Memory Of The Heart

National Youth Day Experience
8 -12 November 2006 Davao City

By Sr Davidica ‘Bing’ G. Gunao DC

As Youth Coordinator and head of the delegation of the Apostolic Vicariate of Jolo, I experienced God’s manifold graces and blessings through the hospitality, generosity and warm welcome of the Davaoeños in general, our hosts, Assumption Parish, in particular, and specifically my foster-family, through whom God blessed me as their ‘foster-daughter’ together with another nun, Sr Gina FMM.

Sr Bing enjoying her 'youth' with some of the delegates

Upon our arrival in Davao, all the youth directors, coordinatorsand youth leaders were welcomed to a hearty NYD thanksgiving lunch at Dencio’s Restaurant. It was sponsored by the Mindanao-Sulu Pastoral Conference (MSPC) Secretariat headed by Fr Eking Lacostales, Regional Executive Secretary, and his staff.

Warm welcome

The warm welcome reception by the Assumption parishionersmade us feel it was our home away from home. The very attentive parishioners were well coordinated and oriented as regards their respective tasks in welcoming their host delegations. Kudos to Fr Frankie de los Reyes SSS, parish priest, and his parishioners, GKK (Gagmayng Kristohanong Katilingban or Basic Ecclesial Communities), host families and drivers, who untiringly and patiently attended to our needs - from fetching us at the airport, bringing us to the catechetical site venue for registration, for our meals, bringing us back and forth and finally seeing us off at the airport again.

The NYD activities, groupings and conferences were very enriching and informative to us delegates. The major theme of the catechesis deepened the faith of our youth delegates. It also allowed them to meet new friends and other youth from all over the Philippines. What was most striking for me was meeting delegates who were Muslims or Lumads (Indigenous people). I even spoke with one of theUlama delegates. ‘Ulama’ is an Arabic word meaning men who are learned in Islam and teach the true meaning of the Q’uran. I was glad to welcome them to such a huge Catholic Youth event.

Pilgrim walk

The noontime Pilgrim Walk that started from SM Davao to the Sto Niño Shrine of Prague tested our stamina and endurance.  We reached the Shrine, more than 800 meters above sea-level, at 3pm. Some delegates fainted from exhaustion, but they were all right, thanks to the Davao 911 rescue team. Thanks be to God, nobody from our delegation fainted.

The culminating celebrations, the Eucharist, followed by the Youth Jam, were held at the Sto Niño Shrine of Prague, the central venue for the more than 6,000 delegates. Like Jesus, who would go up the mountain to praise, pray and give thanks to God after his busy activities in his ministry, the NYD delegates went up the mountain to pray and thank God for the success of the National Youth Day.

Grateful memories

My foster-family was so kindhearted, very attentive and sensitive to our needs. The couple were working and really busy, but they tried their best to make us feel at home. Even their three children entertained us well. They made our last day together very memorable by bringing us to Eden Paradise Park. They provided us too with durian and other goodies to bring home as pasalubong. My heartfelt gratitude to Ate Leng and Kuya Ding.

For all these and more, I thank our loving and gracious God and our Blessed Mother for her constant maternal protection.

The theme of NYD, ‘Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path’, challenged me and every delegate to be a lamp and a light to other youth in our respective places and to let Jesus shine for the rest of our lives. May God be ever blessed.

You may write to:

Sr Bing G. Gunao DC
Vicariate Youth Coordinator
c/o Bishop’s Residence
JOLO, 7400 Sulu