Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A day in the life: Bro. James Dunne SJ

I entered high school in 1999. I went where the winds took me, I applied to, at least two schools. I guess the winds really weren't blowing that much then. Actually, I applied to three but the Philippine Science High School rejected me because I wasn't among the top 10% of my graduating class. The other science high school, QC, put me on a waiting list. The third, the Ateneo High School accepted me outright. I took the path of least resistance and went right into the AHS. I was amazed at how "big" the Loyola campus was. Big because I was 12 years old when I entered high school. My brother went there too, he was about 4 batches higher so we never really crossed paths in Ateneo.

Anyway, I was still very young when I had to meet him in school. I was along the corridor near Big Boy's desk (a huge man-mountain/gorilla-volcano, he was also smoldering like one with his cigarettes). Out of one of the random doors that dotted that corridor (they're all gone now) emerged this old white male. Beside the door was a small vehicle used for personal transport. He looked all wrinkly and mean, like Palpatine or something. I was shocked that he would appear out of nowhere like that. He was using a cane to walk to his small vehicle (his Rolls-Royce as we would call it). He unfortunately, dropped his cane and couldn't bend over to pick it up. He looked at me with those old eyes (I have really bad eyes and I can't see really well so I can't describe him) and said "could you please hand me my cane." I froze for about 5 seconds I was afraid that once I go near him to hand him his cane he'd drag me into the darkness that the door withheld. I nonetheless picked it up and handed it to him. "Thanks" "You're welcome" and then I ran off. That was my first encounter with Bro. James Dunne of the Society of Jesus.

As I entered high school in '99 I found out that it wasn't really his Rolls-Royce, the white 4 or so wheeled vehicle that moved him about, it was called the Bro-Mobile. He would always say bobo or stupid in Filipino. He being unaccustomed to how its pronounced would say "bow-bow" So it would be *some random question* *some stupid answer by a student* "It's Jesus bow-bow!"

He would honk at students who mill about aimlessly along EDSA walk (the huge corridor that used to link the Art Pavilion all the way to the cafeteria and science labs). His office was in a bat cave between the 1st year wing and 3rd year wing. It was called a bat cave because that space was unusually dark for such a sun-drenched high school campus. There was another area near the ITC I forgot if it was also called the bat cave.

I will never forget Bro. Dunne not because of his Bro-Mobile nor his Multiple Sclerosis nor his invigorating retorts of Bow-bow or idiot or whatever. I will always remember Bro. Dunne for Days With The Lord. Bro. Dunne used to run DWTL, after the year that I did Days he stopped I think for health reasons. And I don't know if he was able to go back to running Days before he died.

Out of my DWTL experience with him I recall one story of his. The story of his mom and bread rolls (or sticks) in a fancy restaurant. The premise of the story is that it all happened a long time ago. He was a young man, I think he got his paycheck or something then. He brought his mom to a fancy place in the city . After they ordered their dinner his mom got the free bread and started putting it in her bag. He felt so ashamed that he had to call his mom out on it. "Mom stop it!" "Why? we could eat it tomorrow for breakfast!" "Only poor people do that!"

Normally it would elicit laughs from the listeners. At first I got a few but after further reflection why did he really do that? Did he have to? Was his mom doing something that was out of place or so unmotherly? If your mom did that would you be ashamed? Should you? These were the questions that haunted me plagued my mind that night. Even to this day I sometimes find myself asking these questions. Why? Simply because I forgot how his story ended. I forgot if he ended up regretting it for the rest of his life.

I find it really hard to answer the questions I raised. What if my mom really did that? Was there something to be ashamed of? We'd just be eating the free bread that's all! She'd be doing something that would fit perfectly with her being a mom, she would be looking out for her family by preparing their food for tomorrow tonight.

Of course, what if I did that? Heck I do it all the time! Its part of what I paid for! So restaurants that offer delicious bread sticks or rolls don't stand a chance (unless of course I really really really have to behave).

There are several other Bro. Dunne stories out there. I think I have some more stored in my hardly used brain, I just have to find them. I am honored and happy that I was able to meet Bro. Dunne before he died. I was able to enjoy his guidance for the whole 4 years of my high school. I believe there was a section that he moderated (or was that Fr. Holscher?).


  1. na-touch naman ako dun sa post mo, chris =p

  2. Cute me e :) hahaha happy mother's day!

  3. omg haha this is so funny! VENGEANCE! Hahaha!