by Amelita D. Guevara
I came to live in Forbes immediately after marrying Cards Guevara in 1962. With a Master’s degree in Music and growing up in a choir at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Quezon City, I was asked by my aunt, T. Diding Panlilio to organize and conduct the choir at San Antonio Church.
In 1980, Fr. Hugh was Parish Priest. I am what I am in the Coro because of Fr. Hugh. He believed in me and allowed me to grow both musically and spiritually as he sat down with me to teach me how to plan the liturgy week after week.
One Easter vigil Mass, I decided to hire three trumpets to accompany us with the organ to sing the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah without telling Fr. Hugh. Right after the service, he said “From now on, there will be no Easter without trumpets!” Our singing graduated from the three trumpets to a 20-piece orchestra through time.
We became a weekly choir after we joined a Festival of Choruses at Union Church. We were then 18 strong only and mostly volunteers with no professional background. I know that we made hardly a squeak then, but Fr. Hugh was all praises for us at the Parish Bulletin the following Sunday.
Fr. Hugh used to celebrate the Coro Mass weekly through almost all of the 10 years he was our Parish Priest. Then on the last year, he started giving us away to other priests. It broke my heart each time we sang and he was not our Celebrant. He never said a word on why he was doing this.
Finally, the day came when he was ending his term as Parish Priest. He was transferred to Sta. Ana. Most of us visited him there as often as we could. Several of us have visited him in the United States. One time our whole family went to visit him, had lunch with him in Wisconsin. Then we went to visit Fr. Julian as he lay there half paralyzed. They said he hasn’t said a word for weeks. But he did when we surprised him. He waved his hand away when he told him that Jem our youngest son, was going to become a Jesuit.
One of our last attempts to see him was when Chips and Akiko were going to get married in 2009. He had planned on coming to concelebrate the wedding ceremony with Akiko’s friend Minister in New York, but he had internal bleeding and couldn’t make it. From then on it was a downward descend in his health concerns.
Rest in God, dear Fr. Hugh. Your treasure chest is full of the goodness you have spread in our midst and God sees it all. We know you are now receiving His abundant rewards.
As published in the October 16 issue of the Parish Bulletin.