Message of Dr. Lester Edwin J. Ruiz at the Christmas Alumni/ae gathering hosted by CPUAA of the Northeast, Calvary Baptist Church, Clifton, New Jersey, December 6, 2014
Banquets are critical part of culture and the building of community
For many, if not most, of the cultures and peoples of the world, eating together—sharing meals—having banquets, are an important part of the creation and nurture of community, of “life-together.”
In the Philippine context, there are at least three practices that are a crucial part of “life together:” eating, singing, and storytelling; and, maybe dancing and praying—these activities are what make up Filipino “fiestas.” To my mind, your regular gatherings in this place are part of what “fiestas” are about.
So let me invite all of us to reflect briefly together about banquets and fiestas; and perhaps, afterwards we can talk about what banquets have to do with us Centralians and life together, especially of living together well, finally.
Images of Banquets in the Bible
There are many images of banquets or shared meals in the Bible. Today I would like to draw our attention to at least four.
The Banquet of King Xerxes
First, there is the banquet of King Xerxes (Ahasuerus) recorded in the Book of Esther. In that powerful, moving text, the author describes in the greatest of detail what kind of banquet King Xerxes held. While everyone was invited, it is very clear that this banquet was only for the important men of the empire.
The King even wanted the Queen to offer herself for the pleasure of these important men. And when she refused, he divorced her.
I suspect this story is strangely familiar to us. So familiar, that it deserves no further elaboration, except to say, How many times have we felt that only the most powerful, the most important, the most “beautiful people” deserve to sit at the “head table” of our banquets?
Or worst, how many of us are convinced, in our hearts, at least, that power and privilege—whether it comes from tradition, or wealth, or knowledge—are the primary criteria for honor and respect, instead, perhaps, of the simple reality that we are all human beings loved by God—this creator and ruler of the universe, who arrives among us in a dirty, stinky stable, of an unwed teenage girl, and whose first visitors were probably uneducated sheep herders?
The Banquet of Queen Vashti
Second, there is the banquet given by Queen Vashti. In contrast to the way King Xerxes’ banquet was described, the author of the Book of Esther has only one line for Queen Vashti’s banquet: “Meanwhile, Queen Vashti gave a drinking party for the women in the palace where King Artaxerxes was…”
I have often wondered why the storyteller had only one line for Queen Vashti’s banquet, while he had at least 25 lines for King Xerxes’ banquet. One interpretation with which I am familiar suggests that Queen Vashti invited all the women who were not invited to the party of King Xerxes—in other words, all the women who were excluded from the centers of the power and privilege of the military leaders of Persia and Media, the princes, and the nobles of the provinces.
I have to tell this story. I am told that my mother and father had a “grand wedding;” that her veil trailed behind her at least thirty feet; and that at their reception, all the honored guests, many of whom were dressed in their Sunday best, including for the men, those black and white wing-tip patent leather shoes, were served on the lawn in front of my grandfather’s house—but, that all of my grandmother’s family and friends, many naka tsinelas lang, the men wearing T-shirts, the women naga mamâ, were gathered at the back of the house close to what today would be called a “dirty kitchen” and were practically invisible to the guests at the front.
Mea culpa. Mea culpa.
The story in the Book of Esther also has a very contemporary “ring” to it. How often does the work of wives, daughters, and sisters, gotten only a small acknowledgement, if at all, even though, we know that it was because of their work that made an event successful, for example, a church dinner, or an alumni/ae “potluck,” or, even, keeping the house clean, the meals cooked, the clothes ironed—in addition to taking care of the children… and taking care of the men in the public square? Some of my friends have called this the invisibility of the women of our time.
The Banquet on the Mountainside
Third, there is the banquet of the “feeding of the five thousand.” The story, with which we are all familiar that it does not need re-telling, is profound in its simplicity. In a world of scarcity, a world of selfishness, one boy, with a simple baon—not at all a banquet by most standards—in his willingness to share what he had, through the power of Jesus, was not only able to feed five thousand, but had plenty left over.
What is interesting to me is that nowhere in the story are we told that if we share, we should be rewarded with God’s blessing. No prosperity gospel here. The boy gave, without the expectation of any future reward. He gave because it was in his heart to share. Judging from what he had, he probably was not a boy from a wealthy family—but he opened his heart and his hands—and the world was blessed.
The Eucharistic Meal
Finally, there is the banquet we call the Lord’s Supper. And even though this is familiar to most of us, this one deserves re-telling. The author of the Gospel of John tells this story:
“… Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean…”
And the author of the Gospel of Matthew continues…
“…While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives…”
Three things touch my heart in this story.
First, Jesus knew beforehand that someone in his inner circle would betray him. Yet, that betrayal was not enough to exclude Judas from being invited to the table of the Lord. Jesus also knew that Peter would deny him; and yet, that denial was not enough to exclude him from being invited to the table of the Lord.
Second, the Eucharist was a simple meal of remembrance. The disciples gathered for the traditional Jewish Passover meal, which Jesus turned into a time of remembrance, not only of his life, death, and resurrection—his sacrifice—but also, of what God was going to do in the world.
And, third, and for me, the most moving, the meal was preceded by Jesus washing the feet of his disciples… an act of humility and service; a reminder for us of what true leadership and greatness involve.
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PHOTO CREDIT: Dondon Gonzaga Faldas
NANI ARANETA DE LEON shares on her FB:
During her last visit to Iloilo, she called me up and requested me to visit her at Roselund where she stayed. In the span of my 2 hours visit, we talked about a lot of things but this story really stood out.
She told me that life wasn’t always that easy for her but that she is so thankful she is blessed with a son, a daughter-in-law and family who love her so much and who have provided every comfort for her aside from the medical aspect of life.
I will forever remember how her eyes lit up as she told me with great delight about her room. “I wish you and your Mom could visit & see it…”
She could not get over how blessed she is to have this beautiful room now that she is in her 80s. In their new home which she lovingly referred to as “Higher Ground,” she said that she could see the mountains & a beautiful sunrise each new day from her bedroom. One just marvels at a dazzling blend of oranges & pinks.
The perfect setting for one’s morning prayer or meditation. “It’s like a little glimpse of Heaven!” she exclaimed. “I am so looking forward to Heaven which I know will be more beautiful than this!”
Well Auntie Ruth…you closed your eyes and opened them to the loveliest sunrise of all. You have beauty all around you and celestial music for eternity. We bid not goodbye but we say “See you in the morning…”
EDWIN I. LARIZA writes in his 17 April 2014 blog post “Is suffering a virtue? “
For I know very well Prof. Ruth Ciriaco Corvera. How she spent the best years of life on her passion for service as pastor and social worker. Either in church or community, she consistently espouses her development slogan- empower people to reach their full potential before God. I have been a witness to her irresistible commitment.
Nothing can stop her, not even problems, difficulties, illness, pains and sufferings. She has given all with seemingly nothing for her old age. Yet, at the age of 82, she was stricken with cancer. Now on the eighth year, six years of which were in stage-4, she continues to think of ways how she could be useful to others.
… Now, I realized my experience pales in comparison to hers. Her condition is even worse than mine. Yet, she still has the time to periodically call me and inspire me to hold on and go on with life and service.
PHOTO CREDIT: NANI ARANETA DE LEON
MORE TO COME…
Pete and Judy were inducted to the University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences’ Medical Mission Hall of Fame on 22 March 2014 at UT Health Science Campus.
Source: CPU Blog
Dr. Pete Obregon is the product of an American medical mission in the Philippines. His parents were the first converts to the Christian faith in Hollo in the early 1900s.
After graduating from a Baptist university in the Philippines, he had a private practice in Point Pleasant, W.Va., and later in Columbus, Ohio.
While Pete and Judith started two homeless clinics in Columbus, they were dedicated to care for the underserved medical and surgical needs of the poor in the Third World. Their medical mission work included the Philippines, El Salvador, Africa, the Dominican Republic and Mexico.
In 1993, Pete was appointed medical director for the Medical Ministry International for Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe. He left private practice to work full time for the organization.
Since making that life-transforming decision, Pete and Judith have taken 134 medical and surgical teams to 39 countries. Judith has served as project director for many of the missions, and she has taught respiratory therapy techniques to nurses.
Source: UT News
From email of Pete and Judy
Judy and I had a wonderful and humbling weekend when we were inducted into the Medical Mission Hall of Fame at the University of Toledo in Toledo, Ohio. God used us as His vessels for His work and we thank Him for this honor.
Below are three pictures from the ceremony. First is Judy and I accepting the award, the second is the wall plaque at the Hall of Fame and the third is a picture of the 2014 inductees, Dr. and Mrs Bransford, Judy and I, Dr. Conway, the President of the Hall of Fame, Dr. Marchbein of the Doctors without Borders and Dr. McGinnes, Dean of UT College of Medicine. Professionally taken pictures will follow.
Thank you so much for your prayers and support.
Love, Pete and Judy
Read more about Pete Obregon by clicking this –>OBREGON FAMILY
PHOTO CREDIT: UT News
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We read the news published on the Manila Bulletin “PH’s top nursing school still in Iloilo” and how we wished it was our beloved CPU.
Then we gathered from social media through the “POSITIVELY CENTRALIAN FB Page” that the Dean of WVSU College of Nursing, Dr. Rosanna Belo is CPU BSN CLASS 1978 graduate.
Yes. The Dean of the top Nursing school in the country is graduate of Central Philippine University.
Margaret Rose Dominadao started the thread on the POSITIVELY CENTRALIAN FB Page:
KUDOS to Dean Rosanna Belo ( CPU BSN CLASS 78) for her outstanding performance in leading the WVSU College of Nursing….consistently 100% board rating plus topnotchers for many years now. The parents have spoken!
As a nurse educator myself, I always believe that the most important reward is when parents and students affirm that you have touched their lives. I have taught in WVSU a few years after graduation from CPU upon the recommendation of former Dean Natividad Caipang. Nursing schools in Iloilo used to get instructors from CPU.
Si Ma’am Caipang ang ila gina-tawgan kon kilanlan nila teacher and she would recruit her graduates. Those were the good old days, I guess. RosGrace Belo SO PROUD OF MY BFF!!! We share the passion and dedication for quality nursing education. POSITIVELY CENTRALIAN!!!
Read further information about Dean Belo through the responses at the FB page:
Please read Dean Belo’s responses on the FB thread and discover her outstanding quality as a leader. She’s posting as “RosGrace Belo”:
“There are people telling me to apply as Dean at CPU, and I have always been consistent with my answer. As long as the Dean is my former teacher, I will never compete because I am what I am today, because of my former teachers.”
What a wonderful statement of humility from the Dean of Philippine’s top Nursing school, Dr. Rosanna Belo.
Congratulations Centralian Rosanna Belo for your achievements!
By the way, the writer of the Manila Bulletin article, Tara Yap is also a Centralian.
WISHFUL THINKING NOW….
Being the pioneer of Nursing education in the Philippines, we are hoping CPU could bring back the old glory of 100 percent passing rate in the Nursing Licensure Exam.
Do you have some suggestions?
Centralians, here’s the reply of President Robles to the Open Letter to CPU President Robles from Concerned Alumnus.
June 10, 2014
Dear Dr. Ruiz,
Thank you for your email. I have not received any email from you for the last 12 months at least. It is your right to release your email with or without my reply. It appears that information coming from the Philippines are either incomplete or distorted.
On the Diesto case, CPU has been banking with Allied Bank/PNB long before I became president. Nelson is blaming the university for the loss of 2000 pesos in his ATM account and even accusing the university of conniving with the bank. The security of his ATM card is his responsibility. According to the bank’s record and the CCTV recording, a woman was standing in front of the ATM machine at the time the withdrawal was made. The university can’t be responsible for the security of the ATM card of all employees. The person who withdrew the amount knew the pin number of Nelson’s ATM card. The suspension would have been canceled if he apologized to the university. Please read his so called apology and you will know why it is not an apology.
Regarding transparency issues. All transactions are audited internally and also by an external auditor. The internal auditor and accountant visits university projects to make sure that everything is in order. The business office has complete financial records on donations, grants, etc and all disbursements are properly recorded and follow strictly the university guidelines. The BOT receive regular reports on the activities of the administration.
Some people think that I stole money from the university to build my house. They are forgetting that my wife and I worked in the U.S for more than 35 years and we sold our house in Wisconsin before the housing market fell.
The research projects funded by DOST and DA are progressing as expected and have supported the research work of three faculty members and several 4th year students. There developments that will greatly enhance native chicken production. Several LGUs and even DSWD are developing livelihood projects for their constituents with the support of our native chicken project. We are helping the poor not bribing them. For the first time in the history of CPU we harvested 758 sacks of rice in Zarraga farm even though some areas were affected by typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda). Thanks to the dedication of some of our faculty especially in the College of Agriculture. Our research projects are geared towards commercialization and technology transfer to the farmers. There will be more discoveries to make because of the original research grant and the continuing support of DOST, DA and CPU.
Alumni donations made it possible for CPU to provide fishing boats and accessories to 25 beneficiaries. One alumna donated 25 fishing boats. Alumni from Agriculture and students from Business and Accountancy donated more than 20 fishing boats to another village.
The research and publication (International journal) entry of the dean of CARES was the 2013 national winner of the CHED REPUBLICA Award. Qualifiers were from UP, Dilliman, UP, Los Banos, UST, Ateneo de Manila, Ateneo de Davao, De LaSalle and USC.
Thanks for your interest in the developments at CPU. To God be the Glory!
Teodoro C. Robles, PhD
Central Philippine University
CPU Blog got this message from Dizzy Dizon:
Hi, I am trying to get a link to inform CPU folks of the passing of Edith Dizon-Fitzsimmons, a CPU alumni and a past Dean of the CPU School of Music.
Her funeral service will be held on the 24th of March 2014, Wesley Uniting Church Shepparton Vic Australia.
If you need more information, please email me on: firstname.lastname@example.org
CPU alumna and a past Dean of the CPU School of Music
Lifetime Achievement Award, Texas Woman’s University ’95
Senior Australian of the Year 2003
Click this link to read more >>A face of courage, vision and hope
Edith Dizon~Fitzsimmons sky jump at 80 yrs. of age
Know more about Edith through Centralians who know her
The urge to write this has been great so here it goes. Of course these are all in my opinion, but feel free to agree or disagree.
You know, at first I said to myself a party is something that’s a part of this age, this generation, and that students should know how to organize it, to utilize it as a medium for fund raising and of doing good.
But then I came to a conclusion as well that, while yes we need to adjust to the times, an event sponsored by CPU should still be in accordance with its vision and mission. We teach this in various leadership trainings where I’m connected. When we do programs or events, how is it in connection with the organization I am apart of?
I believe that CPU is not rebranding. It’s a simple case of,are we all on the same boat? Is top management cascading that yes, while times are changing we do need to adjust to the changes in society, but where do we set the limitations to this change?
I am for change. I embrace change and I believe that CPU should be moving forward in many aspects, its ideals and philosophies as well as opening up to more linkages more, schools of thought, opening up to more technology. But at the center of every activity are still EXCEL, and the mission statement. This should be strengthened.
How do we achieve those when the times are changing? It’s not 1905 anymore, not 1945, not 1970, not 1998 but 2014. Times ARE different, the youth’s attention is shifting. Central,how do we become relevant so that the students you have today can keep up with the top schools of the country while still keeping the branding of EXCEL.
I’m not saying that partying is bad. I’m a Centralian and I enjoy partying. I’ve partied in Manila, Iloilo, Bacolod, even Beijing and New York. I don’t think it has made me any less of a Centralian.
Excessive partying is bad. Getting Inebriated to a state where you’re unaware of your actions is bad. Losing all sense of sensibility and responsibility when partying/getting drunk is bad.
While I understand that to the youth today, partying is part of “growing up”, Central’s role to this thinking should be from another light.
The right questions we should be asking as Centralians are:
- “Is partying the best way to show we are socially relevant in this age/century?”
- “Are there other, more better ways to engage huge numbers of people? “How are we contributing to the development of the youth?”
- “What are we doing to divert all the youthful energy from partying?”
- “What difference can we make by getting the youth and the community more involved?”
That is the pro-active response I post as a challenge to Central. Christian teachings we preach at Central Philippine University should be supported with socially relevant actions to bridge the lack of information, the lack of actions and options to be taken by the younger generation.
This is not to limit creativity, freedom and growth, but to direct all energy towards the right direction, one worthy of the branding EXCEL.
Let the recent events be a wake up call. Not to play the blame game, or to say God is punishing us. That would be totally inaccurate.
Be it a wake up call that we can do so many more things with our youth, our energy. And we need a better definition and manifestation of being socially relevant.
My Condolences to the Family of the Victim.
Wake up Central, Wake Up.
About Josh Javier Misajon
- Born and raised in Iloilo, City Philippines.
- Adrenaline Junkie, Sports Enthusiast, Tennis Player
- Marketing Professional
- Adventure Blogging as a means of creative outlet and past time.
- Into Nation Building and community service.
- BSBA Marketing Management 2006 – Central Philippine University
- CPU Republic President 2008-2009
- Ayala Young Leader
This is one national convention that Centralians in related fields should consider attending.
The 53rd Annual PAFT Convention is set 2-4 July 2014 at SMX Convention Center, SM Aura Premier, Taguig City.
Visit and “Like” the The Philippine Association of Food Technologists, Inc. Annual Convention to receive updates about the event.
Learn more about PAFT through their website: http://www.paft-phil.com/about_us.html
CPU is proud to have an alumnus in the person of Engr. Asiel Nils Castillon (ChE ’87) sitting in the PAFT Board of Directors. He’s been helping the national organization’s programs for several years now.
Centralians, students, faculty and staff members who desires to be updated, gain knowledge and exposure in food technology should consider attending the 53rd Annual PAFT Convention.
Some call it ‘pocket reunions’ or you may call it a visit. Whatever, the fact is Centralians are meeting and gathering in New Zealand.
We know there are Centralians in Wellington, Oamaru, Dunedin, Christchurch and other places of New Zealand.
We could assume they also find time to meet and fellowship and recall their lives as students of CPU.
Here are some of the Centralian encounters in 2013.
On 1 December 2013, joining the fellowship of fellow Ilonggos in Oamaru and Timaru are Centralians: Marilyn Cox, Helen Grace Bayot Banzuelo, Jonan and Jewel Castillon.
Some Centralians living in Auckland, their spouses and children gathered at Joe and Leah Soliva’s house on 28 December 2013.
The Quimbas (Boyet and Sharon), Sanglaps (Nathan and Phoebe) and Castillons (Jonan, Jewel and Jadyn) were there.
On 29-31 December 2013, the Castillons took time out for life with the Jarbadans who are living in Tauranga. From Auckland, they drove 2.5 hours to reach the place
Tauranga is a progressive city in the Bay of Plenty region of North Island, New Zealand.
During their visit to Hamilton, the Castillons and Jarbadans took time to meet with Gene and Marj Anotado and Joy Lam.
Hamilton is the main city of the Waikato Region in the North Island of New Zealand. It’s a 1.5 hour-drive from Tauranga.
The meetings are surely memorable moments for all and they’re hoping to have another chance to see each other.
Based on the Aotearoa Centralians FB page, there are 44 alumni living in New Zealand.
Let us hope that Centralians in New Zealand will have a big gathering in the near future.