Revisiting the Cordilleras in Search of the Asian Soul
By: Sr. Regivic
30 years ago I often watched our old gardener Apo Gabriel sit under a tree facing the hills filled with lush green pine trees after his work. He would just fix his gaze on the mountain but I knew he was in deep communion with God.
We visited Atok, Benguet yesterday, driving along the highway graced with beautiful skies and green mountains, stopped by hectares of flower and vegetable plantations of Sayangan, the salad bowl of the Philippines. Such unexpected beauty that dilates the human heart!
Then came the offer to behold the highest peak of the Cordilleras.
I feasted on beauty…God’s creation untouched by human hands.
That day I understood a little more the afternoon contemplation of my old Bontoc friend, Apo Gabriel.
I entered God’s Temple in the Cordilleras. I discovered my own Asian Soul in contemplation.
I understood a little more what Lao Tze said: To be Asian is to be contemplative.
To the Mountains on New Year’s Day
By Sr. Mary Denyse and Sr. Agnes Cecilia
Belonging to a school community like Cana, being all together is a bit challenging since most of us are in school which likely takes most of our time—working or studying. However we were gifted with an “Unplanned” time together away from San Lorenzo, January 1 – 5!
It simply began with a sister’s wishful thinking to go to Baguio so that she can use her jacket. The whole community jumped at the idea: why not have some days of rest and recreation before school starts again?!
And so, off to the mountains for us. How we enjoyed the cool weather that lulled us to longer sleep than usual. We basked at the beauty of God’s creation around us. We delighted in those moments when we had the time to smell the flowers, walk around the garden of the Sabbath Place, and enjoy the majestic setting of the sun.
But more that these relaxing experiences, going up to Baguio led us to discover a part of our Asian Soul—the strong family spirit. We experienced this through our sisters of the Baguio community who gave us not only good accommodations but also in sharing stories, playing games, and praying together. It was a good break for all of us to live those moments together.
We also enjoyed the Assumption Together of Baguio: Miss Addie gave us her precious time and guided us to Northern Blossoms and King Louis Flower Farm in Sayangan, and kept her camera rolling to take live photos of us with every flower and cactus along our way. We also met two Herran old girls after a mass at the St. Joseph Church in Pacdal. It was a joyful encounter and exchange – a feeling of belonging to one family…isn’t it wonderful? Small world that it is, Fr. Benny Castaneda is now Parish Priest of this Church. He was around to welcome us, and so began reminiscing of experiences of long years ago when Fr. Benny was still a seminarian guiding our sisters through Bontoc mountains and caves. It was enthralling for us, young sisters to listen to all the adventures they had together. The next day we were treated to a surprise meal from another old girl when we were looking for vegetarian food online. It so happened that the resto we chose was owned by an old girl, Therese of Mother’s garden. Upon knowing that we were the purple nuns of her beloved Alma Mater, she called and told us that lunch would be on her. Her family joined us for lunch that day. We were truly blessed to be there and to hear Therese’s life story and her mission of sharing culinary gifts and management skills with young men who are trained to cook and serve, so that they can easily find future employment. As she toured us around the place, we marveled at her homegrown vegetables and herbs. What is also amazing is that Mother’s Garden is a home for abandoned and disabled animals, and each one has a name.
This family spirit we have are strongly experienced in our own community as we took the time to bond: no distractions of work or study, but simply be together. We enjoyed this very special moment, a precious moment indeed. For this wonderful, awesome and restful first days of 2020, we are most grateful!
DISCOVERING OUR ASIAN SOUL… IN THE
PERSON OF JAY-JAY
It was the grace-filled provincial visit of Sr. Lerma that made us reflect deeply on the meaning of our Asian soul. Since then, our community became more conscious on how we can discover this Asian soul that identifies who we are.
Our Cana Community was blessed to have traveled up to Baguio from January 1 to January 5, 2020. The purpose of the trip was not only to bond, rest and recreate but to search for our Asian soul in the beautiful mountains of Cordillera. The journey “without” speaks very much of the journey “within”. As we responded to the need of our body, we found answers to the demands of our soul and discover depth and truth, particularly of our Asian soul. The places we visited and the people we encountered along the way help us in our search.
God made us experience the beauty of an Asian soul through Jay-jay, a 49-year old man with down syndrome. Beyond the physical development and mental abilities, we saw in Jay-jay the beauty of an Asian soul and the attributes of God who is good, loving and present. He welcomed us with a smile, reached out for our hands to make “mano”, a respectful Filipino way of greeting the elders. He greeted us with a smile and approach us one by one in a very respectful and polite way. It was a friendly and loving gesture. Our Asian soul was touched by his person.
We had lunch with Jay-jay’s family. He was there all the time, serving us, and making sure that we are well attended to while his mother proudly speak of him and the blessings he had brought to the family. We heard stories about Jay-jay that gave both sadness and joy to our hearts and we saw the hands of God at work in this gentle and caring soul. The simplicity of his person and the honesty of his heart is very inspiring. He sat with us and quietly took his lunch. I was struck by his attentiveness and presence. When the meal was finished, he quietly helped the waiters to bring the plates out of the table and offered us dessert. Such attentiveness and hospitality. A real man for others, serving at his best.
We spent some time chatting with the family of Jay-Jay after our salad and steak meal lovingly prepared by Therese, his mother, with her kitchen staff. While the sisters were touring around their organic garden, Jay-jay was still there conversing to the sisters, one at a time and sharing many stories. He even showed us the room where he sleeps when he wants to take some break from work. Outside the room, on the door jam, hangs the initial of his name JJ. It spoke to me of the deeper meaning of what it is to live an Asian soul. J J … Joy in Jesus. Only Jesus can give us true joy. When we have Jesus in our life, we have joy and when we live the joy of Jesus, we find our Asian soul. Anyway, Jesus is Asian. He was born in Asia, lived, preached and died in Asia. So, when we find him, we find our Asian soul. When we have Him, our search has meaning. When He is with us all the time and we welcome Him in our hearts, our search is fruitful and life-giving for He gives the answer to all our longing.
Maybe that is the reason why Jay-jay is a happy child. I found joy in knowing him. His soul is ASIAN – ACCOMODATING, SIMPLE, INSPIRING, ATTENTIVE, NURTURING. I’m sure my sisters can add more for each one of us was touched by Jay-jay’s person in a very special way.
Before we left, Jay-jay approached me and ask me to bless him and pray for him and so I stretched out my hands and placed them above his head and offer a prayer of thanksgiving for the blessing that Jay-jay has been for us that day. He bowed his head and close his eyes as I prayed: Lord, God, I ask you to bless Jay-jay as we thank you for the blessing that He is to us this day. Grant him and his family all the graces that they need especially as they help people to have jobs and as they form them to grow and develop into people that you want them to be. Grant Jay-jay all the desires of his pure heart. Amen.
Sr. Myrna Eugenia Maluyao, RA