I met Bishop Abet Uy for the first time online.
Some three years ago, at the suggestion of a good friend of mine, Fr. Harold Anthony Parilla, I sent Bishop Abet a direct message via FB messenger. He replied, within a day or two and told me how I could proceed with something I wanted to do. I did as was instructed, and some few weeks later, he sent me, via messenger again, a thank-you note.
Such tech-savviness impressed me, especially for a prelate his age. I was not surprised that some weeks later, I learned that the Bishop was using social media to spread God’s message, in very accessible terms. I also personally witnessed events he presided where online footprint was created almost in real-time (or at least a few hours after the event concluded), making us aware of where he was, what he was doing in building God’s Kingdom here on earth.
Currently, his various Facebook accounts have thousands of followers (Teba Yu has 11,744 followers, Abet Uy has 63,337, while the Bishop Abet page has 30,333) and still growing. He is a social media influencer because, by definition, anyone who has more than ten thousand followers is considered one. His popularity online made him a victim of identity theft sometime in 2017, and more recently, his posts became the subject of a fund-raising book published in October last year entitled “Mga Hugot ni Teba Yu: Lines to Heaven”.
In this time and age of fear and anxiety brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, I think it is best to populate our mind with positive thoughts and messages of hope. We should stop spreading negativity and take care of our mental well-being by maintaining a positive mood. I recently cleaned my social media wall of people spreading fatalistic articles, fake news, and those that keep on posting news about the virus. Then I thought about the people that we need to follow in these challenging times, and among Boholano influencers, Bishop Abet Uy tops the list. In this post, I will mention four reasons why you need to check his posts from time to time.
1. He preaches hope, faith, and love. He reminds us to keep the faith that this crisis will soon come to pass. He consoles us that we can withstand this crisis, especially if we help each other. He counsels us that the positive effect of this crisis on our relationships should remain a lasting lesson that we, as a community, should keep for the rest of our lives.
2. He calls us to and leads us in prayer. In the last few days, his posts were replete with calls to prayer. He reminds us that our greatest weapon in this time of need is our prayer. He leads the faithful in online masses, in online stations of the cross. While he called for social distancing and cancelled masses, he made it possible that our spiritual needs are taken care of by ensuring that regular masses are held online.
3. He practices what he preaches. He understands that people also need to eat, buy medicines, and have material needs to satisfy. While he preached love and compassion, he also reinforces this with action. Some few days ago, he launched ABAG 2020, which stands for Atong Buligan ang Gakinahanglan (translation, let’s assist the needy), an online program that provides spiritual, emotional, and material assistance to those who are in need. As of today (28 March 2020), more than half a million pesos have been raised, with the Diocese of Tagbilaran as its biggest donor.
4. He challenges us to help and do more. He reminds us that while in community quarantine, we can still offer help to those in need. He reminds us that within the comforts of our home, we can still extend a helping hand so that we will survive this crisis together as a community. Almost a year ago, he reminded us that true wealth does not lie in our possessions but in the goodness of our hearts.
I think it is about time that we spread faith in action in our newsfeeds. I think it is about time that we use our social media accounts to move from a state of shock and apathy to a state of action. One of the good things to do is to follow people like Bishop Abet, who continuously remind us that despite the situation we are in, there is reason to hope because our God is taking care of us.
For those of you who want to donate to ABAG 2020, please contact (Smart) 0998 153 0167 or (Globe) 0945 164 2526.
Bank deposits are accepted at Metrobank (Account Number 712-7-71200383-5, The Roman Catholic Bishop of Tagbilaran).
Cash donations are accepted at the St. Joseph's Cathedral through Sis. Doris.
In-kind donations are accepted at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Taloto, Tagbilaran City through Fr. Warli Salise.