By Ronamil Valdez
“Why was I born human?”
This was the complex question of my third-grader mind which jumpstarted my seemingly endless wandering and wondering of my purpose of being human and eventually paved my way to finding the truth.
Born in a Catholic family with a ‘monsignor’ uncle of my father and my father who himself had spent a year inside the Christ the King seminary in E. Rodriguez, Quezon City; my family and I never missed a single Sunday mass.
This went on for as long as I can remember until my father decided to stop going to mass because he was annoyed with the priests infusing politics in their sermons.
When we stopped going to Sunday mass, as early as six years old, I innocently wandered off to a Sunday school in Magallanes with a relative. I remember very well that I cannot understand anything primarily because I was not brought up reading the Bible and because I was contentedly nibbling away on a cookie while the preacher prattled away. On the succeeding Sundays, I never returned to that Sunday school.
At age twelve, my feet were dragged off by an older cousin to her religious group near Morayta in Manila. My cousin’s group would start their prayer meetings by closing their eyes. Then they make a slow-paced ‘tsk, tsk’ sound while alternately uttering “Yes, Lord.” It was meant to make me cry and feel sorry for the mistakes I have done but instead, I felt very much ridiculed. I stayed away from that place and politely declined whenever my cousin invited me to their church.
In high school, being enrolled in a Catholic school I had no choice but to observe Catholic rituals. I went to mass, prayed rosary in October and made a sign of the cross whenever I pass by a church. But at one point, I began questioning the credibility of priests and their capability to forgive sins.
At one instance during a recollection at school, I went to confession and told the priest that I am quite doubtful of their capability to forgive sins. The priest said I should not think of such things then asked me to pray the Act of Contrition, which I don’t know by heart, the Hail Mary and the Our Father. After reciting these prayers, I was thinking if reciting them really erased my sins or at least lessened them.
The next instance that I needed to go to confession was during a recollection trip of our graduating class. I did not go into confession with the people in my class. Instead, I sat down on a quiet spot with my mind asking if there was no other religion that I can go to. This question, I believe, had been answered when I was in my second year in college.
I have spent my college years in the same Catholic school. Ironically, it was in this school where I met a friend who invited me to attend a prayer meeting at the Locale of Muñoz and went with me every night when I decided to attend the indoctrination sessions at the Quiapo Locale. I watched Ang Dating Daan (The Old Path), a tv program, every night and even asked through a text message about the authenticity of stigmata.
I clearly remember that night when I sent that text message that I instantly got the answer from Bro. Eli. I felt as though Bro. Eli was speaking to me face to face and I did not notice that I had a smile on my face as thought I had just unearthed a big chest full of gold.
Throughout the indoctrination sessions, with God’s help and mercy, I knew that I had not only found the answer to the question when I was in third grade but most importantly, I found the truth. Along with the truth, I have found out that I was born human to serve God.
After finishing the indoctrination sessions, I was baptized on December 15, 2000 at 1:52 PM. And on the following months, my two older sisters, my mother and my aunt also underwent indoctrination and were eventually baptized.
Until this day, I am grateful to God that along with my family, I had found the truth and the reason for my existence.