Friday, May 30, 2008

The Coming Of Motorcycles

Very noticeable in our roads and highways these days is the increasing number of motorcyles. The availability of cheaper motorcycles and the need to have a private means of transportation had made this possible. This is not really something new. More than ten years ago, I had witnessed this in Bangkok, Thailand. Never had I seen so many motorcycles on the road in my life. The motorcycles would position themselves in front of the cars before a traffic light. As soon as the light goes green, they would zoom forward to beat all others to the lead. On the road, if you are a car driver, you would agree that these motorcycles are prone to accidents. Here in our country, there are no motorcycle lanes. Motorcycles just occupy any lane they prefer. Many times, they drive as if they are also cars! Personally, I had many close brushes with accidents involving a motorcycle. So far, it seems that nothing is being done by government to anticipate the problems that will be posed by the proliferation of motorcycles in our roads and highways. I wonder how many accidents had happened and how many lives had been taken because of accidents involving motorcycles? Showing these statistics will help our leaders create some laws and guidelines and protect our citizens from future accidents.

No, I am not against motorcycles. Just like car drivers, motorcycle drivers must also maintain proper driving habits. Having a motorcycle lane would be one big move. Restricting them on main and busy highways would prevent accidents. How about a purely motorcycle lane? Having a designated lane would also prevent and anticipate crimes involving motorcycles. Once they go out of their lane, motorists would easily be alarmed.

In any case, motorcycles are here to stay. We just have to adapt to their presence. Your move, Mr. Guwapo!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Games We Played When We Were Children (Part Five):Marbles (Jolen)

Old school marble players"Jolens", (marbles made of hard glass), were not only for decorative purposes but a great source of enjoyment for us when we were children. It was fascinating and good to see them in different sizes and colors. We carried them in our little pockets and played with them either by gaining some marbles from others or shooting them in holes.

To gain some more marbles, we first agree how many each was willing to stake (taya) per game. Then we draw a circle which will contain all the staked marbles. About ten to fifteen feet from it was drawn a line from where we could strike at the marbles in the circle. The first shooter is determined by each player, from near the circle, throwing his mother marble (pamato) to the line. The nearest would be the first, the second comes next and so on. All of the marbles you are able to shoot out of the circle will be yours. You also gain some marbles, equivalent to the number of marbles staked by one player, when you get to hit the mother marble of any of the participant. For every turn, you have the option to shoot at the marbles, hit an opponents mother marble, or just place your mother marble nearer the circle or any place you think you will gain much advantage.

When we do not have much marbles to play with and when we are not that interested in competing for some more, we play "Jolens". The playing area is composed of the starting line. About three to four feet from it is the first hole about one and a half inches in diameter. Three other holes follow it at about the same distance each. The goal is to be able to put the your marble into each hole to and back. However, any player, during his turn, may have the option to shoot your marble with his marble. Every hit credits you with a hole. When you are hit, you go back to the first hole. This game may also be played in pairs.

Again, this game helped us while our time meaningfully. Some of us developed the skill to hit marbles from a great distance. We also learned to work with a partner and thus develop teamwork. Accuracy and precision were added skills. I will not be surprised if some of my accuracy and precision skills in playing other sports like bowling, golf, badminton, and billiards were courtesy of these games we played when we were children. (for some rules on the game you can visit

Why Do We Need To Pray?

This question becomes more difficult if we know the fact that before we even utter our prayers, especially our petitions, He already knows it. So what is prayer for? Why bother kneeling down before Him and ask Him for something He will freely give anyway?

At present, in almost all churches that are celebrating the novena for the feast of the Sacred Heart, the latest encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi, is the focal point for reflection. In that encyclical, he dealt extensively with Christian hope. In relating the theme of hope to prayer, Pope Benedict referred to St. Augustine who said that prayer is an exercise of desire. Prayer is a way of God in order for us to aspire for more opening and enlarging our hearts through prayer. As human beings, we have limited capacities. If we are just confronted with things we are capable of having, we do not need to Go to God on bended knees. However, we know that there are things which we can not acquire on our own such that we turn to God for assistance. The act of trusting God for obtaining things we admit we can not have by ourselves is an expression of hope. Hope is admitting our limitations and believing in God's capacity to grant them according to His Holy Will. In this sense, hope is faith. Unless we have faith in God, then, prayer is useless and meaningless. Because we fully believe in God, we have the courage t humble ourselves and completely rely on His generosity. While we don't know what will be given to us,  we know that something will be given. That is what makes it hope. Ang galing 'no?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Games We Played When We Were Children (Part Four):Spider Kids

Image:Spider fight 4.jpgNot all of our games were about things we created or bought from the the store. We also had live insects and animals for our playthings. Salagubang (beetle) was one of them. After the rain, we will hunt for them in trees. Then we would choose which we thought was the best one. We would race them against each otheror put gum on their backs, or pair them by pasting them back to back and lay them on the ground sideways. The beetle which can lift the other would win. The owner of the beetle will get the beaten beetle as a price.

But spiders were more exciting. We classified them as gagambang-bahay (house spiders) and the gagambang totoo (warrior spiders). The gagambang-totoo was usually better than the gagambang-bahay. In fact, the gagambang-bahay was offered to the gagambang-totoo as prey and food. 

The gagambang-totoo weas not easy to find. You have to look for it in the field or in places where there were a lot of bushes. As children, we learned the art of tracking and finding where they were. I was poor at it. I can not remember a time when I had found one. But my playmates were good at it. They would even find three or four gagambang-totoo in a day. The spiders were of different colors and sizes. They were even offered for sale for those who could not find the kind. I never bought one. I was already contented with the gagambang-bahay or watch my playmates pit their spiders against each other.

The spiders received good treatments (at least before their fight!). Matchboxes adorned with aromatic leaves were the home for the spiders. Time and again, some gagambang-bahay will be put in the box to be food for the gagambang-totoo. Handling spiders needed a tender hand. Because they were very vulnerable and maybe crushed with the application of an accidental light pressure, we had to be careful in not mishandling them and at the same time not to let them go away. They can be very quick at times and could hide in places where they could not be recovered anymore.

The arena for the fights between spiders was a foot long broom or bamboo stick. The best handler of spider among us would manage the fight. The manager should have the ability to direct spiders that were already at the tip of the stick or bring  back to the stick those who were hanging by their silk by pulling them up via their own silk . The winner spider would be the one to silk-wrap the other after killing it.

This "game" might not be in good taste to some, but as children, it was available and enjoyable to us. I guess, during those times, the environment was not that critical yet! In any case, we learned how to take care of delicate things, creatively search for them, improve our skills and agility in managing their fights, and learn more about spiders. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

This Land Is Mine!

              A popular old song begins with these words, "This land is mine. God gave this land to me." The context was the importance of land to the people of Israel. God gave them a promise that they will be His people, and He will be their God. Part of this covenant between Israel and God was their land. The land was the symbol of their being nation. It was their life and faith. This can partly explain the on-going war between the Arabs and the Israelites. The conquering of lands was not just about losing or gaining a property but more importantly, losing or gaining an identity as a people and a nation. That also makes the the situation of the "wandering Jews" very pathetic and sad. The Jews are however not without hope. They know that their messiah (they do not recognize Jesus as The Messiah, the way Catholic Christians do.) would be coming to save them.

Last week, I was involved in two similar cases of land ownership. The first involved the Marikina Watershed project in San Josef, Antipolo. There was a bill passed by Rep. Rodriguez to make alienable and disposable part of the protected area. The land would be given to the people affected. The archdiocese of Manila, in partnership with the C.A.R.E. Foundation, had adopted the land in order to rejuvenate it. It is the only surviving forest cover that protects the La Mesa Dam which supplies most of the water in Metro Manila. We believe that the disposition of the land would further aggravate the now critical situation of the mountain. The bill mentioned of the impending project by the government in the area which will in turn affect the lives of the people. As a solution, the congresswoman elected to distribute the land to the people. Although this will still be debated on the floor, our hope is that the lawmakers will consider the situation in both the short and long term bases.

However, there was also another problem. A private individual had laid his claim on the property. The last time church people came to plant trees there, they were welcomed by a "No Entry" sign. They were told that they were doing activities in a private property. DENR's records show nothing as to their ownership of the place. Further investigation of the place revealed that treasure hunting and mining activities had already commenced in different places of the mountain. DENR will investigate and rule on the matter as soon as the facts are established.

This morning, our guest in the "Barangay Simbayanan" radio program over Radio Veritas was "Mang Ruperto", the spokesperson of the Calatagan farmers. Their case was very similar to the Sumilao farmers. Suddenly, out of the blue, a company was laying claim to the property. Because of the failure of the Register of Deeds to annotate the title of the land which was granted to them by virtue of PD 27 (during the time of President Marcos), it was resold to a private company. The farmers were questioned regarding what they had done with the land. Pd 27 had a restriction of using land for rice and corn only. However, Mang Ruperto said that PD 6657 (CARP) would also cover it for them. Unfortunately, DENR had issued a certification that the land was a mining area. DAR, by virtue of CARP, could not rule in favor of the farmers because of this certificate. Further, the Supreme Court had made a ruling regarding its status as a mineral deposit area. Mang Ruperto, in a discussion with Sec. Atienza, said that they would not stop until they get justice. He could not imagine how things had been reversed. They are not considering appealing to the president for swift justice.

It is unfortunate that these things are happening to our farmers, indigenous people and rural folks. Instead of being supported, it seems that they are being taken advantage. The Second National Rural Congress being done by the CBCP (Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines), presently on going, seeks to consult the people from the barrios and hear their experiences. It came at the proper time so that farmers would be able to share what are being done to them. The first congress of the same nature was able to make concrete actions before. An sure, the bishops will make certain that more deliberate and meaningful actions would be done now. We just hope that all the facts that will be accumulated truly reflect the life of the rural folks. It is also our hope that people of authority would constantly support our rural folks. They have to realize that their welfare is also our welfare. Their downfall is also our downfall. This was stressed by the CBCP in their move to finally involve the urban people by asking their logistical and spiritual support. We are all in this. Let us all help!    
                           (for more information  please visit,

Thursday, May 22, 2008

All About GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms)

[klicken, um Fenster zu schlie├čen]One of the latest development of science is GMO. It is making use of science and technology in different fields. One of them is agriculture. The "successes" of GMO in terms of increase in yield, better size, and better texture seem to be good news both to farmers and consumers. The crude farming implements and practices may now be set aside in favor of new techniques and instruments which will give better yields. Critics however question these "progress". They are very worried about the consequences these GMO products would have on consumers (plants, animals, and man). There is no guarantee as to where the "tampering" of nature would lead to. There had been some findings about the abnormalities of the yields of GMO's. While it is not conclusive, further studies and experiments must be made before making them available to all consumers. So, I enjoin you to read them and make your comments if you want. (Please go to

Note: The picture is a Bt corn being attacked by corn borers and corn rootworms. In order to protect the corn from these attackers, Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) was introduced. These bacteria produces toxins which when ingested by certain insects would destroy them. Scientists had claimed that BT is safe. However, recent findings show otherwise.

Games We Played When We Were Children (Part Three): Combat

Long long before Hollywood superstar Mel Gibson became a household name because of his strings of beautiful and moving movies, We Were already Soldiers and Patriots. When there was no other "uso" (fad), we organized ourselves as soldiers engaged in battle or kings and princes with their legions armed with sabers and spears at odds against another kingdom to while our free times. 
Combat Vic Morrow, Rick Jason 1963/ABCCombat Cast 1963 ABC
We Were Soldiers - very popular then were war movies like "The Longest Day", "The Bridge of the River Kwai", the t.v. success, "Combat" starring by Vic Morrow (Sgt. Chip Saunders) and Rick Jason (Lt. Gil Hanley), and even the former President Ferdinand Marcos epic biographical presidential campaign story, "Iginuhit ng Tadhana". Some of these movies even landed on our "teks" (playing cards - see Games We Played.....Part II). They inspired us so much that we will divide ourselves into two groups (Americans vs. Germans or Filipinos vs. Japanese). We usually use an open field near our neighborhood or our own neighborhood itself as our battlefield. We tried to be authentic by improvising costumes and our artilleries. We designated our commanding general, company commander, lieutenants, sergeants, spies, medical personnel etc. We established our camps on opposite end of the battlefield. We set a time for D Day. In between, each army was allowed to do guerrilla attacks to capture enemy soldiers or to steal logistics. Guards were staked outside our sensitive perimeter areas to ensure safety and security from sudden guerrilla attacks. We also constructed maps on a used cartolina or on the ground in order to plan our attacks. In short, we tried to live up the soldiery things we saw in television programs.

We learned how to act as a group. We learned how to follow commands and obey our superiors. We learned how to be creative and were challenged to produce and make things we will need for our contingent. We were forced to think hard and muster all our God-given gifts and skills in order to outdo the enemy who were also doing the same against us. In the end, whether we won or not, we went home very satisfied that we had done our part and had given our individual best. Of course, there were times when we would bicker and fault a member. In this game, you can not help but be exposed to your weakness. Something that was magnified because of the presence of others who would not tolerate irresponsibilities and laziness within the group. Everyone knew that the weakness of one was the weakness of all. We were playing, but we were serious in winning and giving out everything that we have. But what was very important for us then was that We Were Soldiers and we all won in the game of life. When we all went home, we have thoughts and plans for another battle both in our daily lives and in the games we played. (to be continued...)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Christian hope, The only Hope.

This years' feast of the Sacred Heart picked the latest encyclical of Pope Benedict IV, Spe Salvi, as its point for reflections. I had actually read it months ago, but for the purpose of relating it to the devotion to the Sacred Heart, I read it again. Just like the first encyclical, Pope Benedict continues to fascinate me with his deep reflections on his subject. The things he wrote were basically not new, at least to me. However, the way he covered all angles of the subject was very scholarly and thorough.

Our existence here on earth is adorned with many kinds of hope. We hope to be healthy. We hope to have a good job. We hope to win games, elections, contests, and others. In many cases, our hopes are confined to our concerns in this world. The problem with that is, what happens after our life? If our hope is just limited to things of the earth, then it is a limited hope. Or more accurately, a frustrated hope. We will want our lives to be prolonged as long as our bodies can. And then, that's it! In that case, why don't we just eat, drink,and be merry for tomorrow will die. At least, we tried to live life to the full.

Christian hope goes beyond. It goes beyond earthly life. The object of Christian hope is life eternal with God (there is also a life eternal with the devil!). Life for a Christian extends to eternal life. Death is seen as part of life. It is the door and passage from earthly life to eternal life. While we are limited as human beings, God, who is unlimited, gifted us with hope that saves. It means that He had made us share His glory and eternity. 

This is the reason why have hope. Life on earth can be very challenging to the point of frustration and desperation. The absence of a certain and worthy destiny after death, may lead us to confusion and emptiness. The effect it will have in our lives may lead us to life's extremes; either we live life for the sake of living it (hopelessness) or live life as if it is the only thing (idolatry). St. Paul referred to them as people who have a god but without God. They have hope, but end up frustrated.

The Christian hope is the only true hope because he possesses the true God. The God who created is the same God who sustained and is the same God who will welcome them in the next life. This God is trustworthy. He knows each one of us. He loves us so much that He gave His only son to die for us. He gifted us with forgiveness and salvation. With all of these, no other hope matters. No other God compares. Aware of the presence of this God, the Christian is full of hope. While he is certain about the future of which he does not know, his hope assures him of a meaningful and fruitful anticipation. All the challenges of life are now seen in this context. Yes, even death becomes a part of life. In fact, it is the cause for eternal life.

All activities that a Christian does hinge on the reality of this true and only hope. The realization and acceptance of this will help transform his attitude toward life and God. Let us just hope that all of us will realize this in time. Yes, when there is life there is hope. But it is better to realize that when there is Hope, there is Life!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Games We Played When We were Children (Part Two): PLaying Cards

The advent of computers had completely overtaken "street games" which children, during our time, had enjoyed and learned a lot from. The beauty of "street games' is that they make children directly relate to each other. The games also help children make use of all their talents and skills. I could say that much of what I had faced in life, I had faced one way or the other in the street games I played.

Another popular game we played was a card game we called "teks". I guess it came from the word "text" referring to the playing card where a scene of the story was printed or because it was given free when you buy a "Texas" bubble gum . Featured in the cards are cartoon storyboard clips of local films complete with characters' dialogues and action sequences. These cards were available in the sari-sari store at certain times of the year. Most of the time, they were given free if you buy candies, cookies, or snacks. The goal was to gather as many as you can. 

There were many ways you can gain (or lose) your cards. You can play "lucky nine" with some other children with the cards as your bet. The more popular, however, was by flicking the cards (composed of a card from each player called, "pamato"). The card-pamatos were gathered together faced up, placed over a fisted-hand with the thumb cocked. The flicker then flicks the card. The odd card-pamato (face up and all others face down or face down and all others face up) wins. All other situations gave the flicker another chance to flick the cards. The card-pamatos maybe arranged in any position as long as all were face up. The flicker was determined by each player flicking his card and the odd card would be the flicker. The flicker was given the benefit of flicking the cards. When his card turned out to be the odd card, he collects all bets from all players. If the card of another player turned out to be the odd card, he pays the bet of that player. That player now becomes the flicker. Normally, the bet is without limit. But the flicker may request for a lesser bet. The game goes on until only one player has all the cards or when they decide to quit.

Other contests with the cards as bets were also done. After class hours and during weekends, at least most male kids were into "teks". There were times when we would even color, or design our pamatos so that they will be attractive and easily recognized even at a distance. Depending on the performance of that pamato, its design would either be imitated or would just be one of the cards in circulation. When not playing, these teks would be neatly stacked in a shoe box (serving as a bank) while some of them were placed in one of our pockets to be ready for any contest. Cards maybe sold to other players depending on the existing rate. Old cards sell at forty pieces  (40) at five (5) centavos! New cards maybe sold at half the number per five centavos.

Lessons learned from this game were a lot. Foremost would be the sweetness of victory and agony of defeat. How to be generous in victory and humble in defeat. Proficiency in numbers because we do a lot of calculations. Creativity because the games require strategy and discipline in decision-making. We also learned how to establish goals and experience how to achieve them. Certainly, there were other lessons learned depending on the experience of the individual. All the time these cards were popular (we call it "uso"), these lessons were being learned. It goes on and on until the next "uso" comes and the next lessons learned.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Our Belief In the Trinity

If you are asked by somebody, whether Catholic or not, about what is our belief in the Trinity, what will be your answer? It is a fair question. It is not about explaining it clearly, but simply, what do we profess?

Our catechism states that we believe in One God. But God exists in three Persons, Father, Son, Holy Spirit. We profess that they are all equal in their dignity as God. We profess that though they are equal in majesty and divinity. However, they are distinct from each other. They have their own existence. However, they work as one. Each is present in all their activities.

This was not just a invention of the Church in order to have a mystery. The belief was born out of the faith experience of the early Christian community. In their experience, God has revealed Himself as Father (of Creation), as Son (our Savior), and as Holy Spirit (as advocate and guide). Is this possible? We can only say that nothing is impossible with God. But there are reasons to believe that the belief is true. St. Ignatius of Loyola saw the clover leaf as a partial revelation of how the Trinity exists. A person, for example, can play many roles at one time. While being father to a son, he can also be a son to his father, a grandfather to a grandson, a grandson to his grandfather etc. This is not yet talking about the different hats he can wear. I for example am parish priest, priest coordinator of the archdiocesan ecology desk, board of director of a cooperative and anchor of a radio program at the same time.(We even now have a three-in-one coffee!) These are, however, analogies that fail so much compared the truth of the Trinity. At least, they give us the idea that Three Persons in One God is not really unthinkable or impossible.

But the more relevant question is, so what? So what if God is a Trinity? There are really a lot of reasons why God exists as a Trinity. Foremost is the message of community. Though distinct they are one. Though diverse, they are united. In the same way, God had made each and everyone unique. No two people, including identical twins, are fully the same. There remains some differences. Those differences are not weaknesses. Through the example of the Trinity who are able to govern and guide excellently, we can also make use of our differences for our benefit. If we work together and live our gifts in complimentary with each other, the world will be a paradise as it was originally intended. Heaven can be here on earth if we put our acts together. Sharing our gifts and resources in community is the essence of life. Only in communion will we be able to fully live life. Our model? The Trinity!

So, let us think Trinitarian. Let us think Community. 

Global Warming, A Hoax?

I have been hearing and reading a lot of these ideas that global warming is a just hoax. Deniers of global warming claim that this is more of a media hype and a pushing of one's political agenda. A you tube video (http:/// had exposed the inconvenience of the Inconvenient Truth presentation by Al Gore. The video presented the fact that before, leading newspapers had reported that the world climate will instead be cold and now, that it is getting hot. The video also claimed that CO2 in fact prevents global warming rather than causes it. The video further presented climate scientists who disagreed with the UN Fourth Assessment Report (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that categorically stated that human actions, through use of fossil fuel, cause global warming). It boasts of 19,000 scientists dissenting on the report. You can look at the video and make the judgment yourself.

I have read the IPCCC report. Though it did categorically stated that global warming is anthropogenic (human caused), they did so in varying degrees. The instruments of science were used in order to make a sound prediction of things to come based on data gathered spanning sixteen years. Granting that there were conflicting reports before and now from newspapers and authorities, the facts and events before us now are the most important and relevant. If it were not Al Gore who presented the report and we just concentrate on the bare facts, would the denial be the same? If indeed a debate is still opportune (because some claimed that the report of some 19,000 0r more scientists were not presented), I believe that the dissenting report should be brought out of the open. By the way, where is that dissenting report? If they were disregarded or made to disappear by the IPCC, the dissenting scientists themselves can reconstruct them and present them in public. With an ultra-modern communication at their disposal, that should be easy.

I admit that, at present, I side with those who believe that global warming is anthropogenic. To create a big hoax like this for economic and political sake is very ambitious and may even be considered evil. Indeed, for a person or country who is overtaken by greed, nothing is impossible. However, as civilized and educated people, we are free to search and access the facts we needed in finding the true truth. Needless to say, we owe this to those who trust and rely on us.

I have my own reasons why I am very convinced that global warming is really an inconvenient truth. I am inspired by the many people, of good standing and authorities in their own fields, NGO's and GO's, who I had worked directly on this issue. I know there are millions more who share the same, not due to funding or for political gain, but sheer concern and love for humankind and all creation. My conviction comes from my faith. In fact, global warming or not, all creation at this very moment is very sick! The devastation brought about by the abuse of man on creation is taking its toll on everyone. As to where this is going, we do not know. But as far as God is concerned, He had made a promise never to destroy Creation ever again. But what can He do if we are destroying ourselves?

So let us continue our search for the truth. Meantime, let us care for the earth. To the deniers, I sincerely hope and pray that you are right. God help us if you are wrong. To the believers, our concern is the care for the creation. Whether the consequences are as predicted or otherwise, the need to be stewards of creation still holds. Let us do what we can now, for tomorrow may never come.

Games We Played When We Were Children (Part One)

It is the computer age. Almost every child during this age find satisfaction by playing games using computerized gadgets. Games today are not only for the young but also for anyone of any age who can understand and find enjoyment in the games. But not during my younger days. Then (late '60's up to middle '70's), the games we played were for us. People older or younger than us have their own games.

So, what were our games or sources of fulfillment then?

1. The Kite (saranggola) - Except for the time when The Fort (Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City) was still being developed, I do not see anyone flying a kite now. In our time, December to early January are kite months. They were considered windy months. In our place in Mandaluyong, we use to have lots of vacant lots (we call "parang") where we can run long enough to give our kites the push to gather wind and fly. What was interesting was we made our own kites. We use newspapers, paper packages, or calendar sheets. The skeleton of our kites were made of broom or bamboo sticks. And for most of us, excess cooked rice were use to paste them together. Nylon or the ordinary strings rolled around used milk cans were used to fly them. At times, when we want to compete by trying to cut the string of the other kite, we glue finely broken glasses around the strings. But we rarely do this because it was never fun. Kites of different sizes, shapes and designs were made. You will be considered a very good kite maker if your kite does not need a tail. The tail usually keeps the kite steady. To be able to make and fly a kite without a tail means that you have made a balanced kite. Having made the kite, though, was half the task. We must be able to fly them. The feeling of just sitting on a place while watching and maneuvering a flown kite was the fullness of the activity. The mere success of being able to fly a kite already made our day fulfilled. The task of bringing down the kite was an art itself. You do not just bring it down. We needed to feel the strength of the wind and keep the kite balanced. Otherwise, the string might not be able to withstand the wind or the kite would circle around and make a disastrous landing.We were very lucky if we finally go home in the afternoon still having our kite. Usually, one kite was enough for the day. 
No doubt, kite flying gave us physical, psychological, social, and spiritual fulfillment.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

On Mother's Day!

My, mother, God's greatest gift to me.

This maybe a little late, but relevant just the same.

With due respect to all my love ones, especially my father, the title above perfectly says who my mother is to me. Most, if not everything that I am now, is because of what God wanted me to be. I believe God sent my mother to fulfill a mission. Her God-given mission for me had been put into completion. She has inspired me in so many ways. Let me count the ways;

Her simplicity shines, vibrates and penetrates in the family. I grew up seeing her does all her responsibilities as a mother and  a wife with complete dedication and pure joy. She was very contented living her life in the confines of our home and the neighborhood. For her, having served us, her eight children and our father was the meaning of a perfect day.

Her piety was her consolation and source of strength and endurance. She possesses a prayer booklet which she always bring and use whenever she goes to church. I discovered that book once when I was looking for something in the family aparador. I read the prayer booklet and it had inspired and influenced my spiritual life since. One night, there was a strong typhoon and we were all afraid. All of use children were lying together while she was sitting uttering her prayers. I can not remember what she was praying but I am sure, she was pleading to God for protection. If she was worried of the typhoon, it did not show. It gave all of us a calming effect. With her watching over us, we felt at peace in spite of the typhoon.

Her humility was the source of our pride!. She wanted us to excel in our studies. She sees to it that in spite of having old clothes, they are always clean and worn over our equally clean bodies. She is the happiest when we are at our best. She is willing to do anything for our sake. I was a Caritas Manila scholar in high school. On my first year, my mother was summoned by the nun who was managing the scholarship program because my professor got angry at me when I questioned the agreed contribution which I thought my parents could not provide. My professor felt offended and gave me a failing grade in conduct. The nun told my mother that I could lose my scholarship because of what I had done. My mother, crying, begged the sister to give me another chance, My mother knew that the scholarship is my best opportunity  that time. If I lose it, they might find it hard to support me. The nun gave me another chance and since then, I promised to myself that I would give my best behavior, not only to forfeit my scholarship, but most importantly, never to make my mother cry anymore.

Her resiliency in the face of difficult situations helped us accept with ease our difficulties. There were times when my father would go home with his pay slip containing only receipts as payment for loans incurred. She would bravely accept the situation and move on to the next level of finding ways to survive the next days until the next pay day. She embodies the prayer; "Lord, give me the grace to change the things I can, the strength to accept the unchangeable, and the wisdom to know the  difference. Amen." Needless to say, the prayer had always been my personal prayer too!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

What is Scriptures?

         Word of God comes to us into ways; oral (Tradition) and written (Scriptures). This should be clear to all of us. Unless there are some of us who believe the bible, as we have it now, comes directly from heaven or was word for word dictated by God, it should be easy to see that from the very beginning, God had revealed Himself to us first in words and deed. He spoke to us through the prophets and showed Himself to us through deeds.

Through the experience of the people, they came to know, love and serve God. The perfect revelation of God happened in the person of Jesus. He is God in the flesh. Through Jesus, we have heard, seen, felt, and experienced God. Jesus revealed that truth in His teachings and miracles. While it was hard for the Jews to accept, including His apostles, it was part of His plan and there is no better way than that way. The apostles and Mary kept everything Jesus said and did in their hearts during His ministry. We know the story. It was not easy for Him and His apostles. In any case, they were witnesses to His Word and Deed. So that when Jesus ascended into heaven, He gave the commandment to the apostles to baptize and teach all peoples of the faith.

The apostles will teach the Good News. The Good News is the news of salvation by Jesus. When the apostles were dying one by one, they decided to hand on their what they witnessed (Tradition). They decided to have some disciples available to know and see to it that what were witnessed to by the apostles will be handed on . And when they wanted to preserve them faithfully, they decided to write them. The writings of the apostles and disciples comprised the bible that we have today. We believe that when they were written, they were guided by the Spirit of God. The written word of God was not a one time event. The bible that we have today underwent a lot of development. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, it now presents itself to us as a book which contains God's salvific Word.

Scriptures contain the whole of the Good News. It means everything we need to know to be saved is there. Tradition also contains the Good News. It also contains everything we need to know to be saved. But, Scriptures and Tradition are connected. Each can not survive without the other. It is like fish and water. They are meant to be together if they are to be the living Word of God!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Communication; A Curse And A Blessing

It was one of God's greatest gift to man. It was one of the world's best resources. It was man's greatest link among themselves and to God. Communication is at the heart of the life of man and the world. We live in a generation when probably we can say that the world of communication is at its peak. Communication skills and technologies flourish all over the world. Computers, cell phones, satellites, televisions, radios, and others make distances be a non-factor between parties. Anywhere in the world, anyone can communicate with anyone.

By itself, communication is a powerful potential. It depends so much in its use by man. No doubt, communication, when used against the very Will of God is a curse. Unfortunately, this is the case with so many things that are happening now. We have misleading and false advertisements, use of technology in crimes and frauds (e.g. the many cell phone messages that lure people to believe that they are raffle winners), the use of popular personalities to promote commercialism, abortion, contraception, and other anti-life principles. So far, they are very effective because everyone has access almost to everything nowadays. As a result of this, morality had gone down to a very low level. In this sense, communication has become a curse.

But it can also be a blessing. When used in accordance with God's Will, it is a powerful tool for evangelization. Evangelization had developed and progressed to the maximum use of modern communications. It had made use of text messaging, e mail flooding, tri-media (radio, television/internet, and newspaper) advertisements, etc.  But compared to the volume and funds used, media evangelization is very much wanting. Very few tri-media people accommodate the propagation of God's Will and Good Will. Tri -media concentrates on business. This is the challenge to the Church and other Good-willed people. How to make use of the tri-media in order to promote the Good News! 

Observe how the present media, both local and international, are using communications. Let us pray that all in media will shift to making use of communications for the promotion of the goodness of man and the Will of God.

The Dignity of Work

    God was the first worker. He created everything. The world was made perfect by God for man. He commanded them to be stewards of creation. However, man disobeyed God. As a result, they were punished. Part of their punishment was to till the soil. In other words, they have to work for their living. Not that they will not do anything before, but this time, their labor includes a penance for the disobedience they had done.

Fast forward.... God, in order to save man, decided to become one like us in Jesus Christ. Jesus, the Word made flesh, would be born of the virgin and live in a family with Joseph as His foster father. Joseph was a carpenter. He had to work to fend for his family. Most probably, Jesus was also taught to do carpentry and helped His father. Work, which was a punishment before had recovered its original dignity. God could have assigned Jesus to a rich and powerful family. He need not work or struggle in life. But because God chose Joseph and Mary, it was a sign of the true dignity of family and work. In the Gospel of John, Jesus referred to His ministry as a cooperation with His Father. Jesus said His Father is still at work. His Father works through Him. In the book of blessings, particularly in the blessing of offices, factories and markets, the priest blesses the workers and reminds them of the dignity of work. Their work should not only be a way to obtain money and recognition, but more importantly a participation in God's work. In the same way that the Father is at work in Jesus, whenever we work, God is at work in us. It was God who gave us our life and charisms. When we faithfully work, we continue the work of God.
Our work is also essential to our salvation. We do not only work to sustain our life. Our work can also lead us to salvation. Work is a salvific action. When we work in accordance with God's will, we fulfill our responsibility and therefore make us worthy of God's love and mercy. Work therefore is a way to salvation. Therefore, we must work to live and be saved. We should never commit the mistake of living to work. There are people who had been enslaved by their work. There are people who had made their work as the ultimate purpose of their lives. We do not live to work. Rather, we work to live and ultimately, to be saved. Such is the real dignity of work. So next time we work, do it for all these purposes.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The New St. Alphonsus Church Tabernacle

The tabernacle we are now using in the church was not the one originally designed. The original design was not done because of its details and difficulty in its mechanism. It looked very good but the constructor was not able to deliver. It became a problem for us. Fortunately, I saw the old tabernacle placed in the second floor altar. When I saw it, I said, it was perfect! So, I asked for it to be placed in the new church. Lo and behold, it is perfect. It adds to the theme of the "old and the new". The finish was already defective, but I felt it was just what we needed. Unfortunately, it was polished and lost its original rusted look. In any case, the tabernacle found its rightful place in the church and the new church was just lucky to have found it.

Friday, May 2, 2008

The New St. Alphonsus Church: Sacristy Ceiling

In the new sacristy of the church will be found a round unfinished area of the ceiling. It was part of the old adoration chapel ceiling. We purposely left it unfinished so that the vestiges of the old will still be present and remembered in the sacristy. This round area is aligned with the center of the church. (There are other parts of the church the entrance stairs, center aisle, altar, tabernacle, and up to the last station of the cross, the Resurrection, outside the sacristy.) Another symbolic presence of spirit of the old church.

The New St. Alphonsus Church: Capis Lights

                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Thanks to an anonymous donor, we have exotic and beautiful capis light covers. They are good compliments to the already heavy and solid look of the church. They also provide a native ambiance and accent to the church.
Lights are also symbolic of the Lord who is the Light of the World. The lights around the church provide not only illumination during the mass but also for those who visit our memorial garden. Furthermore, the lights make the church be easily seen even at night specially by pilots navigating near our area. 

The New St. Alphonsus Church: The Presiders Chair

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     There are three symbolic fixtures that must be present and prominently seen on the altar; the main altar (Body and blood of Christ), the lectern (The Word of God), and the presider's chair (alter Christus). All of them represents the Lord Jesus in different ways and levels. The new St. Alphonsus parish church has the base of the presider's chair patterned after the buttresses. It was designed to obtain a dignity worthy of the Lord Jesus whom it represents. The presider's chair reminds us that it is not the priest who is celebrating but the Lord Jesus. Every Eucharistic celebration is a remembrance and a CONTINUATION of the saving action made by the Lord when He died on the cross. His death was a once and for all act that is continued in every mass.

The New St. Alphonsus Church Altar BackGround:The Burning Bush Experience!

The original design for the altar background was a canopy hovering over the altar. The complexity of the design and the difficulty of construction made us settle for a simple structure. What we came up with was a Krautz masterpiece of the burning bush (Moses). The base of the background was made of wood showing the trunk of the bush. On top was the stained glass representation of the burning branches.
The choice of the theme of the burning bush helps the faithful experience the pervading presence of God in the church. It immediately presents itself as soon as one enters The Door of the life and death of Jesus. And immediately too, one enters into the realm and experience of the sacred. One becomes aware that he has walked on holy grounds. It was in the burning bush experience that God introduced Himself as "I AM." It means God is always present, always in action, always alive, always BEING GOD. There is never any moment when God ceases to exist and work. In the same way that Moses was assured of Gods presence throughout his mission to free Israel from the bondage of Pharaoh, when we approach the altar of the burning bush, we are are being freed from the bondage of sin.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The New St. Alphonsus Church: The Door

The Door of the new St. Alphonsus has certain qualities that are considered unique. Instead of being attached to the walls, it is equipped with two pivots attached to the ceiling. When the door is opened, it provides three entrances (center and two sides). Made of narra by the famous carvers of Betis, Pampanga, its front show carvings of the life (left side) and death (right side) of the Lord. From inside the church are panels showing the back side of the carving in front.

The importance of the Door of the church is one that has been forgotten. In the tradition of the church, The Door serves as the symbol of the beginning or entrance to a new event, for example, the school year of a Catholic school, a parish, or any Catholic institution. The liturgy usually begins outside The closed Door. Then, The Door will be tapped twice by the toe of The Cross and then The Door will be opened formally inaugurating a new season or year. In can also be a symbol of being welcomed to the House of God.

In our parish, we had begun the tradition of closing The main Door as soon as the Sunday masses begin. Those who come late will suffer the humiliation of entering via the side door. It is therefore encouraged that everyone who will come to worship be inside the church on time.

The New St. Alphonsus Church: The Miraculous Cross

The Cross is made of hard wood and was located at the front door of the old church. After the fire, The Cross was only partially charred and was the last one standing dignifiedly after the fire. Many considered its survival as a miracle. When the parish temporarily held its mass in the "bahay kubo, The Cross was prominently laced there to serve as a symbol of God's presence in the Eucharistic celebration. There, it received the people's reverence and adoration. When the new church was done, its place was not easily determined. Finally, it found its place at the back of one of the side doors where people can again touch it and express their adoration to the crucified Lord. Will it be its final place? It is not certain. But what is certain is, it is a strong figure in the new church because of its attractive presence and effective object of devotion to many parishioners. 

In the recent celebration of Good Friday, The Cross was used in the adoration. It greatly added to the solemnity of the adoration specially during its kissing by the faithful.

The New St. Alphonsus Church: LECTERN AND ALTAR

The Lectern (where the Word of God is read) and the Altar (where the bread and wine becomes the body and blood) were made from the altar of the old church. The stone was subjected to the fire but it had endured the heat. Because it was hard to move it, I ordered it cut into pieces. After it was cut into two, we thought it can be of use in the new church. Later, we saw it as a good base for the lectern and the altar in the new church. Again, that was consistent with the now emerging theme of the"old and the new"! As it happened, the stone fit perfectly in the altar. They were good remembrances of the old altar. Incidentally, the Eucharist is actually a "remembering" of what Jesus did in Calvary and the Word of God is a remembering of what Jesus said and did in His ministry.

The New St. Alphonsus Church: THE BUTTRESSES

The buttresses were part of the old church. When the church got burned, they were some of those that were left standing and seemingly unharmed. When we rebuilt the church, we decided to retain the buttresses in recognition of Architect Locsin who designed the old church. The buttresses were subjected to bore tests in order to see how much were they affected. The bore tests produced good results for the buttresses. However, even if that was the case, we decided to provide the new roof of the new church its own support. The Locsin buttresses depicts the Church's rising from the ashes, its passing from death to life, and a transition from the old to the new!

The New St. Alphonsus Church:The ARCS

The Arcs

It has thirteen arcs (six on each side and a big one at the center). They represent Jesus (the big center arc) and the apostles (the twelve arcs). The arcs had been interpreted in many ways; the stairways to heaven by St. Therese, miter of the pope, a copy of the Opera House in Sydney, a kind of dinosaur, a piece of croissant, a protestant church, and an airplane engine! But for us, it is God's home where we can meet Him most intimately.