Fr. Victor Badillo, S.J.: There is a waterfall near the Jesuit San Jose Seminary
October 15, 2009 4 Comments
Last Thursday, I talked with Fr. Victor Badillo, S.J. in his room at the Jesuit residence infirmary. I always visit him once or twice a week for a 15 minute chat. He is 79 years old. His scientific mind is still sharp, though his body has been weakened by several surgeries. He asked me to buy him a flash disk to transfer his files in his computer at the Ionosphere building to his computer in his room. He asked about the recent floods. I told him that Katipunan Avenue was flooded weeks ago during Typhoon Ondoy. A hapless car was sucked into a building construction pit and drowned. Terrible.
“Have you seen the the creek near the Ionosphere Building? What happened to it?” he asked.
“I don’t know, Father. Is there a creek there?” I asked.
“The creek is between the Ionosphere building and the San Jose Seminary. The creek leads to a pond, then to a waterfalls.” His eyes twinkled.
“Is there a waterfalls there, Father?” I asked.
“You should go to see it. Go to San Jose Seminary. Tell the porter that you want to see the waterfalls. Tell them I sent you,” he said.
I bade him goodbye and left.
I passed by the Church of Gesu to my left, then the college to my right. I walked some more until I reached a forked road in front of the Observatory. Straight ahead is a road towards the Blue Eagle Gym where the UAAP games are held. To my left is the road to the Loyola House of Studies. I turned left.
The road curves to the left. To my left are the College Covered Courts and the Arrupe International Residence of the Jesuit seminarians and priests. To my right are the forests that separate the road from the Manila Observatory. I found the little creek. The waters snaked its way among the dead leaves and old trees. The falls should not be far, I thought.
I walked some more and took the right road to the the San Jose Seminary. The seminary is a white rectangular building. Its windows are framed with a series of narrow arches. At the entrance porch is a statue of St. Joseph the Worker against the background of the Marikina valley. There is a narrow road to the left that leads to Marian grotto, with Mary in white and the grotto in blue. My friend and I were here before. Yes, we were here before.
I entered. To my left is the seminary’s chapel. It is a beautiful church. Traditional. I went straight to the porter.
“I am Quirino Sugon from the Manila Observatory. Fr. Badillo sent me here to check the creek and the waterfalls. He wants to know what happened to it when flood came.”
The porter looked at me. Then he called out to an old man with a student.
“Fr. Vic. Somebody here from the Manila Observatory wants to look at the creek to assess the flood.”
“You want to see the Marikina river? You can see it from the fifth floor. I’ll accompany you in a moment.” His name is Fr. Victor C. de Jesus, S.J., the rector of the seminary. Many homes near the Marikina river were submerged in the flood. Some homes were even swept away. The flood left thick layers of mud.
I explained to the porter that I do not wish to see the Marikina river. I only wish to see the waterfalls near the pond.
“Fr. Vic,” he called out. “He only wants to visit the pond and the waterfalls. Can he go there?”
“Oh, I thought you wish to see the extent of the flood,” Fr. Vic spoke to me. Then he turned to the porter. “Just send a person to accompany him.”
The person who accompanied me was Jodie. He and his friend were drinking coffee. He offered me some. “No, thank you,” I said. It is customary for Filipinos to invite other people to join them for a meal or drink. You are not obliged to accept. A second offer means that the man is serious in inviting you.
“Are you a seminarian or a priest?” he asked.
“No,” I said. “I only work at the Manila Observatory. Fr. Badillo sent me to look at the creek and the waterfalls.”
“The creek should be just over there,” he said.
We walked through a narrow and winding trail. It is easy to get lost there. Forest, forest everywhere. I felt like I was in the Fangorn Forest surrounded giant trees, talking and whispering to each other, wondering what strange new creature this hobbit is.
“These are made of adobe,” he said and pointed to the trail. “A Jesuit priest wanted to make this a place for prayer and retreat. So he made that pond and made a trail of rough-hewn adobe around and leading to it.”
“This place has to be well-kept, lest it becomes overgrown with weeds and becomes a home of snakes. Years ago, a large snake entered the rooms of the seminarians. It was ten feet long. Its body was as big as my two fists. The snake was turned over to the Environmental Science Department, I think.”
“There is the waterfalls.” he said and pointed it with his finger. I could not see it. So we walked around the pond, and went closer.
Out from the pond is a small waterfalls, like a bucket of water continously poured. There is a creek about ten feet below. Wading through the creek is a little white heron. It flapped its wings and left. Marvelous. It was my first time to see a real heron.
“That’s the “tagak,” he said. “These birds can still be seen here. The forest facing the Marikina valley is still untouched.”
I tried to see if there is a cave beneath the falls, but I can’t. I remembered Ithilien, the Garden of Gondor. Behind the falls is a cave of Faramir and his men. And these lines of Faramir is what Monk’s Hobbit modified for its epigraph:
We look westward to Numenor that was, and beyond to Elvenhome that is, and to that which is beyond Elvenhome and will ever be. (Two Towers, p. 320)
We look westward to the West that was. We look eastward to the Catholic Church that is. We look downward in sadness. We look upward in hope. (Monk’s Hobbit)
Jodie and I went back. And I looked back. And I remembered a poem I read in a student literary journal, the Heights magazine, when I was still in college at the Ateneo:
I may never see this sight again
And forget the caress of its waters.
But like a pebble fleeting over its surface
You’ve rippled it, found its mark and lain
And changed the river’s course forever.