Saturday, August 14, 2010

ZEKE XX: 20 YEARS of being SOMEBODY for EVERYBODY!!! (The Birthday Essay 2010)

HOW TIME FLIES!!!

After another year, nineteen years of tears and joys, here I am at the portal of my Twentieth year. It’s Somewhat surprising! With the change of the course of time and destiny, comes this part in our lives when we go up the Ladder of Life, and go one year older.

Me? I’m going one level again, and this time, the tens digit of my age also goes up one number. It’s Level Two for me now. I feel like a stranger at this. Well, it is something which is not really new when you go another year old. At one point in my life, I consider myself as a child, very happy and carefree. When everything is just a piece of game. You can cry anytime because you are so young, you simply do not know what to do.

Now, I am a very big Mama na! I have hair growing at just any part of my bod. My mentality had broaden to some point. Emotions had been a little bit mature. Faith deepened. Friendship Circle grew. Enemies became fiercer. Points of View have been defined. In just a matter of time, everything changed. And all this, while continuing to give service to one and all. In other words, being Somebody for Everybody.

And now, as I take the lead of days towards A-19, let me share with you my chunk of life from the past year, as well as a look-back on the past years which has been a part of my colorful and adventurous life. Truly, there is something in everything to look at, to be thankful for.

Let’s begin the journey...

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I was born on the rainy Sunday evening, 19th of August, 1990 AD. Amidst the rain and flood carried over by a typhoon, came the first moment of my existence in this world. I remember my mommy telling her side of the story. She was really tired of carrying me on her tummy, to the point where she shouted, “AYOKO NA!!! Hindi ko na kaya! Iluwal ninyo na ang batang yan!!!” Everytime I remember that, I can’t help but laugh at her reaction. At the first instance, I was sort of a burden to her. Now, I know why. Hehehe…

I was given the name very peculiar from the most of the family. Actually, my mommy was following a flow of endings in her children’s names. For the girls, their names would end with –en. For us boys, it ends in –an. But as for me, being the youngest of the four, I was given two names: WELDANN LESTER. Ideas came and gone, until this combination of names became my official first name. I grew up using only the very first name, though I mix the second on more formal matters, though I don’t use it at usual talk. I came to love my name, not because it is unique, but because, among all, it means that something lies ahead.

I grew up in eating. I ate a lot of Gerber Food (I learned later in life that I had piled up 2 sacks of Gerber Food Bottles. Ganun na pala akong kasiba!!!) and Cerelac, not to forget that tradition of feeding kids with the **** of pork for him to speak well.

I learned to speak at age 5. It’s a sign of speaking deficiency or sort. I grew up with it, and loved it as well. It became my certain asset or something, for though I don’t pronounce words as it is, I learned to speak confidently in front of a lot of people.

Aside from that, I was also given the talent of singing. I loved to sing a lot. There was this time in pre-school that I was noted for my rendition of Donna Cruz’s Habang May Buhay. I love Donna Cruz for that. I came up to be a sensation of those days. Well, not now. Hahaha….

I also grew up to be a child of experiments. Like any adventurous kid who would mix massage oil (Brand not mentioned) with the toilet water to see what would be the result. I also have a share of it, and I was damn punished for that. But despite the punishment, I just continued experimenting.

In short, my exciting young life also became the starting area for some points in my life now. I simply bore up with these points, and now, I am happy with it. I grew up without asking myself why I went such fancy. It’s enough for me that I had these assets and defects with me. After all, I can still make use of each and everything that I have in life. That would explain everything.

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I would never deny that my Alma Mater, the Immaculate Conception Parochial School in Malabon City defined my lifestyle more than anything and everything else. Being my second home for 10 years, within its walls was formed the Weldann that you came to know of.

I grew up crying, because of my classmates who never grew tired of bullying me. From Grade Two to First Year, my day would never be complete without me crying to their jeers and teases. Those experiences turned to be my stepping stone to becoming a tougher person. On the last three years of my stay in ICPS, I could say that I began growing up and becoming matured enough. Though the jeers did not changed, I am proud to say that I am not crying anymore by that time.

Well, I was more of an inferior guy then in front of my classmates, but in the eyes of my teachers, I became their grand servant or something like that. I just go up to their every command, just to make sure that their wish would be granted. I did not wish to have a fairer grade; it’s just that I love following their command. I followed just everyone in the school, from the Principal to the Guard. During my time, I was considered the Teacher’s Pet. I am proud, and I loved being one, considering the fact that I am jeered by my classmates.

I also had a handful of friends in the school, though I did not manage to win the hearts of my every batchmate. Later in life, I came to consider them as socialites. Their styles were very different from mine. My heart became far from them. As they grew up studying and living in style, I grew simple yet looking. I can really say that napakalayo ko sa kanila. When I attended the wake of my demised batchmate months ago, almost everyone didn’t notice me, or given me a nod. I realized that I was really far from them, and I could never change it. Some did notice me, though, and thanked me for being there. Because of them, I did not feel “OP” on the occasion.

ICPS also formed my religious aspect. It is in the institution where God began calling me to serve Him. I began my ministry then as a choir member. Later, I became close to God that it was during my High School Days when I became an Altar Server in my Home Parish. I was also chosen to lead the paraliturgical activities in my classroom way back in High School. I owe all these to Mother Mary, patroness of the School, for without her guidance, I would possibly be somebody lurking in the streets today.

I graduated in all smiles. At that moment, I never thought that I would be graduating after years of crying, teasing, my mommy’s debts to the school, study problems, and more than I could imagine. The school also gave honor to my job well done by way of the Student Service Award. I really grew to be a servant-leader of all, socially and religiously.

I continually thank God for the gift of ICPS. Within it was formed the Weldann who is ready to face the world amidst its struggles.

(I would also note that it was in ICPS where the Birthday Essay was born.)

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The City of Malabon University was never a first choice for my College Studies. I opt for UST or PUP, but God led me to CMU. I asked God why, and he gave me the answer through the course of time. I had earned a lot of reasons. And I understood all of it.

For one, it’s a diversion. I’m a newbie to the public system of Education (since I was educated earlier in a private school). At first, I felt like a new person in the system where there is no surety of everything you have in hand: from the reg fee and the penalty, to the lost and ruined computers, and even to the old and neglected facilities. It was then that I realized, ganito palang kagarapal ang nasa pamahalaan, pinababayaan na lang ang mga estudyante. It was like an eye-opener for me who lived and studied in an air-conditioned room, where we are only numbered students. It was saying, Face the Reality, Bitoy!

Secondly, it’s the beginning of real friendship. It was in College where I had found my real circle of friends, my barkada. We are named as the Ghoy Ghang. We are the excel-lerated students of the class. Nangunguna sa trip, mahilig sa pag-aaral. But beyond that, I looked deeper and saw how the college people accepted me, more than I was accepted in ICPS.

Though the jeers were never lost, still you could see your jeerers coming to you and asking you some scholastic questions, to the point that you walk with them on the way home. I was loved very much in college, and that became my inspiration to study hard and give it all for my future.

However, there came the point (that was this year) where I grew tired of studying. I cut classes, sometimes absent. I took certain alibis for my parents to think the classes were cut or something. I considered Parish work more than my studies. As a result, I was dooped enough with a handful of failing grades.

I was not supposed to continue studying at CMU after that, but God became so good to me. My family was very supportive throughout the way. The Admin people were nice people to talk with, and I was allowed again to continue studying under certain conditions. And so, amidst the deepened scorning of my classmates, I was back to studying. It continues up until now.

With that, I saw the real importance of education. It takes the third precedence on my table of priorities, next to God and Family, and it would be there to stay.

I am now a Fourth Year BSE Student. Because of the upturning I mentioned earlier, I would go another year to continue studying. Actually, I turned to love teaching, that’s why I chose this course. From being a Volunteer Catechist in the parish, I saw my vocation, and I am determined to pursue my dream no matter what.

And so, in some points in my college life, everything that ICPS never gave me, CMU had endowed. Though I did not entered to those Universities which I wanted to go to, I found more than a reason to study at CMU. It was in CMU that I agnized the difference that college life could give you. With that I ask… bakit ngayon ko lang nararanasan ito?

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I was called to join the Neo Catechumenate in 2004, though because of certain things, I was moved to the second community of our Parish in 2005. It was there that I learned how to play a guitar, how to give a catechesis to the brothers, how to scrutinize God’s Word, and more.

Ever since I entered the way, my problems became clear. There was not a day that I do not pass through even a single problem. At some points, I felt like giving up and giving in to my crosses and trials. Yet in a Christian perspective, we were thought that problems are not there to grudge us, but it is a clear sign that God still loves us. Thanks to God for the Way, I understand my every undertaking, though it was not understandable for a typical guy of my age bracket.

My faith deepened as well. Through its celebrations, especially the Eucharist, my belief became way deeper, though there are times that it was so shallow I am dooped to the ground. Blame my frailty for that. It was in the Way that God –literally– became near to us brothers and sisters in the community, especially in the Eucharist.

The Way also led me to Iloilo in 2007, for the Pilgrimage of the youth (though I regret that I didn’t come to the 2010 Pilgrimage in Pangasinan). It was a lovely experience. I never thought that I would go all the way south to preach the Word and mingle with other brothers from other places. It was there in Iloilo that I showed my artistic self to the world, and they loved me for that (weeeehhhhhh…..).

However, there is the instance that I became lukewarm and offensive to the community. It was when Priests changed assignments. With the coming of the present Parish Priest, I was brainwashed enough to the point that I forgot that I had a community. I was told that the Way would never be good for me, and sort of. Yes, on that time, I forgot walking and focused on things that have something to do with his ideals. But when I had problems, he did not assissted me enough, even left me all along the way.

God slapped me on the face, and I was awake again. I returned to my community, and despite everything I said against them, I was accepted again with open arms. I said then, God is really good! Thanks a lot for continuing to be there for me. Up until now, we continue walking, and I consider them as my counselors.

The Neo Catechumenal Way is one of God’s best gifts to me. Within it, my faith deepened, my understanding of problems were enlightened, I had the best counselors and friends, and more than that… it was in the way that I saw how God loved me, in the dimension of the Cross and in everyday life.

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My ministry as an Altar Server began sometime in 2004, under Fr. Jun Erlano. I was a simple churchgoer then, when somebody tapped me to join the MAS. From then, I spent the next five years serving at Mass and understanding more the essence of the Christian Liturgy.

I began as a simple server then. It helped that I go to church frequently, for when I am on my first service, I know almost every part of the Mass, it’s just that I need to conform myself with the norms of the parish servers. It differs at every parish. I got used to it (the norms), and loved it so much.

It didn’t take much time before I got the Ministry to my veins. The privilege I had, the friends I made with my fellow brothers. I am thankful to God for the grace of serving him at his Altar, though unworthy.

At a certain point, I also served as the Representative of the Beginner Servers, and eventually, as the Secretary of the Ministry. Eversince, there was a radical change in the flow of the Ministry. Under my leadership, certain points were given out, and the Ministry had its golden age, because though we are not supported enough by the parish people, we still know that they are there to give us something everytime we are I need.

However, God knows that the world of MAS is not anymore fit for me, it is too small already. In 2009, with the help of my Parish Priest, Fr. Junjun de Guzman, I proceeded to being a Lector of the Parish. Going Level 2… it’s hard since I grew up in my soutane, then in just a blink, I gave it up for the Lectionary. Mahirap rin, pero napagdaanan ko ito at nalagpasan. I came to mingle with the senior members of the Parish Liturgical Ministry, and their company is worth it. Besides, I also love reading and proclaiming, and that decision was never put down sadly.

For study reasons, I quitted being a lector for some time now; yet now and ever, I know that the spirit of Ministry and Service would be there to stay for the coming years. I am a living testimony that ONCE A SERVER, A SERVER FOREVER.

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The Confraternity of Catholic Saints completes my Tripod of Personality, together with Family, and Neo Catechumenal Community. Being a part of a religious fraternity means that you know your faith deeply, and you are ready to face every challenge for the sake of your faith. As for CCS, the challenge is to Live in Holiness, in example of the Saints. Yes, it is hard for these times (as I always say), that’s why we need to ask God’s grace.

I became a part of the Confraternity in 2006. It all began in Friendster, through Fra. Dave dela Cruz. Since my saying of YES, began my part proclaiming that Holiness is Very Possible. I took care of relics, I have gone to many places, and have met and get-to know so many friends and acquaintances.

But most of it all, the greatest gift of God through me, through the Confraternity, is the gift of my present vocation, as a professed lay. In 2008, with the other pioneers, we consecrated ourselves to God, through Mary, and professed our obedience to God, the Church and to the Confraternity. It was a no-joke YES to God. We promised then to be Holy in everything we should do. It continues throughout our life.

God had become so good to us, that even though the CCS had undergone challenges and problems over the past seven years, we are still intact, and together in spirit, though we are physically far away from each other. The challenge to live holy is more realized as time passes by, and as a frater, we are challenged all the more to be like the Saints. We are nearing our 7th Anniversary in October, and thank God, CCS would still be there for us to stay.

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I am the youngest among four, yet I am fourth among five (thanks to our Adopted Youngest Sister). I consider it enough as a blessing, and a curse. Being the apple of the eye of the family is no small deal. You have to get through with everything that they would want you to do. Sometimes, when you did not do as they expected, you are being reprimanded, and there begins the enormous fight. However, when you do as they wanted it to be, you are to be given proper credit. That’s the flow of being the bunso, I have been tracking through it for two decades now, and I got used to it.

Through the course of time and tide, the problems and challenges we have undergone as one family have grown in intensity. Certain times came when the family members were on a fight regarding the house, other times, money, and on a certain point, my personal life and sexual preferences. I also got used to it.

At first, I became the silent listener to their exchange of words, and most of the time, I opt to go out and surf the net rather than to listen to their word war. Later, I noticed that I became one of them, I personally became involved in the family talk... when they are in the positive side. Nevertheless, I still choose to reflect inside my room than to participate in their babble.

I also felt the privilege of being the youngest, thanks to my mommy. Everytime that I am the topic of the family talk, my mommy always defend my side. Thanks to her, I could also go to college, and have every single support I need that I could not get from my father, or from my siblings. Though I have hurt her so much, and do not understand her at other times, she was still there for me. If I have the chance to fix anything in the past, that would certainly be those times when I and mommy have a conflict. I love her so much, and I really wanted to be a great son for God, and for her. Well, that doesn’t mean that I do not wish to be a great son to my father, and great brother to my siblings. I also wanted to be one.

Considering the gap of years, I know it woud be really hard to adjust with them, but I also know that God has a plan for each one of us. Family is family. At the end of my tiring day, they are the ones I go home to. I love them, and I would really want to show hoe much I care for them.

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I have undergone many wrongdoings in the past year, and the last decade or two. From my desires, to my vices, to my wrong thought, deed and decision. I continue to be a good son and example, and yet, I still do so many failures. I always tell everyone, hindi ako isang napakabait na tao. Nagkakamali rin po ako. Still, some doesn’t understand my every move. They continue to attack me at my back.

I am still, and would always be, a frail guy, thanks to my own sins, and to everyone who doesn’t believe in me. That is natural for us humans. However we want to cope up with the people we mingle with, still we could never please everybody. Sometimes, it is because of our own wrongdoings, other times, because of the impression of others.

As for me, the shadow of unbelief continues to follow me wherever I go. It has given me a reason to blame myself for every bad luck I had experienced in the past. Yet, this shadow also has something to say. I AM THE REASON WHY THE SHADOW OF UNBELIEF IS STILL UP AND AROUND. It hurts so much to know, yet it gives me the reason to be brave and face it with more eagerness than before. I know that the shadow would be there to stay, so I still ask God to guide me in everything I should do.

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Another year is ending. Well, more than a year, I am leaving my teenage years. I’m moving on to being an adult. The age of 20 means a lot of things for me. From the realization that I am not a child anymore, to being old enough to face more hard challenges. 20 means many things.

Sometimes, I cannot accept the reality that I’m turning 20 on A19. I still wish that I would have another year with the number 1 on the tens digit. I haven’t eaten enough, gone and travel enough. Hindi ko pa natitikman ng sobra ang buhay-teenager, gusto ko pa siyang maranasan.

And yet, it is enough. Every good and bad thing I’ve experienced for the past ten years (or nineteen, if I would add my childhood years), it has taught me enough. It had prepared me enough. I have been transformed from a cryboy to a professed lay, from a singer to a cantor, from a simple Weldann, to Weldann, the Somebody for Everybody. Besides, the past have come and long gone, and the future is never sure. I must leave for today, for now. That’s why today is called the present.

Now, I ask. What would I be on the coming time? Would I be a teacher? A priest? Would I continue to be followed by a dark shadow? Would people continue to believe me or not? Would I still have friends? Until when will I live? And most of all, would I continue to live a holy and happy life?

The answers, I leave to Divine Providence. At the end of the day, only God knows whatever would happen on my simple, yet colorful life. For me, I continue to live, and do as He wills. He challenges me to love beyond what I have. Besides, I have a family to share my thoughts with. I have friends and brothers that would understand me. What would possibly be greater than that?

Well, there is but one greater thing. That is, the gift of my life. Without God’s gift of life, I would never cherish these things that I have now. Without his help, I would have the strength to continue living for this time.

Kudos to You, my God, for the gift of life and everything that goes with it. Everything I have right now: my family and friends, the vocation and spiriuallity, the way of wisdom and conversion, the material things and everything in between. Everything comes from you. To You I give it back again, as I praise and thank You for all these things. I entrust everything to Your Divine Will. May Your will be done today and forever in my life.

IN ALL THINGS, MAY GOD’S WILL BE DONE!!!
SA LAHAT NG BAGAY, ANG KALOOBAN MO NAWA, O DIYOS, ANG MAGANAP!!!

AMEN!

KuyaZeke,ccs_081410

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