We belong to the same Catholic community. We serve together. We pray together. He is my kumpadre, godfather to my child and I, a godfather to his. A friend. A fellow servant of Christ. A brother forever.
This can be said as a matter of fact without eliciting any kind of reaction. Unless you knew us both way back in the early 1990’s.
Flashback UP days…
Cris Hilario and Bobby Quitain shared nothing in common except the roof on their heads — Kalayaan Freshman Dormitory. Poles apart in terms of political ideologies, we rarely see things from the same perspective. He was from Luzon, I was from Mindanao. He was idealistic, I was ambitious. He was fighting for the masses, I was fighting for a slot with the UP Basketball team. He was part of one fraternity, I belong to another. In terms of politics, he didn’t like the status quo while I fought to preserve it. He was angry with the system, and I was loving it.
Then the incident happened…
A misunderstanding. A conflict. The gap between us widened. If before we were civil towards each other, now we abhorred even just the sight of the other. Graduation didn’t temper our emotions. It served to stir them all the more.
But nothing is impossible with God…
He came into our lives and swept us off our feet. He came barging in, first in my life, and years later, in his. We were changed. Our hearts melted as we came face to face with His unconditional love. And confronted with such kind of love, one cannot help but love in return.
This unseen yet personal force somehow arranged our circumstances so that on one Holy Week in the mid 1990’s, our paths crossed once more. While we still harboured some kind of resentment in our hearts, we felt compelled somehow by our experience of God to consider forgiveness. This time, we shared a table. This time, we prayed together. This time, we tried to see where the other was coming from.
Then we shook hands. Nay, we embraced as brothers, brothers in Christ.
Today, after serving side by side for many years now and fighting countless spiritual battles together, I thank God for my brother, Cris Hilario. A true man of God. A great servant of the King. Still a fighter. Still idealistic. Still dissatisfied with the status quo.
But all because of His love for the Man on the Cross!
Now that we have both reached forty years this year, my friend, I want you to know how blessed and honoured I am to have known you, then and now. Our story is a testament of what God’s intervention can do in the lives of those who allow Him to.
Truly, you are my adversary for awhile but undoubtedly my brother forever!
Happy fortieth birthday, Kumpadre!
Your brother in Christ,