Encounter with our Katutubo
Part of our tri-mester course in preparation for perpetual profession was a session with Most Rev. Bp. Bartolome Santos, D.D., Bishop of Iba on Laudato Si and Fratelli Tutti by Pope Francis.
The terrain where we passed through were areas covered by waters and sand-ashes from the erupted Mt. Pinatubo so it was dusty and hot but what amazed us was there were rice, plants and fruit trees which survived in that place.
Their simplicity, hospitality and generosity were so edifying which made us feel that we are connected acknowledging that we have only One Creator and that we are all brothers and sisters. Though it was us who offered some goods to them as our little gift, it was from them whom we received and learned so much. They have witnessed to us the joy of living simply ("sapat" mentality), and of having a positive out-look in life, generous sharing, gratitude and contentment of what they have. They trust and rely on what nature can give them as their food and other means of survival. In fact, they shared with us their products and allowed us to harvest their root crops like carrot-camote, fruits, etc.
With our personal encounter with them, we have seen how they live in that place: far from the city, a life so different from someone enjoying the vast and fast-growing world of technology and civilization and yet they are happy and contented.
We are also blessed to visit Buhawen, another mountainous part of Zambales. Bishop Bart invited us to the blessing of a newly-constructed Church after almost 3 decades of Mt. Pinatubo eruption. Their old Church, schools, and many houses were submerged in lahar and water from the volcano and the whole city was transformed into a vast lake which they now call Lake Mapanuepe. The other parts of the area are arid land. Bishop Bart was right in saying that Zambales is one of the best places in the world to experience Laudato Si and Fratelli Tutti.
As consecrated persons, the challenge for us is how to translate our ‘encounters’ with the Risen Lord the way we relate with others, without exemption. Our encounter with the Lord, in the Eucharist and in the other sacraments should be seen in the way we think, speak and act as we encounter others around us.