Monsignor Rolly and I were taught by Monsignor Vengco on how to give Homilies. And there are guidelines in giving homilies especially for the dead. This morning, I have decided to ignore these guidelines and instead, I shall share with you our story because I believe that the story of Monsignor Vengco is the story of Jesus. The story of Father Soc and Monsignor Vengco is a story about their friendship with Jesus. When I first entered Theology in San Carlos Seminary, the first instruction I heard was – Call Soc. (Tawagin si Soc.). When I arrived in his office, he told me – I know it was difficult for you to enter the Theology. And you can dwell on the pains and the hurts now. But if I were you, I will forget all of them. Just remember the lessons and move on. That’s your choice. You may go.

That was our first encounter and in the subsequent years, what the other seminarians would often hear is – Call Soc. (Tawagin si Soc).  I would go to his office, he will issue assignments, he will give instructions and announcements for the seminarians. Call Soc. (Tawagin si Soc). I did not know why and I was not aware of his condition but last Monday, but I felt the urge to leave Dagupan to visit him in Cardinal Santos. The truth is, I brought with me a Mass kit, because I was planning on offering a Mass. I figured that it must have been a long time since he heard Mass. So I brought the Mass kit and went to room 280 and it was at that moment that he suffered from cardiac arrest. In my mind, he was the one who whispered to me to come to Manila and go visit Cardinal Santos. He no longer said – Call Soc. (Tawagin si Soc). Maybe his guardian angel and my guardian angel talked and relayed the message to me on what I had to do.

As he had taught us in the seminary – I came near his ears and in a loud voice, I told him – “Monsignor, this is Soc. I am here for you. I shall give you the Papal blessing. I shall give you the Papal absolution. Do not worry about anything else. This is Soc.” I gave him the blessings of the Pope. I gave him Apostolic Pardon. And in a while, he returned to the Father’s House.

Pero iba doon sa ibang – Tawagin mo si Soc – sapagkat sa tuwing sasabihin niyang – Tawagin mo si Soc – meron siyang utos. Merong aral. May assignment. Pero noong Lunes, ipinatawag na naman niya ako. Ipinatawag na naman niya ako sa huling pagkakataon. Pero wala nang utos, iniwanan pa ako. Wala nang utos, iniwanan pa.

I was sharing with Monsignor Rolly that strange of all strange things – Last Saturday night, I received a viber call from Monsignor. He even went on video call and he only said one thing- Thank you. (Salamat). He was on oxygen but he was still very much like Vengco. And he only said – Thank you (Salamat.) And it seems that he even gifted me with poetry. He said – The infant who was nurtured is overflowing in goodness. (Ang sanggol na inalagaan ay bumubukal sa kabutihan.) You have given us so much kindness than we ever gave you. When will you be released from the hospital? So we can already visit you in Ephesus. And just like a prophet, he said in 2 or 3 days. And in 2 or 3 days, he was indeed released from the hospital but no longer to return to Ephesus but to come home to our house. That is the story between us two. That is the story of Jesus. That is the story of Monsignor. Now I am certain, no one who will ever say – Call Soc. (Tawagin mo si Soc.) But now, I say to everyone – Call Vengco (Tawagan mo si Vengco). Call Vengco because God will listen to him. Call Vengco because he is now in the presence of God. If there is something that you need, call Vengco, because God will listen to him.

My dear brothers and sisters, if I will continue to tell you the story of us two, I would have enough material to write a book. But just remember that I am sharing with you these stories not for him. And not for me. It is all because I wanted to show you that in the story of every friendship, there is Jesus in between. Remember that in every priest’s story, there is the beautiful story of Jesus. Remember that in every mission, in every word, in every teaching of the priest are the teachings, the words, and the life of Jesus that is being carried on.

Monsignor, you may still call on me. You may still call me. But we shall also call on you because we know that you are in God’s favor. We shall call on you because we know that there is no other place here on earth, there is no other destination for you to go to but in the heart of God. Amen.

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