Remembering Where It All Began

Being a student of Sisters of Mary (SOM) from 1992-1996 was an answered prayer, an opportunity that paved way to uplift my life and that of my family and those of the other thousands poor.

Working in Fr. Al’s Commission Office (FACO) for the Cause of Fr. Al from late 2003 to early 2004 was a privilege. I never had the chance to see him in person but the pride of knowing Fr. Al deeper will always be mine. It was during this time that I had a close encounter with him through his works, his words and the testimonies from the people so dear to him. It was then that I dreamt of visiting his charity works – not certain though which one first, when and how.

Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of SOM in Busan, South Korea – a humble place where he started it all – was a blessing. Indeed, a realization of almost forgotten dream.

The Family Spirit:
Wherever we are in the world, whoever we get to meet, SOM will always be a home, a family. Our gratitude for the Korean sisters’, graduates’ and children’s warm welcome and accommodation will never be quantified. They really made sure we feel at home; never a second did pass that we feel like strangers - always treated as one of them, a family member.

Fr. Al’s works:
Fr. Al will always be our Hero – the Champion of the Poor. His ‘womb to tomb’ charity works were exemplary noble. The poor, the unwanted, the sick, the dying and the underprivileged were his favorites – a true manifestation of living in Christ’ love. Standing on the places where he used to be and seeing how he continuously transforms the lives of many is a miracle – an experience I may not be able to express in plain words.

The Language:
It could have been a great barrier among us but with our gestures, our smiles and our eyes, we were able to conquer the walls between us. We didn’t understand each other right away but each moment that passed was a witness that we are indeed connected.

The Food:
Korea is known for hot and spicy foods – not really my cravings... I missed rice but I never got starved because the table was always long, made longer by the various food being served. Each bite was even tastier because of the shared stories and laughter.

The Generosity:
One of the best things I love about the people close to Fr. Al is their generosity – a virtue that never fades even if Fr. Al is no longer physically around. I was deeply inspired by the kindness of a great donor who treated us all (children, sisters and graduates) for a buffet lunch in celebration of the 50th Anniversary. Truly, no amount of money can satisfy a good soul – it must be transformed to a good deed.

The Adventure:
Adventure is wanting badly to go or have something but not sure of how to get it and still do something about it. Adventure is when two worried people joins the company of three stress-free people. Adventure is when a stranger told you to follow him even if the bus driver confirmed that his route is not passing by the place where you’re heading…and they’re both right. Adventure is when you’re almost there and the only means of transportation keeps on rejecting you – out in the middle of the night at the foreign land. Adventure is when you see the faces of those who hear your stories. We had all these – thanks to my travel buddies – Marlon, Randy, Glads and She… till the next tour

The 7th Batch:
Yes, I belong to batch 1996 or simply 7th batch -call us the best or the worst, it doesn't matter. I'll always be one proud, grateful 7th batch. It was overwhelming to meet some batchmates for the 1st time - it was like a mini reunion. We were few but the biggest in number of the group.

The place:
Busan is a nice place. The city's view prior to plane's landing is very welcoming. The roads are clear. The lights reflecting on seawater are very inviting as if they're pulling you out of the car to just take a walk and enjoy the solitude of the city at night. The environment is clean. Its structures are like Baguio of the Philippines. The cost of living sounds expensive but not really – I would say, just average. I’ve never been to so many places, but going back is already a plan for me.

My short stay in SOM, Busan, South Korea was not an ordinary vacation – it was a journey to celebrate life, love and thanksgiving!

Josephine Magadia Coro
Batch 1996
Sisters of Mary School
Girlstown Sta. Mesa

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