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Stepping Into Destiny

CEBU, Philippines — As a young boy, Teofilo Camomot had the nickname “Lolong.” Like most kids, his first teacher was her mother Angela. She tutored the boy how to read and write at home before he was sent to the Carcar Elementary School at the age seven – the mandatory school age under the prevailing American rule then.

At school, Lolong further learned reading, writing, and arithmetic. At the time, native languages had no place in the classroom, and so the boy learned to express himself in English, on top of the Spanish and Cebuano languages that were used back at home. The young Lolong didn’t escape being bullied by bigger boys. But he never fought back – not one single occasion. It was his younger brother Tereso who would rush to Teofilo’s side and get into a brawl to defend him.

Teofilo completed his elementary education in 1928; he was 14 years old. Instead of proceeding to high school, he left school and chose to help his father at the farm. Working in the corn fields he developed a love for agriculture. He then wanted to take up his secondary education at an agricultural school in Mindanao. At the time, agriculture courses were only offered in Mindanao, nowhere else in the country. But his mother didn’t want to send her boy to Mindanao. She feared that Teofilo might be made to do hard labor. The obedient son stayed put.

While the young Teofilo was figuring out his future, his older brother Diosdado from his father’s first wife, was already the parish priest of Our Lady of the Village in Corella town, Bohol. At the time, the island of Bohol was still part of the Archdiocese of Cebu. 1941. Fr. Diosdado came home to Carcar to visit his family, he was surprised to learn that Teofilo was plowing the fields instead of pursuing higher education.

Fr. Diosdado talked to Teofilo out of abandoning school for good; he encouraged the boy to study at the diocesan seminary in Cebu City. Teofilo heeded his older brother’s advice. And their father enthusiastically gave Teofilo his blessing. His mother was also in total agreement of the plan.

 

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