THE HISTORY OF CANDLE LIGHT
When Fr. Rio del Rosario ended his stint as Parochial Vicar and Editor of Candle Light at Jaro Cathedral, he wrote in part in his final Heartbeats column: “With a complete set-up of a very functional office, with all the modern computers and gadgets, with a very efficient and dedicated staff with the increasing support of the Parish Priest and the community and with the unseen hand of God guiding every effort – we look forward to the third year, the fourth, the fifth, and how many more, God knows!”
Really only God knew how long Candle Light would continue. And indeed with the guiding hand of God, and the prayerful support of Mother Mary, to whom this weekly paper is dedicated, Candle Light now celebrates its 20th anniversary today, September 8, 2011.
BIRTH OF CANDLE LIGHT
How time flies! The First Parish General Assembly on April 28 and May 5, 1991 recommended and approved among other things an information and formation bulletin for the parishioners so that they will know what is going on in the parish. Dissemination of information was mainly through lengthy announcements during Sunday Masses. This had the problem of reaching out to our non-churchgoers. Thus, the publication of a Parish Weekly Paper was approved
Msgr. Jose M. Gamboa, then parish priest, came out with the name for the paper while talking about it over lunch one day with his parochial vicars. Msgr. Gamboa spontaneously called out Candle Light just as naturally as what the parish really is, a community consecrated to Our Lady of Candles. Thus was born the parish newsletter, Candle Light.
Immediately after the Parish General Assembly, Fr. Daniel (Rio) del Rosario, then Parochial Vicar, and its first editor, called together some parishioners who were “experts” and “experienced” in journalism to a meeting to help conceptualize the newsletter. Eventually they all ended up as the original staff members.
Candle Light came out for the first time on September 8, 1991, as a birthday present to our Blessed Mother Mary. Now, 20 years later, Candle Light continues to come out every Sunday without fail. Even Typhoon Frank could not stop her from coming out every week. She has 11 editors to date: Fr. Daniel del Rosario, Fr. Alejandro Esperancilla, Fr. Emmanuel Tuberada, Fr. Ryan Fernando Teves, Rt. Rev. Msgr. Amadeo E. Escañan , H.P., Fr. John N. Tadifa, Fr. Joel Eslabra, Miss Katie O’Leary, Mrs. Pureza Lacuesta, Fr. Philip Vincent Sinco and now, Fr. Marvin Tabion, with the staff coming and going. Some of the staff members have already returned to the Lord. May they rest in peace!
OBJECTIVES OF THE PAPER
Two objectives were articulated for the paper: first, it is to be a main vehicle of the Parish for information-dissemination like news items about parish activities, announcements, reports, and many more. Secondly, it will become a tool for evangelization, an avenue where it can vigorously spread the Word of God and contribute to the renewal of the parishioners. By now, readers of Candle Light must be familiar with Parish Vision that is printed in the masthead of the paper which states: We, the children of God in the Parish of Jaro, in seeking to promote His Kingdom, envision a Christ-centered, participatory, enlightened Filipino Church, that is evangelizing, missionary and committed toward total human development by witnessing and working for justice, unity, and social transformation.
STRUGGLES AND DIFFICULTIES
The last 20 years were not all a bed of roses for the paper. There was no functional office during the first two years. The weekly staff meetings were held at just any space available in the Parish Convent. Finally on its third year a permanent office was blessed and Candle Light found a home. However, with the coming and going of the editors and the reshuffling of parish priests, Candle Light had to transfer office as often as possible too.
The editors-in-chief came and went according to their tour of duty in the Cathedral as Parochial Vicars. Besides their pastoral duties they had to spend sleepless nights writing their articles. During their stints, Fr. Rio and Fr. Andy often came to the office on Thursday mornings their hair standing on end through constant tearing them, their eyebrows meeting together in a straight line because the assigned articles were late and the press kept calling for the final draft.
Once, Fr. Emman had to call from the Trappist Monastery in Guimaras where he was attending their annual retreat for priests for his Heartbeats. One Wednesday afternoon, while in the midst of finalizing the layout, there was suddenly a power outage, and Fr. Emman decided to transport the computer and the printer to Nang Eve Horvidalla’s house in Tagbac, just so the final draft would be ready the following day. The staff had to go with the computer.
Of course editing mistakes could not be avoided. Grammar and spelling were a-plenty. Candle Light had to apologize to Dr. and Mrs. Valentin Dabuco in 19 issues of the paper for wrongly printing their wedding announcement under a grim heading.
To date, as everybody is busy, beating the deadline remains a weekly concern, from the editor-in-chief to each assigned staff writer. The strugglers end up victorious and thus create a crumpling task for Ng Fe Siacon, our encoder and in-charge of CL and Gian, our lay-out artist. With Mama Mary’s guiding hand and the Light of Jesus, her Son, Candle Light is always ready for distribution to our parishioners every Saturday afternoon and the latest, on Sunday morning.
BLESSINGS RECEIVED AND READERS’ GENEROSITY
The first blessing the paper received and is always receiving is the guidance of Almighty God. He keeps on touching hearts to generously support the publication. From the beginning, many kindhearted parishioners donated “seed money” to start the paper. Since the Newsletter is not a commercial paper, it is NOT for sale. Up to the present, Candle Light has to depend on DONATIONS from generous parishioners, from the second collection during the Sunday Masses as well as donations from generous friends in other parishes and even from abroad.
The late Mr. and Mrs. Alberto Kilayko, former owners of the Sacred Heart Press generously accommodated the project and gave a very special price for its printing. When the paper was transferred to Panorama Printing, Inc. for printing, the management did not also charge its regular pricing, saying that this was also their way of giving back to the Church as their apostolate. Starting the year 2004, Panorama Printing Inc., prints the Easter issue with a colored front page for free.
A “professional group” in Manila solicited donations for the Laser Writer Printer.
A child saved money in her piggy band and later broke it open for Candle Light. Overseas workers sent dollar bills from as low as $5.00 to as high as $127.00
In response to Fr. Ryan’s appeal for financial help to Candle Light, a lady, one day went to the office and handed over an envelope that contained a P500.00 bill with a note saying, “I have to forego buying my medicine for Candle Light.”
One day a lady came into the office to request for a back issue which she was not able to get. She compiles all the issues and relates the stories of the saints and other materials to her 3-year old son who is very much interested in things about saints. She was advised to continue nurturing this spiritually in her son. Who knows, God may have a calling for him and is being helped by Candle Light.
From all these many generous souls, and the contributions during the second collection at Mass, Candle Light developed from a 4-page weekly paper in the very beginning, to a 6-page copy, an 8-page newsletter and now into a 12-page paper, and now back to an 8-page newsletter.
CANDLE LIGHT GOES NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL
Although prepared for the parishioners of Jaro, many parishes come to ask for copies. It has reached other countries as well through the migrant workers of our parish. Their families send them copies to keep them in touch with their parish life and lift them up spiritually. In return, the OCW’s send in donations.
Way back in 1994, a domestic helper in Hongkong sent articles about the life of migrant workers there. An Ilonggo priest, a member of the Philippine Mission Society, assigned in the Solomon Islands contributed an article about his life as a priest in those islands. In return, a parishioner sends him issues of Candle Light to update him on the death of the late Jaro Archbishop Piamonte.
The late Jaime Cardinal L. Sin, the former Archbishop of Manila and Archbishop Talamayan of Tuguegarao once wrote to Fr. Andy Esperancilla expressing their thanks and appreciation for the Candle Light issues Msgr. Gamboa shared with them. Archbishop Talamayan told Msgr. Gamboa that he will also put up a similar
paper in his Archdiocese.
Messages through cell phones from Cagayan de Oro, Davao City, Cebu City and Bacolod congratulate the editors for the issues they received. Friends from Luzon, mainly Manila and Palawan called to congratulate and say how blessed is the Parish of Jaro for this kind of work.
An influx of text messages abundantly poured to Candle Light as contributions from our readers for the column ‘Power of the Thumb.’ After Mass, some children would run to Fr. John Tadifa and Fr. Joel Eslabra, to show them their answers to the questions or puzzles in the column ‘Catholic Kids.’
PDF (Portable Document Format) during the time of Msgr. Ramon Masculino were sent abroad in response to the request of readers.
MODEL FOR OTHER PARISHES
With the seeming success of Candle Light as a venue for formation and information dissemination about parish life, she became a model for other parishes to also publish their own formation and information papers for their parishioners. The first to follow suit was the Parish of St. Vincent Ferrer in Leganes, Iloilo that came out with “Wings”. The archdiocesan paper “Veritas” was revived. In 1993, the Parish of Our Lady of Candles in Jelicuon, Cabatuan, came out with their own newsletter, “Ladder” but was later renamed “Kapawa.” The late Msgr. Jose “Pepe” Buenaflor came out with “Ang Katekista” for his “Katesismo sa Kahanginan Apostolate” Project in 1998. Then, the Parish of Sta. Catalina in Leon, Iloilo came out with “Rueda ni Sta. Catalina.” When Msgr. Jose M. Gamboa transferred to the Parish of the Immaculate Conception in Oton, Iloilo, he also published “Purisima” for his parish. The Parish in Miag-ao, Iloilo also published “The Heritage.” Brgy. Bakhaw has been publishing their pager “Milagrosa” for about 3 years now. The latest to release their parish newsletter is the Parish of St. Michael, the Archangel in San Miguel, Iloilo, with Msgr. Joemarie Delgado, parish priest. Their newsletter is “The Archangel.”
KEEPERS OF THE FLAME
Fr. Andy Esperancilla followed the stint of Fr. Rio as the second editor-in-chief of Candle Light. He proved to himself that the stress he encounters added to the pain of his arthritis. By the way, he has found the solution to this. That is why, ‘…after the deadline for CL, I would refresh myself by riding on a taxi for a joy ride…the most beautiful sight is the shipyard just at the junction where the two ports meet near the Rotary Park…It was one of the things I did to maintain my sanity…the port reassured me then that things will not always be as it is. There will always be a leave-taking… and, O my God…a homecoming!’
Fr. Emman, the 3rd Editor says it all for Candle Light on its 7th year (and even on its 15th year)… “We (the staff) believe it is the never failing light of God’s help that sustained us. Ever since the beginning, all those who got involved were simply instruments of the Light. That CL continues to exist, we resolve firmly to go on, that we do not intend to rest… as long as it serves as the vehicle of the Word of God, as long as it articulates the meaning and praxis of Christianity. To our readers, we may have jeopardized journalistic principles and technicalities…we may have fallen short of your expectations…our sincere apologies.”
Fr. Ryan, the 4th editor-in-chief, experienced the time when the CL office had to be transferred wherever he is assigned. So that when he was assigned and had to stay in the seminary and the Archbishop’s Palace, the office ‘goes along with him.’ His only and most loyal staff was Ng Eve Horvidalla who served both as parish secretary and CL encoder and proof-reader, at the same time.
The fifth CL editor is Msgr. Amadeo Escañan when he was then parish priest of Jaro. Ng Eve still continued what she was doing since then.
With the able and dynamic leadership of its 6th Editor-in-Chief, Fr. John N. Tadifa, together with an active and cooperative staff, Candle Light continues to grow and glow. Many plans were made to make the paper more dynamic and reader friendly, with all age groups considered. Thus, the columns, ‘Power of the Thumb’ and ‘Catholic Kids’ were added among others. Nanay Pureza also joined the staff and started her column on ‘Values Corner’
Rev. Fr. Joel Eslabra, the 7th Editor of Candle Light, carries a meaning, varied and beautiful. Perhaps there is a strong reason for assigning him to number 7. Observe –
There are 7 beautiful virtues, 7 capital sins, 7 last words. A born singer and writer, Fr. Joel always had a solution to any problem we met, while working together. I have never seen him frown; neither have I witnessed his anger. It was during his editorship when even the massive floods and destructions of Typhoon Frank could not stop the circulation of CL. He has left a vacant space in our hearts. We look forward to working together with him again.
A British national, Katie O’ Leary was an Associate Missionaries of the Assumption (AMA)volunteer who was recruited in the Candle Light staff. Proficient in expression and with love for literary work, she took the job as Editor-in-chief after Fr. Joel’s stint. She endeared herself to the staffers because of her humility and friendliness. However, she did not stay long because she had something definite to perform.
Next in line was Pureza D. Lacuesta whom we fondly call, Nanay Sally. She requested for a column in the paper – the column on Values. She reasoned out that with the fast decadence of our positive values, we need to be reminded of the value pollution that is happening in the Philippines today. What could be better than an article on Values that can remind and influence?
When Fr. Philip Vincent S. Sinco assumed the Editor-in-chief position, she remained in the staff as an Associate Editor and keeps the column on Values up to the present.
Rev. Fr. Philip Vincent S. Sinco took the Editorship from Mrs. Lacuesta after he was ordained priest and Candle Light was his first assignment. A democratic leader, he listens to the suggestions of his members and proves true leadership by giving each one his due. He taps both the clergy and the laity on the sensitive issues because he believes that Candle Light is not only for disseminating information but for the apostolate as well. The column ‘Ang Pulong Nangin Tawo’ is published to be used for the Basic Ecclesial Communities faith sharing in the barangays. To date, he is still in charge of the said column even if he is already assigned in Janiuay.
Fr. Marvin Tabion, the 11th and present editor-in-chief. He was reluctant to accept the editorship but he has to obey. His heart beats the more when he has to do his ‘Heartbeats’ and beats even more to meet the deadline. He soon came to adjust to his new assignment and relates well with his staff. Just assigned CL editor-in-chief, he is also the Director of the Catechetical Ministry of the parish. He also serves as the Procurator of the St. Vincent Ferrer Seminary.
Candle Light was not meant to rest after some years but with God’s help it continues on… and on… and on… Candle Light will continue to shine … and will continue to glow… Long live Candle Light!