Fifth National Youth Day 2004
by Marjorie Militar
Marjorie is a third-level student at the University of St La Salle, Bacolod City.
Serving as a lector at St John the Baptist Parish, Bago City, it never crossed my mind that I’d be part of a great event that I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. In December 2003, our parochial vicar, Father Jonas Sumagaysay, told us about an event to be hosted by the Diocese of Bacolod the following November. Soon, we found ourselves busily preparing to welcome the Pilgrim Cross. It went from parish to parish, staying in each for two to three days, from Hinigaran in the south of the diocese, toSilay City in the north, visiting schools along the way, before returning to San Sebastian Cathedral for the start of …NATIONAL YOUTH DAY 2004.
Being the host diocese we had much preparation to do. The parish sent me and my co-lectors, along with members of the Legion of Mary and of the charismatic prayer group, to Sacred Heart Seminary for the diocesan facilitators’ training. Auditions and training for animators and those involved in cultural presentations followed.
On 24 November delegates arrived from all over the Philippines. Next day our anxiety and nervousness only grew stronger as we found ourselves gathering in front of the Cathedral for the start of the four-hour Pilgrim Walk to Panaad, the official NYD site.
We didn’t show our tiredness as we participated in the opening Mass with Bishop Vicente M. Navarra of Bacolod as main celebrant. After dinner, we watched the cultural presentation and even stayed longer, not because it rained but because we were having so much fun. Later we went home to our foster-families, our group staying with parishioners of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Bata.
Next day, we assembled again at Panaad and danced as the animators set the mood. We searched for our groups based on the color on the back of our NYD IDs. After fellowship, we ate lunch with our ‘Christian Faith Circle’ as we had catechesis on the themes, ‘Jesus is the Truth, Do You Believe?’ and ‘Jesus is Life, Will You Receive Him?’ In the evening there was an integrated penitential rite with the Way of the Cross and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It was near midnight before we finally went back to our ‘homes.’
The third day was another exciting experience. We gathered at our assigned catechetical sites. My group was in Colegio de San Agustin (red), but I was also an animator at the University of St La Salle(green) and so had to venture back and forth. Fortunately, the schools are near each other. Later, all headed back to Panaad for the YOUTH JAM! Wow! I’ve never had such wonderful time in my life. It was raining but there was NO STOPPING us YOUTH as almost everybody went close to the stage and we danced and sang at the top of our lungs and shouted and clapped the NYD slogan, ‘N-Y-D, N-Y-D BACOLOD! N-Y-D, N-Y-D BACOLOD! N-Y-D SABAY SIGAW!’ The emcees had a hard time trying to end the JOYFUL commotion because every time they tried, we just replied ‘WE WANT MORE!’
We finally settled down for the cultural presentation, a showcase of talents from every region. It was fantastic! The priests danced and serenaded us with their matching music video! How cool! I witnessed nuns DANCING! Amazing! With heavy feet we finally went back very late to our foster homes and tried to sleep, with the idea bugging us that the next day would be the last.
With sad, yet not so sad faces, we faced the fourth day, 28 November, as we gathered once more. Now with our original group again we bade farewell to our foster-parents and family, in our fellowship party. I was very happy to have met Let-let, my NYD sister from Dumaguete, when we both stayed with the Ausan family.
After the final Mass at Panaad, Congressman Monico Pontebella encouraged us to sing ‘If We Hold On Together,’ which led to many tears. I didn’t cry, maybe because I was so overwhelmed and felt very fulfilled. But now I could say with my exhausted companions, in whose eyes I could see a glow, for now each of us could say, ‘Yes, I’ve seen Jesus!’