By Fr Joseph Panabang SVD


A group of Australian youth, whose organization has been helping many parishes in Ghana, came to visit some of their projects. After an exchange of pleasantries, I learned that they were staying for four weeks and were all new to the country. Welcoming them at Kintampo, I said, ‘Four weeks is long enough to get malaria. Just try to survive the first attack because it’s the most dangerous.’ They looked as if they wanted to leave Ghana that same day.


Fr Gabriel Ballawig, my cousin, happened to be in Rome on his birthday.  I invited him to attend the Ilocano Sunday Mass at our SVD House. After Mass, he joined us for lunch. I introduced him to the group by saying, ‘It’s his birthday today but since I don’t have time to bring him out, I decided to bring him in.’ I thought I could get away with this, but someone teased me and said in Ilocano, ‘Nasikap kan Apo,’ ‘You are wise.’


At the end of the course in Rome, my group weighed our accumulated books for shipping.  The parcel of Fr Ban Hachiro from Japan, who always brought an English dictionary with him, was on the weighing scale. Looking at the scale Fr Ban exclaimed, ‘Oh, 50 kilometers!’  Fr Herbert, who was at the door, corrected Fr Ban jokingly, ‘Kilos not kilometers, Ban!’


In 2000, during my home leave in the Philippines, I was looking for a church bell. The sister at the store of the Pious Disciples of the Divine Master showed me a big one, but I politely declined it. ‘Sister, if I take this bell, I bet even the monkeys from the mountain would be rushing down to join theMass.’