Today is a holiday here in Cotabato City. Before the day ends, I want to share the ups and downs of this day. First, I woke up late again in the morning. Missed the morning prayer and saw the clock already 6:48 A.M. The bed was too comfortable. Went downstairs and saw the chapel empty (of course). I saw the dining table with one plate missing already. I felt a bit down seeing empty plates with me to spend breakfast alone. There are five empty plates left and it seems that our cook miscalculated. There’s only three of us today. So when I took my glass to drink water, I then saw Jay Jay, the novice who was here in our community for three months since July 4. He slept like a log too (It’s nicer to hear the equivalent expression in Tagalog). It is his last day today in our community because tomorrow he’s going back to the novitiate which is just a ten-minute ride from here. Since we are just three in the convent and Br. Ador is somewhere in Bangkok, we don’t have yet a despedida for Jay Jay. But after the breakfast, I went ahead to update the grades of my students using MS Excel. I still had time before the table tennis players go to the gym and practice. But when I went at 9am to the gym and saw only the high school basketball and volleyball girls, I went back to the convent. I was told by the table tennis coach that they will come this morning. Well, they aren’t there so what can I do? So I just went back to the grading until I saw the evaluation paper that I was writing last night. It’s for Br. Jay Jay. When it’s morning, ideas flow very easily that I can reflect on what to say about our novice brother in the house. So no empty spaces were left for the comment section. Then I went back to the play on numbers afterwards. Seems I haven’t recovered yet from teaching mathematics last school year.
11:30 A.M. lunch with all of us complete. Eating the lasagna, which was supposed to be the merienda, left me no room for more rice. Kangkong na Adobo can’t be resisted so I ate some of them. No siesta this afternoon because of my mindless Facebook News Feed scrolling habit. Then continued with the formula and encoding of grades. I get my thrill in making my own formula in Excel. I think I ate too much merienda composed of lots of water, banana chips, Piatos, and Sky Flakes. Since I was using the table in the sala, I can overhear what Br. Oca was watching on TV. He’s watching the senate hearing on the rising cases of extrajudicial killings with lots of people from Davao City being interrogated. He already took his early dinner so he stayed on the sofa also to relax from the volleyball practice sessions with the students.

Then it’s 6:30 PM and waited for Jay Jay. But I am not in the mood to eat yet. So when I said that aloud in the dining room with me just about to peel a banana, I heard a knock from the school guard. We have a guest of three. Was not aware of their arrival. Long story. 

Good timing! We haven’t eaten our food yet. So since they come a long way from Davao and we don’t want them to go out anymore (we’re in Cotabato City), we offered our food and decided to just eat outside. As Jay Jay told me, he remembered the expression “timing is everything” which sounds cliché to me but of course I didn’t tell him that. So before we go outside, I asked Jay Jay for some time to just tell him my feedback regarding his stay in our Cotabato community. I said my affirmations, areas of growth (or concern), and common stories that are of importance to him and his formation as a novice. My takeaway from him is his prayerfulness. He reminds me that I can still learn from people younger than me if I just let myself to. I told him that novitiate is one of the best times in my life and I hope he’ll cherish it too. Then we went outside to Mang Inasal for dinner then went home safe and sound. Cotabato seems to be more quiet when it’s past 7 PM already. 

I was thinking today is the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi but I was wrong. Today is the “transistus”. Tomorrow is Saint Francis’ feast day. He is the most famous brother saint I know that even our current pope took his name. May his prayer of peace transform hearts towards non-violence especially here in our country where death toll of extrajudicial killings related to illegal drugs is alarmingly rising.
St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us.

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