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10 Reasons to Join the Bond of Brothers – Elmer Cagape

We just finished the third Bond of Brothers, held at Sharp Island, off Sai Kung. Bond of Brothers is an annual weekend gathering of men, mostly members of the community and invited friends, whose main objective is both to foster camaraderie which helps bring each other closer to God.

I have been to each of the three editions of the event but each staging offers unique experience despite the predictable formats — evening group presentations and camp accommodations. Even as I am drained and tired from lack of sleep and customary travel arrangements, I am nevertheless inspired to write why you — the husband, the boyfriend or even the unattached — should join the next Bond of Brothers:

1. We get a bit of “freedom”. Ever remembered the first time as a schoolkid, you were ushered into the school bus on your way to your first outdoor excursion? Or recalled that unforgettable college educational trip when you tried to impress the prettiest girl in the class? The experience may not be an exact copy, but the feeling rekindles those days. Assembling / dismantling the tent, playing water polo on the beach or some time off for late-night drinks and music with fewer restrictions, all squeezed in a weekend, that’s hard to duplicate. To sum it up in a word: freedom.

2. There’s a perfect avenue to prove we can cook. Whether it is grilling the marinated chicken for a steady two hours or reheating the fried rice for just-awoken brothers, there’s plenty of job in the kitchen. Except that there is no kitchen, but most probably a makeshift barbecue pit or a portable gas stove to showcase our skills in a more resourceful way. Living up to that old Boy Scout spirit — or learn cooking tips from the resourcefulness of Egay Salazar — is something we unconsciously crave for in a city noted for providing life’s conveniences.

Morning hike: Just what the doctor ordered for a healthy lifestyle.

3. We get to talk just about any topic we want to. Approach a participant, whether you know him or not, and strike a conversation about Hang Seng stock market, the LA Lakers, job openings or any other topic of interest. The participants at Bond of Brothers is not just a collection of folks with different job backgrounds — architects, real estate agents or artists — they’re also bound with various interests, and perhaps issues they wish to share especially at this event.

4. We get to play like kids again. When our children were young, we used to mimic their movements and make them smile. But as they grew up, repeating the same thing only embarrasses them. Not at Bond of Brothers, where the wackiest moves of Raymund Plastina, Jay Apolinario and Boyet Ferraris at any given opportunity continue to draw big laughs, or the relay games enable us to enjoy the very same games we used play at school during our younger years. Not a bad deal for a dad who gets to relive the glory days as a playful child.

5. It helps enrich our spiritual life. Even if the event is often thought as a “weekend escapade” from the daily grind of life as family men, an essential part of this gathering is to enrich our relationship with God through brotherhood. As stewards of our families, participants of the Bond of Brothers ought to be the providers, priests and protectors to their immediate family members. Part of the BoB experience is a time for prayers as one big community. With presence of resource speakers such as Fr Emil Lim who shares us special topics, and guidance of our servant leaders such as Felix Barraca, Noel Soliva and Sonny Manuel, this event can also be categorized as a mini retreat, a time for reflection and examination of our conscience.

6. It encourages us to be team players.We don’t just participate at Bond of Brothers as individuals; we are part of designated teams which aim to succeed in knowing brothers more in a personal way and foster cooperation as a whole, rather than sum of parts. Being members of a team teaches us to trust, obey, and be role players as a way to contribute in achieving our objectives whether it is to guess a member’s hints at Charade or finish first in a relay that requires both mental skill and physical endurance. The team concept is a microcosm of how our community at CFC-FFL should be characterized: vibrant, active and members accountable to each other.

Go, go, go, Datu Puti
Araw, gabi, laging wagi

(By the way, our group cheer got jinxed, but we’re still smiling.)

Smile of Champions

The thrill of victory: This is how champions smile.

7. It connects us back to nature. In Hong Kong it is easy to get dragged into the conveniences of the flat screen TV or shopping mall dining as a way to experience our weekend with our families. Bond of Brothers allows us to experience and enjoy God’s creation in many ways. The breeze and gentle waves as we lay inside our tents — amid a chorus of “orchestra” (no need to mention who plays the trumpet, trombone and tuba)  –  and the view of rock formations are just among those we don’t experience every day.  Appreciating God’s creation during this weekend gathering is an understatement. These memories don’t even have to linger only in our minds. There are brothers in the group like Ronald Gabriel and Zandro Barcelona, who are passionate about photography, capture these awesome nature sights and participants blending with them in many ways whether rehearsed Usain Bolt impersonation and “jump” motions or candid shots reacting to a wacky evening presentation.

8. We get to know and meet new people. Although it’s a fact that most participants knows fellow participants by way of being a household member / leader or merely presence in the community for years, this event is not exclusive to CFC-FFL members. No wonder new faces emerge every year: colleagues, immediate family members or recent transplants in Hong Kong. And it’s neither exclusive to Filipinos, too. Surely, Jay has already remembered Dong’s full name. (Hint: Not Dong Lim, or Dong Tan.) Henry Chan may be the only local Chinese participant in the 3rd Bond of Brothers, but certainly he gained new friends relatively quick. And that certainly speaks of someone not getting out of place.

9. We become stars. Even just for 15 minutes. What can you ask for if you’ve just finished a hearty dinner and witness Attila Meneses and Elmer Supan do their thing at the evening Charade games? Every single one of us can get our few minutes of fame, only if we allow ourselves to be one. Lead the cheer. Do an overacting at a comic skit. Render a song solo. Display skills in cooking. Or do the headstand — okay, that’s only recommended for the experienced ones like Henry Chan.

10. We can jam all night long. Almost. The community is blessed with uber-talented musicians like Elmer Anonuevo, George Laron and Edmund Damulo who can either play highly inspiring praise and worship songs, and all-time favorite secular music. All. Night. Long. Yes, they need sleep time, too. But if you were left out in that office karaoke outing due to lack of songs that fit your taste, this is your chance to make yourself (and your singing talent in particular) heard. Great music. A few pints of beer. Fresh BBQ. Cool evening breeze. A company of good friends. Thank God for this great weekend get together.

As we conclude the 3rd Bond of Brothers event in 2012, we bring good memories that make us smile as we imagine them, or witness them through photos and videos. But more importantly we leave the event more knowledgeable, more empowered and better equipped as fathers, husbands and servants in the community. With God’s grace, we look forward to the next Bond of Brothers event in 2013.

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