So my mother used to say, “Days that begin with ‘Hardin ng Pangalin’ are better than days that did not.”
Mornings at the Las house when I was growing up were never complete without the sound of the very familiar voice and distinctive accent of the Rev. Proceso Marcelo in his “Hardin ng Panalangin” program on 702DZAS.
My working mom always woke up the earliest. The first thing she ever did as soon as she entered the kitchen was to reach for the switch of her black cassette/CD player/radio right above the microwave which was always tuned to that station. No one dared re-tune that set. At 5:00AM, she would start to whip up breakfast. At 6:00AM “Hardin ng Panalangin” goes on the air. That was about the same time I always walked out of my room. By the time I sit at the breakfast table Pastor Proceso will be on his devotional segment which he always began with, “Ang pagbasa ng banal na kasulatan” (The reading of the holy scriptures). His short Tagalog devotional messages always helped to start the day right! He also loved to feature music by local church choirs accompanied by the blaring sound of the Hammond Organ: “Yan po ay handog na awit mula sa Kamuning First United Methodist Church,” (That song was brought to us by the Kamuning First UMC) or “Tanging bilang mula sa koro ng IEMELIF Cathedral” (Special music from IEMELIF Cathedral choir). After some musical selections, he always shared his calendar with his listeners: “Ang inyong lingkod po ay magiging tagapagsalita sa Ebenezer IEMELIF sa darating na linggo; sa susunod po naman ako ay nasa UNIDA church sa Silang, Cavite” (Yours truly will speak at Ebenezer this Sunday; next week I will be at the UNIDA Church in Silang, Cavite). He spoke at so many IEMELIF, Methodist and UNIDA churches that I thought he actually belonged among the ranks of Methodists and other mainline churches. It wasn’t until I started working with his musician son, Jungee at Greenhills Christian Fellowship Worship Ministry nine years later when I realized that the man was an ordained minister in the highly Pentecostal Assembly of God denomination. After his litany of speaking engagements, he shared prayer requests sent in by listeners. He always began every prayer with the words, “Manalig tayo na ang Diyos ay tumutugon” (We believe by faith that God answers). By the time he finished praying, I would be done breakfast and ready for school. On many occasions, whether in the school bus, in my dad’s van or sitting behind him on his big bike, I found myself singing: “…sa hardin ng pananalangin,…doon si Hesus naghihintay.”
It was in 2003, I believe, when a tribute to Pastor Marcelo was held at Greenhills Christian Fellowship and was attended by hundreds and hundreds of his avid listeners. I was already on staff in the church and Jungee was a Ministry Team member. That was the very first time I have met the man who helped start my days right all through high school; the one whose encouraging words, “Manalig tayo na ang Diyos ay tumutugon” echoed in my head in times unrest and need; whose messages from God’s Word became bread for my spirit.
Today, the Rev. Proceso Marcelo went home to be with the Lord in Valencia, California. He treads along the winding garden paths of heaven’s parks with His Saviour, “and the joy they share as they tarry there none other has ever known.”