Service. Not fame. Not for personal glory.
For service, and for the greater glory of God.
It’s a cynical, cynical world indeed, with more and more people spouting dialectics and post-modern ideology, and a growing number of young people being pulled towards a more secular, more materialist view on things.
And then there’s the Parish Youth Choir of the Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage, a parish under Fr. Angelo “Jojie” Ansula. The PYC is a diverse group of young volunteers all with different backgrounds but with the same commitment: to serve God by offering a part of their time and talent, one uplifting song at a time.
A mind borne out of skepticism would view that mindset as archaic, conservative, even off-putting in its seeming naiveté and idealism.
But it exists.
And it makes those voices soar to, well, high heavens.
Most of the choir members agree that the willingness to offer the best of themselves through singing is a value strongly nurtured by their mentor, guitar and music meister Marites “Matá” Bermeo.
In another world, Mata — Manang Matá to the choirlings — would be at the very least a cover artist signed by a music label.
She opts, however, to use her considerable talents in honing like-minded individuals, serving His ministry through singing.
FOR GOD’S GLORY
“We are not doing this for ourselves; this is for Him, for the community,” Ronel Ligaya, one of the older members of the choir tells DNX.
When told that the rest of the community sees them as “acclaimed”, Ronel seems to find that hard to believe.
“That is not something that any of us are thinking of as of the moment. Manang Mata stressed that to us: we are not doing this to gain fame; we are doing this for service, to God and to the community,” Ronel says.
Indeed, the PYC has slowly but surely endeared itself to their community, as more and more parishioners seek out schedules of masses when they are expected to sing.
THEY ARE THAT GOOD.
LIKE MOHAMMED AND THE MOUNTAIN
An unexpected challenge, however, had gone the way of the PYC of the OLPGV.
The current health crisis had placed an invisible yet palpable barrier between community and choir. The SARS-CoV-2 has been ruthlessly creating division even among families, and the OLPGV parish is no different.
As the saying goes, though, “If the mountain will not come to Mohammed, Mohammed will go to the mountain.”
Because after all, what’s technology for?
The PYC has since been doing both digital and community rounds, recording concerts, gospel songs, uplifting music over their socmed page.
They have also remained committed by going to choir practices (observing strict social distancing, of course), as well as bringing Lenten prayers to homes via a very condensed, very austere version of the prusisyon.
Charlet Dolorfino, one of the veterans, has pushed her voice on the edge, as she was designated singer for three straight days during Holy Week, a job that demands she sing for hours straight, exposed under all kinds of weather at that.
“I see it is as something I need to commit to… For His glory. Every time I am asked to sing, I always tell myself that is something I have committed to do for the Church and for God,” she said.
Such is commitment, something that former seafarer Jann Rey “RJ” Lapian knows too well. A career person hired by law firm, RJ divides his time between work and Church.
Weekdays are for his work, but Sundays are always set aside for service. On normal days, that means being on Church from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
And then of course there’s their tech guy, Gerald Jester Guance who is responsible for using tech to bring that mountain to Mohammed.
Just recently, for instance, they did a concert streamed live over Facebook for frontliners whom Ronel described as “medical, military, those manning the frontlines including those who continue working so that we can still enjoy utilities like water, power, and telecommunications”.
“We dedicated that concert for them… there are issues that have torn this country apart. It is time we unite, so that we can heal,” he says.
LIKE FAMILY, LITERAL AND OTHERWISE
That choir is like family is a given. There is, however, the case of the Dawa Sisters, Shaniah, Maraih, and Annie Kiara. Shaniah is currently the youngest member of the choir, having joined at a very young age.
There is also Darlene Joy Vallejera, and Raymund Rubio all finding solace in a group of friends with the same purpose: to sing for the service of the community.
“We can feel that the community really has this longing to be with the Church but there is nothing they can do because of the crisis,” Ronel says, “Hopefully, with what we are doing, we have successfully brought the Church, and the presence of the God to their homes.”