St. Arnold Janssen Chapel of Looc-Barlac is one of the 19 chapels under Parokya San Miguel – Mabuhay, Zamboanga Sibugay. Situated in a “critical area”, many times the faithful have to flee from their homes to avoid being sandwhiched between the military and the “lawless elements.”
In October 2011, I heard the most moving story from an old man coming from this chapel when the whole island was threatened by the presence of lawless elements and the nearby mainland which was approximately less than 3 kilometers from the parish could hear bombs being dropped every thirty minutes. That was the time when there was a military operation against the “lawless elements” of Talaib, Payao, Zamboanga Sibugay.
Lolo Jose (not his real name) narrated to me their journey to the Poblacion for refuge: “ang among gisakyan nga bangka nga naay 21 ka sako sa bugas ug 1 sa baboy nakulob. Ang tanan namong dala nabasa, among kaldero wala na makit-an.” (our boat capsized, together with the 21 sacks of rice and 1 pig. All our belongings are now wet, our kettle already lost).
Interestingly, they still chose to go back to their chapel after the military operations. Literally, they live each day according to the grace and mercy of God. Tomorrow is uncertain, but their faith feeds them with hope that in the end, the good always triumphs against evil. God bless us+