I am known in Facebook as Lolo José. I was studying at St. Dominic Academy in Pulilan, Bulacan where I was recruited by Fr Peter Robb CSsR to join the Redemptorist congregation. In June 2, 1961, I entered their minor seminary called the Juvenate. Having completed the classical secondary course and graduated as the class valedictorian, I went to the Novitiate on September 8, 1964. This was in the monastery adjacent to the national shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Baclaran. (The novitiate is now located in Lipa City, Batangas). I had the clothing investiture in October 15. I left, or to be precise, I was asked to leave the Novitiate in October 11, 1965, exactly 5 days before the profession of temporary vows.
I studied one semester at De La Salle College Manila, another semester at Baliwag Junior College, Baliwag, Bulacán and then went to Regina Carmeli College, Malolos, Bulacán where I would meet my future wife. Having completed the remaining units at the University of Santó Tomás, Manila, I graduated with the degree of Bachelor of Science in Education, major in Mathematics (Cum Laude). Six months later, I got married. I taught Mathematics and Physics at St James Academy, Plaridél for a year; Mathematics, Church History and Apologetics at Regina Carmeli College for two years; and Mathematics at Bulacan State College.
Having done 30 units in MS Mathematics at the University of Santo Tomás, I migrated to Australia with my wife and three young children in 1975 because a teaching job offer made me decide to uproot my entire family from a familiar environment to a strange and foreign one in a provincial city of Sale in Gippsland in 1975. In doing so, I had to give up an offer of scholarship to complete the Master's degree in Mathematics in a Jesuit university (ADMU). The wisdom of this decision, (or lack of it) would always haunt me later on in depressive moments in life.
The friendly atmosphere of the staff at St. Patrick’s College, Sale and the public welcoming in the Sunday mass put my family at ease. What was striking was the high standard of living. My children could afford to drink fresh milk everyday. What a difference from where we had come from, where the rich lived in luxury and most lived in abject poverty. In the new country everything was literally foreign. The customs were different and the English language was spoken in a different way I was taught. The students were 'unruly' and outspoken. What a culture shock to my system! Another thing amazing was the visible presence of the bishop. He even conversed with me! And the leader of the country was publicly being castigated in the media (this was in April 1975).That was unthinkable and impossible where I had come (the Philippines, being under the dictatorial grip of the Marcoses).
Except for a few years in the industry and full-time studies, I worked in different schools (full-time in St Patrick’s College Sale, St Monica’s College Epping, Christian Brothers College St Kilda, Trinity Regional College Brunswick, and St Mary’s College Seymour and part-time in Kangan Batman TAFE, VU Sunshine TAFE, CRC Sydenham and CRC St Albans). I was mostly involved in IT and Maths but I also taught R.E., Jr Science, etc. Having completed Graduate Diploma in TESOL and Literacy 2 years ago, I have re-invented myself as an ESL teacher. I now work as a full-time TESOL teacher with Djerriwarrh Sunshine campus which deals mainly with adult students - new arrivals, refugees and long-time residents.
Coming to Australia was of course a big turning point. The job, however, was very demanding, not intellectually but physically. Enforcing discipline was difficult. Many students were not willing to work. Education was considered an obligation, not a privilege. In the meantime, seven more children were produced in the family. Mostly involved in teaching in different catholic colleges in the state of Victoria, as a perennial student I also managed to complete the degrees Graduate Diploma in Computer Education (Melbourne University), Graduate Diploma in Business Computing (Victoria University, Footscray Park campus), Bachelor of Theology (United Faculty of Theology) and M.A. Theology (Australian Catholic University in its Melbourne campus). I hope to complete a doctoral dissertation on Mary Magdalene from an Asian-Filipino Perspective before reaching the retirement age of 65. My wife and I celebrated 38 years of married life last year (2008). And sometime next year, we will be having the 11th grandchild!