As I looked back my life, appreciating the person I am today and the gifts that I have, I reflected and realized that I gave so much thanks for the pleasurable, comforting and rewarding experiences of my life.  But I forgot that I owed much of my thanks to something totally different-life’s struggles.

        I’m the first son of a simple and pious laborer-farmer, and was born in Lipata, Lapu-Lapu City on the 21st day of April 1972.  My parents are Marcelino Rapayla Sr. and Aurea Arcilla. Both of them were not able to finish primary studies.  I was six years old when I started grade school.  I grew up as a homebody kid but because of being exposed to the hardship in life, I matured quite early and soon I learned to understand the word “poverty”.  I believed that survival is the essence of life and because of that; I did something substantial to help my family.  I stopped my studies at the age of 11 and became a scavenger.  There were times when our family could only have one meal in a day.  There was one time when I ate food thrown into the garbage because of hunger. We could only eat good meat when we got leftovers from the garbage.  (We washed and re-cooked them).  The money that I earned from the scrapped materials I picked up supported my studies until I completed high school.  I also lost a love one, my mother, whose death took me a long time to recover. Then, I became the breadwinner and was able to send my four siblings to school. To support them financially and to give them motherly care were my priorities.  I also encountered heartache when I got busted by the woman I loved.

        I did experience different kinds of job such as; construction laborer, machinist helper, and janitor in a department store.  In 1991, I joined United Technologies Automotive Philippines, Inc. which is now known as Lear Corporation.  I started as a production operator.  In my 18 years of service, I experienced the spectrum of positions and responsibilities namely; resistance welder operator, molding operator, lead in-process operator, engineering aide and process engineer.  In addition, I worked during the day and studied during the night.  I was able to reach 3rd year in Industrial Psychology.  I experienced much struggles but all these were paid off in my job.  I was awarded as the “Best Production Operator of the Year in 1993” and not only that, I was also appointed to handle the program management position as Engineering Car Leader. 

        I am the person who I am today, not because I have always trusted the right people and have made the right decisions, but because I have sometimes screwed up.  In 1999, I joined the youth community and became an active member of the charismatic movement in the parish.  I, together with the other members of the healing ministry, visited the sick persons in the hospitals.  There was one time when we conducted catechism class to the inmates in So-ong Lapu-Lapu City Jail.  I tried to inspire and motivate my email mates by sending emails of personal experiences and inspirational short stories.  I became a blogger and uploaded articles to my blog entitled “Heal the World.”  I also compiled all those articles into a book “Life is a beautiful journey.”  My life screwed up when I started to explore my curiosity.  I engaged or had relationship before in both sexes and often times I went to disco, bar hopping and experienced one night stands.  I let myself be influenced by my friends to take drugs, and to drink alcohol.  I had a huge debt in the bank because of these vices.  In spite of all the happiness that the world could offer still “my heart was restless until it rested in God.”  I found the real joy when I served as volunteer in “Gasa sa Gugma,” Mabolo, Cebu City.  

        For me, life has a complex mixture of experiences.  Apparently, there was a time that I was walking in the park while on the other days it felt like an uphill ran on a rocky road. However, every bit of it helped me to define the person who I am now.  Since all of my siblings had their own job and some of them have their own family, I felt free like a bird, to fly in any direction.  I quilted my white collar job in Lear Corporation in which I had almost two decades of service and chosen not to work again for I preferred to serve God by pursuing my long-time dream of becoming a priest despite that I’m too old enough.  I entered the seminary to deepen my discernment for priesthood vocation, and now studying Philosophy in San Carlos Seminary College.

        I feel grateful and thank God for these opportunities that He gave me.  My past life’s struggles taught me to be optimistic in life.  It built good character and shaped my personality as a mature person.  Therefore, our life struggles, and the way we dealt with them, are among the many gifts that shape our lives.