Paano Kita Mapasasalamatan: How faith, belief in oneself strengthen others to overcome the worst ordeals in life

People might experience desolation and despair, especially with how others judge them. But despite all these crises or ordeals, it is our belief in ourselves and in God that will truly make us overcome any setbacks in life, just like the stories we feature on the August 29 episode of Paano Kita Mapasasalamatan.

Tough love

Oriental Mindoro-born Christopher Saez stoked fear not only because of his thuggish looks but with his mean attitude, but while seemed to have served time in prison, he was never jailed for any wrongdoing. He did however work collecting firewood for the City Jail. While he has since been a responsible husband and father, working as an OFW in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia as a family masseur, Christopher was carefree and freewheeling in his ways, especially in dealing with women. Until he met Jenny, a neighborhood pharmacist he fell in love with. At first, Jenny had been wary of Christopher due to his appearance, but would soon give in to his persistence. It didn’t take long before Jenny became pregnant. Christopher almost decided not to take responsibility, but was prevailed upon by relatives not to abandon Jenny. The couple would then live together but not without frequent squabbles and arguments, mostly due to Christopher’s jealousy. It came to a point that Jenny could not take the pressures of their toxic relationship anymore that she wanted to breakup with Christopher. But Christopher could not let go and realized how much he loved Jenny, and wanted to win her back. To achieve this, he asked the help of his boss in the City Jail he worked for, Sr. Insp. Dave Jambalos. Dave vouched for Christopher in front of Jenny’s relatives that he will become as loving and responsible as he could. With Dave’s help, Jenny decided not to leave Christopher, and had since become blissful together, eventually getting married. Dave even became their godfather during their wedding, and provided them a place to stay as newlyweds. Christopher has since been a responsible and caring provider for his family, working hard for a better future for his family. To thank Dave, Christopher offered decorative candles to symbolize the goodness he imparted to them.

Meaningful service

For his part, Dave always dreamt of becoming a police officer ever since he was young. He was 18 years old when he moved to Manila to study criminology. Unfortunately, his family lost the land they tilt because of the disastrous storm that hit their place. Because of this, Dave was forced to work as a security guard while studying. After finishing his training in the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), he was assigned as a jail officer in 1992. Incomplete facilities and flawed administration hounded him as he served in the prison, as there was a lack of personnel and even a budget for food. Moreover, the PDLs or people deprived of liberty and the jail officers would always clash. There was a time when Dave went with the inhumane system inside the jail, and during that time, he felt powerful. But one person changed Dave's treatment towards the inmates. And this person was inmate Raymund Narag. One time, there was a certain disease that’s been spreading inside the jail and Raymund was the one who got to convince Dave to have the inmates checked and treated. From then on, a strong friendship guided by understanding and respect was built between jail officer and inmate. Dave was enlightened by Raymund to go back to his goal of being a lead example to people. Dave also admitted that Raymund was the one who taught him how to stay grounded and how important it is to treat other people right. Dave has been in service for 28 years already and he still continues to implement the program he and his friend Raymund started in the city jail. To give his utmost thanks to his friend, Dave gave a “happy emoji family” which he made himself. It symbolizes that they would always be one strong family.

Drastic turnaround

Raymund, who now works as a professor at Southern Illinois University, studied at the University of the Philippines where he was recognized as a cum laude candidate. However, he was the prime suspect of the death of a student in a fraternity war inside the campus. His family had high hopes that he would be a great lawyer someday. He was also the class valedictorian during high school that’s why his family and his community were very proud of him. During college, he also became active in joining academic and civic organizations. He also joined a fraternity, which his parents didn’t know of. She also met the girl who became his inspiration. This girl’s name was Shella and Raymund cherished the long distance relationship they had. That time, Raymund had a good academic standing, was active in organizations, and had a relationship with someone he loved. However, all of it vanished in just a blink when he became the prime suspect in the death of a student.

Authorities suspected his frat was behind the incident and made them pinpoint Raymund as the person behind the killing. He said he never let himself be involved in a fraternity rumble. Besides, he wasn’t in the crime scene when the incident happened. Just when everyone thought Raymund was going to finish college already, he was given a warrant of arrest and was later put in jail. Raymund was very blessed to have a supportive family and girlfriend when he needed them the most. He and 10 other fratmen were charged with murder - two counts of frustrated murder and three counts of attempted murder. Raymund endured all the miseries he experienced inside the jail.

What helped him with that was Shella who never left him. Raymund shared they would always exchange letters with each other. He himself would write five to seven pages of letters to his girlfriend. However, because there was someone who identified Raymund as present in the crime scene, he wasn’t granted bail. One of his lawyers also backed out from solving his case. Moreover, his parents were already having financial problems that time. That’s when Raymund lost hope. He even ended his relationship with Shella. Raymund felt alone during those times.

This was until a friend from UP, Bobby Quitain, never gave up on him. Bobby was the one who organized visits for him in jail. Before his incarceration, Raymund did not believe in God. But when he landed in jail, it gave him the opportunity to discover his faith, which Bobby, a campus Catholic lay preacher made possible. Because of the spiritual guidance that Raymund received from Bobby, he had his hopes set once again. Until his prayers were finally answered. After six years, Raymund and his five fraternity brothers were released, while five others were sentenced to life imprisonment. And the first thing that Raymund did the moment he became free was to find Shella and make up for all the times they lost. Until now, Raymund and Shella continue loving each other unconditionally and they were able to have their own beautiful family. Because of Bobby, Raymund was able to fight and be strong through his faith. Raymund gave Bobby a lampshade that symbolizes the light that he gave him when he was in his darkest times.

God-centered life

Bobby, who is also a lawyer, might have brought many people closer to God with his inspiration and teachings, but there was also a point in his life when he lost and questioned his faith. Hailing from Davao City, Bobby came from a complete and happy family. His father was a lawyer as well and his mother was a government employee. His parents, especially his dad, really wanted him to become a professional basketball player someday, a dream likewise shared. In UP, he succeeded in making the Fighting Maroons included in the varsity basketball roster of the UAAP. Everything seemed turning for the better until he got injured during one of his games.

Bobby broke his ankle after he crashed on the floor during a layup. After being rushed to the infirmary, his foot was cast and was told he couldn’t play for the remainder of the year. All his hopes and dreams crashed. Basketball was everything for Bobby at that time, and losing the chance to play that year because of injury devastated him. That’s when he started to turn to vices and neglect his studies. At the end of the day, Bobby blamed God. Bobby questioned Him why He gave him such talent and still took it away from him.

One time, Bobby wanted to be excused in Reserve Officer Training Corps or ROTC that’s why he chose to join a retreat instead, also hoping that he could find himself a girlfriend. He went to the retreat only to find out they were all guys there. He wanted to leave at first but for some reason he stayed. And he still remembers something that a speaker said that night: “Maybe you have tried many things in your life, but you have not found fulfillment in any of them. Why don’t you try God?” And that very moment, Bobby felt a very warm embrace. He heard a clear voice saying “Bobby, I loved you before, I love you today, and there is nothing that you will ever do that will ever change my love for you.” And that retreat changed Bobby’s life forever.

He joined the campus Catholic Charismatic community Christ’s Youth In Action or CYA in UP. He then became a seminarist until he made it to UP College of Law. He reached his dream of becoming a lawyer and met his now wife, Jeng. They built a beautiful family and Bobby felt that he’s always guided by the Lord. But he still felt something was missing. He felt like the Lord wanted him to allot more of his time serving him through being a missionary. However, he was also aware that if he gives up his work, he wouldn’t get to provide for his family. So he asked for a sign from Him.

In 2008, he made a huge decision and left his job in the Office of the Ombudsman. Little did he know that God was testing his faith that time as succeeding problems came into his family’s life. That time, his two children had dengue, and they were already having financial problems. And before the year ended, his wife had to undergo a major surgery. And Bobby needed to have a huge amount of money in order for his wife to continue the operation. Jeng’s life was put on the line. That’s when Bobby once again questioned the Lord if the decision he made was right. He didn’t know where to get that huge amount of money he needed. But God never left him. The people in the community that Bobby serves were able to raise enough money for Jeng’s operation. And that’s when Bobby realized that when God tells you He’ll take care of you, He really will.

Bobby’s realization of God’s unconditional, immense love became the witnessing he needed to enlighten Raymund to find hope in his desolate predicament in prison, and see a better future for him. Raymund shone this ray of light to his once jail officer Dave, who saw better meaning and direction in his commitment to serve. With this, Dave then inspired a desperate Christopher, who would turn his life for the better for the people he loves the most—his family.

Stories of faith and hope that led to incredible trail of kindness that changes lives we reveal on Paano Kita Mapasasalamatan, hosted by Judy Ann Santos-Agoncillo, Saturdays at 6:45pm on Kapamilya Channel and Kapamilya Online Live.