By: Sr. Norma Samar, O.L.M.
It was a blessing to return to my homeland, the Philippines, for a time of family and celebration and a long-awaited respite from my work here in Canada. My three months there was an experience that I will never forget. First, I visited my brother, Cris, his wife, Rosie, and their family in Bataan Province on the island of Luzon. I enjoyed getting to know the younger members of our family, some of whom I had not yet met because they were born since my last visit. Since Cris is my only immediate family, seeing him again was especially important to me. I also value the wonderful time of bonding I had with my nieces and nephews, including Minda, Boy, Paul, DJ, Carlo, Normin Joy and Krisly. My time with them was fun, very challenging and enjoyable.
Cris and I also reached out to our extended family, the Samar-Cocharo clan with a festive grand reunion of family and friends. Our relatives came to Dinalupihan, Bataan, from as far away as Manila, Pangasinan, Pampanga, Cavite and Olongapo. It was during this reunion that I realized that my brother and I are the eldest members of our clan. We began the gathering with a meaningful liturgy and continued by feasting on good food and having a fun time. Some of the younger generation entertained the elders with songs and dance numbers. One young cousin in particular brought much warmth to the hearts of listeners with her beautifully skilled voice.
I also spent a week in Southern Leyte, my home province. Here I met more relatives and old friends, many of whom had been my co-workers at the parish of San Juan. We had good sharing about their past experiences and about how they are doing now. Then I went on to Holy Rosary Academy in the town of Hinunangan. Many of my old friends there are now retired. Together, we too shared stories about the “good old days.”
Finally, I reached the island of Mindanao to visit our OLM sisters in Cagayan de Oro. To welcome me there were Sisters Mary Gauthier, Margaret Walsh, Lorie Nuñez and Anie Montejo. I arrived at quite a busy time. First, the sisters joined a farmers’ rally to protest the aerial spraying of toxic substances on pineapple plantations in the province of Davao. A few days later they also participated in a Muslim-Christian Walk for Peace.
All these activities made my time in the Philippines very special and meaningful. My visit to my home country was time well spent. Now I feel refreshed for my next adventure of continuing on in ministry wherever God directs me. It was not only a homecoming; it was also a warming of my heart, an experience I will forever remember.