DRAKE N is a pseudonym of a young man who went through a harrowing experience at an early age.
While he already opened up and shared his past to a few of his closest friends and relatives, he has yet to disclose it to his parents and siblings.
Twenty years after the incident, he says he has already mustered the courage to finally reveal this secret to his family but has yet to find the right time. Only then will he come out in the open to tell the world.
For now, he prefers to be under the cloak of anonymity as he tells his story.
MY MOTHER is a religious woman. Because of her, the family prayed the Rosary every night, and we went to church every Sunday. She still does to this day.
Once, when I was still a teenager, my mom even brought me along to attend The Feast in Davao. She subscribed to Kerygma magazine and bought the books of Bro. Bo Sanchez. Growing up, I got to read only three sets of books: my textbooks, the Harry Potter series, and Bro. Bo’s books.
But I was young and I just didn’t absorb the teachings. Or, I guess I didn’t feel worthy of the spiritual journey because of my horrible past.
I was molested by an older cousin. I was 7, he was 9. It happened in our family’s ancestral house. My grandfather died and so the whole family gathered for the wake at the old house. That was the first time I set foot there.
To this day, I have mixed emotions about that house –- sad memory of my lolo’s death and the shame of a dark secret of how I lost my innocence.
I was the victim but I felt guilty just the same. It was an ugly past I kept to myself. Deep inside, I felt that incident had become my identity. And I tried very hard to mask it. Nobody should find out.
To cover up my shame, I had to keep a good image. I worked on excelling in my academics. As a result, every year, I consistently topped my class and I graduated with first honors in grade school. In high school, I got accepted in a specialized school where only top students were admitted.
But still, I couldn’t shake off my guilt. To add to my inner turmoil, the environment at home was just as troublesome.
My mother caught my father having an affair. They fought over it. I got mad at my father. I lost my trust and respect in him. I had a hard time trusting people after that.
To my relief, I got to escape the constant fighting in our house because I had to study high school in Davao City. The school was far from our place so I stayed in a dormitory and was home only on weekends.
Throughout my high school days, I’d be home by Friday night or Saturday morning and would be back in the dorm by Sunday afternoon. Going to church would mean one hour less of rest or study time. For convenience, I skipped hearing Mass.
My mom egged me to go to church. But I said to myself, I don’t need to go to church to talk to God. I can pray anywhere. Anyway, I was part of Youth for Christ (YFC). We had our prayer meetings, retreats, and other activities. That should suffice for my spiritual needs.
I was proud. I knew everything that I needed to know about God. I didn’t need to go to church.
But I guess my indifference may again have its roots in my dark past. In hindsight, I now see the dire consequences of my molestation.
First, in high school, I got exposed to pornographic materials. Since I kept to myself, I read the magazines secretly in my room. The addiction led me to masturbation.
Early on, my mom told me not to read men’s magazines. And I took that to heart. She said when I look at naked women’s photos, it’s like disrespecting her and my sisters. In my twisted mind, since I had no respect for my dad because of his extra-marital affair, I turned to gay magazines instead.
Second, I got attracted to the same sex. My twisted logic prevailed as I went to college. My mom said no girlfriend until I graduate and as a dutiful son, I complied. Afraid that I could get some girl pregnant, I turned my attention to boys and it was then that I had my first sexual experience with the same sex.
Third, to escape my guilt feelings, I entertained myself with DOTA, a computer game. Another addiction.
Fourth, feeling so dirty, I strayed farther away from the Church.
After college, I found a job in Manila. I tried my best to excel in the company and I accepted responsibilities left and right. I worked even on Saturdays even if it wasn’t required. I could have gone to church on Sunday, but I preferred to rest the whole day.
Later, I realized that the real reason I kept excusing myself from hearing Mass was I felt I wasn’t worthy to take Communion. Feeling dirty and sinful, I didn’t deserve to take the Body and Blood of Christ without Confession. So, if I wasn’t going to take the Host, what’s the point of going to church?
The last time I went to Confession was in my fourth year high school prior to our Baccalaureate Mass because it was required. I felt good after I reconciled with the Lord. But, I still didn’t feel the need to become a regular churchgoer.
Finding The Feast
A friend invited me to go with her to The Feast being held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC). Curious, I went with her in September of 2012.
Instantly, I felt the warm welcome from the ushers and the people inside the hall. During the Communion, I felt an inner prodding as if the Lord was asking me to take Him.
When Bro. Bo Sanchez came onstage, I realized I knew this man from the Kerygma magazines and books I’d read, and I remembered I saw him in Feast Davao. It was amazing to see him again in person in this wonderful place.
Then we prayed the Novena to God’s Love . I recited it from the heart. I realized my hunger for God’s love.
It was the Big Day for the Feast talk series Younique and Bro. Bo spoke about God seeing every person as, yes, unique and He loves you no matter who you are. As God accepts you, you must also accept your strengths, and weaknesses, and past mistakes. I felt like Bro. Bo was talking to me directly… as if I was the only one in the hall.
Right there and then, I made a commitment to attend The Feast every Sunday.
After five months of regular attendance, I joined a Light Group (LG). I felt welcomed and safe in this brotherhood. We met weekly and we edified each other with our presence, the time we spend with each other, and stories of our everyday struggles. Eventually, I was able to open up about my past. And what a relief to finally tell all, to divulge my pain, the hurt I kept inside.
But then, it is said that when you try to get close to God, the enemy comes up with a clever ruse to get you off track. That’s exactly what happened to me.
I met him at The Feast and we started dating. Later, we became exclusive. While we professed to love and care for each other, guilt nagged me. Something was wrong. I knew something was wrong because we couldn’t tell people about us.
But even as I was immersed in The Feast, I couldn’t give up my boyfriend just yet. I bid my time.
Then, Bro. Bo started a talk series on discipleship. He said our Lord Jesus mandated us to make disciples— to share the Gospel teachings to the unchurched so that they will become followers of the Lord.
As I listened to the talks, I was like, “How can I be a disciple maker if I myself am not treading the right path?”
But in time, I finally had the grace to start changing my life. My boyfriend and I broke off eventually. We chose to stop our illicit relationship and agreed to remain good friends.
Back to the Church
In the past, I could count on the fingers of my one hand the times I went to church. When I started attending The Feast, this time, I could count on the fingers of my one hand my absences. I felt like something was amiss when I didn’t go to The Feast.
What I like most about The Feast is its formation seminars where I am learning a lot about my Catholic Faith. One seminar I attended was the Jesus Encounter (JE)— an introduction toward a personal relationship with Jesus, so moving, I experienced an intense spiritual renewal.
Right there and then, I begged God to make straight my path toward a real, honest-to-goodness relationship with Him.
It was a prayer God was only too glad to answer. I believe He directed my attention to a girl from my past.
You see, in high school, I had a girlfriend. I first met Sheila when I was a senior in high school and she was a freshman. We didn’t date, we were just text mates. We communicated by sending phone messages. I didn’t court her because I was not supposed to have a girlfriend until I graduated from college. Our relationship went on until I was in the middle of my college years. We lost touch after that.
I happened to meet Sheila again sometime after I attended the Jesus Encounter. And we started from where we left off. I regret not finding her sooner. I told her about my past and she accepted me wholeheartedly. I knew then that letting her go the first time was bad enough and committing the same mistake this time is unforgivable.
I started courting her in April and we became official in July. We are the best of friends. To make up for the lost time, I really exert extra effort to make her feel my love and care for her. One of my dreams is to have my own family and with her, I know it’s possible.
I used to ask God why He gave me the burden of a dark past. I didn’t know how to handle it. I thought it best to hide it. But keeping it to myself led me to graver sins that drove me far away from God and the Church. The chain of transgressions was broken only when I found The Feast which has helped me embrace my Catholic Faith again.
By telling my story, I hope to inspire those who went through the same ordeal, the same sin. That like me, they may be enlightened and see the truth about themselves. That God loves us so much despite our sordid past. That in His eyes, we are beautiful and worthy to be in His presence for we are His children. That He wants nothing but that we become our best self and live a beautiful life.