Sunday, September 02, 2012

A Celebration to Bridge the Gap between Generations

It was an extraordinary birthday celebration for the president of IVCF Regional Advisory Council in Northern Luzon. Aside from surpassing another year of being a senior citizen, Tita Helen Monta, now 61, testified how faithful and good God is in and through her life. Her celebration was not only filled with gratitude and worship to God; it has become an event to bridge the gap between generations of IVCF graduates and students who seldom meet and have a good time together as one corporate body of Christ.

Tita Helen acknowledged that there was indeed a gap from their generation and ours (naks!). That’s why RAC decided to conduct their meetings to be joined by both graduates and students.

In our midst were the members of the first batch of SVCF in Baguio sometime before and after 1970s. It was also joined by former staff workers Tita Amor Hallowell, Tita Bing Roncesvalles, pioneering and Graduate Team members, and other successful “nobodies” before they knew Christ, but now occupy positions in their sphere of strategic influences. It was also a time to pray for Tita Anavic Bagamaspad who will be returning to California, USA few days after the meeting.

Majority of the “first” members of IVCF  in Baguio told stories about the height of activism, and the flourishing Christian movement at the same time during the Marcos regime. Madams Vicky Rico-Costina, Beth Calinawagan, Anavic Bagamaspad and Tito Ruffy Chungalao recalled how fervent they were in proclaiming Christ despite the pressuring student activism in the campus. They were challenged to be excellent in their studies and at the same time, to proclaim that the revolution of the heart through Christ, not through arm struggle, would effect change in the community.

About 30 IVCFers celebrate God's faithfulness and love
at Tita Helen's place, Baguio City
Pastor Mario Bildan, an IVCFer from SLU, evoked the presence of an evangelical organization inside the catholic university. During his time, the university recognized an evangelical group, him speaking at various student retreats and working hand in hand with the school’s officials.

Dr. Mario Abuan, an outstanding alumnus of UP Baguio, described himself as nothing and nobody after realizing that his religiosity and righteousness are void and futile without Christ in his life. He is thankful for the people who “discipled” him despite his canny ways of avoidance. “I saw something different in the lives of these people,” Dr. Abuan recalls, referring to the discipleship efforts made by Tito Ruffy and SVCFers of his time. He now maintains a clinic in La Trinidad, Benguet, and very willing to conduct rural health services.

These are just some of the old stories ringing so fresh in the hearts of the younger generation. Indeed, we are surrounded by great people, enough sources of inspiration and testimonies of God’s faithfulness and love.

After sharing stories and member’s profile, IVCF students rendered birthday songs for Tita Helen. Then Arabelle Morales, IVCF NL staff worker, presented major updates from the 2012 Corporation Meeting. By consensus and appointment, Dr. Mario Abuan is now the vice-president of IVCF RAC-NL, to fill in the position left by Tita June Falancy, who went to heaven last July 29. 

We ended the fellowship forming a circle with the traditional right-over-left hand position. It was a wonderful connection, a cycle that fuels everyone vigor and power by the Holy Spirit. It was a bond beyond generation, a link to the missing harmony, and a union of a diverse community, all glued by the lordship of Jesus Christ. To God be the glory and honor! Hallelujah!

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Lessons of Running

I quickly went to bed upon arrival from Baguio City last night to get enough sleep for the next day run. My running clothes and ionic drinks were all ready. I just needed to wake up at 4am to chase the 5am time for the 10K Category of the 36th National Milo Marathon, Dagupan City leg.

I didn’t have in mind the goal of topping the race. I’ll leave that to the professional runners who have gone miles running all their lives. I just wanted to run, or to jog and walk when exhausted, and enjoy the lively and healthy spirit of the running community. It makes one young and fit anyway, so it really should be fun.

Oats and two bananas completed my light breakfast. Afterwards, I proceeded to the race venue trying to be on time. Funny thing, I ran with my messenger bag strapped on my chest because I failed to deposit my things in the baggage tent, otherwise, I’d be late for the race.

Lesson # 1: Come to the race venue at least 30 minutes ahead of time. Hundreds of runners would blur your familiarity of the place and most of your time will be wasted on asking the other “where’s.” J Anyway, since my bag distracted my running pace, I’ve found a way to leave it at one of the water stations. Yahoo! I felt like running with freedom, no baggage, no burden, as if my soul wanders in tranquility and solace of being so light.

The last time I ran in a Milo event was in 2010 under the same category. Indeed, I could say that Milo Marathon is still the longest, biggest and grandest running event in the Philippines. It has found its niche of fostering camaraderie among running enthusiasts, promoting fitness, wellness and discipline, and ‘building champions in life.’ I took so much delight of seeing people, young and old, run the best way they can, carrying that “kaya-ko-to” attitude to finish the race. After all, it’s not really how fast you finish the race, but how you run the race itself. Lesson # 2: Stick to your goal. You will still get your valued prices: fulfillment and peace of mind.

The hydration station was very helpful for runners. That’s where people could drink and cool down. Passing the 5K category, I thought all along that things have changed when it comes to cleanliness. But when we met the other runners on our way back, disposable cups were scattered at the hydration station. The proper disposal of trash was neglected by multitude of runners, most of them young people. I could see how the volunteers impressively served the runners by way of offering them water. There were even garbage aides around the area to pick up the used cups. But some of the careless runners just threw the cups everywhere. They might have forgotten one aspect of discipline, that is, to throw their garbage properly. Lesson #3: Value the volunteers, and don't make their lives miserable. Don't treat them as janitors. You are a runner, but please don't run away with your trash, okay? :)

After more than an hour of running, jogging, and a bit of walking, I finished the race and got another 10K certificate. I was the 81st from the 132 runners under 10K category with an official Gun Time of 01:11:05 and Chip Time of 01:10:58. See the complete 10K results here during the Milo Marathon in Dagupan City last July 8, 2012.

But the highlight of my running story was my acquaintance with Mr. Alex Garcia, a father who lost his one leg after an accident more than a decade ago, and his eight-year-old daughter, Kristine. I found out that Kristine lost her bib number, and so the father decided to give his bib number to her daughter so she could officially join the race. Together, they finished the 3-kilometer run!

Mr. Alex Garcia and his 8-year-old daughter Kristine
 finishing 3K together

It was a touching story of multiple LESSONS to learn from:

4. Never allow physical handicap, sickness, or infirmities hinder you from continuing life and achieving your goal.
5. Who you are is what you should be. If you are a father, then by all means, act like one.
6. Running becomes meaningful if seasoned with vision and purpose.
7. Sacrifice is a mark of love. Remember the Cross.
8. And lastly, as they say, life is a journey. Run LIFE the best way you can.