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Saturday, May 8, 2010

A letter from Bert Saplala

My dear Koyang Peping,

Your lifespan was a series of leaving and saying goodbyes to beautiful realities in life.

First, after eight months, being an adventurer, you prematurely said goodbye and left the womb of Felisa Saplala to heed the call of a wider world.

Second, with apologies to my brothers who might not agree with the public opinion—although I tend to believe my sisters will agree—you are the handsomest son of Pio and Felisa. Your second goodbye is to let go of that so-called earthly gift of your countenance by embracing celibacy.

Third, after barely graduating from grade six, you left Santa Rita. You left the cheaper-by-the-dozen (or –eleven) Saplalas to join greater dozens of brethren in the minor seminary that led you to thousands of dozens of brothers scattered in the world of the CICM.

Fourth, after spending at least fifty years as a CICM seminarian and missionary priest, you decided to say farewell to the CICM to face many uncertainties, to be like a newly born baby dependent on the love and care of others.

This is acutely real to you since you were of retiring age and the oldest among the new Missionaries of Jesus. You did so because you wanted to continue what you began when you were twelve years of age. At that time, you made a fundamental decision to follow what you believe in and what you hold dear to your heart and soul. Somehow, you validated that option by your mature decision to embrace the interplay of the cross and resurrection at your ripe age of sixty-four within the new life in the family of the Missionaries of Jesus. It really takes a lifespan to grow one’s soul, right, Koyang Peping?

Fifth, you could have prided yourself as the most senior Filipino CICM alive but you gave up that endearing and honorific title that could have brought you the overall benefits of a retiring CICM. But again, you said farewell to all the securities of a great family you lived with for more than fifty years. Why, Koyang Peping?

And here I quote the writer Thoreau who says the following: “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away.”

Now, Koyang Peping, where you are now, or in the state where your being is, you clearly see that often, when a human being follows a different drummer, he loses much. But in the long run he gains much more than what he said goodbye to, and that means that he does not only attain a more authentic life, but he also becomes a voice of authenticity and liberation.

Dear Koyang Peping, if only you could speak at the pulpit now as you did for so many years, you could tell the folks before you here, that you gained the magic and wonder of authentic life which, in final analysis and in religious terms, means that you are now being absorbed more intimately by the most beautiful melody that the musician of the universe we call God, is playing in the very depths of our souls, in our co-creatures, and in the entire universe. This is because you followed the Drummer that extracted you from Pampanga and lifted you up to be with Santa Rita, with our parents, Koya, relatives and friends, and all the saints and the angels. That is what all this leaving is all about. Unfortunately, we call it death rather than a new exhilarating life.

Koyang Peping, congratulations and be with us always with love.

Your brother, Lupisak Bangera (the house lizard in the cupboard), who loves to contest with you … with cariƱo brutal,


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