OWITF: First two weeks in Cebu, Philippines – walking among the people; by Moy Hitchen
Greetings to you all from a hot and humid Cebu, which is a long thin island in the Philippines, lying conveniently between the island of Negros and the island of Leyte, where Brothers are already living and working (in Kabankalan and Ma’asin, respectively).
This whole belt of islands is called the Visayas, and lies between Luzon (and Manila City) to the north, and Mindanao to the south. There are another 7,000 islands in the Philippines, shared by 105 million people, so we had plenty to choose from!
Who are we? Dennis Fernandez, 31, a Philippino from Leyte who’s just completed his novitiate in Ghana, Theo Alvares, 51, an Indian from Mangalore, who’s spent six years on Leyte, Ian Robertson, 65, an Australian from Brisbane, most recently from Mt Archer in Queensland, and Moy Hitchen, 66, an Australian from Sydney, who’s just finished 9 years in Europe.
We are just starting our third week in Lahug, a suburb (or barangay) of Cebu City, and are comfortably housed in the Presentation Sisters novitiate, in the foothills to the north of Cebu City. We were given our first week of training by Damien Price, to be followed by Luke Quinn next week, and we are building our own community here, in a steep valley full of houses, but with pockets of lush tropical growth too.
The Presentation Sisters are helping us with practical details of running the house (how to pump the water, how to recycle the garbage, how to fix the internet, etc). The Holy Spirit Sisters, across town, are supporting us with spiritual accompaniment, and the Divine Word community of priests, brothers and lay colleagues are helping us find ministry placements. We have already visited several of these and start making our decisions this week.
We plunged into two weeks of fairly constant rain, from a passing cyclone, and fairly noisy fiesta, celebrating the Holy Child (Senor Santo Nino) who’s the patron of the island and Cebu City. Things may be dryer and quieter this week – we’ll see. Our blessings on all the new ventures starting around us. It’s great to be in touch.
Moy Hitchen, Jan 22, 2017