BY NINO MANAOG
Members of the younger generation, now the “apo sa tuhod” of Lolo Miling (Emiliano Saavedra Sr.) and Lola Eta (Margarita San Andres Saavedra), would be amazed to know that their great-grandparents once “had” a school.
Yes, our folks once had a school.
But it wasn’t really called San Andres College or Saavedra Institute, or named after Emiliano Sr., who himself had been an institution in Bagacay, having served as its grade school principal (from the 1940s up to 1970s when he retired).
This school was the Cursillos de Cristiandad, Bagacay chapter, a Catholic renewal movement in the 1980s which our grandparents had hosted in their own household in our barangay, with much success.
This the family did by seeking assistance from everyone, Cursillistas or otherwise, but foremost employing their own labor and resources.
I remember for a short while, Cursillo classes were held in the classrooms of the Bagacay grade school. But I also remember that more classes were held when they began hosting them in the old house of Lola Cion and in their very own household, which we have always called Libod and/or Dakulang Harong.
Probably inspired by their own experiences in Naga City and Magarao, Camarines Sur, then the hubs of the Cursillistas, Lolo Miling and Lola Eta led the holding of Cursillo classes almost every month in their own house and in their own yard.
The Cursillos was where people from all walks of life, young and old (beginning 18 years)—farmers, fisherfolks, professionals, businessmen, ordinary folks and even priests—for three days were “taught” and later inspired to live a new life in faith.
But certainly, the Cursillos are entirely a different story, a nobler project which deserves a more “testimonial” documentation from the Cursillistas themselves, as already evidenced by Uncle Jun in his posts.
Anyway, every time Cursillo classes were held, I, barely a teenager, saw how members from both sides of the clan, the Saavedras and San Andreses, contributed to the endeavour.
Beginning Thursday evening, Lola Eta and Lolo Miling would host the candidates, rectors, auxiliaries and priests (who served as spiritual directors) in the big house of Lola Cion.
They also accommodated them and similar other guests from Naga, Magarao—even others as far as Manila—in the Dakulang Harong.
Each Cursillo class was sponsored by the officers and members of the previous class, but it was rather managed through the efforts and support of the groups of countless faceless Cursillistas from everywhere who tirelessly worked hand in hand with the Secretariat.
Led by Lolo Miling and Lola Eta and fully assisted by her brothers Lolo Amon and Lolo Pael, the Secretariat practically hosted the three-day endeavour.
While everyone anticipated the Clausura, a graduation of sorts held on the last day, Sunday, when each of the candidates-now-graduates was given an opportunity to speak of their renewed faith, what I looked forward was how the final program would be prepared by the Secretariat.
My mother Emma and her brother Uncle Jun, among other things, would pool heads together to finalize the class program.
Given to everyone on Sunday just before the Clausura, the program detailed out the names of everyone who joined and took part for that particular class, from the candidates to the donors, from the officials to the rectors and from the auxiliaries to the spiritual directors.
Once I was asked to read to her the names in the program as she typed them. And in another, I was asked to even help type the names themselves for the final program! I was probably 11, but o, how I felt so big already!
Then, there was Manay Lisa, Lolo Pael’s daughter who would sing beautiful Cursillo songs in the most-anticipated “High-Noon” on Saturday or even during Sampaguita on a Sunday morning, when the candidates and their families and friends would briefly reunite in lively fellowship.
During High-Noon, Manay Lisa sang one of the most-haunting “Santa Maria” pieces along with Bro. Bert Villarino, who was well-known for his most spine-tingling compro. This time, many Cursillistas, candidates and auxiliaries alike, practically anyone around, would be reduced to tears.
How did I imbibe all these when I was barely a high school student then? Well, what could I do? That’s what I got from being a runner myself, an errand-boy for the Secretariat.
And then there was Uncle Awel, who made the program cover.
For this frontispiece, the artist, probably after the conference with the rest of the Secretariat, drew his own interpretation of the Gospel reading for that day, which was always a powerful image.
For the various covers he made through the years, Uncle Awel drew countless striking images of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the apostles and the people in the various stories in the Gospels; sometimes, he drew metaphors of the Christian life.
Then, these images were labelled with a Biblical passage where it came from, or sometimes a phrase that says something about it.
But among other things, because of a beautiful, well-thought image on the cover, the otherwise simple program now did not only become mere documentation of people’s names or pledges or services but probably a souvenir.
For some, the program must have served as a simple remembrance of their efforts as Cursillistas during that particular class. But for others, just like a yearbook documenting one’s “education,” it probably served as a reminder of their renewed experience with God.