Family Portraits by Ryan Arbilo

Marycel Legaspi and husband Giovanni Giublena with daughter Angelica Crescentino
Turin, Italy

Family as the basic unit of society is, for me, a community where I learned love and commitment, humility and forgiveness, hard-work and service. I am proud to tell the world that I am raised in a very big family, with 14 siblings (7 boys and 7 girls) in a remote barrio of the municipality of New Corella, province of Davao del Norte, Philippines.
Though living in radical poverty (solely relying on farming), my parents were considerably pious in their Catholic faith, always instilling to us their children the importance of faith in God. Its is in this family background that the desire to enter the religious life and become a nun starts to sprout.
After high school, I entered the congregation of the Passionists Sisters in Manila, Philippines. After years of living in the convent, and after receiving my temporary vows, I was then sent to Italy for missionary work where I was assigned in the school administered by the congregation for almost 7 years.
With continuous discernment, I soon realized that religious life is not what God really calls me. I believed he is calling me for something else. For this reason, though painful, I decided to leave the convent and went home to the Philippines on March 2008.
Due to limited opportunities for a better job in the Philippines and with my great desire to help my family alleviate from poverty, I decided to go back to Italy, no longer as a nun, but as a lay person seeking for a greener pasture. I started working as a babysitter, then in a Pharmaceutical company and soon met the love of my life through internet.
Serendipity; a fortunate accident as they call it. Maybe I can describe our love story this way. It was neither planned, nor orchestrated that we come to know each other and soon fall in love with one another. I would like to believe that if God wills it, He will be the one who finds ways to make it happen. And I am very fortunate and grateful to God for sending him to become my partner for life.

I admit, it was not a perfect relationship at first (even up to the present). As we vow to be each other’s partner “until death do us part,” we are also well aware of the struggles and challengesfacing us as we build our own family. Shortly after knowing each other, we took the risk of living together, though not married yet. Though morally wrong in the eyes of many, but with the eyes of our heart, it was one of the best decisions we have ever made.
With my husband, I am certain that God indeed calls me to something else. He calls me to become a family woman; to become gentle, loving and responsible wife. I am even granted the gift of motherhood as I conceived and have given birth to the priceless jewel, the fruit of our love, our daughter.
I humbly admit that during these times, I had to make a lot of adjustments. Our first adjustment was from being a nun to an ordinary lay person (it was truly challenging). Second, I also had to adjust to the culture which is totally different from what I was born and raised with. Finally, I also had to make major adjustments as a wife and a mother. But all these adjustments were not that difficult because I have my husband by my side to stand a strong wall to lean on when I am tired, with arms wide open to protect and give me a warm embrace of comfort whenever I am discouraged.