One of lessons we learn in life is to never assume things as they are.
Just as Goliath underestimated an undersized David and his decimated, uninspired followers in the Book of Samuel, there are plenty of examples Topper Bautista, our new servant leader in the CFC-FFL Servants of the Lord, has been amazed at how the community has transformed his life, despite sharing different assumptions in the past.
Christopher Bautista was born in Tarlac City and is second of three siblings and the only son of Tito and Nyrma, growing in a typical life back in the Philippines. Typical kid, in Philippine context, refers playing on the streets, learning the tricks of the trade and occasional bruises as the day wore on.
Topper shares similar route going to the community as with many of CFC members; he got invited by a friend to a camp and became member of the Youth for Christ in Tarlac in 1997. As a member, he routinely served the YFC camps, frequently attended conferences, and served in the Christian Life Program seminars and other pastoral formation teachings.
In between those time for service, Topper was actively involved in sports to keep himself fit and entertained, mingle with friends, and keep the influence of drug abuse at bay. He played tennis, martial arts and spent time on swimming. Another sport he learned to love quickly was badminton, even though at the beginning he thought the game was for weaklings.
“Once I was invited by a female friend to try badminton. I was just smiling by myself thinking I’ll easily beat her as I have endurance.
“I was promptly shut-out 15-0,” he said of the clinical performance by his female friend as his endurance for the sport apparently did not matter.
But by then Topper switched to the new racquet sport and embraced badminton ever since. Now, he still finds time to enjoy the sport he used to think was meant for weaker players.
In 1999, upon invitation of community leaders that they move on to the next phase in life, Topper crossed over to Singles for Christ a ministry he had a different view on then.
“At first we [were] petrified as we are used to shouting, rocking and dancing in the Youth Ministry and we are so afraid that joining a mature group (SFC) will limit our abilities to ‘create havoc’. Havoc, of course, was meant in a good way of expressing restlessness of the youth.
“But then again, the Spirit of the Lord is omnipresent giving us joy wherever we are,” he added.
where his service even blossomed more, growing in spiritual faith, becoming a unit head and eventually meeting his future wife Cel along the way. Ever committed to service, Topper would find himself driving youth members home late at night from service meetings and Christmas caroling using his mammoth 6-wheeler truck.
His degree in Computer Engineering earned at Don Bosco Technical College Mandaluyong and past working experience helped him land his job as data center manager at Asia Satellite Internet Exchange in Stanley. Like many members of the Filipino diaspora, he is physically away from his family. Cel and two lovely daughters, Iya (6) and Shan (8) are in the Philippines. Thanks to modern telecommunications technology, incidentally in the very same industry where he is employed, keeping in touch with the family has been more straightforward than what it used to be as recently as a decade ago.
In 2007, Topper was invited to join CFC-FFL Hong Kong by Brother Sonny Manuel and he formally joined the Servants of the Lord ministry under the guidance of brother Joel Unciano. SOLD, as the ministry often referred to, is a tightly-knit bond of brothers for a good reason. As most of its members have their families living away from them, Servants of the Lord draw strength and inspiration from each other’s stories.
“Good, clean fun. You can do so much things and enjoy life without sacrificing your faithfulness to the Lord,” as he puts it, adding that the bonding among brothers and sense of belongingness in the community of womb-to-tomb ministries.
Topper currently lives in Wanchai and is active in service at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church, member of the English Speaking Community group and readers and commmentors group. His service in the parish helped open up a Christian Life Seminar held in its premises in 2014, yielding 16 new members in the community.
He relishes time with the community, despite the fact that his off-hour shift schedules at work sometimes becomes a challenge in his service and time with the SOLD brothers.
“HK is a friendly place for mixed races, with good mode of transportation, big Filipino community and of course the CFC-FFL family is always here to guide and motivate you in life,” he says.
Recently, Topper took the cudgels as the ministry servant for SOLD in Hong Kong, handed over from Brother Joel Unciano, who moves on to lead a new household group.
Things you may not know about Topper Bautista
1. He practiced local martial arts called “singkala” before getting hooked into taekwondo.
2. He used to be active in regional competitions in Philippine Practical Shooting as he was once a top junior shooter in one of the events held at Philippine Military Academy in Baguio City.
3. He is also a swimming coach. Back in the Philippines, he taught close to 70 students — from age 2 to senior citizens — every summer. He also teaches in swimming Hong Kong as well.