In December of 2004, I met a future Jesuit volunteer. It was at the Loyola House lobby, as a storm was about to hit Manila, and her organization, a group of mountaineers, was taking part in what I still think was Ateneo de Manila’s finest hour in recent memory. It was a massive relief effort that involved, late into the night, hundreds of people sorting, packing, and putting away bags of food and clothing for victims of the worst storm season the Philippines ever saw. I had a chat with her as we were doing some sorting in one corner of the lobby. She was, back then, a freshman.
Looking back, nearly four years on, it did not surprise me one bit that she was chosen to be part of the 29th batch of Jesuit volunteers. I said so to her, after she told me that she was accepted to the JVP’s roster. She had an altruistic streak from the beginning, I added. Whether she was flattered or not, I could not say. But that was the first impression I had of her, and now that she will be off to Calapan, Oriental Mindoro, for her year of ministry (for it really is, I dare say), I am proud that of all the people in the class of 2008 I have known, she was the one who really chose to be different.
So I am going to remember Carmela Casugbu, a Communications graduate, in my prayers tomorrow as she leaves for her area, and in the months to come.
I learned a new phrase from the former rector of Holy Trinity, Fr Tyler Strand, called “the terpsichorean succession.” He was referring to the two Episcopal bishops in Manila, both incumbent and predecessor, doing the gansa at his farewell and parish fiesta. Tonight, I am inventing a homage to Fr. Tyler—the “communicative succession.” Let me explain.
Carmela Casugbu is the second straight Comm graduate from Ateneo de Manila to be a Jesuit volunteer. In last year’s batch, Iame Orcullo (Comm ‘01) was sent off to Borongan, Samar. (Iame is pronounced ya-me.) I knew Iame, among other things, as a registration volunteer and a mutual friend of a number of other Comm majors. And I was stunned to see her at the JVP mission mass this afternoon. As I was heading back from the communion station, I saw her and thought, “Wait a minute, I know her!” It was at the post-liturgical reception that we caught up with each other.
So there is such a thing as “communicative succession.” As one returns, another leaves.