A week before the recent Basilan calamity, a weekend was held there last May 18-20, 2001. There were 18 couples in the weekend. Thad & Dang Hamoy and Manny & Estela Fortuna were 2 of the presenting team couples.
While the weekend was going on that Saturday, Terry & Marnie Malicse conducted enrichments in the Lamitan community and with the Isabela community on Sunday. Of course they campaigned for the Silver Anniversary as well. The couples attending the enrichment in Isabela stayed on to attend the Salubong. There was a big community who attended the greet of. For the visitors, it was heart warming and very encouraging to observe such a loving community - caring with one another inspite of the peace & order problem in the area.
Thad and Dang, whom the community fondly call THADDANG!!! wrote an very picturesque account of that weekend, aptly entitled "From Brussels to Basilan."
(Continuation of From Brussels to Basilan)
Three identical buildings dominate the Formation Center and it quite evident it was designed with the M.E. Weekend in mind. Indeed it was. If the buildings could talk, they would speak of how great the love of the Bishop was for his flock and for the WME movement. Monsignor Romy de la Cruz had experienced the Weekend and saw what a great and valuable family ministry it was. He saw how thousands of couples would benefit from the ME programs, how priest and religious would be revitalized and strengthened in their vocations. Bishop Romy believed in marriage as a vocation, of sacramental couples being the foundation of the Church, thus he embarked on a strong advocacy for the ME Weekend. It was providential that he was about to build a much- needed formation center for the diocese, so he consulted Terry & Marnie for suggestions to make the structures dedicated to the needs of the Weekend.
Terry is a masochist and not aware of this, we allowed him to talk us into an encounter of the violent kind: a session with reflexologist at the Formation Center. We would have preferred a good old down, but no, Terry said reflexology was better. As the reflexologist (I suspect they were trained by the police interrogators ) kneaded our feet with their knuckles and nails, we were twisting and screaming loudly with pain. Terry shouted the loudest but enjoyed every painful minute of it. Me? Not in another 50 years! Our feet are still black and blue from the trauma, thank you.
The seeds of ME sown in Basilan fell on the proverbial fertile ground . It took root and flourished. In a short span of time Basilan has had 14 Weekends with an average of 25 couples per weekend. The commitment and enthusiasm of the Basilan community is something other communities could envy. Couples are highly visible and maintain a high profile in Isabela City and the nearby Lamitan town. They even have their own Team Priest, Fr. Loy Nacorda.
One may ask – how the ME. Community in Basilan be so active and dedicated when they are practically the most remote of all? What has happened to our communities in Lingayen and Tarlac which are older and nearer and easily accessible from Manila? God surely gives more to those who have less, and gave the Basilan couples a good measure of inspiration and diligence. But there must be something else that makes Basilan tick.
The community suffered a major setback when Bishop Romy was transferred to another diocese. But a sapling with deep roots can withstand temporary adversities as did Basilan When they lost their beloved shepherd. The yoke of leadership was borne by a succession of inspired and highly motivated couples and everyone rallied behind them. The national eclessial team, terry&Marnie and Fr.Boy become the surrogate parents who cared and nurtured the Basilan community, responded to their needs and are providing for a future pre-team formation, a deeper weekend, sweep, workshop and community enrichments.
A team couple’s paycheck comes in the form of happy, teary-eyed couples who shares deep feelings about their realizations and discoveries during the weekend. Our work in Basilan was no different and we have been amply rewarded with 19 couples who actively participated in the Miracle of the Weekend. They would be up at 4:00 a.m. and, to our surprise as we went out to ring the wake-up call at 6:00 AM, they were already lined at the corridor waiting for us sleepy-bone city folks! How would you not marvel at the grace of the Holy Spirit when you had initial fears that your talks would just go over their heads but get pleasantly surprised with their focused sharing?
Basileños love pomp and ceremony gauging at how the salubong turned out. We marched out of the conference hall, half-crazy as we are wont to be after each weekend, singing our lungs out about a new world somewhere and making a circuitous route downstairs where the community waited and welcomed the Sunday afternoon couples. Lo and behold, there, secretly gathered by their recruiting couples and brought to Formation Center for the occasion, There I saw that the value of having the children greet their parents far outweighs the modern notion that children get in the way be noisy and gathering them inconvenient. Isn’t that moment a celebration of the small Church? The children, properly briefed and were in fact out of view until the last moment, were quiet and well behaved despite their own excitement and eagerness to be with their parents. It was a glorious event for their little Churches! And we could learn from them.
Songs and speeches followed and finally, after suffering for some time from an early evening hunger, exacerbated by the sight of a shiny lechon ( a standard fare every time, we were told, that weekend it was donated by ME couple Mayor and Mrs.Beil ), Fr. Boy said grace and the community broke bread.
After the team evaluation that evening, Terry & Marnie asked us to speak before a big group of would-be pre-teams, discerned in and out of the Weekend, to encourage them to undergo formation and a deeper weekend. You could see in their faces the interest, the half-crazed countenance of Don Quixote, much the same the way we looked when we were invited to more adventures and misadventures.
We are confident that the Weekend added more couples who will actively contribute themselves to the cause of the Dream. The call of Don Quixote rings loud and clear in Basilan. Our hearts go out to tem and we are proud to have been part of their quest, a companion in their journey.
On a personal note, our trip to Basilan has completed
our homecoming. We are back from Brussels (and Bucharest) after an absence
of six years, and we have given a weekend. Thaddang are finally home.
We remember, we celebrate and we
For weekend schedule and inquiries about WWME Basilan, Please contact
Dudung & Lily Polimar at (062) 991-0580 to 84; (062) 991-0626
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