KIKO is an alias of this man, now 26 years old, who went through a wanton life. He chose to use a pseudonym to tell his story because of some sensitive details he shared.
Kiko never liked going to church when he was in grade school. Like any kid his age, he preferred to play. In his teenage years, his mother’s insistence and guilty tactics all the more made him detest attending the Mass.
My parents constantly fought when I was young. They didn’t separate though. We lived together as a family under one roof but later, they had separate rooms.
The situation at home must have affected me, such that I didn’t do well in elementary school.
My parents enrolled me in a Catholic school, where students were obliged to attend Mass. I didn’t understand the Mass so I didn’t appreciate it.
In elementary school, I was what people would call a misfit. I had no friends. I was bullied. My teachers were not any help. They said I wouldn’t amount to anything.
One teacher told me, “You would probably will become just a tricycle driver.”
Tell me, why would I want to go to a place like that?
Things weren’t any different in my high school days.
Even as she constantly fought with my father, my mother attended Sunday Mass. She often dragged me with her. And if I didn’t want to go, she called me an “evil spirit.”
I would rather play ball, or strum this guitar my parents bought for me, than pretend to be worshipping God. That early, I resented Him.
Deep in my heart, all I wanted was to ask, “Why, Lord? Why are my parents always fighting? Why aren’t my parents like other parents who get along well? Why am I not as smart as my classmates or siblings? Why don’t my classmates like me?”
Later, I got into smoking and drugs.
In school, there was this cool band. I so desperately longed to be in, to have friends. Since I played the guitar, I jammed with them. The members smoked weed during our practice sessions. So, I started getting into the habit.
It was easy to purchase illegal drugs in our school. I had this classmate who had contact with a guy who lived in the slums. He was the go-to guy if you needed marijuana or shabu. I didn’t take shabu. That was for the richer kids. I only smoked pot.
I wanted so much to be in, didn’t I? So one day, I thought I’d impress my friends with a pack of weeds. I bought a few grams and planned to share them with my friends the next day. But shucks, my mother caught me with the pack.
To my horror, she cried, as she thought I was already an addict.
“It’s just a one-time deal,” I assured her.
Yes, deep in my heart, I really didn’t want to be an addict and totally live a crazy life. Actually, I was critical of the double life my friends were living. You see, they did drugs and yet, they attended Mass. And they even taunted me for not going to church! To me, that was horrible. Drugs and Mass didn’t go together. Either you do one or the other and stand by your choice.
“Why should going to Mass be the basis for being a good person?” I muttered to myself.
I didn’t want to be a hypocrite, did I? So, I stuck with just being the real me.
The real me then was without any ambition. I didn’t know what course to take up after graduating from high school. Somebody said, take up a course in the aircraft industry, it’s easy. So I did. It didn’t take long before I realized I didn’t like aircraft, so I shifted to another course. I moved from one course to another, from one college to another.
The real me was living a carefree life. In college, I lived in a boarding house. I continued my vices. I cut classes and went on drinking sprees with friends. We smoked weed in the boarding house in the evening, and sometimes, even in broad daylight.
The real me was going into sexual addiction. I didn’t have a girlfriend so I hired a prostitute to satisfy my sexual needs.
I didn’t know it then but later, I realized that I already had sexual addiction. Actually, this must had started when I was still a kid. I once saw my dad playing cards with photos of naked girls and I got curious. I was in Grade 4 then. Before long, I was already reading pornographic materials. Later, masturbating. And next came casual sex.
The real me was actually trying to cope with depression and suicidal tendencies.I didn’t see anything worth living for. Certainly not my parent’s broken marriage, my failure in school, my vices, my sexual addiction. Or maybe, the weed was playing tricks on me?
Then, I met Mr. Frederick Sanchez, my professor in college who was an ex-seminarian. Of all my teachers, from grade school to college, he was the only one who made sense to me.
He got my attention one day when he asked the class, “Is there a God?”
The students gave various answers. Curious, I just listened. In the end, Professor Sanchez said our answers vary according to our experience— our experience of God’s presence in our life. The prof said good or bad, our experiences in life will bring us either closer to God or far away from Him. It depends on our response, he said.
Our professor introduced us to Job in the Bible. He said Job went through major difficulties in life but all these brought him closer to God. Some would have lost faith and turned their back on God —but not Job. Because he relied so much on his Creator’s love.
That day, something stirred in me. Who is this God? I wanted to know Him more. The entire class was touched and enlightened by this teacher’s wisdom. I think it’s safe to say that we were all brought closer to God that semester in 2008.
Soon, I wanted to become a better person. As I attended my religion class, I overcame my
depression and suicidal tendencies. I accepted I had a sexual addiction and started learning about overcoming it.
I then already appreciated my religion subjects.
Finding The Feast
My next professor, Mr. Albert Zabala, happened to be one of the leaders at the Feast Bay Area. He sometimes casually mentioned this prayer gathering founded by Bro. Bo Sanchez. I searched and read about this Bro. Bo. I found my way to healing through his blogs.
In 2010, I thought I’d go check out this prayer meeting Mr. Zabala was talking about. I went by myself and I was surprised to find out how different it was from what I knew as a church.
The people there were expressive of their faith and love for God. I was kind of embarrassed for them. They were shouting praises, jumping, and dancing. I didn’t mind the clapping— that I could do. I actually liked it.
I thought, “These people are on a different kind of high. What gives? Maybe if I understood the depth of God’s love for me, I would be shouting praises, jumping, and dancing, too.”
So, I went back to The Feast and kept going back.
As I came to The Feast on a weekly basis, I felt God’s love embracing me and healing me gradually. It helped that I found friends there when I joined a ministry to serve in. Finally, I felt accepted. Finally, I had friends who cared about me despite my dark past. Recently, I joined a retreat for singles and I felt liberated from my past experiences. I also gained more friends.
Back to the Church
Attending The Feast has made me appreciate life more because now I know God and myself more. I now wake up in the morning with zest because I have learned to accept and love myself. Now, I have dreams and plans for my future and that includes going to church on Sundays, be it at The Feast or at our nearby parish.
Looking back, I’m thankful for my parents who didn’t withdraw their support for my schooling despite my poor academic performance and my ambivalence in college.
By God’s grace, I finished the fourth course I enrolled in and I am now a freelance photographer.