Vacation to vocation: An effect of a month-long break

Being a teacher has its perks. One of them is the long vacation in between the school year. Since I’m still on a vacation mood, I will continue musing here and this time it will be about schooling, education, career, vocation, heartbreaks, intimate celibacy, and dreams.

A career or calling?
To be honest, I never dreamed of becoming a high school teacher when I was still a child or even a teen. The closest would be my dream of becoming a professor in college. Now one of my college pals just finished his master’s in Clinical Psychology. I could not remember if I mentioned that being a Marist Brother was one of my dreams as a teenager but anyway I’m telling it now. And since I am already a Marist Brother, I still dream of becoming a professor. But if I would do that, would it make my religious vocation not as a vocation (i.e. “a calling”) but as a career? Well, I would not really pursue it and just make it happen when I am told to teach in college. That’s out of the equation at the moment since I don’t have yet a master’s degree. I had some post-graduate units taken last year but that’s all I have. So that’s just one of my many desires and I am just being honest by writing it out.

Schooling and education
Seven years ago, I don’t even have the financial means to enroll in a post-graduate school before I entered the Marist Brothers. That time, I thought of going back to school again right after graduating in college. I still wanted to study. I was still unprepared in the transition of working right after college graduation. Just like my long break now, right after my college graduation, I was so restless in having a break in studies, thinking on my bed, and playing computer games. I had lots of exercise though. I was tired in studies but I want to keep on going. Mark Twain said he would not let schooling interfere with his education. I too had to keep that in mind. I was too selective in accepting job offers. I had my options: study again and/or work. Out of the blue, I entertained the thought of joining the Marist Brothers. They invited me when I was in second year college; I am Marist-educated; I am single; I know the life of St. Marcellin Champagnat; I lived with the Brothers in Mindanao for a week when I was still in high school; and I dreamed of becoming one. So, why not become a Marist Brother?

And these thoughts occurred to me so I contacted the Marist Brothers and told them that I am interested to become one of them. And they gave me one year to decide if I am serious with my decision or not. That’s why I worked as a property consultant and as a technical support representative even though I was underemployed as long as I can save money for my future trip to Mindanao.

Heartbroken?
I don’t even know if my close friends know about this. Maybe they just thought I was heart-broken. And if their reason is true, I should have been out a long time already. Or maybe that’s part of my unconscious motivation of joining religious life.

I remember in a dream six year ago in the Aspirancy House that I was being chased by some hooligans and I was shot dead. I woke up in the middle of that night and even posted in my Facebook status that I was thankful to be alive. The only explanation I can come up with that dream was that I was eluding something that I can’t accept or I don’t like and that my death was a reminder of my spiritual death since I was not a practicing Catholic when I was in college. So maybe the heart-broken part is true based on that dream but I would deny that consciously of course. Or am I running away from something other than that?

Intimate celibacy
The problem now is that I learned in religious life how to love many without being exclusively in a relationship with a woman; that I can be intimate while being celibate. (I will tackle this in the future.)

A recurring dream
But my death in my dream? I cannot really make sense of it. That dream recurred a few days ago. Again, I was riding a vehicle and I was being chased by some hooligans. But on this second time, I am alive. What does that mean?

And that’s it for an episode of my free-writing. Thanks for reading.

Please pray for me and my companions for our tomorrow’s trip to General Santos City. I would be there for a two-week training.

And that means a hiatus.

Again, let us pray for one another.

Youth having fun at the 8th Vocation Jamboree of the Archdiocese of Cotabato

During the 8th Vocation Jamboree last night.


Because it’s Sunday and I’m free, I’m going to write. Last night was the 8th Vocation Jamboree of our Archdiocese of Cotabato. It means we gathered youth throughout the Diocese by having fun through dancing and singing, and telling stories of seminarians and religious about their formation how to become priests, and religious sisters and brothers. To paraphrase a priest whom I heard three years ago, we need to promote vocations to priesthood and religious life since married life is promoted anyway through media and even the example of our parents. It might be a bit of dragging because it’s a nightlong activity and presentations doesn’t have time limit. But it’s alright because I saw young people enjoying, listening to stories and expressing feelings through music and dance. 
I heard stories of the Diocesan seminarians, the RNDM, and our Marist story. During the presentation of the life of our founder, Marcellin Champagnat, I seated beside a working student whom I think have a vocation to religious life. He said that it was his first time to hear the life of Father Champagnat. After the Marist presentation, I excused myself and my companion because it’s already one o’clock in the morning and just at the middle of the night program. 

I recall that when I was a novice, I have no time to sleep that we were up until the sun rises and we even attended Sunday Mass twice. It is still embarrassing to recall that I was sleeping during the Mass in the cathedral so technically I was able to get some sleep during the Jamboree three years ago. But this year, they had sleeping quarters and didn’t stay up the whole morning just like we did before. The Vocation Jamboree keeps getting better every year.

The prepubescent dream (mis)adventure of Brother Allen

When I was twelve, as a fan of cartoons especially anime, I said to myself that I want an “adventure” when I turn fifteen. And when I turned fifteen, I didn’t have the same passion that I had when I was twelve. My grades were flunking though I was an honor student. I was not even looking forward to my life in the future like I used to as a little boy. In a career counseling session, I cannot even write my preferred profession or degree in college. I was looking for a “unique” choice but I don’t know what was it. The fifteen year old me was not as bright as he can be. He has a small network of friends outside of his chess varsity team. Aside from woman celebrities in television and films, his only crushes are composed of young school teachers. The girls are on separate schools since he studies in an exclusive school for boys. And that was my puberty in a nutshell.

And before I turn sixteen, the “adventure” happened in a way I didn’t expected. It was January 2005 when I was asked to represent my school for the upcoming Marist Youth Festival (MWF). This travel will turn out to be a series of “first times” such as riding an airplane and being away from my family for more than a week. With another student and Brother Pepito as companions, before we went to Koronadal City for the MYF, we visited an undeveloped place in the fringes of Davao and Bukidnon called Buda. It became part of Davao, Marilog District as a result of a plebiscite where the people decided it’s best for them to be under the government of Davao City.

There, I learned that the chill of Baguio or Tagaytay of Luzon was present too in Mindanao; people spoke Cebuano; agriculture was the main source of income particularly rice farming; power generator was a luxury since there’s no electricity; signal coverage of televisions and cellphones were nonexistent; waterfall was the source of water (which they label as “spring”); and that the Marist Brothers were working with the parish priest and were living together with the common folk.

Eleven years later, I am now back to Buda. As I transitioned from puberty to adulthood, this place seems almost unchanged in a nice way. It’s still cool, farming is still booming, I can now understand their language somehow, there’s now electricity and phone signal, people still get water from the “spring”, and I am now a Marist Brother working with the parish priest and living with common folks where karaoke seems to be the main source of entertainment.

Sometimes, I wonder what will happen if termites suddenly decides to infest our wooden house. And when I told Brother Ed, he said he never thought of that in his more than twenty years of stay here in Buda.

And now as a man in his late twenties who still watches anime, I wonder what will happen to me twenty years from now. Am I still going to be a Marist Brother when I turn forty and onwards? I am still discerning.

Please do pray for me and my vocation.

An April fool’s joke: my vocation story, the 19th century prankster, and the statue in Vatican

I bought a plane ticket to General Santos on April 1, 2011. A week earlier, I resigned from my job in the call centre. The company HR was puzzled when they’ve read in my resignation letter my reason. They were wondering what is religious/consecrated life. In truth, I too was grasping what kind of life I was going to enter. The only way for me to find out is to “come and see”. When an Australian manager said not to stop me since it is “God’s will”, that made explaining easier. Since it is a vocation, a calling, they approved my resignation and let me go.

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I don’t know why math really loves Allen

Last March, I saw Sir Eric, my former math teacher, and told him I’m taking the LET. He hinted the possibility of me teaching mathematics in my former school. I just shrugged, thinking it’s very likely. Yes, I love math when I was in high school but it’s just wayward from my career path knowing my college degree and vocation taken (religious life). It doesn’t mean I don’t like it. I just, maybe unconsciously, had avoided math related courses. I scrapped Engineering and Computer Science and went to Psychology maybe for the love of math. You know, absence makes the heart grow fonder so I yonder. Yucky, right? Now that I’m in Education, which I don’t really like but I don’t hate it also, it seems that I’m in a profession where I never imagined to be until I entered Marist Brothers.

Fast forward. After four months, here I am now in the same faculty with my math teacher teaching geometry. While talking to Sir Eric and Sir Honesto, my former trigonometry teacher, I said “Well, I taught in one of our classes about statistics in college.”

“Now look… you really did go to teaching math as expected”, as he puts it. From my engineering graduate father and older brother, a sister and brother who teaches math, and a mother who is an accountant, I think you know where I’m going now.

No matter what I do, I really belong to math.