SARF de Filipinas presents newly elected National Officers; celebrates online Christmas Party 2020
by Sis Edelyn Layumas-Celeste, SAR and Sis Herminia Villanueva, SAR (San Carlos Chapter)
The Secular Augustinian Recollect Fraternity held its very first Virtual National Christmas Party on December 20, 2020 via Zoom, as a pandemic-friendly alternative to a face-to-face social gathering. The event made history for SARF as, for the very first time, the community was able to hold a National Christmas Party, albeit virtually, attended by all the eighteen strong chapters of the Province of St. Ezekiel Moreno.
The event was ably hosted by our SARF National Secretary Sis. Marwin Oane, SAR, with the competent technical support of Bro. Jocabz Cabanes, SAR, and Bro. Jayzl Villafania Nebrê, SAR.
Sis. Herminia R. Villanueva, SAR, President of SARF de CST-R San Carlos, led the opening prayer, glorifying God as the source of all our blessings, amidst the health crisis that the world is experiencing.
Fray Dionisio Q. Selma, OAR, Prior Provincial of the Province of St. Ezekiel Moreno, in his Christmas message, assured us that we will never be alone and that the birth of Jesus is a message of hope. He further said that Jesus may not come in majesty and splendor, but He comes with compassion, to suffer with us, and to be with us, as a Brother, as a Father, as a companion. The strength of Christianity is in seeing Jesus in others, in bringing Jesus to others … in those who are thirsty, hungry and homeless. “Jesus is more than the pandemic; this is the reason why we continue to celebrate Christmas. Our achievements, investments, money and gifts may disappear, things that we associate with Christmas, but Jesus will remain with us forever,” Fray Selma shared.
Fray Emeterio D. Bunao, OAR, SARF Assistant National Spiritual Adviser, reflected on our charismatic identity as a community of Augustinian Recollects. He acknowledged SARF’s apostolic work especially in the contribution of aid to the poor. As one family, Fray Buñao said that “we anchor our hope and strength on the presence of the Blessed Virgin Mary.” He then extended his Christmas wish that “Mary and Joseph would bring us all together and that we may continue to live our charismatic identity with one heart and one soul; and that the Lord continue to shower us with hope and that we may not give up our communitarian spirit.”
Sister Marwin Oane then presented the newly-elected SARF NATIONAL OFFICERS for the Years 2021-2023, to wit:
|President||BRO. EDWIN RUIZ, SAR (SARF de Antipolo)|
|Vice President for Luzon||SIS. EVELYN BALINGUIT, SAR (SARF de Antipolo)|
|Vice President for Visayas||SIS. FE VIOLETA TARING, SAR (SARF de Valencia)|
|Luzon Councilors||SIS. ZENY LAPUZ, SAR (SARF de Provincialate)|
|BRO. JOCABZ CABANES, SAR (SARF de Baguio)|
|Palawan Councilor||SIS. CARMENCITA ONDA, SAR (SARF de Brooke’s Point)|
|Cebu Councilor||SIS. GLORIA RICARTE, SAR (SARF de Cebu)|
|Negros Councilor||SIS. CARMENDA LEONORAS, SAR (SARF de Bacolod)|
In his message, Bro. Edwin Ruiz, SARF National President, said that on this particular day, the SARF have chosen faith over fear to gather as one united in the purpose of faith, brotherhood and service. He then extended his humble gratitude to all members of the community for the trust and support bestowed on him and said that all credit for all the accomplishments that has been achieved should be given to the whole SARF community.
Bro. Edwin then reminded the community that we must not exist as a separate entity, because we are nothing without our team who unselfishly shared time, talent and treasure and their untiring support for the success of all the initiatives undertaken by SARF. He also acknowledged and thanked the support of all officers and members of the different local chapters. He likewise expressed gratitude for the unwavering support of our Prior Provincial, our National Spiritual Adviser and all local Spiritual Advisers who had been with us every step of the way. Lastly, Bro. Edwin said that all that we do is for the praise and glory of our Almighty God, without whom all this will not be possible.
Fray Samson Silloriquez, OAR, Spiritual Adviser of the newly established SARF de Our Lady of Visitation Parish-Recoletos Chapter in Urbiztondo, Pangasinan, extended his Christmas greetings to all. He conveyed that it is the birth of Jesus that we are celebrating however the situation is. He further conveyed that it is fear that brings us courage… In uncertainty, Jesus is our hope… In sadness, He is our joy… In darkness, He is our Light. We must put our trust in God. We must rejoice and be glad because God is Emmanuel. God is with us, He is our joy and our hope.
One interesting feature of the event was the “Kumustahan”, wherein a poll was given as to what our brothers and sisters perceived the year 2020 to be. Those who attended the virtual event would select from among the choices of inner thoughts or disposition for the year 2020 that applies to each of the members of the community. Majority thought that the year has been full of ups and downs, but it also gave them the chance and reason to deepen their faith through prayer.
Virtual games then followed which were so engaging, fun and easy to follow, and which answers were given by a chosen member of each chapter. The Christmas Pictionary and Name that Tune were group games, while the Bring Me Game with a Subsequent Task was an individual game.
The main event and the most awaited part of the virtual program was the presentation number of each chapter to which Sis. Marwin thanked each one for the effort and time spent to come up with their respective presentation which showcased the talent and the cooperation of each member .
The chapters which would perform their presentations were divided into three groups.
First in line were the SARs of SEMoNoRe Chapter Antipolo who sang and danced to the upbeat music, “Jingle Bell Rock”, all dressed up in flaming red tops.
The sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus High School Chapter, Brooke’s Point, Palawan, donning Filipiniana costumes, entertained the virtual audience with a medley of Tagalog Christmas songs.
All the way from Sierra Leone, Africa, the members of SARF de Kamalo of St. Paul Parish, crooned an animated Christmas song in acapella. The whole community was indeed very happy that they participated in the virtual event, thanks to their Spiritual Adviser Fray Dennis Castillo, OAR.
SARF de Provincialate, Quezon City impressed the virtual viewers with their own distinctive version of “12 Days of Christmas” while members of the newly-established chapter of SARF de Our Lady of the Visitation Parish-Recoletos, Urbiztondo, Pangasinan swayed gracefully to a variety of bouncy English and Tagalog Christmas melodies.
Displaying sheer confidence, grace and creativity, the brothers and sisters of SARF de Bacolod, moved rhythmically to Mariah Carey’s “O Santa”. Indeed, one can see the support and cooperation shown by the chapter’s members and feel the enthusiasm they felt while performing their number.
SARF de Cavite Chapter members delightfully and joyfully sang “Pasko na Naman” and “Christmas in Our Hearts” dressed in their Christmas-colored red outfits while two young members of the Our Lady of Consolation Parish, SARF de Laray gracefully danced to “Oops” by Little Mix, showing all the exuberance of youth.
Performing to Wham’s “Last Christmas”, a few sisters from SARF de San Carlos exhibited graceful fluidity in spite of the years and endurance beyond their normal powers.
The Our Lady of the Abandoned Parish – SARF de Valencia took center stage with their Cha-cha number to the music of “Feliz Navidad”.
SARF de Baguio brought the house down with its rendition of “Mi Burrito Sabanero”, a Christmas Song about a donkey who travelled to the manger to see Jesus. The sisters gracefully danced to the lucid vocals of Bro. Jocabz Cabanes, SAR, who sang in solo the title song while joining in the dance himself. Call that multi-tasking!!
Observing safety protocols by wearing masks on their faces and with Santa hats on their heads, the sisters of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish – SARF de Cebu performed ecstatically and buoyantly to “All I Want for Christmas” without any apparent sign of weariness but with all excitement and eagerness.
Showing to all and sundry that Jesus is the reason for the season, the sisters of RFC – Miranila, wearing red face masks, gently swayed to the vocals of Sis. Marlin Regalado, singing the song “Mama Mary, O Where is Jesus Christ?”, their modified version of the song, “Mamacita, Donde Esta Santa Claus?”. The lyrics of their song included a line of prayer for mercy and love for the OAR religious of Miranila.
Last but definitely not the least to perform were the sisters from San Nicolasd de Tolentino Parish Chapter, Talisay City who gave a rocking performance to the tune of “Jingle Bell Rock” with the facade of the parish church at the background.
Just before the event drew to a close, a sneak preview of all presentations was given. As minor technical glitches occurred during the supposed voting on the winners of the presentation numbers, it was then agreed that the video of the presentations be sent to the Spiritual Advisers and they then be requested to serve as judges of the competition.
The announcement of the winners of both the Chapter presentations and the games were made via Zoom on December 28, 2020. Sis. Marwin Oane, SAR informed the National Council Members and the Local Chapter Presidents that, instead of the Spiritual Advisers serving as judges of the competition, they got the service of three persons to be the judges: Fray Rene Paglinawan, OAR, the monks at St. Ezekiel Moreno Monastery and from the lay, a retired public high school teacher.
The winners of the Chapter Presentations were:
First Prize – SARF de Baguio, with a score of 93.33%, winning P5,000.00.
Second Prize – SARF de Bacolod, with a score of 92.00%, winning P3,000.00.
Third Prize– SARF de Urbiztondo, with a score of 88.67%, winning P2,000.00.
All the non-winning chapters received P1,000.00 each.
The winners of the Christmas Party games were:
First Prize, with 19 correct answers was SARF de Bacolod with a prize of 10 pieces SARF T-Shirts. Second Prize, with 18 correct answers, was SARF de Antipolo with a prize of 7 SARF T-Shirts. Third Prize, with 15 correct answers, was SARF de Miranila with a prize of 5 SARF T-Shirts.
The virtual program culminated with a Closing Prayer by Fray Julius James Tinapao, OAR, who intoned a prayer from our Father St. Augustine.
The traditional picture-taking/screenshot followed.
Everybody had a great time and spirits were uplifted amidst this time of tremendous anxiety. We deeply thank the Lord for the wonderful opportunity of this SARF Christmas gathering, albeit virtually.