When the total lockdown commenced last year, everyone was forced to stay at home and hold off regular activities including going to church on a daily or weekly basis. But what probably helped some people get through the pandemic was the live streaming of Masses or religious activities.
While parishioners have not been able to receive the Eucharist, online Masses have given them the opportunity to attend Mass every day, bond with their families, and find comfort, hope, and renew their faith during those difficult times.
But have you ever wondered who are the people behind the cameras? My Pope Philippines sat down with five brave senior members of the Social Communications (SoCom) Ministry of the Our Lady of the Most Rosary Parish in Rodriguez, Rizal, to know how they responded to the call of duty amid the lockdown and the threat of the pandemic.
Call of Duty
Maisie F. Señorin, 29, recalled that when the lockdown commenced last year, they [senior members] received a text from the parish priest, Fr. Ric Eguia asking them to do an online Mass coverage at the sacristy. (Read: Rev. Fr. Ric Eguia Shares How He Was Called to Priesthood)
“Kami lang mga pioneer ng SoCom ang nag-la-live that time— from morning to afternoon, simula nung pinatawag kami ni father,” says Maisie, SoCom secretary and a former member of the Parish Youth Ministry. She currently works as a private tutor.
Joemel Quintos, 28, on the other hand, was at work when he received the text, but saw the need to respond immediately because he owned some of the equipment and gadgets needed during the live coverage. (Read: How Are Safety Protocols Observed in Production Shoots?)
“Nangangapa kami kasi first time naming mag-live nang walang sound system. Yung boses lang ng pari ang pinagbabasehan namin. Mahirap kasi malayo ‘yung tao sa camera. Kaya naghanap kami ng paraan para mas marinig ng nanunuod yung sinasabi ng pari,” recalls Joemel, a former knight of the altar. He is now the assistant SoCom coordinator and director of live events. He works as an IT tech support for a private company.
At that time, Albert Año, 34, had to pay P2,000 monthly out of his own pocket for Switcher Studio, a software that lets you sync multiple gadgets to livestream directly to Facebook, Youtube, Linkedin, and other social media sites. (Read: We Asked Our Readers: ‘What Are Your Thoughts About My Pope Online?’)
“I paid for the software without a second thought. This is all for Mama Mary. As her servant, I must give my best to the parishioners,” says Albert, who started in 2017 as SoCom Chairman. The former Parish Youth Ministry head works as a government employee for five years now.
To the Rescue
Engr. Elvir Santos, 28, was not able to respond immediately to the text, but he supported the team by visiting them and running errands for them. (Read: Catholic Bishops Urge Parishioners to Set Up Community Pantries)
“Whenever I see them, they look happy,” says Elvir, SoCom photographer who is also a former knight of the altar. He currently works for a water utility company.
Jennifer “Pepper” Serrano, 30, was in Cebu when the lockdown commenced so she had to finish her quarantine first before eventually joining the morning Mass shift with Maisie. She started in SoCom in 2018 as an assistant until she became one of the videographers. She currently works as an assistant admin for a private company.
Humble Beginnings, Lessons Learned
According to Joemel, SoCom was first established in 2011 with the goal of just putting up a website in the diocese. In 2018, parishes have upgraded and started streaming their own Masses online with the use of personal mobile phones and pocket Wi-Fis.
“We volunteered them [our own gadgets, equipment] because we know SoCom was not yet fully established then in our parish. But after the lockdown, we were given proper equipment out of the generosity of the parish,” says Albert. (Read: How Do Filipinos Transition From Lent to Summer?)
It’s been more than a year since the hard lockdown, but despite the challenges, Pepper felt the fulfillment every time they inspire the young ones to serve and when she receives comments on how they look up to them as inspirations.
“We’re on ECQ Season 2 already, but we’re still here. We also get sick, but we get sick because we’re tired from work, not because we’re serving,” says Pepper.
At present, SoCom has 20 members and is accepting volunteers who are willing to learn, obedient, and committed to serving the Lord.