Guest column: My encounter with the Holy Infant Jesus
MY HIC STORY
By EDDIE T. EVANGELIO
My first encounter with the Holy Infant Community (HIC), officially registered as Communitas Sancti Infantis with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), goes back to the time when I came back to Nabunturan in 1991 from my almost four (4) years of stay in Metro Manila where I assisted the couple Mr. and Mrs. Alexander L. Bon in their banana and hog marketing business. I came back home to Nabunturan because my family doesn’t want to come with me to Metro Manila to set up our own business there of whatever.
Here in Nabunturan with my modest savings of a little more than Twenty Thousand Pesos (PhP20,000.00), I was lured into venturing in small scale gold mining at Sitio Nuknukan in Bukal, Nabunturan, Davao del Norte (now Compostela Valley). My savings went down the drain with not even a milligram of gold to show. My farm at P-2 Pangutusan then was not yet productive and I was out of work.
My wife Fely mentioned of a Spiritual Instrument Myra _________ (now at Buringot) who happened to visit her at NNCHS (Nabunturan National Comprehensive High School) where my wife worked as Values and Guidance Coordinator. This Myra, then only fourteen (14) years of age, has gone into a long fasting of two hundred (200) days and she was then at NNCHS to invite Mrs. Teresita Juson to attend her graduation, the culmination of her 200 days of fasting. She mentioned that if you attend the weekly prayer meetings of the Holy Infant Community (HIC) at Mawab, Davao del Norte (now Compostela Valley) and you request the group to help you pray for your intentions, your intentions will be granted. So I asked my wife Fely to do so and pray that I’ll soon find a job. That’s how I landed being a General Manager of the Davao Federation of Agricultural Cooperatives (DAFEDACO). It was while holding that job that I finally became a regular auxiliary member of the Holy Infant Community (HIC) here in Nabunturan.
The first time I attended a HIC activity was when the HIC group of Nabunturan went to have a picnic at Omandac Beach Resort at Mabini, Davao del Norte (now Compostela Valley). My wife asked me to join in so I took a day off from my office and went with the group. I maintained a comfortable distance from the prayer meeting held there with Spiritual Instrument Temia Libuit then in a trance as the Holy Infant. That evening back at Nabunturan, I attended for the first time a prayer meeting scheduled at Ms. Norma Descallar’s residence. Feeling very awkward and in order to avoid getting any attention since I was already late and the prayer meeting had already began, I entered through the kitchen door and joined the prayer meeting at the farthest end at the back so I don’t appear very visible. Much to my discomfort then when the Spiritual Instrument Temia Libuit in a trance said to Norma Descallar,”Why did you allow my enemy to enter?” I felt very small upon hearing this because I just came in and I felt alluded to. When Norma asked, “Who did I let in, Lord?” I tried to hide the more so I will not be seen. If only I could escape unnoticed, I have already done so. When the Lord said, “Ang kahigwaos, ang kasuya, ug ang kalagot sa nangulo ning HIC nga wala magpakita ug pagpakabana sa grupo samtang nangadto mo sa pagpangaligo ug pagsalusalo didto sa beach karong adlawa, nganong gitugutan mo man kini dinha kanimo? Tungod niini, pagasilotan ko ikaw.” I felt a rush of relief within me upon hearing this. But because of this, Norma will be punished. It was here that Mrs. Teresita “Terry” Juson intervened, “Instead of punishing Norma, Lord, let me be the one punished.” So the Lord faced her and she suddenly fell to the floor and rolled over. Terry let out a piercing scream of pain while rolling over and her face became so red. We were all terrified and prayed loudly to the Lord to have mercy and to stop the punishment. The Lord heeded our cry for mercy and immediately stopped the punishment. I was very shaken by what I have just witnessed. What have I gotten myself into?
The next night my wife prodded me to again attend a prayer meeting, so I accompanied her to said prayer meeting. This time Fr. Reynaldo Moso was there and he justified and related this HIC movement as one of the answers in coping with the church’s growth. I heaved a sigh of relief that at least HIC is not a cult and here is a Catholic priest, well versed in Canon Law, who is at hand guiding us the faithful in this kind of apostolate. I was fortunate that the next time around that I attended a prayer meeting, Fr. Jose “Jong” Sison also attended and further enlightened us in the HIC apostolate. I was greatly reassured. I needed to be reassured then because HIC was and until now is not yet recognized by the Bishop of the Diocese of Tagum as an apostolate of the Catholic Church. At that time also I really felt ashamed of being known that I, supposedly enlightened and educated, would cater to this weird kind of apostolate still unrecognized by the Catholic Church.
Let us go back to my work at DAFEDACO. My job as DAFEDACO General Manager did not last long. After a year, I quitted the job because of a collection problem created by my staffs who without my knowledge were trying to make a sideline and earn extra income. I was again jobless, but not for long. My wife attended the house-to-house prayer meeting of the HIC here in Nabunturan and expressed her intention that I find a job once again. Soon enough I met the General Manager of MASS-SPECC Mr. Guillermo Cua and he asked me to head the branch office of the Mindanao Alliance of Self-Help Societies – Southern Philippines Educational Cooperative Center (MASS-SPECC) at Davao City. Once again I have a job: as a Branch Manager of MASS-SPECC, Davao City. It was also during my stint at MASS-SPECC that I got appointed as Board Member of DANECO (Davao del Norte Electric Cooperative) to serve the unexpired term of Dr. Luisito Mojica who opted to run again for Mayor of Nabunturan. I was doing well at MASS-SPECC while simultaneously serving as Board Member of DANECO until the term of Dr. Mojica expired. It was as Board Member of DANECO that I met a lot of hassle and a lot of problems thrown my way. The DANECO General Manager, Atty. Jose Amacio, has been mandated to retire and he has recommended Engr. Vicente Tiu to replace him while positioning himself as DANECO Consultant with a far bigger salary. I opted for Mr. Edgar Savellano to replace him as General Manager and also chose not to have any Consultant in order to save extra cost. Because of my stand, I got the ire of Atty. Jose Amacio, the General Manager, and considered me as a persona non grata. He rallied the rest of the members of the Board and I lost very badly on my stand. Engr. Vicente Tiu got the position of General Manager on the strength of eight (8) votes against three (3) by the members of the Board of Directors while Atty. Jose Amacio got the position of Consultant on the strength of ten (10) votes against my lone dissent. Fortunately after that, former Vice President Emmanuel Pelaez retired/resigned as Chairman of the National Electric Commission and Fr. ______ Silva, then a member of said Commission, was recommended to take over his place creating a vacancy in the membership of said Commission. Because of that and because Atty. Jose Amacio also expressed his interest, the Board, on the strength of my motion duly seconded and unanimously carried, highly recommended him to take the place of Fr. Silva as member of the Commission. But this motion did not prosper because Fr. Silva opted to stay as just a member of the Commission while the chairmanship of the Commission went to the Secretary of the Department of Energy. All these while and because of all these problems that I encountered as Board Member of DANECO, I involved myself more and more with the Holy Infant Community where I poured out all these problems. The Holy Infant Community became my solace and my sanctuary.
Other problems of DANECO came one after the other fast. We had DANECO registered with the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) as a stock cooperative. Until now this has not been fully resolved. The whole Board of DANECO then except Mr. Gilbert Rosit was charged in court by Atty. Jose Amacio for syndicated estafa. At that time the whole Board of Directors stood for DANECO as a stock cooperative duly registered with the Cooperative Development Authority. Atty. Jose Amacio also became the Consultant of the Davao Light and Power Company (DLPC) owned by Aboitiz who manifested very strongly of taking over the management of DANECO. Fortunately the syndicated estafa case did not prosper and soon after that Atty. Jose Amacio died thus closing the book to Aboitiz’s bid to take over DANECO’s management. Engr. Vicente Tiu also got into management trouble and not long after also died a broken man. Mr. Edgar Savellano, Nabunturan HIC President, took over as the General Manager of DANECO. His troubles with DANECO have just begun.
But before all of the above took place, however, I was no longer a Board Member of DANECO. My term has already expired and when I ran for election as DANECO Board Member, I lost by a mile. Then also while I was holding office at MASS-SPECC Davao City Branch, this American woman Lois Kitch came over for orientation re cooperative situation in Region XI. Ms. Lois Kitch happens to be the newly designated Director of the USAID-funded Credit Union Empowerment and Strengthening Program (CUES-Philippines), a new cooperative program for implementation in the whole of Region XI. I gave her not only a thorough briefing of the cooperative situation in Region XI but also insights into the strengths and weaknesses of the cooperatives within this part of the country. I must have impressed her because not long after that, she wanted me to apply as a Credit Management Analyst at CUES-Philippines. The salary and fringe benefits were very attractive so I sought counsel and permission from MASS-SPECC management who were just too happy to give their support to my moves. I was already employed at CUES-Philippines when the move to set up the Holy Infant Community in Davao City began. Because of the message of our Lord using Spiritual Instrument Mr. Rogelio Digamon telling me to relate and coordinate with Mrs. Jennifer “Bea” Lim for the setting up of HIC Davao City, I got involved. In spite of the hassles and problems besetting me at CUES-Philippines, I managed to attend the weekly prayer meetings conducted in different residences within Davao City. It came to a point where we were able to finally set up our HIC Prayer House at IWHA and I was elected as the first President of the Holy Infant Community at Davao City. On the other hand, the conditions of my work at CUES-Philippines took turn for the worse. It was not my work per se but the relationship among personnel of CUES-Philippines that had gotten worse. It was neither the physical type nor the verbal abuse, but rather the subtle competition and professional jealousy that had gotten off-hand. To the point that I could not take it anymore and I opted to resign from a high paying job on the pretext that I go into setting up my own business. I did really go into business after I resigned but they all went pfttt. My capital went down the drain, I was out of work, and I have to close my losing business. I resigned from my position as President of HIC Davao City and went back home to Nabunturan to seek for greener pasture and hope that things will turn out for the better. Presidency of HIC Davao City went to Mr. Boy Gentalian, Sales Manager of Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company based in Davao City.
Back here in Nabunturan, I applied for work as Community Affairs Officer (CAO) at the Provincial Government of Compostela Valley headed by Gov. Jose R. Caballero. On the strength of the recommendations of both Mr. Mesael Caballero and Mr. Harry Ebba, I was immediately taken in as Community Affairs Officer in the Community Affairs Development Section (CADS) headed by Fr. Fernando Juab who just took over the position vacated by Atty. Mario Sapilan. Atty. Sapilan, by the way, became the Prison Warden immediately after passing the BAR Examination.
I was like a turtle thrown into a river when I became a Community Affairs Officer. I was at home with my work and I was assigned in my own hometown of Nabunturan. While serving as Community Affairs Officer of the Provincial Government of Compostela Valley, I continued attending to the affairs of the HIC and supporting its activities. Even the controversial setting up of the Home for the Sick here at Nabunturan, I fully supported it to the point of being shunned by the other members of the Community.
During the election of 2001, I resigned as CAO and ran for Municipal Councilor of Nabunturan at the urging of Mr. Mesael Caballero who also ran for Mayor. Both of us lost very badly at said election. But I managed to have my son Kim be employed at the Provincial Government through Gov. Jose R. Caballero who got reelected. For one year after that I didn’t have a steady job so I spent my time tending to my farm at Pangutusan and also made known my occupation of our long abandoned timberland area at Upper Cabidianan, Nabunturan, Compostela Valley Province. There I have the timberland (already cogonal) area cleared and planted it with five hundred (500) coconuts. I also constructed a hut there for shelter. All these to no avail, however, because all the coconuts that I’ve planted were eaten away by rats and whatever remained were all burnt out by a big brushfire. Fortunately, the hut was spared from the brushfire through a quick response from our nearest neighbor Mr. Leonardo Emia and his wife.
After a year of being a farm boy, my brother Loyloy told me the Assumption College of Nabunturan (ACN) is eyeing me to be one of the College faculty members and that if interested, would I please see Sr. Clarita Villaflor, the ACN President? I did and for the next two years I served as ACN College faculty member. I still desired to continue with my teaching at the ACN after that but my new employment as Personnel Officer at Shinsung Engineering and Construction Co., Ltd., a Korean company, made it impossible for me to balance the two (2) jobs. So I have to resign from ACN and concentrate on my new job at Shinsung E & C Co., Ltd. Up to this time I’m still here with this company at its project site at Km. 92 Magsaysay, Nabunturan, Compostela Valley Province supposedly up to the end of this particular Shinsung project.
All these while, I just placed my fate in the hands of the Lord and actively involved myself in the HIC activities. From the time I lost in the 2001 election to my sorties in developing my two (2) farms, to my being a College instructor, and to my being a Personnel Officer at Shinsung E &C Co., Ltd., I consider these as the workings of God in me. Because of my involvement with the HIC which I consider my apostolate as a Roman Catholic faithful, I have developed a new outlook in life and a more vigorous attitude towards my faith. The HIC deepened my spirituality and strengthened further my relationship with God.