(Photo courtesy from the AVPP Ugnayan FB page)

“Wala namang imposible sa Diyos,” were the first words uttered by Rev. Fr. Philip Valenzuela in his Thanksgiving speech during his ordination to the priesthood at the San Isidro Labrador Parish in Barangay Maruyugon on Wednesday, April 10.

Fr. Valenzuela expressed that those were the exact words he conveyed to his mother when sharing his decision to pursue priesthood by entering the seminary.

“We all know that there are lots of expenses in the seminary and my mother thought at that time that we might not be able to sustain them,” he said.

“I don’t really know why I said it but I believe that by saying nothing is impossible with God, we are also professing our faith in God and letting Him lead the way,” he added.

He said that throughout his journey to priesthood, he sacrificed many things, relying solely on his faith, much like others do in their lives.

“At alam ko, kayo din po sa inyong buhay, marami kayong pagtataya at pagpapaubayang ginawa. Ipagpapasa-Diyos, ipinapasa sa Diyos, dahil naniniwala tayo, nananampalataya tayo, wala namang imposible sa Diyos,” he elaborated.

He further stated that because of his constant faith, he had nothing to say in the end but to also thank God as he completed his journey with his presbyteral ordination.

“Salamat sa Diyos na sa akin ay nagbibigay ng grasya sa pagtugpn,” he said.

“At ganoon din, salamat sa ina ng Diyos. Kay Maria na ating ina, ina ng ating simbahan na patuloy na gumagabay sa aking pagtahak sa bokasyon ng pagpapari,” he added.

Fr. Valenzuela expressed gratitude to his family and all those who supported him in his vocation, acknowledging their role in making his priesthood possible.

He extended thanks to his benefactors, including the Apostolic Vicariates of Puerto Princesa and Taytay, the Archdiocese of Manila, among others.

Particularly noteworthy was his gratitude to his hometown parish of San Isidro Labrador, where he believed the seed of his vocation was planted.

“Salamat sa punla at pagpapalago ng ng pananampalataya sa lugar kung saan ako isinilang, lumaki, tinawag at ngayon ay ibinabalik upang maglingkod,” he said.

Born on May 17, 1997, Fr. Valenzuela hails from Barangay Maruyugon. He is the youngest among three sons and a daughter born to Emilio Valenzuela and Ofelia Santos.

He completed his elementary and high school education at Francisco Austria Elementary School and Mariano Abadiano Javarez National High School, both located in Barangay Maruyugon. Subsequently, he pursued his priestly calling at Seminario de San Jose, where he embarked on his AB Philosophy studies.

His theological journey culminated at San Carlos Seminary in Makati City, where he graduated magna cum laude.

Meanwhile, the Vicar Apostolic Bishop of the Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Princesa (AVPP), Socrates Mesiona, hailed Fr. Valenzuela’s ordination as a blessing for the church, particularly for the AVPP.

Bishop Mesiona noted that it had been some time since he last ordained a priest within the AVPP.

“Sa totoo lang po, pitong taon na ako dito sa bikaryato ngunit pangatlo pa lang si Rev. Philip na aking oordinahan. Nakapadalang talaga ng nagpapari dito sa ating bikaryato,” he said, thanking Fr. Valenzuela for heeding God’s call..

He, however, cautioned the new priest to remain vigilant as he embarks on a vocation fraught with numerous challenges.

“You are going to tread a less traveled road but you don’t need to worry for God has prepared blessings for you,” Mesiona said.

Given the vast geographical reach of the AVPP, stretching to the municipalities of Balabac and Cagayancillo, Bishop Mesiona said that Fr. Valenzuela faces a broad spectrum of responsibilities.

But he expressed satisfaction in observing the growth of the Christian community amidst these challenges.

“Makikita mo ito sa mga naglalakihang simbahang istruktura which is out of necessity rin ay kailangang palakihin dahil hindi na magkasya ang mga tao just like in Narra and Brooke’s Point,” the prelate noted..

“Bahagi ng paglobo ng populasyon ay ang pag-urbanize ng Palawan at katulad ng ibang urban areas ay sumisibol din ang idelohiyang sekularismo at materyalismo, kaya hindi maiwasang makita mo ang dahan-dahang pagbabago ng ugali at pananaw ng mga tao lalo na ng mga Kabataan, tungkol sa simbahan at sa kanilang pananampalataya,” he added.

Moreover, Mesiona also noted the seemingly dwindling response to the call of priesthood, which he said poses an implication of having fewer priests in the future.

“Dahil nga madalang ang ordinasyon sa pagpapari ay outnumbered kayong mga young clergy sa mga senior clergy. At ano naman ang implikasyon nito? Maraming magre-retire sa mga darating na taon. At dahil madalang ang ordinasyon sa ating ay maaring kukulangin tayo ng pari sa mga darating na araw. Nakakabahala ang sitwasyon na ito,” Mesiona lamented.

Furthermore, Mesiona warned Fr. Valenzuela to always remain vigilant and not to succumb to self-entitlement, which he described as a common struggle among priests. He reminded him that priesthood is not merely a profession but a sacred vocation.

“Halimbawa, ngayon baka isipin mo na hindi ka na dapat sumasakay ng tricycle o bus dahil pari ka na. o kaya sabihin mo sa akin na ako’y graduate sa San Carlos Seminary sa Makati, magna cum laude pa ako kaya hindi ako dapat ma-assign sa isla kagaya ng Cagayancillo o kaya sa mga liblib na lugar gaya ng Apurawan o Napsan. Dapat pang-opisina o pang-parokya sa center lang ako,” he stated.

He said being a priest is being an instrument of God who should be aware of his responsibilities as a servant of God.