I have often said at a few events where my books were launched that I write primarily for my family, confreres, and friends. This is even more true with A HUNDRED YEARS OF GRATITUDE. Like the winner of Nobel Peace Prize for Literature, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, while I write, I have the faces of those I have a deep affection for in my mind. This has made it far easier for me to commit words to paper when I find myself in the mood to textualize deep thoughts, feelings, and reflections.
I am turning 70 years old in June 2017, This year, I also celebrate my 30th year as a Redemptorist brother (I entered the postulancy program in 1985, had my first profession in 1987 and my final profession in 1990). That explains the number one hundred in the book’s title. For this double celebration, I thought I would come up with a book that will express my deep gratitude to God, to my family, the congregation and my friends. For it has been only through the Lord’s blessings and compassion and the love showered on me by family, confreres, and friends that I have survived the various vicissitudes of life, whether tragic or comic, desperate and frustrating, pleasurable or miserable, delightful or sorrowful.
Truly I have been blessed with precious treasures which are kinships, friendships, and confrereships. In celebrating all these, I thought it would be best to tell stories and having lived a full life, there are a lot of narratives to share. Some of the essays that are compiled in this anthology are articles I have written through the years. Some were published in the online news agency known as Mindanews, a few in my journals (which I keep intermittently especially when I am in the missions) and a few more written for this anthology.
There are four sections in this anthology including 1) Biographical Sketches (or those that help to chronicle my inter-action with family, engagements before I joined the Redemptorists, and my life as a Redemptorist Brother, 2) People who mattered to me (from congregations like the Jesuits and Claretians, to those I idolized in my youth such as Bishop Federico Escaler, former classmates and co-workers (there is an essay on PRRD) and friends, 3) Advocacies that I consider my passions in terms of engagement with social and ecological concerns (mainly solidarity work with Lumad, inter-faith dialogue in the context of peacebuilding, climate justice, and disaster response), and 4) Reviews of films, books and art exhibits by mainly Mindanawon artists and cultural workers.
There is the last section of the book which allows the voices of confreres and friends to critique the anthology as well as reveal how our friendships arose and have been sustained through the years. There are those who I knew since way back my college years, my childhood friends and school chums, my co-workers in CSOs where I worked before joining the congregation, former students, surrogate children and confreres (I am truly grateful that ex-seminarians Belindo Aguilar, Pals Padilla and Danilo Agustin Jr. as well as confreres like Fr. Picx Picardal, Fr. Jun Butlig and Fr. Richie Cuaton also contributed pieces). Interspersed with the texts are artworks of artist friends. I also appreciate very much the work of the editors (Ms. Carol Arguilas and Ms. Pam del Rosario-Castrillo), the book cover design and lay-out (Abe Garcia Jr) and the publisher (Peter Paul Elicor of the Alithea Publications).
The books has been launched at various sites: at the Urios University in Butuan City on January 26, 2017, at ADDU during the Abdon Josol Lecture Series last February 4, at Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro City on Feb. 8, at MSU-IIT in Iligan City and on Feb. 9 (thanks to Fr. Nono Reiteracion and Fr. Oming Oback who provided backup support). A future book launch will be in Malaybalay City, Zamboanga City and Metro Manila. Copies are available for sale at the Daughters of St. Paul Sisters Bookstore in front of UM in Davao City and at SATMI.
Karl M. Gaspar, CSsR
About the Author:
Brother Karl M. Gaspar, CSsR is currently the Dean of Studies at St. Alphonsus Theological and Mission Institute (SATMI) in Davao City and a professor of Anthropology at the Ateneo de Davao University. A prolific writer who authored several books including, “Desperately Seeking God’s Saving Action: Yolanda Survivors’ Hope Beyond Heartbreaking Lamentations” and two books on Davao history launched in December 2015.