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Alba Iulia
Monday, March 1, 2021

Seasons of Love: Rod celebrates his golden year

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Alice Nicolas
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Alice Gregorio Nicolas is the publisher of The Philippine Times.

Virginia Balanon

The 50th birthday of Melbourne’s Filipino Catholic Pastoral Minister Rod Lalunio, held on August 22 at the Holy Eucharist Parish Hall in St. Albans, was an extraordinary celebration of life, love, blessings and passion, witnessed and graced by about 350 guests.

With Four Seasons being the celebration’s motif, the Parish Hall was transformed into a five-star venue with two buffet stations and themed table settings as to spring, summer, autumn and winter. The entire event with all its preparations, decorations, guest turnout and organization is a depiction of dedication, friendships and love to the golden boy.

The main highlight of the birthday celebration was a musical program on Rod’s golden years entitled “Seasons of Love, Rod.” The program featured significant milestones in Rod’s life through video presentations and performances divided into four parts representing the four seasons – Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.

In a conversation with the celebrant, Rod’s simple words were, “It’s me. It’s you. It’s us. It’s God. It is all passion and love.” He said that he is blessed and grateful of his life; the person he has become; the family, friends and the community who have been part of his life; and all God’s grand plans for him.

The show started off with the season of Spring. Spring captured Rod’s birth, family and childhood memories. He was born in August 18 in Batangas 2, Mariveles, Bataan and the third among the five children of Rodolfo and Librada Lalunio. Summer showcased Rod’s teenage days, his vibrant spirits, fun adventures and achievements. Autumn and Winter portrayed his vocation, mission, commitment to religious ministry and strong relationship with God.

It was amazing how a 50th party turned into a spectacular showcase of incredible talent and great performances. Among the performers during the night were KC Carandang Cardente; Jovy Dabu De Leon with son X Factor Justin Vasquez and brother Luis Dabu on guitars; Trixie Celestial accompanied by mother Triccia on keyboards; Euphoria Band; Gienel Ninon; Ferdinand Manzano; Pangkat Pinoy Duo of Judy Santos and Francis Elefano; and a special ballet dance performance by Gabby Pitpit. Hosted by Iris Simangan and Chito Javier (who also directed the program), it was such an intimate and memorable affair to remember.

with family

The program concluded with birthday wishes and toasts for the golden boy. Rod’s brother Kuya Ogie, with his Ate Ana and niece Melissa, kicked off the birthday wishes with a touch of humour saying, “I am proud of who you (Rod) are and what you have become. I have known you and we’ve been brothers since you were born.”

Another well-wisher was Versie Tamblyn, a confidant who Rod met in a religious pilgrimage, who talked about the “Winter” in Rod’s life. In her speech, she shared that “Winter is a celebration of rebirth – not in body, but in spirit. With winter comes change. Animals hibernate…As for plants, trees lose their leaves ad suspend their growth. Some plants survive and others die. However,…(it) is essential in completing the cycle of life.”

Versie stated that their paths crossed when Rod was “going through a season of Winter in his life” battling struggles and challenges. But as she looked at the past and realized the journey Rod took, it was such a revelation that Rod “turned within the wisdom of Winter… seeking its hidden treasures before the harbinger of emerald Spring dawns.”

Twenty four years and still counting, Rod actively serves in the Catholic Church Ministry and Pastoral Care services. He is a Pastoral Associate at the Holy Eucharist Parish in St. Albans and the incumbent Catholic Pastoral Care Chaplain of Western Sunshine Hospital.

Summing up the sentiments of the guests, Willie and Catalina O’Bien offered the birthday toast with a brief but sweet message, “The people around here are living proof of the kind of person that you are.”

On the occasion of his birthday, topping Rod’s wish list was a gift offering or donation to the Holy Eucharist Parish Pastoral Care Ministry which he serves as Pastoral Associate. Rod believes in the value of sharing and as he turned 50, he would like to impart his blessings to others in the community.

To his friends and family, Rod is exemplifies compassion, generosity, adventure and ministry. Rod is all smiles and a man who always wears a hat.

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