After a long wait, for more than 2 years at that, Taytay will now have a new bishop. And his name is Moga. Yes, he is Bishop Broderick Pabillo. Though not expecting anything for himself, a long wait is over as well. After being 15 years as an auxiliary, he is about to take his seat of shepherding. Both waitings has come to an end… to usher to an exciting beginning.

The time of waiting has ripened the flock to be eager to embrace their new pastoral leader. On the other hand, Moga is somewhat overripe to take his role as the new spiritual leader of the people. In his own words as regards being overripe, “I thank the Holy Father that in the twilight of my life, I’m still given a chance to work on a mission territory…”  While an overripe fruit is already seen as soft that you could easily make a dent on it, Moga has been widely viewed as the other way around.  He never fails to make a dent every time he thinks and acts for and on behalf of the people, especially the poor and marginalized.

I have already known a bit of Moga before I came to meet him in person.  We both had our time to live together in the mountain ranges of Gen. Nakar in Quezon Province. He came earlier, that was why only stories (wonderful ones, at that) about him had I heard. Our meeting point then was Benny, a Franciscan friar who used to live in a hermitage together with the indigenous peoples, namely the Dumagats. Benny is another great soul worth writing about but he will be in another story. Let alone Moga for now. (By the way, it was from Benny that I got to learn to call Broderick in his nickname as Moga.)

All told, Moga has that image of being strict and straightforward, radical and outspoken, too serious, and would always mean business even to a fault. But then again, it is merely an image of him. He is not conscious about it, not a bit. What matters to him the most is that he is doing a mission. And for that, he is indefatigable and relentless, albeit also to a fault.

For the record, I said my first ever Mass as a priest with him as a homilist. Unlike the usual first Masses, there was nothing festive about it. There were only his parishioners and the three of us priests, the other being Alex Abia (a great friend and a wonderful brother-priest). It was in Brgy. Macarascas, Moga’s parish then. I could not recall anything of what he said in the homily, except, “Salamat at dito kayo nag First Mass sa aming simpleng parokya. Isang karangalan ito sa amin.” Those words are very Moga, I can now surmise. No wonder that when he got ordained as a bishop, he also opted to have it held in Macarascas. Again, isang karangalan para sa mga simpleng tao. For Moga, parangalan palagi ang mga simpleng tao.

One time, we were both lecturers at a conference here in Puerto Princesa. What luck did I get that I was sick the night before the activity? What I did was to ask somebody to deliver a printed copy of my talk to the conference just to show my excitement and preparation for the said task. Lo and behold, I was told that Moga did the lecture for me, making use of my notes at that. For the life of me, I could never be so humble as to be shelved into one’s mind, much less that of a lower kind. But then again, image is nothing for him; humility is.

We met when I was already well. He told me, “This is just unsolicited advice, advice from me as your older brother-priest.”  Then and there I was struck by the concern from the man. “I observed that you are always busy. Please do take care of yourself.” At the back of my mind though I was telling myself jokingly, “Ayaw nya ata ang lecture ko a.” On a serious note, it certainly warms the heart when a man would approach a fellow man just to express care. Is that what we call strict?

There are still a lot of spots that one could personally see or experience with Moga. How media, social media, and some pundits would paint him is somewhat beyond or even contrary to his being soft and having a soft spot. If being overripe is about softness, then Moga could be that soft spot too … a soft spot in the vineyard of the Lord in that simple corner of the globe called Taytay.