I wasn’t able to come to the 28th FCCY National Convention in Davao City back in 2015 because of the shift in the academic calendar of my school, UST. At that time, I vowed to attend the next one in Cagayan de Oro in 2017. And so I did. But it wasn’t how I expected it to be back in 2015.
Back in 2015, our chapter was very active and lively. I was in Manila then, but I could see posts on social media regarding regional activities, praise and worship sessions, and fellowship nights of our chapter. I used to look at them with a little bit of envy (because I wanted to be there with them), but mostly, joy. My heart was filled with gladness everytime I saw a post about my chapter growing in number and in faith. I was happy to see that the chapter that I grew up with was doing very well. And everytime I had even just a little vacation from school, I made sure to go back to Naga and be with them.
I graduated college in the summer of 2016, took the boards in late August, and was certified an International Medical Laboratory Scientist by October of that year. I got all those out of the way, and I was excited to go back home to my FCCY Naga. Things were going well. Our numbers were increasing. Our choir was consistent every Sunday. We also had this project called C10 where there were 10 activities and two junior members assigned for each activity, supervised by one senior member. We got to do two: a Praise and Worship night (I supervised this one along with Ahya Jet) and a team-building activity. I left for the United States for a one-month vacation with my siblings there, feeling at ease that our chapter will continue streaking.
I returned home, feeling ecstatic to see my second family once again. Sadly, things were a lot different. Our attendance dwindled down, one senior member left to work in Manila, and another was busy with life affairs. Our chapter hosted the regional Youth Encounter, but it was quite disastrous that it led to a long heart-to-heart talk with our junior members. My heart was crushed when they told us that they didn’t see FCCY as a family anymore. They thought that being in FCCY was more of a task or job than a passion or happiness. The joy and light that I saw in our chapter before I left for the US was dying down. I tried my hardest not to shed a tear while achi Jackie and Elo were bawling their eyes out. I tried to be positive. I tried to think that everything’s going to be okay.
Back in 2015, when I vowed to attend the CDO convention, I thought that we’d go there stronger in numbers and in faith.
On the contrary, our chapter sent a small delegation of eight to the 29th FCCY National Convention in Cagayan de Oro: two facilitators (including me), five participants, and a chaperone. Naga has always been one of the biggest delegations in conventions, but not this time. I thought that some of us just weren’t interested anymore. I questioned myself: did we do something wrong? Were our efforts not enough to keep our chapter’s fortress up and intact? My confidence was at an all-time low. I didn’t think that I was doing what our previous seniors Ahya JM and Ahya Ryan have built in this chapter the justice it deserves. But nonetheless, my heart is still filled with gratitude for the five participants that stuck with us in this convention. I’m especially thankful for Selwyn and Owen, who have decided to attend this convention despite their very young age.
It was my first time to become a care group facilitator in a national convention, and I must admit that the thought of it was extremely frightening, especially for an introvert like me. I was never good with small talk, which is basically the foundation of leading a group whose members have never met each other before. But God has blessed me with a care group, St. Augustine Zhao Rong, who has made it so much easier for me. They gave me the much needed confidence to lead a team. On the third night, Fr. Jboy Gonzales gave us a talk about being sent by God. Spontaneously, my heart felt extremely heavy and the tears in my eyes were knocking their way out when he asked us: “Do you want FCCY to live forever?” The hall was filled with a resounding “Yes!” and everyone was cheering with all hearts out. I wasn’t, though, and I looked to Elo, who had the same reaction. I felt that I was letting this wonderful organization down by not being able to do enough for our home chapter. I shared my story with my beloved care group, with my eyes bawling. They gave me a drop of hope, which rippled into my heart.
That night, during the evening prayers, I prayed to God for our members to come back once again. The next day, when we went up to the heart of Jesus in the Divine Mercy Shrine, I once again prayed for our chapter. God must have heard me very quickly, because someone who I thought have left FCCY Naga for good replied to the pictures that we shared to them on our Facebook group. The hope that rippled in my heart turned to waves. The darkness of hopelessness that filled my heart before we left for CDO was shattered.
God has given me what I was looking for and much more: waves of hope. He has chosen, called, and sent me to a mission. Now it’s my time to pay Him back by finishing the mission that I’m entrusted with: to send drops of hope to young people and create ripples.