Napoleon F. Oducado JR., 36, or simply Nap to friends, took up Business Administration major in Computer Application.
He works as a business process consultant for a company in Makati providing Systems, Applications, and Products in Data Processing (SAP) handling clients in the Asia-Pacific region and Japan.
Nap was born in Roxas City, Capiz to one of the distinguished families there as his father, a lawyer was one of the well-respected citizens the city. While his grandfather served as mayor of a neighboring town, Sapian.
Nap said with money to burn, and surrounded by friends, he didn’t care much about going to church.
My mother suffered lupus and died when I was only 8 years old. My father remarried, so my three siblings and I lived with him and our stepmother and their four children and another half-brother in Roxas City.
In my teens, I hung out with friends, going to gimmicks, smoking, drinking and got involved with fights. I would go home in the wee hours of the morning— wasted. I even had friends who were drug users, pushers and gun runners. But I didn’t get involved in those activities.
When it was time for me to go to college, I lived with my siblings in our house in Manila. Away from my father, I was free to continue with my vices.
I even got worse when I started work as a sales consultant in a pre-need multinational company
I can proudly say, though, that I was good on the job— not a single absence.
Something I can’t say, however, about attending church. Sometimes, I would go when one of my siblings insisted hard enough for me to go— and if I was not too drunk the night before.
Otherwise, I preferred to stay home and sleep off my hangover.
Life took another wrong turn when I had a girlfriend six years younger than me. Both our families did not approve of our relationship. Rebelling against her family, my girlfriend left home. I brought her to the house I was sharing with my siblings.
Naturally, my sisters did not approve of the live-in arrangement, so my girlfriend and I had to move out. We stayed at a close friend’s house for a week until we found a studio room for rent in Parañaque. We lived like a couple for two years. I worked, she studied in a school near our place.
Then, one day, she broke up with me, saying she had found another lover in school.
That suck. But we didn’t separate right away because it was convenient for us to stay in that studio. We remained civil, even as at times it was so annoying, to say the least, hearing her talking on the phone with her new boyfriend.
One day, I was retrenched from my job. A blessing in disguise, I guess, because without money, I heeded my father’s invitation to go back home in Roxas City.
Without a word of recrimination, my dad accepted me back. Even as for a year, I just bummed around, drinking with my buddies every night.
Then, just suddenly, I got to my senses. I decided to try my luck in the nearby city of Iloilo. I found a job at a telecoms office. Soon, the company re-opened a sales center in Roxas, so I asked to be reassigned there and my request was granted.
At the time, I also found a new girlfriend.
I was feeling so good, I decided to go into politics, like my grandfather did. I was selected to be under the incumbent mayor’s slate as one of the councilors for Sapian for the 2010 elections.
My heart was not really into it initially. I was afraid if I quit my job, I’d nothing to go back to. But the call to make a difference in the municipality of Sapian beckoned and I couldn’t disregard the opportunity to continue my family’s public service legacy. I gave in and put my heart into the challenge of government service. But first, I had to win.
One Loss After Another
Despite the efforts that I put into campaigning, I lost. And it was a terrible loss because I was top 9 but only 8 town councilors were needed. No. 8 councilor beat me by a mere 6 votes.
I just needed 7 votes to become a councilor. To think, I had more than 10 sisters and cousins who didn’t get to register and vote for varied reasons. If only…
Still hurting from my political loss, I suffered another tragedy in December 2010. My father was diagnosed with lung cancer. He died a month after.
All was not lost because I found a job a month later. But only to lose it again after about a year and a half.
Following that loss, my girlfriend and I broke up in the summer of 2012. And as if the blows were not enough, I got to invest in a company, whose owner, it turned out, was doing a financial scam. I lost all my savings. Worse, I got some friends to also invest in the company and so I had to bear the brunt of their anger.
Down the pit of depression I fell.
Finding The Feast
A year after my father’s death, I decided to go back to Manila. My cousin Mariter invited me to work with her as financial advisor in an insurance company.
Mariter also invited me to attend The Feast at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).
I did not think much about her invite. But one Sunday in June 2013, while I was jogging at the Cultural Center of the Philippines grounds, I decided to take a peek at The Feast at PICC which was just a block away.
In my jogging suit and all sweaty, I dared enter PICC and to my amazement, I was actually drawn in. Ushers warmly welcomed me, and instantly, I felt God’s presence in the grand hall.
Note, I was literally running that morning. But looking back, I realized, I was really running all my life away from God. He had been chasing after me for a long time, and finally, He caught up with me.
After that first encounter, I couldn’t wait for the next Sunday to come. I couldn’t contain my happiness. I started posting about it on my Facebook account. My friends and family were surprised to see photos of me at The Feast. For what they were used to seeing on my timeline were those taken at rave parties. They were happy for me.
I wanted to learn more about God. I realized I didn’t know anything about the Bible. I enrolled in a Prayer and Life Workshop and for the first time in my life, I bought a Bible.
I also joined a Light Group (LG) with Che Yap as my head and I was welcomed like an old friend. Later, I attended ILovelife, a two-day retreat for single people like me that opened up opportunities for me to meet new friends. I eventually became head of Batch 6, Team ROAR when Pat Morales, Singles Ministry head offered the post.
I never handled a group in my entire life and in a faith community at that! But I said yes because Mama Mary’s words to the servants came to mind, “Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2:5).
I felt Jesus was asking me to do this service for Him and with all the positive things happening in my life, I couldn’t help but say yes to Him.
Because of this new role, I got to join another LG under Bro. Didoy Lubaton with amazing brothers, who are my fellow batch heads and other core servants in the ILovelife program.
I also joined the Music Ministry to serve God through my musical talent – singing.
Back to the Church
In the two years following my joining The Feast, blessings poured down on me.
Since The Feast includes the Holy Mass, I’ve begun to appreciate my Catholic Faith. Going to church has become an important part of my spiritual journey.
I prayed for a job and wrote it down on my Novena to God’s Love, with the following conditions: that it be a multinational company, with workshift between 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., near Baclaran in Parañaque City so I can attend the Wednesday novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help; and where I can apply what I studied in college.
I couldn’t believe it but the job God gave me has met all of my conditions! As a bonus, it’s only a five-day work schedule, so I am free during the weekend to attend The Feast and serve in a ministry.
I have new friends at The Feast helping me deal with my problems and struggle against my vices, so my healing, by God’s grace, is happening.
Most important, I’ve become a changed man. I used to be a hothead. Now, most days, I am calm and at peace with God.