Monday, July 20, 2009

We Loved The Rain (When we were children!)

"only happy when it rains" by ifotog, Queen of MSP (without computer).
Yes, we loved the rain when we were children. Even if we sang "Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day!"Or even if the late Karen Carpenter also sang "Rainy days and Mondays always get me down." (Ha ha ha. For us priests, we love Mondays!) Nowadays, rains are dreaded. They are unusually strong and heavy. In fact, too heavy now for the designs houses now have. If one is going to construct a house or any building today, rain should be a very big consideration. Otherwise, the tenants would just find themselves either with leaks or runoffs or excess water due to the inability of drainages in coping with the great surge of rain water. Today, when it rains, traffic easily becomes heavy. Roads are quickly flooded. Everyone is cautioned not to be exposed to rains because of its acidity that harms the skin. While rains continue to be a source of water for irrigation, drinking, and cleaning activities, its quality and effects had drastically changed.
When we were children, the first rains of the month of May is anticipated. I have not really asked the reason why but I think it has something to do with "health". It is good for the body, at least for the skin. We would immediately go to our mother and ask permission to bathe under the rain. Because we still have to wear our shirts and shorts, we would  bathe with nothing on! We would run around outside our house and periodically take turns in showering under the down spout. If a temporary pool appears, we would wade in it, or if our enthusiasm is just too much, we would swim in it. We would be like carabaos loving the rare chance of frolicking in water. We would go home not cleaner, due to the mud from playing in the pool of water, but very happy.

When we were children, we would always want to have the opportunity to bathe under it. My mother would always assess if it is safe. Lightning and thunderstorms might be present. But for us, we just loved the rain, lightnings and thunderstorms included. We would be very sad if we were not allowed and we would jealously look out from our windows at the children who were given that opportunity. We would call out to them and ask them if it feels good! Then we would participate in what they are doing from the window as if we are with them!
after storm destruction.. by ..AikiDude...
Once the rain stopped, we would immediately go out and see what the rain had done to our surroundings. Were there trees and plants that were destroyed? Were there flooded areas where we can wade? Were houses also affected? Were tributaries and small canals bigger or more active due to the rain water? Was the ground topography changed? And many more. As children, we were aware of all of these changes. We knew the effects of rain and flood.
paper boats by joannebk.
We had a small canal in front of our house. After the rain, it will have more water and the flow is faster. We use to make small boats, made of either of paper, wood, leaf, or any material, and make them race against each other. We would be very happy watching the boats speed to the designated finish line. We would spend ours doing it and at times many of us would produce many different kinds of boats in a day!
beetles 2 by Marko_K.
After the rain, opportunities to hunt for play insects (yes, we hunt them!) like beetles and spiders are on. We would equip ourselves with empty match boxes (at times my mother would just see the matches scattered and the match box gone!) filled with cotton for the spiders. Then we will play games with them.

Clay abounds after the rain. The effect of water ton hard clay softens them. So, we would gather as much clay as we want and create figures out of them. The game we would play will depend on the figures we have created e.g. animals, war soldiers and arms, carpentry tools etc. Our clay may not be as clean, sticky, aromatic, and colorful as now, but we did enjoy forming them.

Stilts Aren't Easy by Udaho.
Lastly, I remember, at one time, we made "tsakads" (wooden stilts) in order to wade through the flood waters. Though we still make and enjoy them even in sunny or flood less days, it was more fun, thrilling and challenging with water. We would challenge everyone to cross a certain distance and even add some difficulties to it after everyone had crossed. Some would fall but it was accepted as part of the game.  Definitely, everyone enjoyed it.

Unfortunately, some if not all of these are not anymore being done. Passe? Old? Crude? Maybe. But I believe, they are still sources of lessons in life like; determination, creativity, acceptance of failure, magnanimity in victory, development of skills, patience, teamwork, joy, competition, etc. The values gained are countless! I am sure, many of those values are still effective and present in the characters of those who lived by them! I am one of them and I am proud of it!
Double Bows by Nicholas_T.
P.S. The rainbow is a welcome sight after the rains. Not only because its colors of ROYGVIB teaches us about colors but more importantly, it reminds us of the promise of God that as long as we see the rainbow, He will not repeat what was done to the people during the time of Noah!

Friday, July 17, 2009


Lechon by Roberto Verzo.
"Many are getting sick" and "many are dying", I was told, not just once but many times, by some friends during the last few days. Indeed, it is true. News would come to me about an acquaintance who is sick and who had died. I would like to think that it is a regular grind of life; sickness and death comes to everyone specially to the elderly. But deep inside, something is telling me it is more than just the regular grind. There is a twist somewhere....I wonder what? This thought plummeted my reflective mind to investigate and analyze, not a ala Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes but a la Fr. Benny!
Grandma's Fried Chicken Wings by yauchan.
"Health is wealth." Very true. An actress was asked to choose between health and fame. She wisely chose health. She opined that with health, she can easily acquire fame. But the reverse is hard to achieve if not untrue. There are many factors to be healthy. I know that I am not a doctor and it is not my expertise. But I believe the following are important factors;
French Fries with Ketchup by Donnali.
Environment! Today's generation faces the challenge of coping with pollution caused primarily by the burning of fuel. Add to this the pollution emitted by garbage, residues, by-products etc. All of these had grown too much for the atmosphere to process. In the end, all creatures great and small will inhale them! The prevalence of respiratory diseases attest to this. A parent said that if one wants to be a doctor, he should specialize in respiratory diseases. He will be a millionaire in due time! ( And I thought it was to help the cause of respiratory patients!). I will not be far-fetched if I say that common diseases had become harder to treat and new ones had developed because of pollution. Or there will be a time when we will have to carry oxygen tanks on our back because the available oxygen in the atmosphere had become too thin or had disappeared!
Exercise! Oh yes, we do have a lot of gyms now. Going to the gym had in fact become a fad. They are not only full after office hours but throughout the day. People had suddenly become conscious of glandic hydro emission. (sweating or perspiring lang yan!). It is good for health. Then, it was a normal body activity. But the advent of air conditioned cars, malls, rooms, offices, supermarkets, and even bowling lanes etc. had made this regular body activity a rarity and a luxury! Now, one has to shell out thousand of pesos in order to avail of the services of a gym. That is not including the paraphernalia and proper gears even. Badminton had become popular if only due to its capacity to generate profuse sweating! Then, we walk to church, market, parks, school, and maybe even to the office! "Exercise" was part of the daily activities. Sweating was acceptable! People then were more active and has more "galaw galaw".
Aladdin Buffet Desserts by FrogMiller.
Rest! By virtue of the demands of daily activities, rest now is optional if not unnecessary. While offices close at five, activities continue not anymore through the wee hours but twenty four hours! Now, we have twenty-four hour stores, restaurants, gasoline stations, offices, markets, etc. Then, only hospitals, police stations, fire stations and other utility establishments operate non-stop. The availability of whole day cable television and Internet made it worst! Sleep had become relative. Rest had become again not a necessity but a luxury. Work! Work! Work! Play! Play! Play!....Rest? Rest? Rest? Today, either we are eating, watching, playing, or shopping! If you notice, malls had dominated the city. Almost all places, even the least strategic ones had already been invaded by the malls. Before, mall owners would first consider if the place has so many clients who frequent them. Now, all you have to do is basically find a location and build the mall. People will come to the malls. Malls create the need of people. The consumerist attitude of people is a weakness that mall developers seize to establish their business. I wonder how many malls we have in Metro Manila alone???
Genes! This, the next generation could not do so much about. That is why the generating generation should strive to have a good one for the the benefit of the receiving generation. Medical findings had proven in a lot of ways that many of our sickness were congenital or hereditary. We inherit them form our parents or ancestors. While advances in medical capabilities had improved so much, there are still diseases that are beyond human control. That makes us always vulnerable. And that should be enough reason for us to be serious and generous in finding cures and preventive measures to respond to them.
Club 33 Desserts
Given all of the factors given above, I believe, the one really crucial factor then, now and in the future is food! There is so much truth in the saying, "You are what you eat!"The food we intake becomes part of our body. If our body could (and it has the unique and amazing capacity to do so) process them well, then good for us. But if our body systems could not cope with the demands of the food we eat, the problem begins. The field of medicine had been very busy coping with the arrival and developments of sickness in our generation. Younger people are now afflicted with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer, organ failures, and other diseases which were normally mostly found in elders. With due respect to the existing gastronomic centers, the food that are being served nowadays are sickness generators more than health developers. A great percentage of food offered now are cooked in oil which contains a lot of fats (of all kinds!). Others are just too sweet or too salty. I empathize with young children now who grow up eating fast food products. Fast food restos had become popular because they are easily available aside from the fact that they had become cheaper. Other restos also follow by relying on taste, looks, presentations, and uniqueness and sacrificing quality and healthy offerings in order to lure patrons. Eating now has become a fad, status quo, and a "show" rather than nutrition! Unfortunately for us, the food that we eat would hit back through its effect in our bodies.
I could go on and on, but it will boil down to the same point; our food now is unhealthy. This maybe the reason why there is a "movement" to the production and patronizing of organic food. Organics are produced from ingredients that are "natural" and are free of chemicals. They are supposed to be healthy. But then again, we are not sure. Even fish and vegetables are now with unwanted chemical elements due to the absorption of the same from the soil and water which were recipients of previous interactions. In other words, it is now very hard to find an ingredient that is chemical-free! At most, we hope what we eat or produce has the least amount of these destructive chemicals.

The Food Pyramid

So, where do we go from here? Participants to all of these must stop for a while and think about the effect of what they are doing to the present and succeeding generation. Rather than think of getting much profit, they should reconsider lessening it and strive to provide everyone with the best healthy food they could give without sacrificing their investment. Government, by virtue of its controlling power should assert it by providing laws and guidelines that will insure the availability and production of only healthy food. People, on the other hand, should patronize these cooperative restos and food establishments. Let us join hands for our sake and the sake of the next generation. remember, "we eat to live and not live to eat!"

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

On The "Old" Or The "Elderly".

( I took this story from the book of Henri Nouwen, "Aging, The Fulfillment Of Life". He said this is an old Balinese legend which gives a strong message about how present society treats the old and the importance of imparting to our children the treasures of our generation.)

"It is said that once upon a time the people of a remote mountain village used to sacrifice and eat their old men. A day came when there was not a single old man left, and the traditions were lost. They wanted to build a great house for the meetings of the assembly, but when they came to look at the tree-trunks that had been cut for that purpose no one could tell the top from the bottom: if the timber were placed the wrong way up, it would set off a series of disasters. A young man said that if they promised never to eat the old men any more, he would be able to find a solution. They promised. He brought his grandfather, whom he had hidden; and the old man taught the community to tell top from bottom!"

Monday, July 6, 2009

Another Faith Story

"Jesus Healing the Leper, 1864" Giclee Print
Once after a healing mass in a chapel in Makati, I was approached by two couples to ask for the healing of the wives. Both wives had terminal illnesses. I asked them if they have faith that God will give them the healing grace they need. They replied "yes" and I proceeded to lay my hands on both women and asked God to give them His blessings and healing. Both couples left immediately after the healing session. Since then, I went about doing my daily ministry and had forgotten that healing of the two women. Until I got a call one evening from one of the husbands. He introduced himself and I remembered him and his ailing wife. I asked him why he called. He told me that he was calling to thank me for the healing of his wife. His wife had been to the doctor yesterday and she was declared completely free from the sickness. He said it was a miracle! I told him that it was God's healing power and their faith in God that brought the healing and that he should go to the church and offer prayers of thanksgiving. He agreed and promised to offer prayers of thanksgiving. He said that one of these days, he and his wife would visit me to thank me personally. I replied that they need not inconvenience themselves but if they so desire, I would be happy to meet them again.

Some months passed and I got another call in the middle of the day. The man from the other line introduced himself as one of the couples who approached me in one of the healing masses I did in a chapel in Makati. I said I remember him and his wife and even told him about the other couple who was with them. I also told him about the good news of the healing of the other wife. He was happy to know about the healing of the woman and he told me that the reason he called was also because of the healing of his wife. "Wow!", I told myself, "Another healing?"I was very excited to know the healing. So I asked him what happened. He narrated what happened since that day. He told me they went home and had a very peaceful sleep. Day after day they would continue to pray and visit the doctor for updates in her sickness. But she grew worse. The sickness had affected her other organs and she was growing weak. All the time, I thought the story is more dramatic and big! Then he said that his wife was finally hospitalized and they were told that she would die anytime. Suddenly I felt weak. I thought he was going to tell me about the healing of his wife. Suddenly I was afraid of what he would say next. There was silence between us. Then when he had gathered all the courage he could get, he told me that his wife had died. But, before she died, she had gone to confession and had received Holy Communion. Apparently, his wife, at some point had lost faith in God. But the healing session brought back her faith, His wife felt loved not only by God but by everyone. She had a happy death. He was happy for her. She may not have the physical healing she was asking, but she was given a better healing. She was healed spiritually. She died in the grace of God. Her faith wrought her not healing of body but healing of soul!

It would not be fair to compare the two healings. It would be easy to say that the spiritual healing is better. Yes, by some standards it is better. But the physical healing is still a sign of God's grace. The physically healed may still transform it to spiritual healing. The more important point is that faith heals in the sense that it opens us fully to Gods graces. Life of faith is the constant disposing ourselves to God. When we do, we have allowed God's unlimited powers to enter our limited being.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

True Faith, Saving Faith!

True faith means fully entrusting one's life to God. No "ifs", no "buts". This is not easy. This is not just saying "I believe." or "I love You, Lord!" It entails the real and actual surrender of the will, mind, memory, and everything held to God. That relationship with God is what will open us up to everything He can do for us. Otherwise, we have made ourselves close and indisposed before God. God can not do anything for us. Yes, that is the "limitation" of God if we can call it as such!

This was clearly shown in the Gospel today, the fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B). Jesus went back to His native place of Nazareth to visit his kinsfolk and also to preach the Good News there. He meant to do everything there including curing the sick and other relevant and necessary miracles. In the beginning, the people were astonished as to what He said. But their familiarity with Him, His parents, and His "brothers" and "sisters" bred contempt! His fellow Nazoreans were blinded by their knowledge of Him and His family. Suddenly they questioned His credibility. They asked how He could say and do all those things! This resulted to their blindness of who He is. Further, it resulted to their lack of faith in Him. The worst consequence was He could not do any more miracles for them save for some! Jesus was amazed at their lack of faith! This is something very big. Jesus amazed? For anyone to amaze Jesus, it must be grand. And this happened in Nazareth. Unfortunately, the amazement was a negative one; lack of faith! Jesus had travelled in so many places and most probably, He had never seen any place with such a lack of faith, in His native place at that!

From Jesus' native place, we shift the focus to our faith. It follows that f God is to be effective in us, we must have that faith in God; it is an entrusting of our lives in the hands of God. In our present situation, are we on that level yet? Had we arrive at a point when it is God who determines everything in our life? Every Sunday, at least, we profess our faith in God, but is it effective and real too in our lives? There was this parishioner who asked his pastor if indeed "Faith moves mountains!". The pastor said "Yes, of course! With God, nothing is impossible for those who have faith!" The parishioner went home and seeing his neighbor's fruit rich mango tree, decided to test his faith. He wanted to move the mango tree from his neighbor's yard to his. So, he concentrated on mustering his faith. He closed his eyes, focused on God and his faith and willed that the mango tree be transferred to his yard. He was perspiring and shaking in concentration. He was praying and uttering words of praise and petition to God. He was summoning his great faith in God that the mango tree will be moved to his place. When he was certain he had arrived at perfect expression of faith, he slowly opened his eyes to see the result. Lo and behold! The mango tree was still in his neighbor's yard! It remained where it was! Then he said to himself, "I thought so!" ("Sabi ko na nga ba eh!"). 

All along he doubted God. All along, he was lacking in faith! The promised miracle did not happen. The miracle will not happen because there was lack of faith. We have to admit that this had happened to us a lot of times. We believed we have that full faith. We apply it to our lives. And when it did not or nothing happened, we say, "I thought so!" or similar words of doubt all along. The so called "limitation" of God was not really about Him not being able to do what He wanted to do but about us not allowing Him to do it to us. God always invites in love and man must respond in faith. Without that faith-response, there is no communication with God. Without the faith response, God's graces could not be received. In all the miracles of Jesus, Jesus would always ask the person if he has faith in Him or Jesus would praise the person for having faith.

Hopefully, next time, Jesus would still be amazed not because of our lack of faith but because of the fullness of our faith. Not because He would be able to do all the miracles we need, but that the main grace of salvation will be received by everyone. What greater miracle is there than the miracle of being saved! And what greater event would there be than receiving that miracle of salvation!