After a tiring journey (you can’t deny your age!), we, Helmut dean of Eupen, represented the French-speaking priest-frat and I, the Flemish priest-frat, arrived at the small airport of Cebu City (Philippines) in the afternoon of 15 January. . We were welcomed by Filipino brothers and a seminarist who brought us along with 6 other participants in a van from the archbishop and a taxi to the beautiful house Talavera on a hill, just outside the center of Cebu City. During the rush hour, the young bus driver staggered between a tangle of traffic with cyclists, pedestrians, motorbikes, overloaded vans, tricycles, sidecar motorcycles, passenger cars,… and brought us safely to Talavera after an hour and a half. I have never been in such a witch-boiler traffic. With over 900,000 inhabitants, Cebu is a very important commercial city, an island located just south of the center of the Philippines. The country is an island of more than 7000(small) islands, of which 2000 are inhabited. For me it was a first introduction to a “third world country”. Apart from Israel and Tamanrasset, I had never been outside of Europe. Immediately noticeable was the modern city with its tall buildings, luxurious supermarkets, but also a lot of small, poor shops along the main roads, hundreds of people on foot, overloaded vans and taxis and a lot of young people … A different world with a ‘heavy’ tropical climate at 27-30 degrees (luckily we were in the Philippines during the winter months!)
After a short welcome we were allowed to visit our “sleeping place”. There was nothing left of the rooms but two dorms. With two Brazilian priests, Helmut and I, we had a spacious dormitory, air-cooled. In retrospect, this was a better solution than that we would be housed in a single room. There was “light and space.” When you had to get up at night, it was comforting to notice that Carlos could not sleep either and the emails were answering on his tablet! Only in the morning when we had to get up was it less pleasant, because just around the morning the tiredness and the willingness to sleep struck … I did not sleep much during the first week (and afterwards …).
Read the complete document (PDF): International meeting def. of the responsibles for the Jesus Caritas priest fraternity in Cebu