BUENO—MY RESCUER… MY HERO!

Photo from vincentbueno.com

Advent is the season in the Catholic calendar when the Lord Jesus Christ came into the world.

I remember it was during this season when I solemnly prayed to the Lord to set me free from my sort of bondage—my slavery from fears and anxieties.

My Life Before I Knew About Vincent Bueno

Many do not know it but I had my nervous breakdown three decades ago. And many just don’t know the great sufferings and excruciating pains I had gone through.

Nervous breakdown can be life's most painful ordeal. Experience-wise, it wasn’t just like having a flu that can be cured for a week. Neither was it like a serious sickness that takes a month or even a year before one recuperates from it. It was like a lingering illness that knows no time when it will be healed. It was like a strange and mysterious malady that has no cure but love, hope, and faith.

I am speaking, of course, of what I had gone through.

It was one hell of an experience. It was like a curse. It was like a consolidation of all negative thoughts and emotions that made me tremble in fear almost everyday.

I became psychosomatic. I thought I was sick. There were nights I was wide awake and couldn’t sleep. Or if I could, I would find myself awakened in the middle of the night almost screaming and sweating profusely.

I was disturbed as well as disorganized. I exhibited a strange and vacillating behavior. I had ambivalent feelings.

Life seemed to have lost its meaning. For a time, I felt I didn’t want to live anymore. The trouble is, I was afraid to die. And I realized I have no suicidal tendency. Despite emotional disturbance and mental torment, though, it was a great wonder how I could still decide rationally.

I had a hopeless, helpless feeling. I sought God but couldn’t find Him. I could not, because my faith was shaken.

Then I sought professional help. I was prescribed five kinds of tranquilizers. But calming down doesn't mean getting well. Until I found myself heavily dependent on them. I couldn’t do without them. Somehow, though, they helped stabilize my nervous system.

During that time, I was friendless and very much alone. My doctor, a psychiatrist, was my only friend. I had depended so much on him that when he passed away seven years ago, I felt so insecure. I didn’t know what to do.

“How did you get into such life situation?” someone may ask me.

Well, that’s another story and would probably be the topic of a future post on this blog.

Feeling so very tired, I again turned to God determined to surrender myself to Him.

There is a biblical passage, one of my most favorite, that I quoted and posted on top of my altar in my office. (Yes, I had an altar in the Budget and Supply Office—then my office—of the Department I am attached to.)

The biblical passage, taken from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah, reads: “And Yahweh says, ‘When you call on me, I will listen. You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart.’” (Jeremiah 29:12-13)

In the Gospel of the Lord according to Matthew, the Lord Jesus Christ also said, “Whatever you ask in prayer full of faith you will receive.” (Matthew 21:22)

The above biblical passages are promises of God. And the Lord God is always faithful to His promises. Finding great hope in the above passages and believing in God’s promises, I knelt and prayed with all my heart and full of faith. I implored the Most Loving and Merciful Father to release me from the grip of enslaving fears and anxieties. As I ended my very solemn prayer, I realized that, due to its sincerity, my eyes shed tears.

Then Along Came Vincent Bueno

On the second week of January, 2008 (a couple of weeks just after the Season of Advent), as I was watching ABS-CBN’s TV Patrol, a Filipino-Austrian’s triumph in a reality show in Vienna was flashed on the TV screen. The news story caught my attention and struck me with so much interest that the following day when news about that Filipino-Austrian guy was on the front page of a daily broadsheet, I read the news story with utmost enthusiasm.

During those times, I had very low self-esteem and low morale. I felt unimportant and unneeded. Such negative feelings arose from a series of traumatic events as well as the perennial harassment and oppression that I experienced. They were big contributing factors to my feeling of worthlessness. I believe they were major reasons for my negative self-concept.

I realized then that when people looked down on someone, that person tends to withdraw from them. He tends to withdraw from society until he is caught in depression and live a lonely existence.

But the great honor Vincent Bueno gained from his feat was shared with his fellow Filipinos worldwide. Oh, how he shouted “Philippines! Philippines!” when he was declared grand winner—sharing with his fellow Filipinos his victory! And every Filipino who knew about his victory found something worthy about his own race. Just like any one of them, I, too, was teeming with pride. I felt I suddenly regained my lost self-esteem.

The Musical! Die Show, where Vincent emerged as the Champion, was a television musical talent show in Austria that required contestants to do a number in any musical. The songs given to contestants were not of their choice but they had to perform them in their own style.

I have a natural liking for musicals. I remember, during my teens, my choice of local movies were those of Eddie Mesa and Helen Gamboa—all musicals. Later, when I was already past my teens, I began going for foreign films that starred John Travolta—also musicals.

Just like what I have mentioned in my earlier post, I was a working child, and earning money at a tender age stole my childhood away from me and blocked my way from pursuing and enjoying my hobbies and interest as a child. Perhaps, that was the reason why I loved watching Vincent’s videos. I missed things like being a fan... and appreciating something that would make me real happy.

But that was not what gave me much joy. When I congratulated Vince via his MySpace account, he replied to my message. Others may find this an overstatement but just like Vince when he was announced winner of the reality talent show, when I got his first message, I was overwhelmed with joy and showed off his message to my officemates.

As Vince had more time then to answer fan messages, he continued to exchange messages with me—for the whole year. Watching his videos everyday and exchanging messages with him brought so much joy to my heart, made me feel so very important, and eventually led to driving my fears and anxieties away. And I was greatly amazed one day to find that my fears and anxieties were gone.

I also discovered that when we are happy, we feel magnanimous. We easily forget the wrongs and hurts done to us. We see and do things in the right perspective. We are likewise liberated from the negative feelings that seem to control us.

Having found inspiration in the person of Vincent Bueno, I became worry-free. I gained determination and willpower to be healthy. I, thus, started mapping out a plan for self-improvement, health-wise.

Vincent Bueno is not simply an experience in the entertainment arts nor is he just an encounter with an artist par excellence. He is not merely an inspiration. Vincent Bueno is a manifestation of God’s love. He is the answer to a prayer and God’s instrument in setting a captive free from his slavery.

THANK YOU, VINCENT BUENO! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!