"Silent waters run deep," goes the Latin proverb.
This aptly describes Manuel A. Lector, a former overseas Filipino worker (OFW) silently enjoying God’s blessings in retirement with his better half, Villa.
At the same time, he is actively pursuing community activities he was involved in while working in Saudi Arabia, Western Asia.
He worked at the premier King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Center (KFSH & RC) starting in 1986 until 2012. He was an industrial engineering specialist.
In 1998, he got himself elected a member of the OFW Congress in Riyadh.
The OFW Congress in Riyadh was well-attended. OFW Riyadh was quite popular. It was very successful. Organized by then Consul General Jesus "Gary" Domingo, recently appointed Foreign Undersecretary for Civilian Security and Consular Concerns, OFW Riyadh was very successful.
Membership in it carried prestige, so popular members of various OFW groups competed for various positions.
As bright as he was, as vouched for by his good academic records in elementary and high school that paved the way for his admission to the University of the Philippines Diliman for an industrial engineering degree, Manny was low-profile but competitive.
Though sociable and approachable, he and his better half, Villa—daughter of the late prominent and hard-hitting journalist Ernesto Granada—did not go out unnecessarily just to hobnob with the community.
If they did it, it was for a reason, such as fostering friendship and altruism or disseminating information or ideas that bolstered spiritual values.
In 2001, they joined Couples for Christ (CFC).
Couples For Christ is a Catholic movement founded in 1981 in Manila, Philippines, by the covenant charismatic community ‘Ang Ligyan ng Panginoon’ (Joy in the Lord). Its population and territorial reach have grown over time. It is now present in 110 countries.
The movement was recognized as a national private association of lay faithful by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines in 1995. It was recognized by the Vatican in 2000 as a private international association of pontifical lay Catholics.
Manny said, "CFC is a Catholic organization. It appealed to us because it focuses on strengthening family relationships and is anchored on the teachings of Jesus Christ."
The Christian faith and belief in the teachings of God have strengthened the relationship between Manny and Villa. They met as young colleagues at the predecessor to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), the Overseas Employment Administration (OEDB)—both government agencies.
When the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) sought to fill its Board of Trustees (BOT) positions in 2018, CFC nominated him. He was chosen by BOT and has been awaiting approval from Malacanang (the presidential palace) ever since.
Their devotion to the Christian faith has rubbed off on their only child and daughter, Charmaine Bernadette. Charmaine and her husband, Eren Lyle (Goi) Villegas, are now full-time CFC workers assigned to the Vatican.
What appealed to the Lector family is the fact that in CFC, "there is a nurturing of faith among members through grouping into what we term as "households that meet regularly."
CFC is also involved in social actions, as evidenced by the Migrants Program, which teaches value formation to the families of OFWs.
After slogging away for 26 years at the KFSH & RC, Manny and Villa decided to call it quits and return to the Philippines for good in 2012.
By that time, they had already given 11 years of service to the religious organization. After two years in the Philippines, they were enrolled as CFC core members.
Both Manny and Villa are rather on the silent side regarding CFC, but their travels—either on their own or sponsored—bespeak of what and how much they have achieved and done for the global organization.
They have visited 18 countries, disseminating the teachings of God and strengthening the spiritual relationship among fellowmen.
They have visited the U.S., Canada, France, Italy, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, Egypt, Seychelles, Malaysia, Singapore, Guam, Japan, Saipan, and Kenya.
They have traveled far and wide indeed, and the aggressive restlessness of youth to achieve something for self-fulfillment has calmed down.
He lives a relaxed life, with his share of inconveniences that growing old entails. He manages resources he and his siblings managed to scrape up.
Whenever he is free, he drives around the city in his sleek and well-maintained black CRV with Villa to while away time and appreciates sights and scenery he did not have time to appreciate when he was much younger.
As he drives home to their well-furnished and spacious condo unit in Mandaluyong, Manila, he catches a glimpse of the fading sun, reminding him of his hometown, Tiaong in Quezon Province.
In his mind's eye, he could see the old structures that held a fascination for him during his youth, such as the unchanged and enduring Central Elementary School.
He could also conjure up images of his parents, Bernardino Lector and Adelaida Abraham, smiling at him as if it was a sign that he had done well.
Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.” Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.