An Interview with Joseph Piquero
Since the 1980s our brothers in Manila have lived in a house in Quezon City, in the center of Metro Manila: Scout Tobias, as it is called, has served as brotherhood center and home for roughly a dozen brothers. But as the years have gone by, Tobias Street has been enlarged and become a major thoroughfare. The noise increased and it became less and less of the quiet house conducive to S/W life. And its location also made it hard on those of our brothers serving at the university campuses on the other side of town- typically requiring a commute of 90 minutes each way. Gradually the hope and vision materialized of moving houses and establishing a base close to the so-called university belt on the west side.
As plans concretized and specs were laid down, the following details became clearer: we wanted a place which could serve as a home for ten to twelve brothers, which had a conference room and space for our S/W Asian regional office and – ideally – a space for a 3-on-3 basketball court, since that provides an attraction for the young men we are working with. The more the brothers thought about finding a place like that in one of the most densely populated cities of the world, the more this felt like an unattainable dream.
But a number of providential events soon took place. The original houses the broker showed them did not really meet the specifications, but another place caught the attention of one of our brothers. When they checked it out it proved too small, but the owners pointed out that the adjacent property was also for sale and combining two properties would provide all the space needed. All along, it was clear that any new acquisition was going to have to be financed by the sale of Scout Tobias. When the sale was finally agreed, the price surpassed all expectations and allowed for the purchase of what is now called Valhalla 1 and Valhalla 2, with money left over for future expansion in other places. Since then workers have been busy renovating one of the houses and rebuilding the other. When the work is done, the brothers will move into what can only be called an oasis, certainly for Manila standards. Valhalla street forms a horseshoe, and our property sits at its end, thus keeping vehicular traffic to a minimum. In the middle of the courtyard of the house stands a large, old mango tree, providing shade and coolness. So even though it will be a key mission center only fifteen minutes away from key university campuses, it will also provide space and quiet for prayer and contemplation.