Sr Gloria Felix, FSP was featured in a recent edition of Business Mirror, the #1 Daily Business Newspaper in the Philippines, which we re-post here.
Elderly nun content with her chosen life
09 Mar 2014
Written by Oliver Samson / Correspondent
Sr. Gloria V. Felix was only 15, intelligent and lovely, when she joined the Daughters of Saint Paul. She was that young when she and a fellow nun were selling prints of the Holy Family calendar in the Port Area, when a Customs officer teased her, “May gatas ka pa sa labi, madre ka na [You still have milk on your lips, and you are already a nun],” to which the street-smart young sister answered back with a disarming rejoinder: “Hindi kasi tayo nagkita kaagad [Because we did not meet immediately].”
The 79-year-old nun, whose roots can be traced in San Miguel, Bulacan, was a curious 4-year-old when she was introduced to the Daughters of Saint Paul. She started to learn as a kindergarten pupil under the missionaries who came to the province. Those sisters were “very particular about manners,” and also described her as “a debater” who was very inclined to be onstage.
She joined the congregation before graduating high school, took her final exam, which she passed, at Arroceros to complete her secondary course. She never went to a public school.
After she went back from a mission in Spain, Sister Gloria took up theology at the Ecclesiastical Faculties of the University of Santo Tomas. There were 35 in the class, and she was the only female. She finished AB Theology in 1983.
“I took that because of our work,” she said. “We are in publication, and we have to know the doctrines very well. We have to judge the manuscripts submitted to us.”
The Daughters of Saint Paul, known for its apostolate of evangelization through various forms of media, has a publishing house in Pasay City in a compound where the central house is located. It publishes its own books and evaluates manuscripts from other religious authors and organizations for publication.
It even has its own hospital in Italy—the Regina Apostolorum Hospital—which was established for FSP sisters who are sick and in need of health care. Sister Gloria was lucky to have met and talked with the founder, the Blessed James Alberione (Giacomo), when she was in Italy when the founder was still alive.
Other congregations call them “rich” and tindera (vendor). Its sells the books it publishes as part of its evangelization. Its apostolic ministry makes use of the traditional media and modern technology, including digital communications, to proclaim the Gospel to the people.
The sisters in light-blue habits believe that they have to be rich in apostolate to effectively carry out their ministry, but they are plain, simple and poor in living their religious life.
Sister Gloria remembered their humble beginnings when they were selling prints of the Holy Family calendars and religious reading materials on foot. It was 12 noon when she and her companion were in front of a Buddhist temple in Binondo. They could not use the earnings to buy food “because that did not belong to us.” They spotted the seated Gautama Buddha was surrounded with pears and apples.
The Filipino caretaker at first hesitated to share some of the fruits. But they insisted. Finally, the caretaker gave in to Sister Gloria’s diplomatic approach. The two were instructed to eat some fruits behind the slightly opened door of the temple, to hide them from Chinese eyes.
Military and police ministry
SISTER Gloria has been giving values formation to Pasay police since the time of the late Mayor Pablo Cuneta. The Philippine National Police (PNP), in general, has its own manual of values education. But it seems it does not practice, it so it needs the likes of Sister Gloria, who tried to form the soldiers of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force on moral values on their bleachers.
“Now we have to resume; they need it,” she said. “They need to remake their image. I give them values education. I have been thinking that would be my last assignment. Sometimes, physically, you feel exhausted. But that gives me strength to think that you could help [recreate the PNP].”
She remembered riding a jeep when the driver was interrupted by a policeman on the street. She asked the driver, “Brod, may nagawa ka bang kasalanan [Brother, did you commit a traffic violation]?”
The driver replied, “Wala po, Sister. Alas dose kasi. Hihingi ng pangkain [No, Sister. It’s noontime. He will ask for some lunch money].”
Kotong cops (corrupt policemen) prey on poor and helpless jeepney drivers because of their “number two,” whose taste for fashion rejects the choices sold cheaply in Baclaran and Divisoria, Sister Gloria said.
The Pauline sister knows her apostolate very well. She has been in the military ministry since the time of President Ferdinand Marcos. During martial law, she went to different military camps to give lectures to soldiers on moral values.
Brig. Gen. Edon Yap, who is married to Imelda Marcos’s sister, would have his men pick her up from their community in Pasay City, ride her in a helicopter to different parts of the country to give talks to soldiers and remind them, among other things, to respect life and “not commit adultery.” She remembered two women in argument, claiming the body of a policeman lying in state.
“To do this job is not easy,” she said. “I don’t say guts only. I have a calling for that. It is very tedious. You must know the psychology of men. You must speak their lingo. Natutuwa sila when I speak their lingo [They cheer when I speak their lingo].”
Being a policeman or a soldier “is not a job,” she said. “It’s a vocation, a calling. Cops and soldiers have taken their oath to God and country. My father was a constable. But the constable during that time was different. They were really agents of peace.”
When Maj. Gen. Delfin C. Castro, one of Marcos’s last faithful generals, relinquished his post as commander of the Southern Command to Brig. Gen. Jose Magno on March 5, 1986, in a turnover ceremony, just two weeks after the late President was forced to step down Malacañang, Sister Gloria kissed him “out of pure joy,” she said.
With Namfrel and MTRCB
SISTER Gloria has, for many years, volunteered for the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel). She was recruited by Jose S. Concepcion Jr., who founded Namfrel, when she was in Zamboanga in 1985 while working with the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board.When the Edsa uprising broke out in 1986, Sister Gloria was still in Zamboanga to review cinemas and magazines. Dressed like an ordinary citizen, she would enter moviehouses, sometimes at midnight when movies were screened, to determine whether the owners complied with rules. There were “persons, young and old” doing drugs inside the theaters.
She organized rallies to urge the mayor to step down for tolerating pornographicmovies and magazines. When she broke her femur, Sister Gloria was brought back to Pasay City in a wheelchair, to the relief of movie-house owners and peddlers of obscene magazines in Zamboanga.
On old age
“OLD age is a blessing,” said Sister Gloria. “The best thing that happened to humanity was through elderly people,” referring to Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, who was born of aged parents—Joachim and Anna. “And there’s another—Samuel,” whose mother Hannah, who in the beginning, was barren and childless, she said.
“If you wish to live a serene and fruitful life, you must take this period [old age] as an opportunity to glorify and love God, and to commit yourself into something productive,” she said. “Hindi ’yung matanda ka na kaya magmumukmok ka na [Not that you will dwell on inactivity for reason of old age].”
Sister Gloria, who belongs to the “sanguine type” of character, is
gifted with a propensity for humor. She cracks jokes, causing an eruption of laughter among Pauline sisters. She does not look her age.
Humor seems to work not only as an elixir to defer aging, but also is a God-given opiate to facilitate the religious to rise above the extraordinary challenges entwined in vocation. Her cheerfulness, which is natural to her, reaffirms that she is happy about her chosen life.
“Growing old, I still carry the habit of reading,” she said. “Now that I have a computer, I learned to use it without going to school.”
Sister Gloria finds “life a continuous formation.” As she “has been here and there in the mission,” she “learned from other people.” She takes her senior years as a gift.
“If old age looks like this, no sun will set. Old age is golden, and gold is precious. It’s worth keeping. Thanks be to God,” the poetic Pauline sister said.
“If I were to be born again, I again will choose a religious life. And again it will be with the Daughters of Saint Paul,” she said.