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Arsenio C Jesena

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Featuring Selena Jesena Yulo's JUNI OF MY LIFE
by Arsenio C Jesena   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Thursday, August 04, 2011
Posted: Thursday, August 04, 2011

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Featuring my youngest sister Selena Jesena Yulo's JUNI OF MY LIFE

written by Selena Jesena Yulo

I knew that somewhere, I had a brother named
Arsenio Cajili Jesena III, (whom people knew as Jun,
Juni, or JJ) named after my father, Arsenio Tingson
Jesena Jr. We may have lived together for a year in
Takurong in Mindanao where I was born, but I was too
young then to have remembered anything.

My mother Felisa ( second wife of Tatay Arce), brought me
along when she and Tatay visited Manong Juni in the Sacred Heart
Novitiate in Novaliches. I was shy and couldn’t say a single word.

Once in a while I got the courage to glance at my brother,
Manong Juni. He had chiseled nose and thick hair like Tatay; he
was tall, slim and handsome. Being a very proper Novice, he was
also quiet most of the time and I felt he was very intelligent. I was
afraid to talk to him. I just observed him, and glanced at Tatay ,
Mama, and the rest of the Jesuit Novices quietly moving about with
serene dignity in the peaceful grounds
of the Jesuit Seminary.

I went with Mama and Tatay to visit him a few more times but
we seldom talked to each other. It was the adults who did all the
talking. We lost contact when, after finishing my high school, I
went to Tatay in Bacolod to study college there.

I wanted to take up Nursing following my Manang Mila and
Manang Pat, but Tatay honestly told me that he could not afford the
expensive Nursing Course. I decided to work my way through
College and after 4 years, I finished a degree in Commerce.

In 1970 I was lucky to have attended his ordination to
Priesthood by His Holiness, Pope Paul VI at the Luneta.

The first gift he gave my Mom as a Priest was a wooden statue
of Jesus. Mama gave it to me when she and Tatay immigrated to
Canada in 1975. Until now I have that statue on my altar.

Mama said, “Juni is always present where there is trouble.
Although I know he is a man for others, I am afraid he will get hurt.
Let us always pray for him ”.

In 1969, Manong Juni worked as a Sacada in 9 haciendas in

Before his report, ‘The Sacadas of Sugarland’ was published ,
Tatay received a typewritten copy of the report and on top of the
front page was handwritten “To Tatay and Selen”. I was touched. I
felt important and so proud that my Manong Juni remembered me
and Tatay.

Mama told me once, “Your Tatay is very lucky and blessed to
have a son who is a Jesuit Priest. Someone is surely praying for
him.” I thought I was very lucky, too, having a Manong Juni in my
life. Then I asked Tatay to tell me stories about my Manong Juni.

One year after college, I wanted to get married to my boy
friend, Joe Yulo. I didn’t know how to tell Mama who was in
Manila. She hadn’t wanted me to go to Bacolod in the rst place
because she was afraid I might get married early.

Manong Juni met me at the airport. I told him about my
problem. He put his arms on my shoulder like a protective brother.
He blessed me and offered to be my spokesperson. I was relieved
and I was very glad that my Manong Juni was there for me.

And then, despite his very busy schedule, he flew from Manila
to Bacolod to solemnize my marriage with Jose Ybanez Yulo.

I was so happy that I was given away and blessed by the two
Arsenio Jesena’s in my life! My father AJ - II and my brother AJ –

My eldest son Joe Mari (Jay) was only 2 months old when baby
Jay got sick. Manong Juni baptized Jay in the same church where I
had gotten married. There were no visitors and there was no party.
What was important was God’s blessings and Manong Juni took
care of everything.

Years later, when Jay got married to Emma Rose Rivera, it was
also Manong Juni who ofciated at their wedding at the “Nature’s
Parish” in Las Pinas City. He also baptized their daughter, Clarissa
Louise Yulo.

I can’t hide from Manong Juni when I have a major problem.
How does he know that I do have problem? It’s really uncanny.
He usually calls me on the phone and asks me how am I. When I
just keep silent or from the sound of my voice he knows if I’m
bothered. Once he visited me at home. He asked me, “How are
you”? I bit my lips to control my tears and not sob. Hearing
nothing from me he said, “ Selen, stop trying to please everyone.
They will always nd fault because they do not see their own. Its
time for you to TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF now and be happy.”

He knew where I was coming from and I know what he meant.
We understood each other. That phrase was very signicant to me.
He said that in the late ‘70s.. That was 30 years ago but I can still
hear him telling me. That brief advice has made me a stronger

So, in the seminars and workshops that I attended, whenever
I was asked to think of a signicant person in my life and why, it
was my Manong Juni who always came to mind.

Whenever I dream, most often after I
wake up I remember the
entire story – events, places, people, messages. I would tell
Manong Juni about my dreams and oftentimes we have the same
interpretations especially after our eldest brother Manong Rene
died from heart attack right at my dining room. When Manong
Rene died, Manong Juni took care of the wake and funeral and
then he put all Manong Rene’s children to the best and safest
places they could go to.

Tatay was vacationing in West Virginia with Manang Pat when
he died of a stroke in 1984. Manong Juni called me from the US.
He said, “Selen, Tatay is already in heaven.” I felt cold and numb. I
just cried and cried. Devastated by my loss of my beloved father.

I didn’t say a word until the line was nally cut. I was 13,693
kilometers away. I wanted so much to go there. I wanted to hug my
Tatay. I couldn’t kiss him anymore. Then, hours later the phone
rang. It was Miss Gloria Gonzales, Bank Vice President and Head
of Human Resource Management of PCIBank, where I was
working. She said, “Selen, I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your
Tatay. Your Manong Juni called me from the United States and
asked me to check on you. He’s worried about you. He wanted me
to make sure that you are okay.” Imagine, my brother calling from
the USA and instructing my boss in Manila to nd out how I was!
My brother cares for me that much! And he does have clout.

When I was back to my senses I realized God loves Tatay
because He didn’t allow him to suffer. He just put Tatay to sleep.
Mama and my maternal siblings Marilou and Susan and their
husbands Bobby Robles and Ed Reyes drove all the way from
Canada to attend our Tatay’s funeral in Grafton.

My Manong Juni was the celebrant at the necrological rites. It
was Tatay’s most loved son Arsenio III (a.k.a. Juni or JJ) who blessed
him and bid goodbye to him in behalf of his other children who
were in other parts of the world. Indeed, how lucky and blessed
Tatay was for having a son Juni!

My dear Manong Juni -- I have always admired his intelligence,
his wit and humor. I have asked him many times, “Why wasn’t I
given a little part of your brain?” He would answer. “And why
wasn’t I given a little bit of your good looks?”

In the year 2000, I needed a permanent pacemaker, ASAP the
cardiologist ordered. I was troubled because it required money,
money I didn’t have. And I was terried by the surgical procedure
involved.. Manong Juni said “You’re too young to die. I don’t want
you to die.” I survived. Manong Juni and his prayer warriors storm
heaven with their prayers for me and others like me.

Recently my husband Joe needed a major spine surgery.
Manong Juni came to the hospital to pray over Joe the day before
the surgery, visited him after the operation, and calls me up
constantly to nd out how Joe is doing.

Manong Juni is always there with his healing concern, love and
support. He is a man for everyone. No wonder he has so many
friends and they all love him.

Manong Juni -- I thank God for the gift of having YOU in my
life. I thank YOU for all the healings and the blessings and the

Happy 70th birthday! I love you, my dearest brother.


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