It is the Lord!

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Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 20 April 2023
Reflections on the occasion of my 25th year ordination to the Priesthood
Photo by Arch. Philip Santiago; to my left is our former Rector in Minor Seminary, Fr. Domingo Salonga and our Prefect of Discipline, Msgr. Albert Suatengco.

It is the Lord! And it has always been him. Will always be him. Thank you very much my dearest family and friends including you my readers of this blog for showing me the Lord, for leading me to the Lord all these years especially on the occasion of my 25th anniversary in the priesthood.

Been praying for this occasion since March when I went on a personal retreat when I turned 58 years old. One of the reflections assigned to me by my Spiritual Director, Jesuit Fr. Danny Gozar was to pray for all the grace and blessings God has given me that I am not aware of. One of the many blessings I “rediscovered” God has blessed me all these years were the people he had gifted me, from my family and relatives, classmates from elementary to college and the seminary, colleagues in work as well as students, and lately, some parishioners who have all become my friends.

It is the Lord whom I have seen in them. And I became a priest because of them. Maybe if I did not meet them, my life would have been different.

Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. He revealed himself in this way. Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples.

John 21:1-2

Photo by Ms. Tita Valderama, my friends from GMA News, from left: JJ Jimeno, Jimmy Gil, Boy Sonza, Jun Fronda, Marissa Flores (former SVP of GMA News), Jessica Soho and Ben Cal of PNA; beside me is Atty. Dan de Padua, and Kelly B. Vergel de Dios.

Some of them are very prominent, from the who’s who of the country like those persons named in the gospel, Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee. It is a tremendous blessing from God I have come to know so many prominent people, big shots indeed in Philippine media and society who taught me so much about journalism and most especially about life. In them I experienced there are so many goodness in every person, even those we look up to. They are so human with the same joys and pains, dreams and aspirations like us ordinary people. They get tired and get sick, they love to eat and drink, watch movies and enjoy music. Most of all, they have high moral sense and deep faith in God.

One of them I have to mention is the one who really paved the way for me to reconsider my vocation, Atty. Dan de Padua who was then assigned to GMA-7 News Department when I was already a police reporter covering the night shift. He would join us in our coverage and sometimes, before our shift, we would have some drinks at Jazz Rhythms along Timog Avenue. We got to know his background and former work with a multinational corporation with mega buck deals. I asked him why did he leave that better paying job? His answer struck me. Like the beloved disciple in the gospel, all I could say was “It is the Lord”.

According to Sir Dan, “nahiya naman ako sa sarili ko na matapos mag-aral sa UP, nagtatrabaho ako para sa mga foreigners… umalis ako sa kanila para ibalik sa bayan binigay sa akin.” Wow! Yes, there are good and holy lawyers, especially from UP! And my former boss is one of them! His words never left me, giving me many occasions of introspection when alone, as a graduate of Catholic schools from elementary to college, do I have the same love for the Church, for God?

Napahiya ako sa sarili ko. Here is a man, a big shot lawyer, thinking about our country we love to make fun of even curse and there I was, thinking only of myself? Of course, there were still other realizations I had but that really started my journey back to Jesus and to the seminary until my ordination on April 18, 1998.

There were so many other people I met when I was still outside the seminary who have enriched me as a person with their friendships and professionalism.

Photo by Mr. Jong Arcano with his wife.

I am forever grateful to my former editor at UST’s The Varsitarian, Mr. Jong Arcano who trained me so well in writing, especially looking into the human aspects of the persons being covered. Along with Mr. Jimmy Gil of GMA News, they taught me the importance of looking into the “human-ness” of the people in the news. Mr. Gil also told me while discussing the dangers of coverages that the most important story in the world is “your life that is why as a journalist, think also of your safety because if you die, who would tell the story you have covered?” Later on as a priest, I realized it so true! As a priest, there is that certain distance we must keep with the people but always that closeness to get their story. Fr. Henri Nouwen wrote in one of his books, “what is most personal is most universal.”

Worth mentioning also is our former SVP for Operations in GMA but a newsman through and through, Mr. Tony Seva. He summoned me to his office one afternoon to bring clippings of the write ups of an actress of our soap drama who had died. At his office, he asked me to take down some notes but somebody had earlier borrowed my pen in the newsroom! He told me I could leave my dick at home but never walk without a pen! That is why I always have pen in my pocket long after I have left the news! Like our Latin teacher in the seminary, Mr. Seva taught me to never open my mouth unless I am sure of what I am saying. That’s precision.

There are so many other men and women with names and without names who have taught me so well and most of all, I am sure without them knowing, have led me to see Jesus to become a priest. I used to tell my students that friends are gifts from God; therefore, true friends lead us back to God too!

Did I say women? Of course! I must confess, it took me so long to decide to leave the news and enter the seminary to become a priest because of women. I was so afraid, until now, I might not be faithful to Jesus because, yun nga! Madali ako ma-attract at ma-in-love!

Will tell you my “love story” in my next blog, of how women have led me to Jesus. Maybe, I should write a song similar to Yvonne Elliman’s song in Jesus Christ Superstar to be called “I Don’t Know How to Love Her”.

Thank you for your prayers on my 25th year in the priesthood. God bless you all!

Photo by Mr. Jong Arcano with Ms. Tina Monzon-Palma before the Mass.

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