December 8, 2023

We celebrated World Mission Sunday on Oct. 22 at the St. Francis Basic Ecclesial Community (BEC), Anabel, Sadanga, Mountain Province.
Anabel is the first barangay of Sadanga when driving from Bontoc, Mountain Province. To reach the place means having strong and sturdy legs for a walk and a climb.
Barangay Anabel also marks a history for the stopping of the supposed Chico River Dam in the late ‘70s and ‘80s. Though the dam could have brought development, it could have caused more disaster to the indigenous peoples of the Cordillera, especially the Montañosa particularly Bontocs, Sadanga, and Kalinga. Bishop Francisco F. Claver, SJ, gathered the people. They met and discussed and sent their sentiments to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. through the writings of Bishop Claver.
Here is an old anecdote. In the olden days of missionary works, Bro. Eze was a missionary sent to a far-flung barangay to evangelize. There were no roads and no bridges to reach the remote mission territory. He was provided with a horse as a means of transportation. Bro. Eze, being a holy man, was provided a holy horse who follows religious commands like “Alleluia” for it to start, “Praise the Lord!” to run faster, and “Amen” to stop.
He mastered the words of commands. On his journey, he was running fast with the command “Praise the Lord” being repeated. Bro. Eze panicked because the horse was running so fast, almost reaching the cliff.
Behold, one meter before the horse will finally fall, Bro. Eze recalled the command to stop and with all power he shouted, “Amen!” The screeching sound was strong and the horse stopped.
Bro. Eze was saved from falling into the cliff but because of his joy that the horse stopped, he exclaimed “Alleluia! Praise the Lord!”
After more than a decade since I left the Sadanga Mission Parish, I am again reinvigorated to be immersed with the iAnabels.
The BEC indeed improved a lot with the Broken Guitar Project (BGP) alumni leading again the music ministry. I felt the success of the BGP again.
We arrived sweating because of the walk despite the absence of the sun. But we were welcomed by the love of the people. It was just inspirational to meet the old folks with their smiles and the children and the youth approaching our group with their greetings and for priestly blessing.
The holy mass was deeply felt by all of us with IP liturgical songs. The children were active participants and they occupied the front seats as music ministers.
St. Francis of Assisi BEC had its first mass in 1947 and maybe the first baptism too. I can just imagine the sacrifices and risks of the early CICM and ICM missionaries reaching Barangay Anabel by foot and how they were able to cross the rivers. I can just imagine how the early missionaries communicated with the people with different languages.
Indeed, mission has no boundaries because in missionary works, it is not the sheer work of men but the work of the Holy Spirit.
After the mass, the Aggiornamento Music Ministry met with the community for music practice and BGP indeed is a big help.
It was elating to partake lunch with the congregation. They prepared a lot for everyone.
The Anabel BEC indeed has matured a lot in terms of her ministries.
The bell crafted from a bomb is still hanging from the mango tree in front of the chapel. The bell was installed by the Belgian missionaries to call the attention of the people for prayer, especially the holy mass. The bell is already eight decades old and the mango tree that keeps it hanging is almost a centennial tree.
I am so happy to see Albert Agpawan still serving as a communion minister despite his most senior age.
There are many beautiful things in St. Francis BEC, Anabel, Sadanga. I recall in 2008, when we started to build the chapel at Posong, Anabel, that’s the BEC above Anabel and Betwagan. It was Anabel BEC which really pushed me to finish the chapel because of their strong support.
I pray that one day, vocations will flourish in Anabel BEC, a priest and a sister. We pray for all missionaries all over the world.
Happy All Saints’ Day and Happy All Souls’ Day! Let us be saints by living the lives of the saints in order to follow and do what Jesus wants us to do.
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