I can’t help but remember what my parish priest told my mother before I entered the seminary: “Maaga ho siyang tumanda.”
Even as a young boy, I would love to sit beside my lola or even my titos and titas waiting to hear their stories and asking them questions born out of curiosity. When I began to serve the church at the age of ten, I still wanted to interact more to people ahead of my age. Yes, the manangs and manongs of the church know me a lot. Well, they even predicted that I would become a priest someday. J I think, its just that I really want to learn from them, I wanted to advance in knowledge if I may say to the extent of sacrificing some of the childhood pleasure. I think, maaga nga po akong tumanda. Anyway, I also played childhood games, its just that I did not adventured much. Feeling ko kasi noon dapat ang magiging pari mabait na kahit bata pa.
Before narrating all of my childhood stories and then the entire autobiography, allow me to express what I feel.
I am very grateful to the AYLC experience.
I never expected to make it to the final list of 81 delegates. With the tag of being one of the “most promising youth leaders in the country” (Try to google it on the net. Haha).
I felt happy yet bothered.
I’m bothered that my ‘matanda instinct’ would spoil the entire experience. It was not until I met those 80 wonderful people of my batch and the other personalities that exited me most. The matanda instinct subsided. Imagine the sight of that bunch of people waving, welcoming us to the congress venue. Wow, it was just heartwarming!
The conferences, panel discussion, challenges and other activities the following days exited me more – not wanting to go back home anymore (don’t tell it to the seminary fathers. Hahaha).
Of course, how could I forget the mouthwatering lunch and dinner that were really SIMPLY DELICIOUS! Which by the way become more delightful when shared with people from the Ayala companies who have shared their own words of wisdom. My stomach was always full and so was my mind.
Most of all, I won’t forget the 80 folks to whom I shared the genuine youth within me. In tagaytay with them, I did not feel that I am really old. The energy and enthusiasm as well as the bright ideas were just amazing! It drove me to go beyond my box all the more. I felt their companionship and concern. I really owe a lot of realization from my AYLC batchmates. Their experiences of weakness made me strong. Their experiences of brokenness made my heart whole.
After AYLC, I realized that I am not a manong yet. I have a long way to go and I must enjoy everyday. I must become the youth as I am – passionate and energetic, willing to take risks and learn from experiences.
And I think, it is important for the path that I chose, a priest must always be a youth who is always open for change and development, a youth that lives life to its fullest.
Maaga man akong tumanda, salamat sa Diyos sa pagbibigay sa akin ng pagkakataon na mapabilang sa 13th AYLC upang mahanap ang bata sa kalooban ko. Kung mayroon mang kislap sa akin, iyon ay ang mga bagay na naunawaan ko.
Franz is taking up Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy at the Immaculate Conception Major Seminary in Bulacan. He is fondly called “Father” by his batchmates.