February 17, 2017.—My reminiscing of my book launches is very sweet because the two book launchings turned out to be exceptionally successful.
I am happy beyond expectation. One of them took place in Villa San Miguel on February 19, 2017—the former residence of the late Cardinal Jaime Sin.
It was my dream of a perfect launching for my book entitled “The Sin I Knew” come true. Nothing could be more ideal.
The book was all about Cardinal Sin and my personal recollection of him, and to think that I was able to organize the book-launching event in his former residence was absolutely incredible.
It seemed to have been made in heaven!
February 17, 2017 was a very fine day. There was no threat of rain (that characterized the past days).
The sun shone bright, making the elegant garden and patio of Villa San Miguel look truly lovely.
I had hoped that the weather would be fine because the garden with its manicured lawn that is surrounded by lush shrubs and ornamental trees would look quite impressive on a fine day.
True to its name, Villa San Miguel has maintained its reputation as one of the true remaining old Spanish villas in the city of Manila.
The 11:30 a.m. Sunday event began with a short celebration of Holy Mass.
I wanted to say Mass in order to accommodate some guests who had asked if I could say Mass so that they could fulfill their Sunday obligation.
I felt good that I could say Mass in the Villa’s chapel where many years ago I lived in it for several months at the invitation of Cardinal Sin said Mass on weekdays and on Sundays.
There were times when I would say the Mass in the small chapel on the other side of the lawn. I enjoyed those times.
I said a short Mass. The Mass went smoothly.
I gave a ‘short but sweet’ homily aware of the post-Mass program and reception that would follow.
As I sat on the celebrant’s chair glancing every once in a while on the congregation in front of me that has swelled into a full house, a sweet feeling swept over me knowing that I was sitting on the chair of the most prominent archbishop Manila has ever seen, the late Cardinal Jaime Sin.
From that chair, Cardinal Sin presided over countless liturgies. I can remember that in this chapel, Cardinal Sin hosted a welcome program for Cardinal Bernardin of Chicago that I was privileged to witness.
In that program, at the request of Father Soc Villegas, then secretary to Cardinal Sin, I brought the Bayanihan Dance Company of the Philippine Women’s University to entertain Cardinal Sin’s important guest from Chicago with a few Philippine folk dances.
Going back to the book launching event, right after the Mass, the program started with the emcee Linda Chincuanco calling in Cecile Guidote-Alvarez to give the opening remarks.
In her speech, Cecile ably and comfortably handled her role regaling the audience with her connection of Cardinal Sin to the EDSA People Power that, incidentally without any hint of intention or suggestion, was being commemorated on the same week as the book launching.
Cecile also took the opportunity to tell the audience that only a few days earlier she had interviewed me on her radio program on DZRH on the book “The Sin I Knew.”
Although there were some political undertones in her remarks I was pleased that Cecile toned down her political rhetoric that sat well with the listeners, some of whom were prominent and high-profile government officials like former Justice Josue Bellosillo, Congressman Heherson Alvarez, Dr. Albert Roxas, former Dean of Medicine of UP College of Medicine, Marla Yotoko-Chorengel, Ofelia Bermejo-Acuna, Dr. Grace Pasigan, Central Bank VP Vincent Bolivar, and Bishop Gabriel Reyes. Former secretary to Cardinal Sin of Manila.
Bishop Gabriel Reyes, who was the guest speaker, wrote a nice message in the book. In his speech, he told the audience a couple of jokes to their delight.
The presence of Bishop Reyes cemented what I would say the long-standing support he has given and shown me in my ministry in the Philippines and in the United States. His presence meant so much to me.
After his speech, it was my turn to say something. I thanked the people who came and those who helped make the event a most meaningful and beautiful book launching.
To my own surprise I reprised the singing of “Philippines, My Philippines” led by Cardinal Sin in New York from the pulpit of New York in 1984. I asked everyone gathered in Villa San Miguel chapel to sing along.
The short program over, there was the cutting of the ribbon outside the chapel door followed by the book signing and the light lunch that took place in the corridor of the villa.
The backdrop—the green lawn surrounded by flowering trees and bushes—was simply picture-perfect!