A wonderful Silver Celebration
- Bro. Odon Sabarre () - December 14, 2006 - 12:00am
At noon on October 16, my good friends Nydia Yap, Mila Cadiz and Tita Chan went with me to Naval, Leyte, to greet a dear friend of ours, Msgr. Filomeno Bacto D.D., Bishop of Naval, who was celebrating his Silver Episcopal Jubilee.

We arrived at about 2 p.m. and were received with garlands and souvenirs for the occasion. Msgr. Bactol then treated us to a merienda of Carigara delicacies and their delicious suman. He left us for a while to attend a forum - BEC: An Instrument of Renewal for the Clergy given by Msgr. Jose Marie Delgado and the Naval Experience given by Fr. Marvyn Maceda.

Later, we accompanied Bishop Bactol to a nearby bridge to welcome the former First Lady Mrs. Imelda Romualdez Marcos who arrived all the from Manila with her "Blue Ladies" Luz Mate, Lily Montejo, Luz Bakunawa and Fe Bautista.

I stayed as the others left since I had an interpretative dance number titled "Lessons We Learned" and Msgr.

Ben Sabillo was supposed to sing it. I remember dancing together with my late brother, Tommy, (we were known as the Sabarre Brothers) during Msgr. Bactol's ordination in Palo, Leyte as a bishop, 25 years ago. I was so delighted that I was going to dance for him again. I still remember that Mrs. Imelda R. Marcos, the First Lady then, was his "ninang" on that special occasion.

The affair in the evening was BEC: Fiesta sa Nayon and it narrated Msgr. Bactol's journey to bishophood. In between the narration were musical numbers. I was so impressed with everyone, with the students from NIT (Naval Institute of Technology) who performed in total darkness and the only ones that you could see were their gloves in neon violet with which they created images of birds flying, letters and signs, all depicting the 25th anniversary of Msgr. Bactol. Mrs. Marcos was gasping out oh's and ah's in her admiration. When my number came, I prayed hard and asked our dear Lord for assistance because my audience at the presidential table were the celebrant, Bishop Filomeno Bactol, together with Bishop Leonardo Medroso, Bishop Pedro Dean, Bishop Emmanuel Trance, Bishop Angel Hobayan, Mrs. Imelda R. Marcos and her Blue Ladies, Mayor Gerry Espina, Virgie Veloso and lots of priests and nuns in the audience.

Praise the very good Lord, I got a "bravo" from Mrs. Marcos and a thunderous applause from the audience. I was so elated when Bishop Medroso and Bishop Trance told me that they are silent admirers of my craft. Bishop Dean congratulated me warmly and told me that I can still really dance. "You were great! I just see and read you in the papers and it is my first time to see you dance and I am impressed. Wish I could have seen you during your younger days," exclaimed Mayor Espina. "Nagparayaw ka gud hin ora-ora kay nakada he Maam," teased Mana Lily Montejo. Mana Luz Bakunawa told me that she was impressed with my "turns" or "pirouettes."

I am really thankful to our dear Lord because at my age and my weight, I can still manage to dance. The next day, October 17, a Holy Mass was scheduled in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary. I saw former Mayor of Tacloban, Uldarico Mate, who told me his companions were "upat nga chicks." Inside the church, the four chicks turned out to be "hens" because they were Mana Miming Dublado, Mana Daisy Soledad, Mana Fely Ortega and Mana Beny Santiago Johnston. Next to arrive in the church was our gorgeous Congresswoman of the First District, Rep. Remedios "Matin" Petilla, who came with her close friend, Cora Quintero Villareal. She was really stunning in her Filipina kimona and skirt. (Gov. Jericho Petilla, we were told, was in Cebu for a governors'conference.)

The Mass began with the procession of about 80 priests, followed by the seven bishops. The main celebrant, Bishop Bactol, looked very serene and holy. The other bishops who arrived that day were Bishop Maximiano Cruz and Bishop Isabelo Abarquez.

In the procession, I saw Fr. Fabian Mariano, Fr. Oscar Florencio - our Parish Priest of the Sacred Heart, Fr. Noel - the Rector of Calbayog Seminary and lots of others who are my friends. Letters of best wishes from a lot of bishops all over the country and from Pope Benedict XVI were read before the Mass formally started.

I could see that a lot of people really love and care for Bishop Bactol because of the enormous attendance of relatives, priests, nuns from different congregations, members from different Catholic organizations and friends. And they all lined up during the Offertory to give him something. Rep. Petilla and Mrs. Marcos brought the ceborium for the Host and chalice for the Wine. Aside from the money given by his old friends, he received tomatoes, pipino, kilos of rice, camotes, papaya and other simple gifts from simple folks showing their love, admiration and gratitude to the good bishop. Bishop Medroso was excellent in his homily.

The Mass ended with a "thank you" speech from the celebrant and he gave a gift to Mrs. Marcos, five volumes of the speeches by the late President Ferdinand Marcos, which were compiled by his student, a seminarian. To Bishop Bactol, my heartfelt congratulations and hoping to perform for you again in your Golden Episcopal Celebration in the year 2031.

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