That first time was striking for me because I was too shy to approach confreres, especially those who were older then I am. As a newly professed Salesian, and even up to now, I am in awe in even simply thinking that we are confreres—equal by the virtue of our Salesian vocation.
It was a Sunday afternoon, when I saw him holding some rosal flowers (gardenia) which he snipped from a nearby garden. Even if he does not know me, he volunteers to tell me that they’re for his mom; rosal is her favorite flower, he tells me.
He was in his late sixties at that time but his boyish smile made such an impression; his warm smile put me at ease.
I would meet him next at Don Bosco Tabor House where he also would be assigned as its economer. When our community had our quarterly recollection there, he served us pasta. I could see in his eyes that he was proud to serve us that dish. And even if seafood and pasta did not appeal to me, I would come to like his concoction very much.
A few years after, he would then be moved to our Salesian setting in Calauan. And coincidence it must be that I would also be assigned there for my weekend apostolate.
It was tiring to go to Calauan from Paranaque. We had to endure three hours of trip, most particularly detesting was that we had to wade through the kilometric queues of vehicles moving inch-by-inch upon reaching the Los Banos area. But I’m sure that my companions could relate with me how we all wanted to reach Calauan at once not only because of the special food waiting for us on the community table, but also because of the people waiting for us there.
In those trying moments, Br. Ramon’s face is one image that quickly lights up the burden I bear.
Being the economer of the community, he is tasked to deal not only with the food that is served to the community and to us students of theology are there on weekends. Fr. Boy and Fr. Patrick would gang up on him as they reveal to us that their community only enjoys good food when we are around.
True enough, I would realize that ice cream, assorted chips and chilled bottles of Tanduay Ice are delights not meant for people of their age.
Aside from that, Br. Ramon made it sure that he was in our company while enjoying the meal. And this made each meal especially memorable.
I note that he is a Salesian brother (he is a religious, but not ordained to celebrate Mass) and yet, he was the first one to consistently arrive at the chapel for the morning prayers. And when someone else had not come, he would ring the bell to call his attention.
Right after our prayers, he would greet the people tidying up the chapel and its vicinity where the Mass would be held; he also took charge of playing some inspirational music to announce that the Mass was to begin in a while.
We revere some people because of their sheer intelligence, and that we are eager to listen to them because they enrich us intellectually. Br. Ramon did not say much. And yet, he caught my imagination, for his work said it all. He is a Salesian through and through and he truly lived to his calling and to the title he’s known for: a brother.