I was one of the 9 pre-college seminarians all studying philosophy. All together more than 75 prayed, studied, ate, slept and prayed together. I soon discovered however, that sleeping and eating were the number one sports. Also, they were always laughing and making fun of holy things. When asked about this, they only laughed and made fun of me. How the Rector could allow them to get away with the jumping the wall at night to go visit their girlfriends and drink beer, I couldn’t imagine. Though many of the seminarians were well meaning and sincere, some were not.
Free education, compliments from generous benefactors – whom they would reverently visit on monthly going homes – was a great attraction for me. These same ones were the most irreverent in the chapel. As far as I could see, the Church was in trouble.
It wasn’t long before I was in trouble too. The Rector called me into his office, and occurrence which normally happened for colloquium twice a year. He sat me down, and with a sly smile said, “Your grades are very good. You are very good too, it seems….” scratching his bare head, “But you don’t get along very well with your fellow seminarians”.
This was true. We were like oil and water. Then, coming back to my senses, thinking how less influential I was, I decided to take regency.
At school’s end, ‘Tay and Nanay dropped me off at my Lola Epang’s house. During that time, heavy rain spoiled my summer dream and I had to dream up some other summer amusement. Besides, things are not good at home now. My mother can’t seem to stand the sight of me, and says I should go get a job instead. I was likely a lonely bird on a roof.
The first day of summer, Lola Epang and I talked about everything under the sun. Finally she asked me, “Are you going back to the seminary?” “I’m already taken”, I laughed. “No I don’t want to come back, I’m afraid to become a parish priest”.
The summer was a hot one, ripe for big decisions that would affect for the rest of my life. Over the next two years life went on.
My cousin, being out of job, borrowed a small boat from Tito Imok and became a fisherman, playing the placid waters of Pinahon for danggit and tuloy. We went out on water each day. At dawn, after stowing the nets we’d sail out to the middle of the big blue sea to watch the sunrise over the land. Seeing “home” from a distance pierced me with a sudden pang of wanting to go beyond it. Chatting for hours in the boat, the two of us were floating beyond the world.
Fishing day after day, I felt Jesus was calling me to walk on water and become a fisher of men once more, this time, I’m bringing a salbabida. I told him my thoughts. He looked longingly across the sea to where the hills reflected the sun, “Are you sure this time?” I think I’ll never be happy in this life…I need to go back to be alive again.
That day we said good-bye, promising to write what we could not say.