After their Diaconal Ordination last April 9, 2018, the new deacons were given the opportunity to join the Archbishop of Lipa, Gilbert A. Garcera, DD, on some of his pastoral visits to the parishes in the province of Batangas. The deacons joined the archbishop for a pastoral exposure, while they are being trained on how to serve the Archbishop in every liturgical celebration.

Among those towns the Archbishop visited is the island of Isla Verde, Batangas City last April 26-28, 2018. The island is separated from Luzon with the Verde island passage, which is considered as the “Center of the Center of the Marine Biodiversity of the World”, as it contains a wide variety of sea creatures, even those which are considered as endangered.

After the pastoral visit in Ilijan, Batangas City (a barangay found along the sea coast), we boarded the boat, travelled along the clear waters going to Isla Verde. Upon arrival on the islands, children welcomed their dear archbishop with flaglets and accompanied us on our way to the first stop, at Brgy. Liponpon. There, the Archbishop celebrated the Mass and a feast followed. It was the first time an Archbishop celebrated Mass in that place.

The island, being unconnected with the rest of the cities, does not have electric nor water lines. The people would have their gasoline-powered generators and would draw waters from a well. Recently, solar power was introduced and they are in the process of creating new water lines. It is still a rural place, with houses made of rustic materials and instead of highways and streets, there are only pathways.

Then the whole group, together with Archbishop Garcera, walked for an hour to reach the parish church, dedicated to St. Paul the Apostle. The parish was preparing for its fiesta on April 28.

On April 27, the Archbishop baptized more than 20 children and youth, confirmed more than 200 adults and blessed the matrimony of 5 couples. The deacons were able to assist the Archbishop for the baptism. The afternoon was spent for the pastoral visit. On April 28, the fiesta of the parish, the Archbishop celebrated the Fiesta Mass.

Returning home is more exciting. Since the motor boat cannot dock at the shore itself, we have to use ‘baroto’, a canoe which transports passengers from the shore back to the motor boat.  Some barotos could be really full (see photo). Along the way to the boat, we can appreciate the crystal-clear waters of the island. Reaching the bigger motor boat, we have to ‘hop aboard’. We all returned to the main island safe and in good spirits.

We thank God for this opportunity to serve the Archbishop and be trained liturgically while we are immersed in the beauty of God’s creations. And with all of these, we witnessed the reality that the apostolate, missions are still a great necessity—even in some islands of our Catholic Philippines.