SURELY I WAS the earliest among those invited to the third Collaborators’ Appreciation Event of the Claretian Communications Foundation, Incorporated (CCFI). It was held last November 9 at the favored Bulwagang Claret (of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish) for its sprawling spaciousness that instantly warms any number of its populace. To say nothing of the efficient airconditioning of the place.
Bob Laurio knew why and I won’t go further than the urgency of the favor I asked of him, which he understood and filled as I have always been assured of his help every now and then.
Because I was early, I passed by him and his co-workers rehearsing what I guessed (rightly) was their production number in the program. We would meet later in the office; he saw me and, still sweating from practice, reassured me he’d attend to me shortly. He did. Off I went to the the bank, returned to the bulwagan, was the first to register and pose for Ate Lhai Abobon in their photo booth. This early bird earned his worthwhile worm way ahead of the others.
First in trickles, the rest of the guests came in slow succession just as Bob was thankfully acknowledging our presence and, as the venue filled, he cut short his pleasant opening spiel to ask everyone to stand up and join the school children of Claret Learning Center in an interpretative prayer. The audience thrilled to the tykes’ endearing rendition of a blessing.
Bob called on Fr. Dennis Tamayo, CCFI’s Executive Director, to further welcome us. Fr. Dennis spoke of the relevance of reading to Philippine society as direly necessary at this age. Once more, he told of his visit to Frankfurt, Germany, where most people he saw in public places have books or magazines in their hands (instead of cellular phones, was probably what he wanted to add but didn’t). Aside from reading, he enjoined his listeners to partner with them in propagating the Word of God by living and spreading it through efforts of the family to inculcate in children and youth the values that the Bible offers. At that juncture, he alluded to Engr. Jess Matias, an author whose flair for drawing can be utilized for children’s books that he himself writes to get the attention of mothers, primarily. Then people will no longer dwell so much on commercialism (and drugs and EJK) but on the Kingdom of God.
Next to speak was Marketing Manager Agnes Inocencio. Hers was an interesting update of many sorts in that she made use of attention-getting visuals while her spontaneous speech never strayed from her audience. She owned me when she said that, even if their bookstore is nestled in a secluded nook of UP Village, their books fetch clamor and clientele in a prestigious outlet such as National Bookstore.
I didn’t really wonder where Bob disappeared to when Ate Lhai took the microphone because, soon, she was introducing their colleagues from CCFI’s various divisions to perform a surprise number. The medley of groove-inducing, hip-shaking contemporary dance wowed the audience and worked up everybody’s appetite for the sumptuous food that the waiters served afterwards. (I posted that picture but it sorrily didn’t capture Bob.)
A talk on E-book in the Philippines was briefly offered by a representative from Flipside.
The next person Bob called on was Jess, three-time winner of the Cardinal Sin Catholic Book Award. The engineer admitted to being reluctant to speak because his talkativeness might bore the audience yet talk he did. He shared that his calling came from God who asked him to write and He’ll take care of his family. The rest is a history short of two more wins to the Hall of Fame. His parting shot was that the theology of giving is within the bigger context of receiving, especially blessings that are not asked for, but make us humble because received from God.
Obviously inspired, Bob hoped that the audience was, too, and went on to introduce the authors, writers, editors, proofreaders and other collaborators in the audience.
Agie was back again explaining (unnecessarily) why they remain active and productive in the publishing game. It is because they deliver what is most urgent, timely and effective yet affordable and evangelizes. She intimated their plans to renovate in 2018 with the help of interior designer Ida delos Reyes. I saluted that inwardly as I gazed back at the tasteful work she did on the book booth/shelves displayed on the walls of Bulwagan.