On Day 4 of the 4th World Apostolic Congress of Mercy (WACOM 4), January 19, 2016, held at Marilao, Bulacan’s National Shrine and Parish of the Divine Mercy, a man crippled by polio became a witness of the “Church of and for the poor” thanks to the auspices of Caceres Archbishop Rolando Tira-Tirona, OCD, DD.
Through the presentation of a short documentary made by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines – National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace (CBCP- NASSA) that Tirona Chairs, Jose Alano Regala witnessed to his life as a Person With Disability (PWD), to his poverty, and to the difficulties encountered by Typhoon Yolanda survivors.
The video showed Regala, usually with face touching the floor, had to crawl his way up in everything, including his own bed. As if this was not enough, Typhoon Yolanda completely destroyed his home and livelihood–leaving only his coconut trees, which he eventually needed to give away for free as help to other typhoon victims.
“Kasi yun lang po ang meron akong maibibigay. Pera wala naman,” he said in Filipino during a short interview conducted after the Archbishop’s talk that included presenting him on stage to the WACOM 4 worldwide delegates to fulfill his dream of singing in Public. He sang Marco Sison’s “My Love Will See You Through”. (“Because this is all I have. Money, I don’t have.”)
Regala, as shown in the CBCP-NASSA Documentary, actually lived out the three things Archbishop Tirona enumerated during his talk on “Witnessing to the Mercy of God as the Church of and for the Poor” as means to attain Church of and for the poor: intimacy with Jesus, immersion in the life of the Church, and involvement especially in the lives of the poor.
This meant embracing “the sacrifice of Jesus”, listening in silence, being “co-celebrators” instead of being “spectators”, and sharing God’s blessings even in the midst of personal sufferings, according to the Archbishop.
Hopeless before encountering CBCP-NASSA and Typhoon Yolanda, Regala expressed in the video his gratitude to all the people who helped him and his family become not only survivors of the storms in their life but also empowered for it through the formations given them of top of the donations.
“I just want to tell my wife and my children to trust and have faith in God. He knows everything…what is good for us,” he said before the video ended, “Sa mga katulad ko, magsikap lang kayo at manalig sa Diyos. Habang buhay, may pagasa!” (“To those like me, just strive hard and have faith in God. There is hope while there is life!”)
Fully applauded for his song number and his witnessing, Regala was given a statue of the Divine Mercy by Archbishop Tirona and the WACOM 4 Organizing Committee. (~Jyn E. Aragon, M.D. with inputs from Minnie Agdeppa)