July 13, 2024

Natonin is a beautiful and peaceful place situated in the eastern part of Mountain Province. It has a population of 10,339 and composed of 11 barangays. It is a fourth-class municipality but abundantly blessed with fresh, potable, and overflowing water, divine panorama, and cool climate.
Majority of the towns of Mountain Province suffer from insufficient water supply, especially during summer. In Natonin, fresh water is overflowing but taking a bath is a challenge for its cool weather.
The people are blessed with culture where the youth are not deprived to participate. Indigenous life is visible in the daily activities. The youth of Natonin are gifted with music. They have quality voices accompanied by gifted musicians.
The community, however, is not exempted from modern challenges of mental health problems. The government, school, churches, and other stakeholders collaborated to help the youth.
The call to be with the Natonin youth, especially the students of Sta. Isabel High School, was the persistent invitation of Rev. Fr. Ervin Uden.
To ensure our participation, Fr. Ervin came to pick our team in Teng-ab, Bontoc. Fr. Irvin was just on time to fetch us because my old car needs a major repair.
Our activity was dubbed as “Empowering the spirituality of mental health through music.” We catered to the grades 7 and 8 for the first day and grades 9 and 10 for the second day.
Music and prayer were our tools to let the youth be absorbed in the mystical experience of faith. The youth were encouraged to go back to the basics of life in order to see the clearer direction, meaning, and authentic foundation of living. The youths were encouraged to see their relationship with God through the spiritual exercises and deepened through music.
My room for two days was adjacent to the stream. The sound of the water flowing became a natural therapy of the body and soul. I drunk water directly from the faucet.
At night, crickets of various sounds, birds at four voices, and the frogs tasked with the bass part complete the night rest. Roosters will signal the three-hour time at dawn and healthy silence converse with the soul. These are indicators that Natonin is still a place of clean air and clean water.
May 9 and 10 were long days with the students of Sta. Isabel High School. Even without electricity, they were indeed empowered by the Holy Spirit to channel their energy and talents to lovely music. They were accompanied by their vibrant teachers.
The Sta. Isabel students are gifted and they are thirsting for spiritual accompaniment which San Roque Parish under Rev. Fr. Uden and school OIC Fedilis Tawaran are providing.
Mental health is a component of spirituality. I am strong to this conviction because God created the human person with two major parts namelybody and soul.
The body and the soul make the human person an unrepeated and unique person. The advocacy and promotion of mental health cannot be stripped from its spirituality. Otherwise, it will not serve its purpose as empowering the wellbeing of everyone especially the youth.
The strategy was letting the youth imbibe the messages of the songs. They learned original songs and, in every song, mastered they performed by group and indeed they proved to be very talented youth. Gifts and tokens were given to quick and daring students when requested to perform on stage. The two long days of music was a therapy and morale boosting activity for the young people.
The parishioners and teachers requested for an extension so that the parents too will have their quality time to sing and express themselves through music.
Here are humble requests for the youth of Sta. Isabel High School:
Just in case you have guitars and ukuleles at home not being used, the Sta. Isabel High School students will be happy to have them for their music practices and music lessons; and
Let us help the students and teachers realize their dream for a small sacred place to gather and sing. It’s like a gazebo and be institutionalized as a sacred place to encounter God through prayer and music.
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