Cebu families welcome IEC delegates to homes
Her house does not offer hotel-like amenities, but 60-year-old Virginia Rojas is confident she can make her guests feel at home.
The key: Filipino hospitality.
“Even if we do not have the means, we always make it a point to warmly welcome visitors and show them our genuine service,” Rojas said.
The retired bank accountant is opening her three-story house in Barangay T. Padilla in Cebu City to at least two delegates of the International Eucharistic Congress (IEC), which will start on Sunday.
Msgr. Ruben Labajo, chair of the IEC accommodations committee, said about 600 households in the cities of Cebu and Mandaue had volunteered to take in delegates. “We can actually accommodate 1,250 delegates,” he said.
Labajo said they expected several delegates to look for places to stay at the start of the congress.
Participants who could not afford to stay in hotels or those who want to immerse themselves in Filipino culture will be given priority, Labajo said.
Only delegates who have a written recommendation from the bishop of their dioceses can avail themselves of homestay accommodation, he said.
To ensure safety of the delegates, he said they have inspected the houses where they will stay.
As a host, Rojas has to take care of visitors during the weeklong congress. She also has to bring them to drop-off and pick-up points where buses for the IEC will take them to and from the venues.
“They will be part of my family’s budget,” said Rojas, a mother of six.
She doesn’t mind the extra expense.
“My life has been extended for 16 years now and that’s too much of a blessing,” she said.
Rojas was diagnosed with cancer in the late 1990s. Her doctors saw her case as hopeless and refused to treat her.
Instead of giving up, Rojas turned to the Eucharist which she credits for her healing.
“Every time I received Communion, I believed the Lord would truly heal me. Who else can heal us except God,” she said.
In 2013, her doctors declared her cancer-free. “I am a witness of his goodness. And in all honesty, I tell you that the Eucharist made me well,” she said.
Rojas now serves as vice president of the Parish Pastoral Council of Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral. “I want to give back to the Lord. I won’t mind not getting something in return. Anyway, I could not bring anything when I die,” she said.
Rojas’ husband manages an electrical shop while she runs a small bakery on the ground floor of their house.
She has reserved at least two rooms for two IEC delegates. Though the rooms are not air-conditioned, she said portable air coolers and electric fans would be installed. Ador Vincent S. Mayol
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