MANILA, May 6, 2016 – For most kids, summer means one thing and one thing only: vacation fun!
The Nakpils of Makati, who belong to that illustrious clan of Old Quiapo that counts among its members a Katipunero hero and a National Artist for Architecture, are heaven-bent on enjoying a different kind of summer fun. For four years now, the family of six have a completely different, spiritually rewarding reason to look forward to this time of the year: mission.
This program of the worldwide Catholic movement Regnum Christi (RC) allows the Nakpils, especially the kids, to experience firsthand at least for a brief period the life lesser privileged Filipinos, that is, those with hardly anything. And they’ve become so much the better for it, both individually and as a family.
“Hopefully, I think that it keeps them grounded because they see that these situations exist, that there are families who live in this kind of condition, and not everybody is as lucky as they are,” said Doris of her kids cum co-missionaries Anina, Betty, Rocio, and Julio, in an interview with Family Time at their home in the city’s posh Salcedo Village.
According to her, going on mission makes them realize how blessed they are and that they should be more appreciative of what they have or the little that comes their way simply because others have less or next to nothing.
It’s a far cry from their pre-mission life, really. Before joining RC, Dennis the head of the family, confessed they would also spend summers in some cool rural getaway just to escape the hustle and bustle of the metro.
Nowadays, the restaurant owner, who serves as lay minister on Sundays, said they don’t go so far as the impoverished barangays of Cabuyao and Santa Rosa in Laguna, and of Lipa in Batangas for their annual mission, which is actually immersion, exploration, and recreation, evangelization rolled into one.
Doris explained a normal mission day would have them going house to house, meeting and greeting the villagers, inviting them to take part in the various activities they’ve prepared.
“… knowing the families, talking to them, sometimes it’s not even having to evangelize, but being there with them, feeling them, [doing] small talk. Basically like that,” she noted.
“What’s really nice is we get to know the family. We kind of like feel each other, I guess. I just know that it’s something right,” she added.
Even an ordinary basketball game presents an excellent opportunity to talk about the faith, what her husband Dennis wittily refers to as “B & B”: Bible and Ball.
“It’s fun. The binatilyo (the young men) they don’t know this thing. Meron pang kodigo (They even have cheat sheets). At the same time it’s informing these people,” she shared.
The Nakpils would also treat locals to film screenings as a way to instill in them the basics of the faith, which they find many desperately need.
“You’d be surprised a lot of them, majority of them, are not married, because of the [lack of] funds. You need to prod them. The requirements… You need to let them know … the state you are in, it’s not proper. The proper way is, if you really are, you feel you are a family, you love each other, then you have to get married. You just don’t wait to have the money. Because that’s the problem. They want to have a celebration,” lamented Dennis.
Sadly, it’s an all too common problem. Filipino couples today tend to cite limited finances as an excuse to delay marriage indefinitely until they start losing what little interest they have left in formalizing their union.
The usual alibi runs along the line of: “We wed only once. Why not make it as grand as possible?”
To overcome this obstacle the Nakpils sponsor mass weddings in the community.
“Dennis and I became ninong and ninang (godparents) to some of the couples. That’s something we know like yes because RC, the main core part is to bring people to the Kingdom of God. So we know they’re already a step ahead, right? A step closer to the Kingdom,” said Doris.
The surprising thing is that the couples they have sponsored have since taken upon themselves the duty of convincing others still “living in” to follow suit and get married in the Church.
Outside comfort zones
And like any lifestyle change, it’s not easy adjusting to this new commitment they’ve made.
Doris admitted, “Honestly speaking, it’s hard for me because I like being at home on my own, [in] my own bed, in my own bathroom. So it’s really going outside of my comfort zone. Being there in places I’m not so familiar with… It’s hard. It’s a lot of sacrifice.”
In trying to “do what the Romans do,” there were times they had to feed on adobong kangkong, sardines mixed with veggies, or whatever could be had, endure steamy, mosquito-infested evenings, and make do with primitive plumbing, if at all.
Doris exclaimed,“Sa akin OK lang. Paano ‘yung mga bata? (For me, that’s fine. How about the kids?)”
As if these are are not challenging enough, there are the tons of pre-immersion concerns to attend to before the mission proper.
“The whole process, getting the families together, organizing, scheduling, who’s going when and that,” commented Dennis.
“We meet every week for eight weeks. We start planning like two months prior or probably even more. It’s like scheduling things, donations, logistics. It’s not easy. It takes a lot of our time,” added Doris.
But fortunately, the blessings outweigh the challenges. Over the years, these “troubles,” if you will, have become more manageable for them all.
“I think it [family mission] has brought us closer to God. In the sense that we are now more prayerful as a family. All of us are involved in activities that has to do something with the Church,” observed Dennis.
The full story on the Nakpil family’s travails and joys is found in CFC Ablaze – Communications’ Family Time magazine, May – June 2016 issue. (Raymond A. Sebastián / CBCPNews)