Friday, April 25, 2014

Me and John XXIII

Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli or John XXIII was the Pope when I was born and on October 27, celebration of the Divine Mercy Sunday, together with John Paul II, he will be canonized saint by Francis I. By the way, John XXIII, John Paul II and Francis I, all three of them became Time’s Magazines Persons of the Year. John XXIII was featured in January 4, 1963, just 9 days away before my first birthday, but before that, on January 3 1962, barely 20 days before I was born, Blessed John XXIII ex-communicated Cuba’s Fidel Castro. John XXIII died June 3, 1963 due to stomach cancer one year and five months after I gave my first baby cry inside a house near the Pandurucan River. Pope John XXIII is best known for convening the second ecumenical council at the Vatican, known as Vatican II.

Once in my life I also dreamed of becoming priest. I passed the entrance examination and been qualified in a certain seminary so my father and I went to Manila to enroll me only to find out that we have no enough money to cover the expenses such as school fees and board and lodging. I went back to San Jose aboard the Occidental Liner full of childish frustration. But later I realized that the priestly vocation is not really for me. I became a vagabond and a truant, lazy college student until I finally quit schooling. A became a bum and a street gang member. After 5 years or so, I moved to another school and decided to be more serious with my studies. Right after I finished my tertiary education at Occidental Mindoro National College (OMNC) in 1989, I joined a human rights NGO based in Laguna established by activist nuns and priests and was initially tasked to initiate things related to world peace and nuclear disarmament particularly the campaign against the US Military Bases in the Philippines.

Well, Blessed John XXIII, according to reports, made an unusual foray into contemporary politics during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. With the United States and the Soviet Union was on the brink of nuclear war, John had an impassioned plea over the Vatican Radio: "We beg all rulers not to be deaf to the cry of humanity." The Pope is a peace advocate par excellence.

John XXIII and John Paull II will be canonized on Sunday. The two soon-to-be saints have certain things in common. They both traveled freely across the oceans breaking a century-old tradition at the Vatican. They were both active in world affairs and as I have told you a while ago, they both became beacons and voices of restraint and reconciliation during the cold war and they both build bridges to other religions, among other things.

It is said that Roncalli was always present and accessible to his people and he's a very cheerful man. When a reporter asked how many people worked at the Vatican, he replied, “Oh, no more than half of them.” But when I was a kid, I once mistaken him, from a magazine picture, for my favorite actor Telly Savalas AKA Kojak! Seriously, he chose the name John, by the way, after John the Baptist and because it was his father’s name.

As I age, the fire of aggressiveness, radicalism and militancy inside me have dwindled a little bit but I assure you that the fire within will not lost its flame unlike my childhood dream of becoming a priest. I look at things from both sides now, to paraphrase the lyric of that hit song of the 60's. I am trying to be level-headed in everything and be more objective in my views and opinions. Starting Sunday, John XXIII would be my personal patron saint as a blogger for he has virtues and qualities that I admire and wish to develop for the rest/best of my life.

And these words from him would be my guiding principle as a social communicator: "See everything; overlook a great deal; correct a little.”….



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