Photo: Gertrudes C Samson
In December 2017, a generous Malate parishioner gave the Columbans complimentary tickets to watch the Ballet Philippines perform 'The Nutcracker' at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
It was just a few days after I arrived from Mindanao to help out with mission promotion on the 2018 Columban Centenary Celebration and on the relief operation at the resettlement site of the internal refugees from Marawi.
Upon hearing about the ballet, I said to myself, “Great! Thanks be to God, I really need a break!” And I love the ballet.
Arriving at the theatre lobby, I was delighted to see someone I knew. It was the 1973 Miss Universe, Margie Moran.
After some persuasion from my fellow lay missionaries, I gathered up enough courage to say hello. Miss Margie recognized me from a time when we worked together at Habitat for Humanity, an ecumenical Christian housing ministry. I was working as an architect and she was a member of the board of trustees.
Habitat for Humanity built simple, decent and affordable houses for the poor and marginalized of society. The construction team, volunteers, the future home owners, donors and other partners work together on the actual build.
I remember Miss Margie visiting us at the construction sites and literally working with us on the construction. Whatever volunteer task she was given, she did her best to make it nice and neat. I recall a particular home partner proudly saying whenever someone visits her house, she says “Look at that wall, the joint finish is nicely done and neat. It was done by Miss Margie Moran”.
It was really nice to see Miss Margie again after so many years. I admire her not only for her beauty but also for her heart for service to humanity. I learned that she works in advocacy for peace in Mindanao and was the President of Ballet Philippines for a number of years and her aim is to bring art through ballet to the communities. This is the reason Columban Lay Missionaries and some indigenous women from the Subanen community were given the opportunity to attend the ‘The Nutcracker’. It was their first time to see ballet live! It was a special treat for all of us.
Looking back on happy memories of the past I realize that although I am not a Miss Universe like Miss Margie Moran, I feel blessed and thank God that I got the chance to become a Columban lay missionary.
Columban Lay Missionary Gertrudes C Samson lives and works in Britain.
Listen to "Miss Universe and the missionary"
- Read more from The Far East, June 2019