Learning New Dance Steps with YOU…

Basilan is one of the most controversial, most dangerous and the least suggested place for a visit.  How come our speaker, Fr. Angel Calvo, CMF, a foreigner at that, chose Basilan
as a place for our exposure? Well, anyway, by his name he is an Angel… we have to trust him. He is indeed an Angel guiding us to see a lot of realities not only outside of us but within us.

Before leaving Basilan, in a very subtle way he led us to an examination of conscience, and to an analysis of our present situation, making me and others perhaps, realize
where I am or where we are in the strata of society.

How is my understanding of the so called Mission and the so called Mission of the Church?
Honestly I was like awakened from a comatose state… I realized I was doing things not so much conscious of what it is.

I did not even bother asking myself if what am I doing is still relevant in the context of my mission place that is the school among the youth. I did not mind to check if
the activities and programs done still respond to their needs.

As a counselor and a Campus Minister at the same time, did I really know who are the people who might be in the margins in the educational institution where I am? And why are
they marginalized?

These are just some of the questions that came to my mind. Somehow I felt ashamed of myself. I was dancing in my mission according to the usual rhythm or music. Only later did I know that it was already outdated, even in my perspective, “I have to do this for them” “ I have to dance for them to entertain them…”, “For…for…”   as if I have the monopoly of everything and they are nothing so they have to depend much on me.

In short Father Angel taught us to change our dance steps and change the music, not according to what we like but according to the music of JESUS and HIS GOSPEL. That is
never outdated for it is always new and dynamic.

Using his Angelic Power, Father Angel showed us the real dancers whom we are supposed to dance with, the so called marginalized, the people in the margins.

Literally and physically he showed us who these people are, as we finally reached Basilan.

True enough in his lectures Basilan as a place is already marginalized, people seem to be so scared even just hearing the name of the place… but what an irony! The place is
really quiet and the people are really simple.

More feelings was evoked when we arrived at the community of the Badjao and got in touch with them. As they told their stories and heir way of life, my heart was dancing not with
fondness but with different emotions: compassion for their situation. They are humans but it seems they are living and treated like less than humans and I am one of those… helpless and, on the other hand grateful for their hospitality, kindness, simplicity and humility, I appreciate their enthusiasm to learn and their openness to face the other side of life.
Looking at them dancing, I was also enticed to dance to be with them in my own little way, what was more touching for me was when they asked me to dance again with them, and when one of the Badjao women hugged me tightly and with her words of gratitude, I felt ashamed and guilty for what I have done to some other Badjaos I had seen on the streets…and, despite all that, here is one of their kind hugging me, thanking and accepting me.  It’s not they who ought to thank me, it’s me who ought to say “I’m sorry… and thank you for being such a wonderful gift to us, for giving us the opportunity to realize the reason of our vocation, and for affirming the gift of our personhood, and most of all for teaching us new dance steps in Christian Mission and in Christian living.

 Sr. Aura Rudelsol Matalines, RSM

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