Core Evolution: Journey of an undaunted core

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The JFCM Youth Camp core and staff, 2012-2016

As part of the tag of the revived JFCM general youth camps, the phrase “our camp” holds a more personal meaning for those of us who have lived and breathed it way beyond the three days and two nights.

From thinking about what theme to pursue and what name to call it, up to which portions of the program need to be bumped off or will wake-up call be moved, we’ve seen it all, zoomed in and zoomed out.

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Pinoy PWDs say ‘Never give up’ with Nick Vujicic

By Andrew Jonathan S. Bagaoisan

Inspirational speaker Nick Vujicic speaking to an audience at the SM Mall of Asia in Manila (Shot courtesy of Nick Vujicic, May 20, 2013)

(Shot courtesy of Nick Vujicic)

In between his sold-out appearances at the Christ’s Commission Fellowship in Pasig and at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Nick Vujicic (pronounced Voo-yee-cheech) stopped by the SM Mall of Asia for a quick meet and greet.

The free-entrance event lasted only 20 minutes, but it was the opportunity of a lifetime for those with whom the limbless preacher’s life story and message would resonate the most: Filipino Persons With Disability (PWDs).

The mall managed to get the Serbian-Austalian inspirational speaker for the benefit of several local PWD organizations, whose members made up over a fourth of the 200-plus attendees at the mall’s Music Hall.

Persons in wheelchairs strolled to their places at the front fringes of the laid-out seats. Children and their parents walked in, wearing green shirts that said “Autism Angel”. Many who arrived approached and greeted old friends.

Among them were a dozen members of the Las Piñas City PWD Federation. Some carpooled to the mall in their barangay service vans. Others rode private cars. Family members or personal assistants accompanied them.

Mixed audience of abled and disabled persons at limbless preacher Nick Vujicic's meet and greet in Manila. (Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan, May 20, 2013)

(Shot by Anjo Bagaoisan)

They, like many who first saw Nick live in Manila over the weekend, found him through the Internet. On Facebook or YouTube, they saw how he overcame his disability to personally inspire millions.

Surely capping it all would be a personal encounter with a man who, even without his extremities, has gone surfing, swimming, skydiving and has started a family.

“I heard they bring (Nick) near the exit so that people can talk to him or touch him as they leave, ” Al, a visually-impaired man in his thirties told fellow Las Piñas PWDs on the way to the mall. “I hope they also do that here.”

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War and grace

Live from Maguindanao, Day 13
2 days before Halalan 2010

KORONADAL, SOUTH COTABATO–“More so, let us ask God to give us leaders we do NOT deserve.”

Pastor Jorem was leading the congregation in prayer. The singing had already ended and he was laying out the church’s petitions. Number one on their list: the May 10 elections.

This still is Mindanao–Koronadal or Marbel, to be exact. And this is Marbel Evangelical Fellowship, a church of 50 plus that I had the privilege of joining last Sunday.

And this is probably the farthest church I’ve attended since my years in Saudi Arabia. UP schoolmate Lance Catedral, here on vacation, brought me along.

Where I come from, in-depth prayer sessions spring up only in prayer meetings. At MEF, every Sunday involves members sharing their requests and thanks, then offering them up as one.

Welcome to one aspect of the elections forgotten in the revelry, the excitement, and the mudslinging.

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Because He lives

CABATUAN, ISABELA–White lights. Photos. Bouquets. Candles. A cross. A casket.

In the brightly-lit room, a service every night. After each, coffee, candies, nuts, soup, and biscuits. And singing onto the wee hours.

It’s the image of loss, one I did not see in this wake-slash-vacation-slash-reunion with my father’s clan up North.

Sure I saw occasional tears and reflective looks from my aunts and uncles as they gazed at the coffin. Yet with the eulogies interspersed laughter; and with the solemn songs, songs of praise. In the midst of games or stories, we would mention her–even call to her–and smile as we remember.

Our Mamang herself could smile at such a tribute.

Mamang Pilar Bagaoisan

Mamang Pilar Bagaoisan (1930-2009)

I remember her as grandmothers are–mild, quiet, and with a smile that reflected a fount of experience. She doted on the whims of 22 grandkids–usually the play of youngsters and the joking of teenagers. Like her name, she stood as a pillar of faith and silent strength to 11 children and us who followed.

For all I recall, I only regret not knowing her more as a young adult, she being the last living among my grandparents. Growing up abroad, I only saw her once a year. And when I stayed here for good, she moved to the United States to live with my aunt’s family.

She would have made a great interview subject for this journalist-to-be. I could have asked her how they survived during the war, how she dealt with the turbulent 70s, and how my dad was at my age.

Now I can’t remember having played a song especially for her, as I’ve played the night away during the wake. I wish I could have told her my own stories and dreams, as I’m now telling my relatives.
Like my cousin Marvin in the States, I could have even debated with her on which between ABS-CBN and GMA 7 was the better station.

Her children call Mamang’s passing a sacrifice somehow. She and our relations in the US and Saudi Arabia were to come here early this year for the clan reunion. They put off the trip for financial reasons.

Yet she still came back here and all of us reunited here in Cabatuan–something that might not happen again. The reasons, though, were less than jovial.

In one of those nightly singing sessions, our eldest aunt had me play the classic gospel “Because He lives” over and over. Until the singers got the harmonies right, she said.

The song spoke of the hope we had and why we were joyful while we mourned:

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow;
Because He lives, all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living just
Because He lives.

With gratitude for her life, we know that because our Savior lives, Mamang still lives.

It tells me too that somewhere in the future, I’d get to have my interview with her.

To the young Christian lady

How do you squeeze a debut message into the length of seven SMS’s?

Had it not been for the deluge in Northern Luzon last October 9, I would have spent the Friday night at a pink-themed party for a churchmate turning 18.

But instead I had to “text” all those words of cheer, encouragement, and, ahem, wisdom while on our four-hour trip to Pangasinan that afternoon.

I had to type it in full just so it would not lose the formality of a debut message. And with the seven-SMS limit, I had to exercise lots and lost of brevity. Many points and detail thus were lost in imperative sentences two to three words long.

Our youth leader read it by 9 or 10 p.m. Hope I said what I wanted said.

Here’s my “text message” to a Christian woman out to face the world:

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