Ob portu is a Latin word which describes a ship waiting in the middle of the sea for the flood tide so that it could properly dock in the harbor. This was usually done centuries back when the facilities provided by modern harbors today which permits a ship to dock anytime time was only a dream conceived in the drawing boards of some “engineering freaks” of the middle ages. While a ship is in ob portu the captain and his crew were always watchfully waiting for the proper time when the flood tides arise so that they could proceed to the harbor in safety. They have to be always ready for this eventuality for if they missed it, they have to wait for another moment when another flood tide comes in. A sailor who has been out from sea for so long would never missed this chance and he would be watching and waiting for the right moment.
The English word, opportunity, has its roots in this Latin word ob portu and it takes with it more or less the same meaning. Opportunity is “a favorable juncture of circumstances” a single moment, a spur of the moment, once in a lifetime chances that could spell a lot of good in our life. One who desires only the best for himself and his world would never dare miss this odd chance. Like a sailor who has been at sea for many months in a ship ob portu, he will stand ready and watchful. And he will not miss this chance for anything. This is opportunity, ob portu and Aesop tells of a Greek statue with this name. It was standing on its toes to show how quickly it passes. It has a long hair on its forehead so that “people will hold on to me as they meet me.” And it is bald at the back of his head to show that when it has passed once it could not be caught again.
As a Christian I would be at home rather when I call it grace. Yes we live and breath each day of our life because of grace. But there are times when an important one suddenly comes in “a favorable juncture of circumstances” which could never be repeated again. It is a moment of utmost importance in our life without which, or missing it completely, we would become less of ourselves. This is what hell is after all. It is a whole eternity of self-condemnation and self-reproach because I have missed the opportunities, the chances and the graces in my lifetime.
Last Monday was an ob portu for all of us Filipinos. It was a moment of grace. We have been waiting for this moment, this right time so that we could instill change by which our freedom and our democracy empowers us all. This is one single chance we have, during elections when we as a people would have a direct say in the way our country and our lives should be run. If we have missed this opportunity, if we were not watchful and vigilant, and if we took it so lightly, then we have no one to blame but ourselves. We deserve this government, we deserve to be poor, we deserve to be called a corrupt nation.
By the time this issue is distributed we would know by then the winning candidates for the different posts in our country. It could be a time for great expectations or another sigh of “balik sa dating buhay”. I could not say nor predict its outcome. All I am sure is the fact that opportunity, grace has passed us by, and whether our choices are good or bad, we could not do anything about them at least for the next three years. This issue we would like to reminisce that day so that we could ask ourselves individually and as a parish whether we have done our part in making use of the grace of the elections as an opportunity to be more committed to renewal and progress.
Another ob portu or grace-filled moments responded upon by our parishioners is the creation of our Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting. Volunteers abounded and among the front liners are our youth. You have responded to grace and our parish is proud of you. I personally congratulate everyone of you, including our prayer warriors who responded to our call to pray for a clean, honest and orderly elections. However, let not these kind words overwhelm you, rather cherish that self-esteem that springs forth within your hearts created by your overwhelming response to this opportunity, for that will make you from now on a better citizen. By now you can believe in yourself that you can do something for your country, and your presence and love for it makes a lot of difference.