Having an apostolate with the poor in Baseco reminds me of my situation before I enter in the seminary. I grew up in a poor family where we live in one of the poor areas in Pasay. At childhood, I experienced how to live in a miserable situation struggling for survival every day. I must say that I did not enjoy my childhood years fully because our place was not convenient playing and not secured. I was exposed on the reality of poverty whereby instead of playing, my brother, my other three siblings, and I, were scavenging metal scraps, aluminum scraps, newspapers, cartons, plastic bottles and papers in order to have something in our pockets for school. We were selling it to the nearest junk shop within the vicinity. My father’s salary from the factory was not enough for us in a month long. I remember how my mother tries to budget the insufficient income of my father to make good enough for a month. I witnessed how my mother was diligently budgeting my father’s earnings. I saw from her teary eyes her difficulties. From some of my experiences that I cited, I could say that our family has really experienced the pangs of poverty. Moreover, family and I did not lose hope, continued dreaming and trusting the Lord that someday by His help we will surpass the challenge of poverty.
As we continue hoping, dreaming and trusting the Lord, God’s grace and providence will always be showered to us. Somehow, it helps us to reach our hopes and dreams in life. At least by now, our state life has a bit lifted up. God continuously showers His graces and blessings to us. Now that I am journeying toward priestly life and enjoying the providence of God, I have learned a lot in Baseco. It taught me something very significant in my life, especially in my vocation journey, i.e. having the capacity to share selflessly the blessings.
When we speak of sharing, we cannot but associate it with a usual act of sharing, i.e. sharing the surpluses that we have trashed in the corner. Contrary to what I have learned from the poor of Baseco, this is not the usual act of sharing. It was an extraordinary way of sharing, i.e. sharing my life and time with them. At first it was challenging to mingle with them. The place is miserable and their situation is unbearable and unperceivable. Everytime I expend my time with them I cannot but feel sad for their situation. As I go on with my apostolate, I realized one thing that from listening to their stories I see goodness within them despite the poor situation. From it, I thought of something to them alleviate their situation though it was a challenge. They did not expect me to respond on their need only by listening from their stories. What they really need is my dedication and availability to listen to them. I was humbled by this lesson. More than from expecting for a help and opportunity to improve their lives, as what I discovered, they really need somebody a dedicative listener.
For me, this is a true meaning of sharing. It is really extraordinary and challenging. I was challenged to talk and listen with them. They challenged me as a religious and it invited me to be serious about my vocation. It is a fact and a reality that they are the most deprived materially, socially, psychologically, spiritually, physically and emotionally. But is it right that I will just consider it as a mere fact or reality without doing something for them? On this reality, I was stimulated, triggered off and encouraged to take my religious life so seriously. From them I learned that dilly dallying in religious life is a form of injustice against them. I realized, struggling in religious is worth it because I am not the one who will benefit from the consolation of my struggles but them. So, religious life is not a waste of time, energy and effort for it has a purpose, i.e. to serve Christ in the poor.
People may see Baseco as a miserable place or a poor place to live with and to do apostolate. But for me I consider it as an “academe” because I learned the inmost beauty of life and the wisdom of sharing your life and time for others from this very place.