My Happy Place

Eight and a half years. It’s been that long, or short, depending on one’s perception of time.

That was on a hot and humid day in April when I met Fr. Jun Sipalay, O.P. It was the vestition ceremony of my friends.

I have heard so many good things about Fr. Jun, but what struck me most was the aura of holiness I saw in him. He was the Master of Novices at the Dominican Novitiate of the Annunciation (DNA) during the time when I often visited Manaoag, Pangasinan.

Thus started the countless times I endured the 1 1/2 hour trip from Laguna to Manila and the 5-hour trip to Manaoag just to visit my friend in my “happy place.”

My Happy Place. The Dominican Novitiate of the Annunciation (DNA) serves as the formation house of the novices of the Dominican Order. It is here where the novices are temporarily separated from the outside world. It is also here where I found peace and serenity, where it was all right not to have a cell phone signal, where it was comforting to be far away from the hustle and bustle of my work and city life.

It was also here where my friendship with one of the kindest persons I have known blossomed.

I was privileged to have shared the journey with four batches of novices under his care. The last one in 2006 was very memorable because that was the first time I visited Sagada, but that adventure deserves another story.  

When I learned about his US visit back in 2009, I went out of my way just to meet up with him. It was a good thing we were both on the East Coast and it was easy to track his place with Google maps.

  
It was also a good thing my friend Beth was as equally crazy as me to take a spur-of-the-moment bus ride from the NY Grand Central Terminal to South Orange, New Jersey.  It was after all the first and only time we visited that place, all for the love of Fr. Jun.

 


 


Today is his birthday and although I have sent my greetings to him earlier this day, I wanted to write about him but I cannot seem to do justice by describing him in a few lines. Now, I know why I call DNA my happy place…it is because of people like him who not just come into our lives for a reason, maybe to provide us with guidance and support, or to aid us emotionally and spiritually, but also stay in our lives for a lifetime and teach us to see the good in all people and life is beautiful after all.

To a wonderful person…Fr. Jun, happy birthday! Thank you for teaching me how to radiate love in the best way I can.

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