Cebu: My Place of Firsts
by Marvin Magat
Marvin is the Vocation Animator-Luzon of the Columban Missionaries.
With its long history, Cebu is undeniably the queen city of the South where the first seed of Christianity in the Philippines was planted. My first time in Cebu blessed me with new experiences when I became a delegate of the National Youth Day (NYD).
The theme of the celebration, “Welcome to Cebu, Welcome to our Hearts!”, succinctly described the whole affair. It was a joyous, festive and warm welcome to the delegates. Daghang salamat sa malipayong pag-welcome sa akoa!
The program had a daily schedule with different catechetical themes. Youth Matters, Via Lucis, and NYD Service Revolution were just a few of the activities. With the NYD 2019 days falling on the Easter octave, it was just fitting and proper for us pilgrims to pray and make known the devotion to the ‘Via Lucis’. What struck me most was the testimony of teacher Nicole, who finds grace in her disability. She survived a devastating motorcycle accident and now she is supported by an artificial leg. Her limb may have been broken but her spirit remains whole because of the outpouring love and support she has received from all the people who believe in her. Her story reminds me of a life verse I treasure, from Isaiah 41:10, “Fear not for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God, I will give you strength, I will bring you help, I will uphold you with the right hand of my justice.”
NYD SERVICE Revolution was another first-hand experience that impacted me much. More than a community service, friendships bloomed from the interaction and relational experience among strangers. We are all catalysts of change as we strive to promote faith-sharing communities and get involved in community projects.
Through this experience, I learned that having cultural sensitivity and awareness of individual differences can alleviate one’s biases and prejudices. At the site, the previous chapel president was present. She shared that most of the youth were often concerned about themselves only. Seeing us working with their community erased that negative impression.
This week-long celebration taught me to trust the Lord at all times because faith brings success when you say ‘Yes’ to Him. Everything will work out in the end. So, given the chance to talk to my young self, I’d like to tell him: “Do not be afraid to say ‘Yes’ to God in every moment. Sooner things will be clearer and all will be well. “
I found my second home in Cebu as a pilgrim of National Youth Day. Thank you very much to Ibones family, especially to our foster parents Nanay Saling and Tatay Boy, for opening their home throughout our stay in Cebu. We experienced their care and love as if we were their own blood. Their generosity and warmest welcome allowed us to experience the event to the fullest. I’m also thankful to my new found friends, for the meaningful and sincere bonds we formed. Thank you, Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro for accommodating me as part of your delegation. Thank you, Columban Missionaries in letting me experience this youthful gathering. God knows how happy I am for this journey. Until we meet again. I will miss you all. I love you all. God bless us all.
Marvin (in blue shirt) with the Ibones family
Marvin (second from right, with hat) with his fellow NYD delegates.