By Alan J. I. Larot , Area Programs and Services
It was during the installation of our new leaders last December when the two Cebu RCDs Brothers Ani Serrato and Sim Lanaria in a brief huddle with AMD Boy Villanueva accepted the challenge of nurturing a BCBP breakfast in Jakarta, albeit with a slight hesitation. For one it was in a foreign country picking up where our Tatang Louie Morales initially set up last quarter last year along with another brother Jimmy Alanis of Alabang, a Filipino expat who helped develop Indonesia’s TV industry.
As in Luke 5 where the first disciples dropped their nets and families to go where the Master went, the first Cebu led breakfast was launched with Bro Rod Ngo, designated Jakarta Mission Coordinator and Bro Ani Serrato in attendance with Indonesians as first timers.
It helped that Bro Jimmy Alanis had deep rooted relations with the local community and he spoke Bahasa. The breakfast attracted a motley group of successful businessmen and professionals who were as passionate in their service to their parishes.
Despite the enormous task in maintaining the Jakarta breakfast not to mention the financial challenge that goes with it, we have rolled out 5 breakfasts to date. On April this year Brothers Rod and Ani went followed by Boy Villanueva and Sim Lanaria the following month. Then Rod brought along his lovely wife Marivic and makes history as first Cebuano couple sharer in Jakarta. The task is as hard as it is, when you go you say a short prayer hoping there will be a good harvest.
Over a month ago a plan was hatched by the Mission Coordinator and our Leaders probably out of doubt, fear or in faith that God blesses plans carried out in his name, to explore the possibility of inviting our Indonesian friends to Cebu. Admittedly it would take long time for them to experience a real breakfast or the warmth that Community brings, molded by our 35 years of our love for the Lord and our Brethren – they have to find out for themselves and very soon.
Bro Rod pulled out all the stops and extended the invitation to our foreign brothers and sisters to which they accepted. Bring your shorts and sunglasses, I read in the flurry of emails. Well I thought if they don’t like what they see in our Community, they should love Cebu and its beaches or a make it a short tourist retreat with a little golf on the side, but after this weekend they were loving all of it. Our Chapters set things into motion, we decided we will roll out our hospitality we in Cebu are known for.
And so on August 27 they came, paying for their way to a strange land they knew so little of , together with Bro Rod Ngo we met the first batch at Mactan International Airport on a rainy afternoon. Gunadi Sugiharso, Lanny Rahadja, Lanny Mayustina Hendarsin landed in Cebu for the first time. Ricky Subrata who was supposed to join their party had to cancel last minute as his wife fell ill.
How do I treat our guests on their first hour, who came in to explore Cebu and BCBP? Luckily golf breaks through everything , I decided a little tranquility in the fairways of Alta Vista Golf Club should shake off jet lag of Mr. Gunadi Sugiharso. He had some good shots with borrowed clubs for that late afternoon nine holes, then coffee at the club house joining our National President Joey Avellana, Tatang Louie Morales, Bros Serge dela Fuente. I felt Brother Gunadi , loosening up, I had called him brother already in fondness and awe when I saw his ball split the fairway of the course with no trace of a 12 hour flight to be with us. He thought that was dinner when he saw the pot of sea shells at the Clubhouse brought in by Bro Rodien Paca, and I informed him it was only appetizers, dinner was going to be in the city with the Community in welcome.
By 7 PM that day all our Indonesian friends and the party of Jeffrey Pasuarissa, with wife Oei Siu Jen their two sons Bernardi Jason and Christopher Benson with Bro Jimmy Alanis had been met and settled at the BIG Hotel. The first of our planned activities was underway with Cebu RCDs, Chapter Heads, Mission Directors and Coordinators, leaders all in attendance for a welcome dinner in their honor.
Brother Ani opened the program hosted by Cebu Central and East Chapters with a welcome message for our guests. Brother Jourdan Polotan led a short worship before partaking of a buffet spread specially prepared for the occasion. This was to be the beginning of interaction with our new found friends, who must have noticed the tone of our spirit led worship and the the vibrancy of the celebration. Brother Joey A. gave a short message of welcome extolling how Cebu is always a place of best practices and inviting our Indonesian breakfasters over an example of thinking out of, and replacing the box. That night, camera phones went into overdrive, beer and fine scotch adding spice to the fellowship and it was only day 1 of their short visit.
The next day all our Indonesian friends woke up before dawn and were off to Oslob, three hours south of Cebu as arranged by Bro Rod and Sis Marivic Ngo to swim with the whales, locally known as butanding. For one who was so amazed with these gentle giant of a fish when I had a chance last summer I am sure they had a great time. Then they were on their way back to visit Simala and managed to attend mass at that Shrine of Mama Mary. Late lunch was prepared at the CP Kelco Plant, arranged by Bro Ani sponsored by the Talisay Chapter for the famished visitors as it was 2 PM already when they reached Sibonga, then to back to the City. They must have been tired after the whole day road trip but at 7:30 PM Bro Jeffrey and his family was picked up by Bro Ani and Sis Tess for dinner with their family. I picked up Bro Gunadi the two Lannys and Bro Jimmy for a Cebuano fare of Barbecue Chicken, Lumpia, Chorizo and Lapu Lapu Tinola hosted by Bro Jourdan and Sis Jingle Polotan at their popular Barbecue Joe.
We all woke up to a beautiful Saturday it was the day that we would split the group into two with a group attending breakfast with the Mandaue Chapters at BIG Hotel, and the other at my home chapter, Cebu North at the Golden Prince Hotel. All host chapters put in their best for this activity for this was what we wanted them to experience for themselves. The songs were well chosen with Bro Gunadi requesting for a CD copy, noting the beautiful lyrics. More than the breakfast spread and the ambiance the venue exuded the North Chapter breakfast had 15 first timers, the real essence of why we hold it every weekend in the first place and the audience foremost of our couple sharer that Saturday, Bro Lemuel and Happy Arrogante. I saw them visibly impressed with our breakfast.
After, half the group were treated to a city tour organized by RCD Sim and Bro Guy Ceniza and their wives to explore the city, while the menfolk prepared their sets for a golfing fellowship up north, it was to be their second full day to enjoy Cebu.
Perhaps the most reflective of their thoughts were exchanged in the van during our trip to Club Filipino where Brothers Jeffrey, Gunadi, Jimmy, Tommy, Rodien, and me were invited to play by Tatang Ed Lising at their beautiful, challenging course in Danao. They asked me how many members where in a Chapter? They shared with me how they served in their Parishes and I intimated a lot of our brother members were Lay Ministers in Cebu Parishes. I related how we were just one chapter once and grew to be where we are now. We had a good laugh when I told them I got hooked to the Brotherhood a long time ago because I found men who were so passionate with serving the Lord as with honing their swings. I got invited to go to Jakarta and was told if I do honor their invitation to make it on a first Wednesday of the month as that is the day when almost 40 men from their Parish gather in fellowship, rotating golf courses in Jakarta – I replied one day soon, and in jest said only if they honor our breakfast invitation in return. I pressed on that in the next two months we will have 200 more members in our fold with the Cebu Chapters rolling out Christian Life Programs simultaneously. I felt our Community way of life sinking in their thoughts in silent appreciation.
On their last night the group from golf course went straight to Lantaw Busay joining Brother Jeffrey and family, the two Lannys , Chapter head Mario and Sis Emma Siao, RCD Ani and Sis Tess Serrato, Sis Eden Ceniza and my wife Tootsie for a send off dinner. Our friends from Indonesia surely appreciated the view of the place over a very sumptuous dinner and drinks graciously hosted by Bro John and Jasmin Pages. The night churned out more memories when it turned out to be the birthday of Oei Siu Jen, wife of brother Jeffrey, with the resto staff singing a birthday wish and the celebrant blowing a candle on a special bibingka cake , needing for us to reorder the exotic dessert for our guests. It was a moonlit night, the view of the city so spectacular, so fitting to cap our visitors’, our new found friends’, our Brothers and Sisters in Christ – their Cebu sojourn.
Looking back to last weekend, I can only ask you my friends in this Community we love to pray for our Jakarta Mission. Our work for the Lord maybe long and arduous but there is that place to nurture, where we aim to spread our wings – Jakarta beckons.