It took three years, but our schedules finally meshed. The winning ways of good friend Fr. James Castro, cmf, patiently solved all the problems until Joe Torres and I finally found ourselves in the well-equipped classrooms of Claret School of Zamboanga, sharing the joy of our vocation.
I was struck by the Fort Pilar shrine, which we visited late on our second night. It is a beautiful place, with the quiet but bustling air of a hideaway-in-plain-sight. I realize it is walled in now because of a bomb explosion a few years ago, and that of course it stands at the literal crossroads of Christian and Muslim communities, but the overwhelming sense I got, from our 30-minute visit, was one of peace. (Those three shadows in the Fort Pilar courtyard belong, respectively, to Fr. James, me, and Joe.)
Joe and I stayed at the Claretian fathers’ house; its refectory hosts an amazing mural of the Last Supper, painted in 1963 by the Spaniard Delimiro Ruiz when he was still a member of the order. I took a few pictures, none of which, I fear, does justice to the work. (And, oh, Jove, if you’re reading this: I found this photocopied plea to support Arms, Zamboanga’s candidate in Philippine Idol, all over the city: outside the church, even on the faculty room bulletin board. A shame she was voted out last week.)