John Awatin Walks 1 kilometer
to Serve as Lay Minister
by Apolinario Villalobos
John Awatin lives one kilometer away from the parish church of the Saint Martin de Porres located at Panapaan, Bacoor, and he walks to and from the said church as a Lay Minister. He has been doing the said sacrifice when he was taken in as such in June 6, 2014. But before that, he has been jobless for one year. He did not pursue his seafaring career that gave him ample monthly wage for eight years, due to seizures. Until today, he suffers from ticking of left eye. Fortunately, his seizures are already under control.
He was a hardworking guy since he was young, helping their mother do household chores and even going to the market on weekends. He learned how to cook and took charge of the laundry, too…all these he did, being the eldest among the brood of four. Unfortunately, both their parents left them while they were still young.
His parents were from Camiguin Island in Mindanao. Both of them were hardworking, a trait which he and his siblings inherited. At a young age, he settled down with Sheena who is now working with the YMCA-Manila. They are happy today with their four “angels” – Sheen, Sean, Nash, and Hans.
When John was rejected by manning agencies for seafarers due to his ailment, he was, as expected, so downhearted that he became reclusive. His seizures worsened so that there were times that he would just fall during attacks, despite which he persisted in attending Sunday Mass with his wife. The drugs he took did not help much as he was also emotionally affected. It was at this instance that Jun Kamatoy, a Lay Minister serving at the Saint Martin de Porres parish, thought of convincing him to become a Lay Minister to keep his mind busy.
Neighbors were sort of curious how such a guy who suffers from seizures and with a very minimal “exposure” to religious activities could possibly assist the priest during Mass. Practically, Jun Kamatoy risked his credibility when he assured the parish priest that John would be a good Lay Minister. True enough, after passing his orientations with flying colors, he proved his worth for such a religious obligation.
As he had no “decent” clothes to wear, Jun Kamatoy also gave him several pairs of pants and undershirts, as well as, a pair of shoes, while Emma Duragos, a crusader of the Holy Face, gave him white long-sleeved shirts, courtesy of her son. A neighbor also gave him another pair of shoes and two more pairs of pants.
Since the first day of his service as a Lay Minister, nobody among his neighbors knew that he was walking his way to the church, as well as, in going back home, except when the weather is so bad that he had to take a jeepney. The distance he covers both ways are two kilometers. I found this out myself when I saw him trekking one early morning to the church, while I was on a jeepney on my way to Baclaran. One time, too, I saw him walking under the sun still in his white long sleeved shirt on his way home.
When I had the chance to talk to him, I asked about his seizures and he told me that his condition has been fast improving and he feels that he would finally overcome it, although, I have observed that the ticking of his left eye is still very evident. He also keeps himself busy by attending to the needs of their children, humbly accepting his role as a “houseband”. He cooks for them and does the rest of the chores at home. We never mention God or Jesus in our conversations, although, deep in my mind and heart, I know that John is a manifestation of another miracle. At 43, John is a picture of contentment and happiness….