“Prepare to encounter the Lord in this celebration tour.” Reuel Robrigado, National Director of CFC Canada, enjoined 23 CFC leaders from various Canadian provinces as they prepared to leave for the Philippines for the CFC Canada ANCOP Celebration Tour 2020.
First stop in the tour was the Bantay Bata 163 Children’s Village in Norzagaray, Bulacan, where the delegates learned about the advocacy of the institution, and how ANCOP Canada is able to assist this advocacy through the sponsorship of 35 children, mostly in the elementary and high school levels, through ANCOP’s Education Program,
The tour participants met some of the children they are sending to school and toured the facilities. To express their gratitude, the children performed two musical numbers for their Titos and Titas from Canada, who gamely joined them in the singing.
After the brief visit with Bantay Bata 163 children, the group proceeded to Lubao in Pampanga for fellowship lunch with the CFC leaders there. CFC Pampanga Provincial Area Head Hermie Vargas and his wife Remy, together with leaders of the province, welcomed the Canadian delegation with a sumptuous spread of authentic Kapampangan delicacies. After lunch, everyone proceeded to Bgy. Santiago in Lubao. A week earlier, students from the Toronto Catholic District School Board had visited this same site and helped to build ANCOP homes.
The group met the prospective homeowners of the 30 houses at the San Rafael Parish Santiago Chapel before Holy Mass celebrated by Fr. Jun Batac. In his homily, Fr. Batac exhorted the faithful about the importance of prayer and good works as necessary ingredients for holiness.
The prospective homeowners, mostly young couples, engaged the visitors in a lively discussion. The visitors informed that the homeowners had all finished the Christian Life Program of CFC, reminded them not only to be grateful for the blessing of a new home but most especially, to be faithful to their covenant to God and obey His will always.
Next stop for the delegates was Botolan in Zambales for a good night’s rest. The following morning, the group was ferried to Bgy. Capayawan for the Mass and groundbreaking rites for the CFC ANCOP Canada Francis Yap – One Botolan Community. The community is in memory of former CFC Canada National Director Francis Yap, who passed on in 2018. CFC Canada brethren honored the late National Director, a native of Zambales.
Fr. Arlie Vento celebrated the Mass which was followed by welcome remarks from Mayor Bing Maniquiz of the Municipality of Botolan, Zambales. The mayor expressed elation at the impending move of prospective homeowners to the site since their new site is a far cry from their present barangay in Bangan, a fishing village where huge waves continuously erode the beach, destroying their homes and disrupting their lives.
In his message, ANCOP Canada President Ricky Cuenca congratulated the residents of Bgy. Bangan for having completed the CLP. He reminded the homeowners to be diligent stewards of the new houses they would be receiving in a few month’s time, reiterating how they must be a blessing to others as well.
During the groundbreaking ceremonies, a time capsule bearing the blueprint of the site development was lowered and buried to the ground, celebrating the rise of a future community in the barangay.
Mayor Maniquiz envisions the community to become a model community in Botolan, where genuine love and care among neighbors would be manifest. CFC ANCOP hopes that through the regular household prayer meetings, and pastoring and care by the CFC community in Botolan, the new site will indeed become a model community.
The tour participants then visited the Shrine of Ina Poong Bato up in the mountains of Botolan, as well as the San Agustin Cathedral in Iba. They group also made a quick visit to the Benedictine nuns of the Dambana Eucharistic Hermitage. In the evening, Mayor Maniquiz hosted a fellowship dinner for the delegation before they went up to Baguio for the CFC MC Weekend Retreat.
So, did the delegates encounter Jesus in the Celebration Tour? Definitely! The CFC Canada leaders met Jesus not only in the children, and the CFC leaders of Pampanga and Zambales, but also in the smiles of gratitude of the candidate homeowners in both Lubao and Botolan.
To quote a line from the novel Les Miserables, truly, “To love another person is to see the face of God.” And in the love and care that CFC brethren from Canada have shown by being staunch supporters of the work of ANCOP, they are bound to see the face of God in the families in these two communities. (Alma M. Alvarez)