My political conversion took place some years earlier while doing pastoral ministry to political detainees in Camp Delgado. Raised up in seemingly apolitical environment, my primary motivation was to witness for Christ. I remembered even entertaining a wild dream at that time to serve as chaplain of the NPA, if that was the will of God.
Ironically, I found myself converted to their commitment, dedication, courage and strong resolve in the service of people. I felt humbled to think that these people who were not so much concerned about their faith in God or the lack of it have this kind of love to the least of Christ’s brothers and sisters. Unlike us we who confessed and professed to be followers of Christ but failed to put such faith into practice.
Thereafter, I became interested in studying Philippine realities, attending symposium, forum on human rights, joining prayer rallies, organizing seminarians and pastors. At times, I enrolled part-time in the seminary to have more time doing volunteer work in church-related organizations. In 1984, with only one semester left before graduation, I decided to work full time doing solidarity work during the intensification of the people’s struggle. But there was a shift in my direction after the famous EDSA Revolution.
Having settled down and established my own family in 1992, I made it a point to be cautious in my involvement, so as not to repeat the traumatic isolation. This made me distance myself from any engagement that would spark the flame of activism in me . While I could not resist the deep seated commitment to serve the people, I redirected it in line with my profession as registered social worker. This is where my volunteerism was honed in working with welfare and development organizations, apart from my teaching work in the University. Eventually the paradigm shift has brought me back to my first love.
However, returning to my first love was not easy. My intention was not taken, without question and reservation. I failed to get the confidence of majority in my first attempt, no matter how clear my platform was. Some were honest enough to express their suspicion on my political leanings. My independent and principled stance also did not get the backing of veteran power brokers in the Convention whose candidate was miserably junked by majority of the pastors in a three-cornered fight in 2001. The experience did not dampen my spirit. My second attempt was wholeheartedly welcomed by the pastors. In an unprecedented event, I ran unopposed and served the association for two consecutive terms.
Given the overwhelming mandate, I made true my commitment to integrate my learnings from previous experiences in development work in leading the association. Soon, I realized even those unlikely experiences in past life were similarly useful. Like risk taking, from gambling, and the skills in arranging/organizing cards, mahjong tiles to win despite their weak/losing state. Likewise, calculating combination and predicting occurrence in the numbers games like jueteng. These were further honed and given social component in my involvement with the people’s struggle and in practice of social work profession. Of course, the spirituality that has been developed during the illness and crises in life served as overarching foundation.
Thereafter, I experience the gains and pains in serving the pastors