With God, there is hope in everything. I rest in the fact that everything happens for a reason.
I felt the world turned on me and the heavens fell on my shoulders. The burden was too heavy to carry and too scary to face. I was presented to the media and to the world as a criminal who violated Sections 5 and 11 of RA 9165, “selling and possession of illegal drug”, a non-bailable offense. I was at the verge of hopelessness, then I remember the wisdom from the scriptures that I have learned through the years of my religious calling,
“Everything works out for good for those who love God and those who serve him according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
With God, there is hope in everything. I rested in that hope knowing that everything happens for a reason. I may not have discerned it at that moment, but it was only in the years that followed that I understood God’s greater plan for me.
My trial began and I had to face the ordeal as a consequence of my actions and the loophole brought by the justice system. But I was still grateful because the Lord intervened. The government offered a plea bargaining agreement and reduced my sentence. I only got to serve a jail sentence of a year and five months. The Lord gave me another chance. I was given the chance to change for the better and use my God-given gifts in serving people.
Training with Virtualahan and eventually being a part of it is God’s master plan for me. I value every struggle as a life-learning opportunity to be a better person and a better child of God.
My name is Dominador P. Bartolata III. The origin of my name is from my paternal roots (grandfather and father) who first own the name: Dominador, Sr. and Dominador, Jr.
I am not really known with my first name because I am fondly called by my close friends and family members with my nickname, “Bimbo”. I was born at the time when the hit song “El Bimbo” dominated the radios.
I come from a well-to-do family in Cebu. My family was into furniture export business. We used to export metal furniture to different parts of the world. We started small before we flourished as one of the best in the business.
For years, we enjoyed the luxury of life brought by our financial abundance. We had what we needed and we could afford all the things we wanted. But with the price of success, my relationship with my dad suffered. We did not have the typical father and son relationship because he was more of a boss to me than a father. He was my employer and I was his employee.
He was busy making money. His attention was focused on the business and not on us. I could not blame him, he loved the business. But this choice became the main reason why I was never close to him. We even came to the point of indifference. But despite it, I learned something from him. I learned to develop the passion in business. So I took up business administration. I tried and survived the academic pressure for the first few years but was unable to continue because I got busy helping my dad with the business. He instilled in me that the business should be my first priority and my education was only second to it. I was a fulltime businessman, but a part time student. To make the long story short, I was not able to finish my degree in business administration because I shifted to a degree in tourism.
My relationship with my father became unhealthy to the extent that I had to ran away to avoid further conflicts and worsen the rift between us. I ran away and went to Australia to heal and let time pass us by. While I was there, I stayed with my cousin. I worked multiple jobs so I could save and pay for my airfare which was seriously expensive at that time. I worked as an asparagus picker and a grape trimmer. As soon as I saved enough money, I immediately bought a ticket to come back to the Philippines. But instead of going home to Cebu, I chose to be with my sister who was looking after our family business in Cagayan de Oro (CDO).
While at CDO, I had the chance to do volunteer work at the House of Hope Foundation. My main task was to bring to our facility the people who were mentally ill and were dwelling in the streets. At the facility, proper care, medications, and other treatments are provided. Reconnections with their family members were also established. I had a well-spent time while I was there. I felt this genuine happiness of helping and seeing other people happy. I couldn’t forget the memory verse found in Matthew 25:40 which was shared by the sister who managed the facility that time.
“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
She continued and said that these mentally-ill people we have helped are the least because these are the ones who could not pay us back. I was moved with the wisdom I was told. This inspired me to serve even more and improve my relationship with the Lord. Providentially, I met a religious brother whom I got to be acquainted with while I was volunteering at the facility. He asked me whether I was interested to take the road less-travelled and pursue a religious life.
With my ardent desire to know more about God’s plan for me, I answered the calling and started my journey to a religious life. I made my first vow of poverty, chastity, obedience and complete consecration to the Blessed Virgin in August 5, 2001. Five days later (August 10, 2001), I was sent along with 10 other Filipino brothers and priests to take over our mission in Goias, Brazil. I committed myself to the mission for the next 10 years but suddenly, things donned on me and I decided to quit my religious life on September 15, 2010. It was a bittersweet transition from being religious into being a normal layperson. There was a part of me that delighted in the idea that I could do again the things I once shunned away, but a greater part was frightened of what the world would bring.
As soon as I got out to the “outside world”, things worsened. I made acquaintances with worldly friends who led me to perdition. I was introduced and eventually became dependent to an illegal substance (meth) which led to my arrest in July 14, 2017.
Police authorities forcibly barged into my rented apartment and destroyed everything they could find. They took me at gunpoint and laid me on the ground with my hands handcuffed. They put a black shirt on my head which covered my entire face. I was unable to see what was happening. The next thing I knew, illegal substances and other paraphernalia were presented in front of me. But I was clueless were these were from. Thirteen packs of illegal substance were placed on top of my bed to be used as proof that I was in possession of the illegal drug. I insisted for the truth but they chose to stand on the truth that they have planted.
Despite everything, I praise the Lord.
DOMINADOR P. BARTOLATA III