More than 800 members of CFC Handmaids for Family and Life enjoyed a good break from the scorching summer heat last weekend, April 28-29, 2012, as they participated at the World Handmaids Congress (WHC) held at the CAP Convention Center in Camp John Hay, Baguio City.
The congress, carrying the theme “Choose Life… In A Heartbeat”, started on Saturday morning with the celebration of the Holy Mass led by Monsignor Gamaliel Tulabing. The congress’ facilitator, Sis. Baby Ligeralde, then led the audience to dance and sing to “Kapag Tumibok Ang Puso” which everyone quickly learned as the community dance for the weekend.
Session One, “The Sweet Life” was given by Sis. Rose Galvez. The participants were reminded how God planned a sweet life for each person from the moment God decided to create the universe. Aida Sotto and Prescy Ochoa, by their inspiring testimonies, proved that the sweet life is real. It was a moment to remember and be grateful for God’s goodness. At the conclusion of the session, chocolates were distributed to represent the truth of “how sweet it is to be loved by You”, by God Himself.
On Saturday afternoon, Sis. Mariles Borja led Session Two “Alive But Lifeless”, where participants reflected on the many death-dealing choices they have made in the past. This was a time to acknowledge past mistakes and repent for wrong choices made in order to be truly alive again. Sis. Vicki Custodio gave a testimony on the huge difference her choices have made after she joined HFL. Session Three “Crossing Over”, given by Sis. Menchie Donato, prepared the participants to crossover from death to life by taking into account 4 C’s: commitment, community, consecration and commemoration. Sis. Shirley Florentino and Sis. Flor Pingol shared about their personal crossover experiences.
The participants had the opportunity to make their own crossover from death to life and make a sacred commitment to choose life during the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, in the presence of Jesus, who is The Life Himself. They prayed with Mama Mary as they offered a decade of the Rosary for the different circumstances of the HFL members.
Saturday evening was a time to celebrate the crossover, the sisterhood and the sweet life as the participants got all dressed up for the “Dancing Queens” Fellowship Night. HFL Dance groups from Antipolo, Cubao, Manila, Paranaque, Pasig, Batangas, Bohol, Cavite, Cebu, Laguna, Tarlac, the foreign delegation, and the HFL Core Group performed to music inspired by the “Mamma Mia” musical. Sis. Beth Urgel and Sis. Marlyn Surtida led the sing-along segment of the program. After the impressive performances, the dance floor was open to everyone who needed no second invitation to dance the night away to the music played by the National Band led by Bro. Tony Cruz. HFL sisters truly came alive again that evening and showed everyone what fun is truly all about.
The next day, Sunday, started once again with the Holy Mass celebrated by Msgr. Tulabing. The final session, led by Sis. Reena Murga, encouraged everyone, to live out their convictions to choose life in their different circumstances as handmaids – whether widows, single moms, migrant workers, separated or divorced, wives of migrant workers, CFC wives, alone in the spirit or single and mature. The Praisefest, led by Teny Mardo, provided the perfect ending to what was a truly life-giving and grace-filled WHC weekend.
The melody and lyrics of the community dance went on playing in the mind and heart of every HFL who came to the congress: “Kapag tumibok ang puso, lahat ay gagawin para sundin si Kristo. Kapag tumibok ang puso, sa buhay ko, Lord siguradong una Ka! An army of dry bones has come alive at the WHC 2012. Now, more than ever, HFL will choose life … in a heartbeat!