I was Acting Pastor, September 1990-February 1991
Pastor, January 1997-April 1998
Twice I was assigned to Malesso', and both times I knew I was responsible for two different flocks, Malesso' and Humåtak. They are neighbors and separated by just a couple of miles, but they are two different communities.
Things I remember about Humåtak :
- Mayor Al Topasña always had the floor every Sunday at Mass after I made the announcements. Most times he gave out community news, but at times he had to be the father of the village, expressing his disappointment about some efforts that he felt were not being supported enough by the people.
- I would sometimes see many people at the Mayor's Office and drop in to see what was happening. The fishermen had just gotten in and were distributing the fish. Some of it went to me.
- Both times I was in charge of the parish, the roof came off in a typhoon. The down side of a tin roof is it usually doesn't survive a typhoon. The beauty of it is it doesn't cost an arm and a leg to replace. We normally had a new tin roof on in two weeks. Parishioners did all the hammering while the material was bought with parish funds, limited as they were. I think it cost us $10,000 to replace the roof. Cheaper than buying insurance.
- We used to get a lot of help from our sister military command. That was the mayor's job; to keep that link going.
- One typhoon hit right before Christmas and we had to have Midnight Mass at the Mayor's Office. I told the people not to feel so bad because the First Christmas was not held in a church but in a stable in a cave; humble and uncomfortable like the open space of the Mayor's Office. Mayor Topasña told me after Mass that I made him cry of emotion.
- There were four main surnames : Quinata, Aguon, Sanchez and Topasña. In particular, there were a lot of Quinata Aguons and Aguon Quinatas. Sometimes even an Aguon Aguon or Quinata Quinata.
- We had Mass in Humåtak just on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays. When I first got there, sometimes there was just me and Tan Anan JT (her husband was known as JT or Josen Dende'). Tan Ana walked to church and I'd drive her back home. She was always at Mass, rain or shine. Later, more people came to weekday Masses.
- Sundays meant a crowded church. Just one Sunday Mass. They all had to fit in a church built for 50 people.
- When I'd preach, JT (Tan Ana's husband) would sometimes respond nice and loud. Like when I told people the fiesta was coming up, JT said "I'll donate one pig." Or, when I said, this or that was good or bad, JT audibly said, "Dinanche hao, Påle'!" "Right you are, Father!" Tan Ana would jab him in the side to remind him he was in church. But I appreciated his enthusiasm.
- Andresina was techa. She was very dedicated. She sang a melody of the Tantum Ergo (a song for Benediction) that I never heard before. I wish I had recorded it. She has since passed. May she rest in peace. She certainly was committed to the Church.
- The area below Fort Santa Soledad and by the cemetery is called Ginahit; the area up in the hills towards Malesso' is called Toguan; the area by Fort Santo Angel is called Kastiyo; and the area up the hill going back to Hågat is called - Hillbilly. I thought this was just slang among the kids until I heard an elderly lady tell me she lived in Hillbilly.
- Once a month I went to the homes of the sick to give them Holy Communion. Some lived in uncomfortable conditions; some were seriously sick. All were very grateful.
- Humåtak people, even when they leave the village, are attached to it. They bring their babies back down to Humåtak to be baptized; at least when I was there many years ago.
One thing I left behind.
In late 1997, I was standing on the platform in front of the church before a weekday Mass, as I always did, with Jesus Pat Quinata. We looked at the bay and I mentioned to him, "Wouldn't it be nice to have a big white cross there?" He agreed and that was that. I bought the cement, and Jesus Pat built this cross. I asked Archbishop Apuron to bless it at the 1997 Humåtak Fiesta as our Millenium Cross. The Church was preparing for the year 2000, the New Millenium. Three years prior, starting in 1997, this preparation was to begin.
Jesus Pat has since died. He was his wife Pat were also very dedicated to the parish. May he rest in peace.