An unforgettable week with Fr. Ben Nebres

I’ve never had a more profound Holy Week than this week. No, we didn’t fly to swim in Boracay or do underground cave-watching in Palawan — we just stayed home. What we did was to join the Easter Triduum Recollection at the Sacred Heart Parish Church. What a moving and touching three days. Last year, it was Fr. Johnny Go — a very inspiring teacher. This Holy Week — from Thursday to yesterday — we had mornings of teachings from one of the most respected of teachers: Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, SJ.

Still filled with so much energy and wisdom (at the age of 73), Fr. Nebres imparted so much from the life of Jesus our Lord. He gave so many examples (Gawad Kalinga, his experiences after 18 years as president of Ateneo de Manila Univ., his humble work with the public school children and with our Muslim brothers — sharing with us hours of lessons with zero notes on hand).

To me, apart from the three mornings of listening and reflecting, a most humbling moment came Thursday night when, as one of the apostles, Fr. Nebres washed my right foot. He knelt down like a servant before each seated man, washed our feet with water, wiped it with white towel — and then, like a man who did not despise but felt joy in the act, he shook our hands and, with his trademark sincere and joyous face, he smiled.

It was one of the most humbling experiences I’ve encountered. Not only because, kneeling in front of you and cleansing your dirty feet is one of our nation’s most respected men — but that Jesus himself did the same. It’s a lesson for all to follow: He who wants to be great must be the greatest servant.

On Good Friday night, our household watched The Passion of The Christ. Though we had seen the movie before, watching it on the day when Christ was humilitated and beaten to death — that’s another profound event.

Today, as we celebrate the most important day of the year, let us be thankful to the Lord for he has rescued and uplifted us. Isaiah 53:5 says, “But He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.”

TENNIS. The next seven days will bring to Cebu’s shores two mega events: the 14th Truflex National Junior Championships and the Davis Cup weekend between our Philippines and Thailand.

Randy Villanueva, the VP of Philta (Phil. Tennis Assoc.), is bringing, for the first time, his Truflex event outside of Manila. To be held at four different venues in Lapu-Lapu City (Mactan Airbase, the City Hall, Amores court and Haruhay Resort), Truflex is a Group 1 (highest-ranked) tournament. We welcome all the participants!

Next weekend (April 5 to 7), it’s Davis Cup. The venue is at one of Asia’s best: Plantation Bay Resort and Spa. Tennis lover or not, everyone ought to watch. It’s an international meet. It’s for free. And it’s not in Rizal Memorial or at the PCA courts in Manila — it’s here in Mactan.

SUMMER HEAT. Whew! It’s getting hot. It’s not only the Heat of Miami that’s getting hot in the NBA (they finally lost!) but our own summer.

April 1, tomorrow, is officially the first summer day. Here’s a non-April Fool’s Day joke: Enroll your children in sports. When can you find uninterrupted time to learn a new game? Now is the best time. Instead of your kids watching TV (or playing online games or texting) all day — get them active.

Before I recommend other sports, I’d like to just suggest one coach and one sport.

For tennis, learn it from one of the top tennis coaches in Cebu today: Tommy Frederiksen. He’s the coach of my daughter Jana and our Bright Academy tennis team — and he’s open to coaching as many children in Cebu.

His tennis camp begins this April 9 at Casino Espanol. It’s month-long and will be held every Tuesday and Thursday from 8 to 10 A.M. The fee is P2,000 (for the whole duration) — and you don’t even need to be a Casino Espanol member to participate.

Call Casino Espanol now (2531260) or call Coach Tommy at 0917-3010338. Happy Easter!

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