Nun shares ‘moving’ IEC encounter with taxi driver

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A sea of candlelight illumined the length of Osmeña Boulevard as around a million delegates to the 51st International Eucharistic Congress and Cebuano faithful joined the procession held at the sidelines of the IEC in Cebu City on Jan. 29, 2016. (Photo: Roy Lagarde)

MANILA, March 4, 2016— Sister Rose Agtarap, FSP, was among the delegates who attended the recent global Church event in Cebu City for a deeper understanding of the Eucharistic mystery.

A number of famous spiritual speakers and theologians drew thousands of avid listeners — but for Sr. Rose, one of the important lessons she learned from the International Eucharistic Congress came from a taxi driver.

In her blog, Sr. Rose recalled her encounter with a taxi driver which she only identified as “Manong Estrellito” during the 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) in Cebu City.

It was already late night of when the nun and her other fellow delegates finished the Visita Iglesia on the fifth day of the IEC, Jan. 28.

As her companions went to different directions, Sr. Rose was left alone, quite worried about getting back to their convent.

“I asked a barangay tanod (village watchman) who said that since many roads were closed, the best option was to take a taxi. He flagged a taxi and told the driver my address (in Cebuano),” she said.

But on her way home, the nun observed that they were heading towards the wrong direction.

“Suddenly, the route seemed unfamiliar. The road was getting dark and winding. I started to get worried. I silently whispered, “Angel of God, my guardian dear…,’” she said.

“Manong (a Filipino term for an older male), it seems we’re taking the wrong way. We’re going to the Daughters of St. Paul, Osmeña Blvd., near the Harrison Place,” Sr. Rose recalled telling the driver.

It was only then that the driver discovered that he misheard address and immediately apologized. He then turned the meter back to zero, and restarted it.

Astonished with what she saw, Sr. Rose asked Mang Estrellito if it was just okay for him to lose income. And to her surprise again the driver replied: “It’s okay Ma’am!” It was my mistake. I should have asked you.”

“I was surprised, to say the least! This will never happen in Manila!” she said.

While going through the traffic, Sr. Rose started a conversation by asking about the driver’s family, his work, and the impact of IEC on Cebu.

“Courteous and simple, he readily opened his heart,” she said. “He told me his dreams (a better life for his five children) and his disappointments (there were many).”

Despite the inconveniences of traffic and rerouting the IEC created, Mang Estrellito said he was still proud Cebu was chosen to host the global Church event.

Finally reaching the convent, Sr. Rose was opening her purse to pay when the driver stopped her.

“Sister, please don’t! This is my help to your mission,” Mang Estrellito said with a smile.

“But Manong, you need this and your family,” Sr. Rose insisted, giving him the money.

“I can’t join the IEC and I can’t give anything else. This is just my contribution for the mission. Please!” Mang Estrellito said.

Sr. Rose said she conceded and accepted the “gift” with a “humbled heart.” “This was something extraordinary! I was moved at the unexpected gesture of solidarity,” she said.

According to her, during the IEC, thousands of participants heard brilliant theological discourses and touching testimonies about the Eucharist.

“But it was the thousands of volunteers, the organizers and the people of Cebu, like Manong Estrellito, who allowed us to experience with them what being Eucharist truly means: being a people blessed, broken and shared,” she said. (R. Lagarde/CBCPNews)

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