did you come to know the spirituality of unity and how
has it changed your life and family?
Baby: I got to know the spirituality
of unity through a colleague at work at the International
School where my husband and I worked before. We were
receiving the monthly Word of Life leaflet from her
and at first I was not really paying attention to it.
But later on some Focolare members came to visit us
in Antipolo where we live. What struck me about the
Focolare was the freedom that it gave me to join or
not to join meetings. When I saw how they were living
the Word of God concretely, I freely joined them. I
told myself, “This life is what I want!”
We have three children and often together with them
we would participate in the yearly Mariapolises, the
Focolare summer gatherings. Our children also learned
the culture of unity, and tried to outdo each other
with acts of love at home and in school. We did not
preach to them, but, as a family, we lived the life
of unity and they were doing acts of love all throughout
Since our kids were at Brent International School where
we taught and worked, at the dinner table we would share
about what we had lived during the day. We often asked
them, “What acts of love have you been able to
do today at school?” I remember Lorelie, our youngest
girl, sharing something which struck me so much: “I
woke up and seeing that our helper was busy with many
things, I did not bother her. Instead I fixed my own
bed, and got the broom to sweep the floor.” This
was quite remarkable when I noticed that the broom was
even taller than my small daughter.
children were also helping us to live the Gospel. When
sometimes we quarreled, our children would remind us,
“Oops... we are in the Focolare...” Or
another time, my second son Vincent reminded me about
salesman had come to the door with some products. I
had asked our helper to tell him that I wasn’t
Vincent told me. “Mom, that’s a lie.”
I tried to reason with him, “But my son, they
will just sell us some products and we don’t have
Vincent would scold me gently.“Why
don’t we face them together and tell them that
we don’t have a budget for that. At least we wouldn’t
be telling a lie.” So we did and I experienced
a deep peace afterwards. It’s also a challenge
to be really role models, to practice and live what
we teach our children. I will never forget another experience
with Vincent when he was in grade 4.
his classmate had forgotten an expensive and beautiful
pen. Vincent really liked the pen, and he took it. But
that night he was not able to sleep and so he came to
me to confess what he did. The next day he returned
the pen to his classmate. His classmate was very happy
too as it was really something which her mother treasured
a lot. Later, even the parents of this classmate gave
Vincent a gift to reciprocate his honesty and care.
you tell me about Vincent’s accident, how did
It was the start of a new school year
in 1996. There was a traditional acquaintance party.
Vincent had been absent the week before because he had
been sick. That time he had difficulty walking. He was
in grade 10 and just 16 years old. He insisted on going
to school that day as it was election time, and his
friend was running for president. He wanted to show
his support for her. Thus he went in to school and voted.
That night they also had the acquaintance party. Things
got a bit mixed up and they left the party after midnight.
Vincent was in the passenger seat when his friends’
car hit a truck parked on the sidewalk.
car went under the truck. Vincent was pinned down under
it and they couldn’t pull him out. He was the
only one who died there.
Vincent’s face was totally disfigured
when I saw him in the morgue. But there was something
that really consoled me. When I saw Tony without Vincent
that early morning, I remembered my prayers that moment.
“Jesus, My God, I don’t know why this has
happened, but if this is your will, then I say my yes
to you. Yet it is very painful. I don’t know what
to do! Please take over from now on. I don’t know
what to do.” I really cried so much afterwards.
went to the Church, and providentially a priest accompanied
me to bless Vincent’s body. Those days I meditated
often on Jesus Forsaken as the key to unity when we
embraced him in situations that remind us of Christ’s
abandonment on the cross. Then I really found myself
embracing Jesus Forsaken like Mary desolate at the foot
of the cross. I realized that if we entrust everything
to God, he will indeed really take care of us. I was
there that whole day beside the bed of my son in the
small morgue but I felt that the presence of Jesus so
strongly. I asked Jesus to give a dignified funeral
for my son. Things just happened so naturally from the
bluish gray metal coffin that one parent of Brent school
gave us, a donation of white and pink balloons, a chapel
that was provided near Brent School, a 10,000 pesos
cash donation needed as an initial for the funeral services,
and food prepared by friends of my eldest son. Vincent’s
funeral turned out to be so beautiful.
were you able to cope with the pain of this loss?
I don’t know how I gathered the
energy or had the grace to face this tragedy. I saw
flowers arriving and realized that Vincent had a lot
of friends. But after the funeral my pain lingered on.
Our eldest son never left his room because he felt guilty
for not having been there during Vincent’s death.
Then one day, he came out of his room saying ‘Mom,
dad, Vincent has forgiven me! In my dream, he gave me
a tour of where he is now. He told me that “Mom
should not worry because I’m in a beautiful place.
And I want you to be good so that you can join me when
your time comes.’”
After several months, some people urged
me to file a case against the family that owned the
car which caused Vincent’s death. I had already
talked things over with a lawyer. Then, one night I
saw Vincent in a dream.
woke up crying. He had appeared to me saying: “Mom,
forgive seventy times seven!” I told him “But
Vincent, if it were not for them, you would still be
alive.” He responded, “Mom, it was not their
fault. It was my time. Mom,
love until it hurts. These are my friends. It’s
not their fault.”
I didn’t go ahead in filing a case. It was a big
step for us after Vincent’s death. Today I feel
privileged because with all our imperfections we have
a son who lived like a small saint. So when my husband
and I sometimes have a misunderstanding and disunity,
I always think that I have to rise up in this situation,
and start again over again because otherwise I would
not be able to join Vincent one day. This would be my
The greatest grace I received was during
his funeral mass. The family of the owner of the car
was there during the mass. When it was time for the
sign of peace, I looked for this family and I embraced
them. After the mass many people approached us thanking
us for our Christian witness.
are very thankful that we have gotten to know and practice
this ideal of unity. It helped us to forgive and to
see Christ in others.
by Jose Aranas
Vincent Oliver B. Abad Memorial Soccer Award
sports initiative for peace and brotherhood
Vincent Oliver B. Abad Memorial Soccer Award has been
established in memory of Vincent Oliver B.
- a member of the Brent International School’s
Soccer Team that won the first soccer championship trophy
for Brent School at a soccer festival and several other
awards for Brent. Vincent was one of the three Brent
students that were chosen to be members of the Philippine
Soccer Team that competed in three international soccer
competitions: the Helsinki Cup in Finland, the Gothia
Cup in Sweden, and the Dana Cup in Denmark. He received
his last soccer award, the Coaches Soccer Award, in
May 1996. Three months later on August 24th, Vincent
died in a car accident – 13 days after his 16th
had just started 10th grade and was already planning
to become a doctor. Vincent was recognized a “Brent
Model Student” by Headmaster Dick Robbins in his
homily during the funeral service at Christ the King
Church in Green Meadows, Quezon City. An award in honor
of Vincent was initiated by the school after his death.
The criteria for this award are the same ones used by
the coaches who chose him for the 1995-96 Soccer Coaches
Award. Their objective is to instill these same criteria
in Brent soccer players.
courteous and respectful to coaches, referees, team
members and one’s opponents especially when the
game becomes rough; graciousness in winning or losing.
Present and on time, and ready to play in every team
practice and tournament, rain or shine.
Attitude: A striving spirit.
encouraged his teammates to do their best despite the
odds; kept team spirit high – before, during,
and after the games. In an essay Vincent wrote, “I
feel that I am the school’s ambassador while wearing
the Brent soccer uniform out there on the soccer field.”
(Excerpt from his essay “My Favorite Sport”).
foundation On the 40th day after Vincent’s death,
when his family, friends and classmates gathered before
his tomb for Mass, they were waiting for the priest
who had not yet arrived.
remarked to one another there is really a shortage of
waiting for the priest, Vincent’s mom Baby Abad
encouraged everyone to set up a foundation for Vincent.
One goal of the foundation is to offer scholarships
to seminarians who are preparing for priesthood. Second,
in memory of Vincent and his love for soccer, they also
established a soccer cup. So they passed the hat around
for the collection. They were able to collect 13,000
pesos. Vincent’s family and friends put up a foundation,
and this 13,000 grew to 400 thousand pesos.
were able to send two boys to the seminary, who have
now been ordained as priests.
are also the outreach programs of Vincent Oliver Abad
Memorial Educational Foundation, Inc. (VOAMEd) that
the family and friends of Vincent have initiated and
conducted both in and outside Brent International School.