Eulogy for a slain Jesuit volunteer in Bukidnon
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - September 5, 2019 - 12:00am

Today, amidst too many evil things that happen in Philippine society, there are still few young Filipinos, some young Catholic idealists who are willing to die to make life happier, gentler and kinder for the poor, the powerless and the marginalized.

I should know this by heart. My own youngest daughter, Jiza Mari S. Jimenez, was a Jesuit volunteer a few years ago, serving the poor children in Mindoro, teaching them about the beauty of life and the nobility of justice based on truth. The JVP is a non-government organization organized by the Jesuits as their youth volunteer arm to serve the least of our fellow Filipinos in the hinterlands and the urban poor settlements all over the nation. This group of young, dynamic and passionate youths has been serving the least, the lost and the last for almost forty years by now. They are our own Peace Corps angels.

Lately, tragedy occurred among the JVP volunteers. A young female graduate of education course from Zamboanga del Sur, Gennifer Buckley, a volunteer teacher under the auspices of JVP or Jesuit Volunteers of the Philippines,  was killed in Pangantucan, Bukidnon, a few days ago. The president of Ateneo de Zamboanga University, Fr Karel San Juan, SJ issued the following eulogy: "Your tragic death pains us deeply, Gen. But your life, your joyful love and service console and inspire us. You gave your life to your family, friends, students and to many others. Your generous spirit will forever stay in our hearts." Well, no word can ever assuage the sorrows of the parents who relied on Gen for the betterment of their conditions. Now, they have lost their hope.

Gen's partner in that local mission area of the JVP is a young lawyer from Quezon City, Atty. Ann Kathleen Gatdula, who offered her services to help the poor, victims of social injustice in Bukidnon. Gatdula was also attacked by the same robber who broke into their rented house and robbed and killed allegedly by the suspect who was arrested, 36-year-old Arnold Naquilla, of Sto. Niño Village in the same town of Pangantucan, a very far-away place from the capital city of Malaybalay. This town is already near Bukidnon's boundary with Lanao del Sur. Gatdula is now in the hospital with two stab wounds in the stomach. She will survive to tell the horrors of man's cruelty and madness.

It leads us to a great quandary why men like Naquilla ( in case he is proven guilty) could be too cruel and too barbaric, while young people like Gen Buckley and Ann Kathleen Gatdula be so kind, compassionate. What happened in Bukidnon also leads us to a deep contemplation of the freewill given to us by God: to choose to do good or to do evil. While today, hundreds of murderers are killing innocent victims, and rapists also ravage the honor and innocence of young virgins, there are few men and women who are putting themselves in danger in order to serve others.

Jiza is a graduate of Ateneo de Manila (college), Assumption from grades to high school and Montessori (prep and kinder). She was offered a very attractive corporate job which she turned down. She opted to serve the poor and is now writing her masteral thesis social responsibility. When she left home to live in a remote village in Mindoro, my wife and I prayed hard every day to keep her safe. Today, she cries for fellow JVP volunteers Gen and Ann Kathleen.

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