Spiritual Heroes, part 1

I wouldn’t be where I am now without the people in my life who discipled me and helped me know God. None of us can make it alone. We all need people who will show us the way and watch out for our blind spots. Here are some of the men who discipled me at very crucial points in my life.

Rommel “Omeng” Cervantes

Apparently, I got Omeng's sense of fashion in spectacles.
Apparently, I got Omeng’s sense of fashion in spectacles.

Location: McDonalds in Shangri-la Mall

Omeng was a Kid’s Church teacher at one point and he decided to start this group with a few teenagers. I was around 12 or 13 at the time so I didn’t go regularly. But the times I would go I enjoyed it. The greatest impact to me was hearing about Jesus and the Bible from people who weren’t my parents. Omeng just had a way of making his faith fun, relatable, but still real and powerful.

Then Omeng went to Russia to be a missionary. That just made him that much more of a hero in our eyes. Today, he’s a missionary in London, England.



Rameses “Crunchie” Cervantes

Location: McDonalds in Shangri-la Mall, the veranda of Makati sports club

Crunchie could look like a goon when he wanted to.
Crunchie could look like a goon when he wanted to.

Crunchie is Omeng’s younger brother. He started a small discipleship group in Victory Makati. I went to this group from the age of 13 to 16. Crunchie was so cool in our eyes. He drove this old, beat-up truck type thing with all kinds of stuff inside. He worked the family farm which grew coffee and pineapples.

He took us to his farm for a day trip and picked out a pineapple from the dirt, cut it up with his knife, washed it in the stream, and handed it to us to eat. Then he proceeded to teach us the Bible while we sat on rocks around the stream. For the city boys that we were, this was the coolest thing ever! Then we crashed in his friend’s house for three days. We did nothing but play video games, watch funny movies, eat a LOT, and wear the same clothes for three days. I didn’t notice it but Crunchie kept inserting moments of sharing about his relationship with God.

It really struck me how a man his age, with all his independence, still chose to be discipled and to live a life submitted to Jesus.

Today, Crunchie is a businessman and major events planner.


Mel “Bong” Calingo

Location: Quick Stomach in Makati Ave., Vernida building along Valero, McDonalds – Makati Ave.

Mel and his beautiful wife, Tanja, have two adorable daughters.
Mel and his beautiful wife, Tanja, have two adorable daughters.

Bong was our first youth pastor in Victory Makati. Unlike Crunchie and Omeng, I didn’t know him well. But he immediately set about befriending us and getting to know us, so we connected quickly. I went to his small group from the age of 16 to 18.

Bong was no respecter of titles (or that my dad was his boss.) When I needed chewing out, he let me have it.

It was under Bong’s discipleship that I got to experience what it meant to lead in the church. And what it meant for Bong was a lot of serving. Pick up the garbage, come early, stay late, buy food for everyone, be the last one to eat, don’t complain, and be back and do it again tomorrow. Bong really made sure to uproot any expectation of special treatment in me. He treated everyone the same – public school and private school, long time church member and new kid. I’ll always be grateful to Bong for setting that example and showing it to me as well.

Today, Mel is a church planter in Madrid, Spain.


On Wednesday, I’ll publish more. But I have to force myself to stop because I could keep going for pages and pages about these men and their impact on many lives.

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