Remembering An Old Barrio Sage

Nowadays, when someone in the house is confronted on the gate by a group of “religious on a mission” (normally members of a religious sect other than the Roman Catholic Church), that someone usually gasps for reasons to reject the visitors’ request to enter the premises and conduct their mission. Not that there is no reason not to allow them in, most of these “religious on a mission” are really so insistent in doing their mission that no amount of reasoning by the house greeter could make them go away accomplishing nothing. The least that some of these missionaries would insist on would be to leave a pamphlet about their church and mission.

Anyway, this specific situation reminds me of how it was in my growing years in the province. In those days, the missionaries were more intense and all people in our barrio (called barangay or village today) practically knew each other including their religions so the missions are done with real care and respect by both parties (the missionaries on one side and the target of the mission on the other side). For clarity, I have to say that the mission’s objective is always to convince the target family to change their religion and join the missionaries’ religious sect.

I distinctly remember many instances during my youth (elementary and high school days to be exact) how an old man, our neighbor, would tackle such situations. The old man was the one I am referring to as an old barrio sage in the title of this blog. He was so adept in blocking the advances of the missionaries so I firmly retained in my mind two (2) different scenarios and how he handled them in those days.

First scenario was when the missionaries have just knocked on his door and seeking his permission to enter and preach him on missionaries’ interpretation of the passages in the Holy Bible. On this situation, the barrio sage would not say no because that was and even now considered impolite and against the deeply ingrained Filipino hospitality. He would just tell the missionaries that it is okay with him to listen to their preachings as long as the missionaries would say anything bad about his Roman Catholic faith. True enough, most of the missionaries would just go away because their talks were more often not containing some negative remarks about the Roman Catholic beliefs and practices.

The second scenario had the missionaries inside the sage’s house and preaching the basis of their religious sect’s name. I can’t remember the chapter and verse numbers but the passage says something about our Lord Jesus Christ’s instruction to Peter the Apostle to build his church and so the name of church must have the word Christ in it. This is an often quoted Bible passage by the religious to prove that theirs is the religion founded by Jesus Christ.

The barrio sage countered the argument by telling the story on how his house was built. He said he told his architect to design and build a house for him and when the house was finished it was called ‘bungalow’ (a type of residence building) and not House of Joe (the real name of the sage).   Such kind of remarkable statements would almost always instantly come out of the barrio sage’s mouth whenever he was confronted by ordinary issues in a man’s everyday life.