I am Quincy Jones L. Ondona. I was born on February 25, 1987, born in a month that produces people of undefined personality. I could still remember vividly those times when I would introduce myself to friends or just acquaintances, and when my month of birth would be mentioned they would then jocosely remark, “Ahh, mga kulungo’g utok.” In English, kulungo’g utok could be literally translated as “curly brain.” I don’t know who’s the one responsible for spreading such a notion about the month of February, he or she certainly does not deserve a commendation. February is supposed to be the month of love-Valentine’s Day. We should have been known as loving people, or people with a great capacity to love-just like everyone else. For even though I always feel I am imperfect, that’s how I would like to be known.
I would just like you to notice something about my name—QUINCY JONES. Have you noticed something? Once, a friend of mine said,
“Yes, I’ve noticed something! We’re it not for the Jones in your name, you would have sound girlalu!”
I have completely forgiven her now.
It’s not always conspicuous for a teen to notice something about my name. It had it’s origin in the 1980’s. The period when my contemporaries were still shielded by innocence as children.
Actually, QUINCY JONES is the name of a Black American singer, the one who popularized the song Just Once in the 1980’s. My father is a music enthusiast and by the time I was born or even when I am just conceived, Just Once was at its peak. My father took the name of the singer for my namesake.
My parents are Joseph Ondona, a painter and Rosemarie Ondona, a housekeeper. Yes, I was born not in a well off family but I would be forever thankful that God entrusted me to my parents. They’re the kind of parents you would be thankful for, for the rest of your life. I still cherish the times when my mother and father would use to tell me Bible and children’s stories. Even today, I can still remember the look of that old book used for story telling though it is nowhere to be found now.
I am raised in a devout Catholic family. Although we’re not that traditional, my parents raised us and taught us love for the Church, always bringing us to Church every Sunday since we were children. One thing I appreciated about my father is his inclination and interest in apologetics. His favorite Catholic Faith Defenders are Atty. Marcelo Bacalso and Bro. Socrates Fernandez. He would use to record the debates and lectures of these seasoned defenders from the radio and would let me listen to them. I was still 11 years old then, too young to listen to such recordings I think. But it didn’t serve me for nothing because it influenced my interest in Catholic apologetics later on. When I was in high school I was strongly interested in three fields, religion, politics and languages. Religion at the top of them, it was then that I started to rummage and read books about comparative religion in our school library. Some books I have read were healthy, others are infectious. I became interested also in apologetics and that’s the time when I read books and listen to debates on my own, not with my father’s initiative anymore.
Also, along my lines of interest is music. Although I didn’t grew up with an interest in music (although I was named after a singer..hehe) but it developed later on. I am not also fond of singing before since my voice gives everyone a brief introductory experience of the pains of hell. However, it changed when I became interested in learning the guitar and eventually learned how to play it. I became in loved with music. I strained myself to sing, what’s the use of playing when you aren’t singing, right? And so against the will of the people around me, I rocked my neighbor’s world every morning before I go to school and late afternoon after I go home from school. I did this for approximately one year before I learned to sing the song Just For You in it’s proper tune. Just imagine the length of time my neighbors enjoyed, or endured my singing prowess. By the way, I would like to share with you the first song I learned to play by guitar.
JUST FOR YOU
I thought no one cares
No one thinks of me
I feel lonely when
No one comforted me
But then you came along
Makes me feel where I belong
And you promise me
That I’ll never be alone
And so I made this song
Just to let you know
How I feel
Just for you my Lord
And so I sing this song
Listen to my song
Song of praise
Just for you
Yes, the first song I learned to play by guitar was a Christian song. This was very much popular among the youth those days. It was sung recurrently in youth fellowships and some other kind of youth gatherings. I was involved in parish youth organizations back then when I was just in elementary. I also joined CFC-Youth for Christ when I was just 12 years old. Joining this organization really had a profound influence to me. It awakened and sustained my longtime desire or shall I say inkling to religious life. We’re the pioneering chapter of the YFC in our parish and I became the pioneering chapter head, then cluster head , then sector head. I was able to give talks during youth camps and gatherings and I was given the opportunity to share, inspire and learn with people of my age.
My tenure as a chapter head was not without hardships. As a leader, I was supposed to encourage my brethren to be zealous for the Lord, in words and in deeds. But youth as we are, the world sometimes weigh heavier than heaven. At first, they were excited to attend prayer meetings and bible studies. Time came, it was left for those few individuals who still has the willingness to spend their time for the Lord. As a leader, I did my best to encourage them to go on serving. Sometimes, we would visit the homes of those who have hibernated out of season, only to hear their yes at the moment and no later on. There are times also when I would fetch them at their homes only to hear that they would follow soon and end up alone in the church. I could have become a nuisance those times but my brethren are too precious to ignore. To serve is to have the willingness to share your precious time for those people who didn’t value it at all, to serve is to give, as in the words of Mother Teresa of Calcutta-to give until it hurts. But to serve is to love also and to believe that efforts have been fruitful even if it bears no fruit at all- at the moment. The Lord Jesus Christ experienced more than this, he didn’t just give until it hurts, he gave until it bled. He was even rejected and killed- I could never compare. It just gave me the reason to go on and I was hooked to Jesus! It cultivated my desire for service and my desire to serve the Lord by becoming a priest someday.
My first idea of priesthood came to me back when I was just a child. My first attraction was the priest’s vestment, I wanted to wear the kind of dress he wore. I could still remember those times when I would gather my friends and have a mass-with me acting as a priest. There are times when I would sneak out packs of biscuits from our store and use it as a host for our mass. To serve as my vestment, I would grab my fathers big-loose dress, cut the sides of it so that it would look like a flowing robe. We also have a perfect setting, an abandoned old house that had collapsed out of time. It feels like I’m a real priest celebrating the Eucharist, maybe it would look blasphemous but I’m just a child back then. There are lots of time also when my mother would look for me especially when I’m absent from home for a long time. When she would see me at the old house doing those childish things, she would grab me and sometimes I would get a quality beating at home. But I’m doing it over and over again even if I’m beaten at times. My attraction to the priesthood started as a childish play- a childhood attraction that I didn’t expect could go on and on.
There was a time also when I hibernated myself. It’s one year of lost spirituality. That’s during my first year in college. Being free and away from parents, I tried to enjoy the world. I stopped going to church, and felt tired of it. I spend my times with my barkadas. There were times I doubted about God. I didn’t feel anything when I pray. I gripped so much of earth that I forgot to cling to heaven.
But there was a turning point in my life. I got tired of my school, tired of seeing its premises day by day, tired of going to the same building, and tired of studying. I wanted to find a new place. That’s when I decided to transfer to the Mindanao State University in Marawi City, against the will of my parents. They’re afraid of my safety in the place but I insisted, to which they consented later on.
And I never expect I would find God again in that place, for even though Marawi City is 99% Muslim, Christian life in MSU is very much vibrant. Every afternoon I would see different groups of Born-Again Christians doing praise and worship publicly in the golf course, there were also Seventh Day Adventists doing their sundown worship at the basketball court every afternoon, and Catholics also have a mass every afternoon at a chapel beside the mosque. And the scene would even reach its peak every Sunday, the school gymnasium would be filled up by Catholic Christians in the morning, and by Born-Again Christians in the afternoon, and what’s amazing is that 90% of those who attended are youths. It’s such a nice place to be. I also experience becoming a minority for the first time because in Marawi, Christians comprise only one percent of the population. There I learned how to assert my identity and how to trust God once again. Together with the lots of youths who never lost a sense of GOD, my Christian faith was revived and resuscitated. Until before I graduated from MSU, we were able to organize a prayer group in our boarding house. I was able to lead a group of youth once again, I was able to teach, inspire and learn from them. I wanted to serve God, to serve Him in many ways according to His calling, to reach out to souls and most importantly to learn from them. I could only answer Yes!