Gs Little Artists in Sibale

Concepcion-Sibale island in Romblon was first visited by our Sisters in November 27-December 1, 2014 to conduct a Bible animation and distribution of Bibles to families. It is one of the smallest islands of Romblon with 4000+ population. The major means of livelihood was copra and other coconut products. They transport their products to, and get their basic necessities from Pinamalayan town through a pump boat that travels for two hours, once daily. Thus, prices of commodities are understandably more expensive. Electricity is only available from 4:30 am to 8:30 am and from 6:30 pm to 10:30 pm.
In December 2015, Sibale was badly hit by typhoon Nona. Life remains simple but it was harder for the people to recover from the effects of the typhoon because almost all their coconut trees, crops and vegetables were wiped out and uprooted.
The Mission
On April 18-23, 2016, three Daughters of St. Paul – Sr. Yoyo Dionisio, Sr. Reajoy San Luis and Sr. Ams Paglinawan (vocation promoter), visited the still recovering town of Concepcion-Sibale. Seminarian Mark Sarmiento, vocation promoter of the Society of St. Paul, and Ms Hazel Marie Censio, a nurse-volunteer and Pauline collaborator from Basilan, joined the Sisters in their mission. Fr. Francis Fornal, parish priest and his vicar, Fr. Reden Mirabete warmly welcomed the Sisters. Two families from the town provided them accommodation.
Art and Reading Activity,  Book Distribution to Children
 In coordination with Fr. Francis of the Immaculate Concepcion parish, the team specifically intended to meet the children of the farthest barangays to conduct an Art and Reading Activity and distribution of books. The aim was to help the children express themselves, and at the same time learn more about God, our faith and bible characters and stories, in a fun, creative way. For this activity, the Sisters brought with them 200 sets of God’s Little Artists bags that contained art materials, Paulines coloring and story books. These are provided free through the help of generous sponsors and donors. The activities usually last for 1-2 hours. Sr. Ams and Bro. Mark had a storytelling activity for children ages 10-13 years old. After that, the children were asked to draw the things they want to thank God for. Majority drew a house, fish/fishing, crops, trees, church and parents. They were grateful for the houses that replaced the destroyed ones; for the crops and trees that are starting to recover (though it may take time to harvest them); for the church where they sought refuge during the typhoon.  It was priceless to see the happy expressions and excitement of the children over their ‘masterpieces.’ In the same way, God’s providence is inexhaustible because merienda, lunch and dinner were also served through generous sponsors and contributions of parents and pastoral leaders of the barangays. At the end of every session, the children and the Sisters pray together, thanking God for the blessings received, for the sponsors and donors and for their families.
One of the challenging parts of the mission is the transportation from one barangay to another. There were very narrow roads that were only meant for walking or for powerful motorbikes that can traverse through steep roads and sharp curves. At the side of the road is a beautiful view of the sea, but this can be a dangerous road to travel during nighttime. To ensure the safety of the team, Fr. Francis entrusted them to expert riders including his three sacristans: CJ and Kent, both 15 year old and Justine, 16 years old.
Out of the nine barangays, the team was able to visit four: Calabasahan, Bakhawan, Masadya, and San Vicente. Children from other barangays were brought to these four activity stations that made a total of 252 participants instead of the expected 200. When the materials started to run short, the team with Jenille Abao (YFJ President) carefully divided the materials, praying and making sure that all would be able to participate and that no child would go home empty-handed. During the session, sharing was also very spontaneous among the children. At the end of the mission there was still one box of extra materials and books! This experience reminded them of what Jesus did when he gave thanks for the fish and bread and divided it among the people and still ended up with more extra food (Lk 9:16).
“Art and Reading Activity for God’s Little Artists” is a reach-out and distribution activity intended for children of very poor and calamity stricken places.
Vocation Promotion Activities
Sr. Ams, Bro. Mark and Ms Hazel also took time to visit the nearby houses from the barangay chapels. They encouraged families to pray for vocations using the Family Prayer for Vocations pamphlet. Sr. Ams also distributed selected Paulines books while Bro. Mark promoted praying the rosary for vocations with his free rosaries and prayer guide. Aside from the Sisters and Bro. Mark’s presence, the home-bound elders and sick members of the community were grateful for the presence of Ms. Hazel who checked their blood pressure and provided medical advise. She and her friends donated clothes, vitamins and medicines for children. At the parish, Fr. Francis allowed them to do other activities with the youth group Young Flames of Jesus (YFJ) such as: Eucharistic adoration for vocations, rosary and installation of the Queen of Apostles and putting up a vocation corner in the perpetual adoration chapel.
Twice Stranded for a Reason
Sr. Reajoy and Sr. Yoyo were scheduled to leave ahead on April 22 (Friday). But the engine of the pump boat did not function well, so they had to go back and stay for the next day’s trip. Fr. Francis took this opportunity and asked the Sisters to share in the recollection of the members of newly formed Healing Ministry the next day (Saturday).  Sr. Ams gave the input on the Eucharist as the source of healing grace. Ms. Hazel shared on hospital care for the sick as a ministry. The morning session was concluded with a Eucharistic adoration facilitated by Sr. Yoyo. As part of the reflection, Sr. Reajoy shared lessons learned from her personal experience of ministering her sick mother. The main speaker was Msgr. Ernie Fetalino, vicar general of the Diocese of Romblon. He would also install the members during the Eucharistic celebration in the afternoon. The day ended with a celebration for the birthday of Fr. Francis. Representatives of the barangays participated in a simple program organized by the YFJ that was held at the town plaza. This culminated the mission of the Sisters and their companions.
On Sunday, the Sisters and Ms. Hazel were all set to leave the island. After less than an hour of attempting to sail, the boat had to go back because the engine was not stable enough to sustain the two-hour trip to Pinamalayan port.
The Sisters decided to attend the mass at the parish, instead. Fr. Francis arranged with his friend and owner of a bigger and faster boat to change the route only for that day to transport the Sisters from Concepcion (Sibale) port. They were informed that the boat will arrive at 12:00 noon. So, while waiting, the Sisters and Ms. Hazel voluntarily cleaned the altar and sacristy.
At 12:30 PM the team left the island with much gratitude and renewed apostolic spirit.
Prayer
Lord, Thank you
–  for our generous benefactors: Ate Odie Osorio (Pauline Cooperator), Paul and Neni+ Garcia, Lourdes Eugenio, Nazaria Orcino, Society of St. Paul, Paulines Publishing House, FSP Communities (Lipa, Zamboanga and Davao), Gabby and Maine (relative of Sr. Tina), Victor James Mangrobang and Sr. Rosaria del Rosario, fsp
–  for our friends and collaborators: Ms Hazel Marie, Bro. Mark, SSP, Fr. Francis, Fr. Reden, Msgr. Ernie, parish staff, Jinelle and YFJ, Nanay Erming, Ate Percy and Kuya Nerio Faderogao, Parish Pastoral Council, Leaders and Catechists, barangay leaders and parents
–  for Mr. and Mrs. (Marilyn) Villota and all the drivers, motorbike riders,  boatmen and kargadors who have  brought us safely to our destinations
– for PLMPs Richard Mandalupe and Ryan Bo who helped us prepare the Art Materials
–  for our Sisters who supported and accompanied us with their prayers
– most of all, for the people and the children of Sibale
– for all these and the gift of this mission… to you, Lord be glory and praise!
Sr. Reajoy, fsp
PHOTO CREDITS: Hazel Marie Censio, Sr. Yoyo, and Bro. Mark

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