his Life

Early Philippine Wesleyan College Memories from Auring Piedad Garcia

Numerous memories flood my mind as I sit and ponder how Kuya Romy and I met at Wesleyan University-Philippines aka Philippine Wesleyan College. I was a newly graduated sixth-grader when with my friend and classmate, Leonora Penetrante, Kuya Romy came following us in a “kalesa”, horse driven carriage. He wanted to treat us for snacks but we were not sure if it was proper to ride with him, culture taboo in mind. So Leonora and I ran to our rented house and hid there until he left, frustrated or disappointed, I guess!

Then he became our Literature teacher in first year high school. He was the most romantic, poetic, jolly, and vibrant teacher! Down to earth teaching, he was not shy of letting us know of his relationship with then sweetheart, Rosita Apolinario of Orion, Bataan. He even showed us her picture which we all admired! Her beauty undeniably captured Kuya Romy’s heart! 
So they got married and started a family! He continued to be my teacher in third year high school in Economics. Oh, how we “hated “ him for requiring us an assimilation two weeks before closing school! But we got through it! He passed everyone anyway! 
When I finished college, he was principal of the High School department. Immediately, he hired me without requiring any resume and in my part I did not have to submit an application to be employed. First I taught Literature to Freshmen students. Then Pilipino to Sophomore students.  What’s funny was I taught Physical Education while I was pregnant with Erna on my third year. I guess because that was the need of the year! 
Then there was a strike in the college. I joined the strike but unknown to some. It was very timely because I gave birth to Erna that year. Kuya Romy was part of the administration so he was sort of caught in the middle. To make the story short, Ely and he collaborated on applying for a visa to the US. He left a year before we did and ended in Iowa with the Martins. When we came in 1970 he moved from Iowa to LA to join us. 

That started a new kind of relationship between that God made and arranged for us so we can be partners in the ministry for Jesus! How he wanted for me not to work in the secular world and just concentrate in church work! But I wanted to fly! No regrets! 

All I know is he modeled a giving, loving, generous, dedicated and committed life for the Lord! Thank you, Lord, for the eternal friendship you bestowed to us: Garcias and
Abesamises through Kuya Romy! Halleluia! You are now in the bossom of God Almighty, Kuya Romy!

Ate Rosie, Rosemarie, Boy, and Roselynn together with your spouses and children, I pray for your comfort and joy: Comfort that gives peace and joy that gives hope for tomorrow!

Loving message from mahal na kapatid Mrs. Lucila Abesamis Alejandro

In behalf of my family I wish to convey our deepest sympathy and condolences to the bereaved family of Kuyang.
Isa sa malungkot na pangyayari sa buhay ng tao ay kapag may miyembro ng pamilya na sumakabilang buhay na, ngunit ang lahat ng ating kalungkutan ay mapapawi dahil sa ating pananalig at pananampalataya sa diyos, na siyang laha na may kagustuhan nito.
Si Kuyang ay nabuhay sa ibabaw ng lupa na taglay niya ang katangian ng pagiging mabait, magalang at ulirang anak. Mapagmahal sa kapatid at kapwa. Siya ay dakilang asawa at responsableng ama ng kanilang mga anak.
Kuyang hindi ko makakalimutan ang lagi mong pangaral sa amin na mamuhay sa makakristong pamamaraan at ibahagi namin ito sa aming mga kasama. “Live in a christian way of living and share it to others”.
To sum up, Kuyang is a very fine and responsible man. He is known by everybody as a man of principle, values, abiding faith, and unfaltering love for the lord. An outstanding teacher, a fiscalizer, a leader and a friend to everyone. God knows Kuyang had fulfilled his life on this earth. All of us will die and only God knows this. For Kuyang, you have left your physical body on this earth but your memories lingers on.
Let us remember that “Death is the golden key that opens the palace of eternity”. Kuyang we will never forget you. Goodbye for now.
Before I end, let me share to everybody verses from the holy scriptures found in Psalm 23.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”


ROMEO ABESAMIS was a long time colleague in the Filipino-American community, particularly in the development of ministries within the United Methodist Church for Filipinos in southern California and in the California-Pacific Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.  I shall confine my words in the development of what has come to be known as The Filipino Caucus, California-Pacific Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.

Filipinos started arriving in southern California in the early 1970s, as the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1966 started to kick in high gear.  As a result, many of the arrivals included Methodists from the Philippines and, when they did arrive, they started attending mostly Caucasian United Methodist churches.  This created undue pressures on the ministries of those churches, particularly in the downtown Los Angeles and metro areas of Los Angeles county.  Their numbers begun to adversely affect the ministries of those churches because they were not prepared to do ethnic ministries; or provide the appropriate and necessary ministries for the new arrivals. 

Several pastors of Los Angeles area churches, including Gardena, Wilmington, and Torrance started informally meeting together beginning in early 1972 for the purpose of finding some viable approaches to an increasing problem, and opportunity for ministry. With help from the Annual Conference Department of Ethnic Planning and Strategy some ideas begun to emerge.  It was decided to organize an advisory council that would assist in developing ministry for and with Filipinos.  In late June, 1972, the group of pastors, and some representative Filipinos from the local churches where there were any, met at First UMC of Los Angeles.  Among those Filipino representations were Romeo Abesamis, who was one of 2 from Rosewood UMC.  Efforts at organizing were, for the most part for the rest of 1972, not as fruitful as expected, however.  Monthly meetings were held in an effort to develop a common purpose and unified vision, and the lay person that was elected chair of the advisory council soon relocated to Texas for job reasons.  By the beginning of 1973, the group needed a new chair of the group and, because the first chair was lay person, they needed the new chair to be clergy.  That fell on Ben Vinluan, who just arrived from the Hawaii District to become associate pastor at First UMC, LA. Vinluan served as president for two years, and Romeo Abesamis continued to represent Rosewood, along with a new lay person, Amado Umaguing. 

Abesamis emerged as a strong laity member of the Filipino Caucus.  The first years were exciting, but difficult years for the Caucus.  One of the concerns was that of what our identity was going to be.  Romy, as most of us started calling him, was one of the proponents of naming the group Bayanihan, which is Pilipino for mutual support.  As good as that sounded, many were opposed on the ground that it pushes the envelop too hard.  And so it went: for the good part of 1973 we spent time debating the pros and cons.  Ultimately, the group settled on the name Bayanihan Filipino Caucus.  And that was the official name that was registered, and the name we had when we opened our bank account, with Amado Umaguing Treasurer.  Significantly, Bayanihan Filipino Caucus received a grant from the General Commission on Religion and Race of The United Methodist in late 1973.

Romeo Abesamis stepped in as the new president of the group in late 1974, serving for 2 years.  He would return again in later years to serve another two-year term.  Romy has continued to support the growth of the Bayanihan Filipino Caucus as President or, when he was not president, as a member of the council through the years.  And some point he also became the community developer or otherwise serving in various other capacities, which show his commitment and dedication for an organization dedicated to building bridges between communities and across cultural divisions; and reaching out to others for the glory of God.

The group, revisiting the discussion about identity, sometime in the mid 1980s, decided to drop Bayanihan from its name.  Today it’s known simply as Filipino Caucus, or FC.  It has continued to grow in power and influence for good, thanks to the support of dedicated lay people like Romeo Abesamis, along with that of Filipino-American clergy, as well as Caucasian clergy like Dick Edgar.  As we mourn the passing of this brother, colleague and co-worker in our community, we lift a prayer to God that his legacy of faith, dedication to family and community and his church, by the grace of God continue to be means of blessing to the glory of God. I mourn his passing as a valued friend, colleague and fellow-pioneer in ministry to and with Filipinos in southern California and in this Conference.  Rest in God’s peace, brother Romy.

Rev. Dr. Ben Vinluan
and Gerda Vinluan
Aug. 1, 2020