In the island of Calayan, many people utter the name of Father James Alamillo, OP, with endearment and respect. A farmer told me that the cause of these admirations and devotions is the malasakit Father James showed to the people of Calayan. This farmer said, “Naramdaman po namin na mayroon siyang malasakit sa mga taga-Calayan.”

Now, malasakit, Felipe Landa Jocano said, is the Filipino term for a person’s sincere concern for and selfless service to others. It is a combination of the two Filipino words sakit and malasin. Sakit pertains to any physical, emotional, or mental pain or disease while malasin means to notice or to look at intently. Anyone who has malasakit towards others, then, is one who worries over somebody else’s sorrow, grief and pain and does something to take them away. This person has this sense of responsibility towards others.

Now, when does a person begin to have malasakit towards others? He begins to have malasakit when he begins to identify himself with others and set aside his own personal interests for the sake of others. Father James, for example, had malasakit towards the people of Calayan because he had identified himself with them. As a result, he had known better their concerns and needs. Some of the people of Calayan told me that he did not stop in knowing their concerns and needs. He did something for them.

However, there are some instances that others do not appreciate, value or see a person’s malasakit towards them. They misunderstand him. Worst, they even criticize him. There are some friars, for example, who had malasakit towards the people of Calayan and made decisions and projects for the good of Calayan and its people but were not recognized, nor appreciated, nor valued by the people. Nevertheless, these friars did what was right.

Moreover, these friars developed their sense of malasakit because they had experienced malasakit in their homes and in their convents. In the convent, for example, a friar experiences malasakit when someone consoles him or visits him when he is sick. A friar experiences malasakit when his brothers help him in his works or requirements. A friar experiences malasakit if his community helps him to live faithfully his vocation. There are many ways a friar may experience or may show malasakit. Such ways do not have to be big for even a simple tap on one’s shoulder sometimes might do.

Those friars like Father James Alamillo who showed malasakit to others are living images of God’s malasakit. They manifest the living presence of God’s malasakit. They fulfill their mission as preachers of the Good News – the news of God is malasakit towards his people. If people, then, would develop admirations and devotions to these friars this is only fitting because these friars are truly living images of God’s malasakit. However, these admirations and devotions are only bonuses. More importantly, if they have truly become living images of God’s malasakit they would experience joy and fulfillment that emerges out of their faithfulness to their vocation.

By Br. Marc Adrian H. de la Peña, OP

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