Ginger Aganon, 41, was born in Quezon City where she still lives. She is ate, elder sister, to her only sibling named Celery. Both daughters are helping their parents with their garments business and, at the same time, run their own businesses.
Ginger spent her childhood watching her parents grow their family business venture. Ginger remembers attending Mass at their parish church only when it was their family’s turn for the processional during Offertory and for the readings, aside from special occasions. In her teenage years, she sometimes went to church with her cousins.
I spent my childhood days playing, working on school projects. visiting cousins, or gong to the malls with my family on weekends.With my parents busy with their business venture, we seldom went to church, which was fine with me because I found the Mass boring. I didn’t understand why we had to listen to so much talk, and be quiet and be still for so long.
I went to a Catholic school during my grade school days. Our Christian Living class helped me understand my Catholic faith. In Grade 2, I learned the importance of the Holy Mass and one’s proper decorum during our preparations for our First Holy Communion.
Before I, attended a Catholic school, my only concept of God was Jesus as a baby in the manger. I remember my parents explaining that Jesus is our guide, our protector who keeps us safe from bad elements.
When I was in Grade 5, my family moved to California, USA. My sister Celery and I attended a public school. Religion is not taught in American public schools. We hardly went to church while we were there. Thus, my Catholic faith became weaker.
In my younger years, I felt my eldersperceived me as weak in academics. But in the U.S. my teachers helped mediscover my talents, like I was good in sports, such as volleyball, basketball, softball, and track and field. My teachers helped me overcome my weaknesses. So I realized I was smart, after all.
I also felt good that even as I looked different from them, my classmates treated me as an equal.
Then,my parents decided that wego back to the Philippines. So I feared I might not fare well in my classes again.
Fortunately, I found Jose Abad Santos Memorial School (JASMS) in Quezon City. They took me in even if the school year had already started. JASMS is an institution known for its non-traditional and progressive educational approach, similar to the American public school system that hones an individual’s talents.
Here, I became a well-rounded student. I felt proud as I discovered my capabilities and it reflected in my school performance. I excelled in academics and in extra-curricular activities.
With my impressive school record, I made it to the University of the Philippines Diliman where I earned a Bachelor of Science degree, major in Clothing Technology. After that, I enrolled in the same university for a Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA).
I had a great time in UP. In between my academics, I was an active member of the UP Mountaineers and even became a Varsity Softball player. My success and achievements continued even after college. I held a good job and even started businesses with friends. I was doing well in life. But, despite my achievements, I felt dissatisfied and unhappy. I began to question what all these achievements were for.
I made an inventory of my life and realized that I lacked spiritual direction. Perhaps, my Catholic Faith was not deeply rooted for I began searching elsewhere for my spiritual nourishment. I checked out non-Catholic churches and attended their services. I found some church services just okay while some, I knew, were not for me. I continued my search.
Finding The Feast
My closest cousin Kristine had been inviting me for some time to check out The Feast then being held at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City. I finally went with her in 2004.I felt awkward on my first visit. The participants were smiling and greeting me. I wasn’t used to being greeted by strangers and I thought they were being over-friendly.
The music during Worship as well as during the Mass was lively. I didn’t feel sleepy. Instead, I felt my spirit revived. I liked listening to Bro. Bo Sanchez’s talks. He caught my attention because he often started with anecdotes.
After every Feast, I went home knowing more about my God and feeling closer to Him, uplifted, and hopeful.
After a few months, I went to The Feast by myself when Kristine couldn’t make it. I followed The Feast as it changed venues until it settled at Valle Verde Country Club in Pasig City.
Much later, in 2008, I joined a small group, now called Light Group (LG), that met weekly for prayer and discussion of the talks. That’s when I felt I was already part of the Light of Jesus Family, Bro. Bo’s faith community. I met new friends with varied backgrounds, who all wanted one thing— grow deeper in our faith.
As I attended The Feast and my LG meetings and discovered more about God, I learned more about myself and how to get over my issues in life, how to manage my finances, and appreciate life.
Our LG head, Bro. Albert Zabala,assigned me as his assistant head. Our LG grew to about 60 at its peak. We had to split up during the sharing sessions. I took care of the group of girls, while Bro. Albert took care of the boys. I immensely enjoyed those times with my LG.
Bro. Bo envisioned Feasts all over the country and across the globe. The Feast grew bigger such that Valle Verde Country Club couldn’t accommodate us any longer. The Feast had to move to a bigger venue in May 2010. That Feast is now called The Feast Bay Area (FBA) which now holds its Sunday gathering at various venues at the Manila Bay Area in Pasay City. At the same time, the Feast Valle Verde was born.
With this development, some of my LG mates stayed at Valle Verde while others went to FBA and other Feast venues. Until now, we still meet up on special occasions. I get invited to the members’ wedding or baptismal of their babies.
Prior to my attendance of the Feast, I was apprehensive about going to Confession. I feared that the priest would scold me for my sins.
After listening to Bro. Bo talk about how forgiving God is, I finally had the guts to confess my sins. This would probably just be the second Confession in my whole life. My first was prior to my First Communion when I was in Grade 2. I prepared myself for a scolding.
But the priest just said, “You’re forgiven, my child.”
I thought to myself, “Did he not hear how grave my sins are that he just forgave me that easily? He must not have heard me. Surely, he must be deaf.“
So, I decided to go to another priest confessor. This time, the priest was Fr. John Sherlock, Feasters’ favorite confessor. He was said to have the ability to discern your sins before you even tell him.
I remember the moment clearly. I sat beside Fr. John. He held my hand and he started to talk to me and tell me about my sins. All I said were, “Yes, Father,” “No, Father,” and “I am, Father.” I was in awe because he knew what I was about to confess.
Fr. John said, “You had confessed these sins before but you don’t believe that you have been forgiven. Know that as long as you are sincere, you are forgiven.”
That day, I really felt absolved of my sins. Like magic, I felt inner peace. Amazing! The wonders of our Sacraments!
Back to the Church
I now appreciate the Sacraments, which I used to take for granted. I wish more Catholics would learn about the beauty, richness, and the many supernatural favors accorded to us through the Sacrament of Communion during the Holy Mass and other Sacraments such as, Confession, Baptism, Confirmation, and Marriage.
Because of my business obligations, I sometimes miss attending The Feast.But I hear Mass every Sunday. Unlike before, I now feel bothered if I don’t receive the Body and Blood of Jesus at least once a week. I now make it a point to listen to God’s Word to nourish and satisfy my soul.