Don Bosco Philippines South Province

Salesians of Don Bosco – Philippine South Province FIS

Stop Over

I left the Philippines for a two-month family vacation. My destination: Vienna, Austria. With some relatives, I left on the early dawn of September 7, the eve of Mama Mary’s birthday via Qatar Airways. Before reaching our final destination, we had a 3-hour stop-over in Doha, host to the 15th Asian Games in December. Stopping-over has many reasons. I guess the main reason for doing this is for refueling. The destination is long way to go, so the plane needs to take stock.

As the plane touched down the runway of this semi desert city state, we were ushered into their modern international airport. While seated on the comfortable waiting room waiting for our next schedule of departure, I was mesmerized by the sight of the surrounding. I was impressed by the presence of different people in various costumes and nationalities. There were Arab men in their traditional garb, muslim women dressed in black with their faces covered by black burkha, Indian women in their sari, sexy European women, Japanese and Korean tourists, Filipino OFWs and a Buddhist monk in orange costume. It was really a parade of people coming and going. One thing struck me as I was observing them: these people I see in the airport, I will be meeting them just once in my entire lifetime.

The stop-over offered me a time to pause and reflect. Traveling is one of my fortunes in life. It is a terrific experience as one gets to know the world. I have traveled a lot of times in different parts of the world and I am headed once again to one of the most beautiful places in Europe. The last time I was in Vienna was in 2000 after the World Youth Day in Rome, Italy. All those times my life revolved around my mission, work and prayer. There was never a recess in the activities in school. Serving God and people was fulfilling but it was also draining and exhausting. My physical and spiritual energy was constantly sapped by the wear and tear of the ministry. I did not even have the time to think about my family because they are abroad. And as the saying goes: “out of sight, out of mind.”

With this family visit, I was filled with excitement on this return trip to the land of Mozart not so much because this year marks the 250th birth anniversary of this great Austrian composer. What filled me with deep emotion is the fact that I will be there to spend my holiday with my parents on the occasion of their Ruby Wedding anniversary. Forty years ago, my dad and mom made their vows to love each other in good times and bad times in a simple, rural rite at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Madridejos, Bantayan Island. From this union came five children (one died as a baby) and I being the 2nd to the eldest. My parents’ love for each other was tested time and time again. And like gold in the furnace, their love finally emerged purified and persevering. In a few years this love will turn into gold. Of all the people who come and go in my life, it is my family who will stay with me through thick and thin. They are the ones who will leave a lasting impression and the only ones who will stay while the rest are gone.

Another reason for my visit to Vienna is again a family matter. I will be baptizing my new born niece, Gwyneth Clarstin, daughter of my brother Glenn who is happily married to Gamai. Though they were married here in Cebu, they have moved to Vienna. I have only 3 “pag-umangkons” and Gwyneth is the only rose so far. For our family, this is a big event! We will be welcoming her as part of our family. But more than this, she will become a child of God. She will receive the Holy Spirit in her soul such that she will be the dwelling place of the Holy Trinity. It may seem like a passé. Yet this is a reality that touches our very being and changes our relationship with God forever.

If we consider our life as a journey, stop-over is a part of the trip. It is good to stop once in a while to check our purpose, our direction and level of our commitment. Refueling is a necessary option for the trip to reach its final destination. Stopping is also beneficial to make a reality check of who we have along the way. We may run the risk of traveling alone. So we take time out from our busy schedule to ensure that we stay connected to our family, our destiny and even to our God.

Disclaimer: This section of the website is a personal creative writing of the author and does not necessarily reflect the official views, opinion, or policies of the Salesians of Don Bosco – Philippines South Province. For concerns on the content, style, and grammar of this piece, please contact us.

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