Friday, April 17, 2009

Seasonal holiness

(This column appears in today's edition of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

Hi there! It’s another weekend. Holy week came and went and what do we have? Let me suggest some answers. Take your pick:
  1. Faithful believers with their renewed (or is it re-invigorated?) faith after contemplating on the sufferings of Christ;
  2. The weary ones thanks to days of partying, swimming and what have you in various vacation destinations; or
  3. The ones from a parish in Calbayog who are weary, thanks to a very nice pastor or priest, the good (?) deeds or words of whom is one for the record books of both the tsimosas and historians (?) of Calbayog. Oops, I’ll keep my mouth shut on this one (for now, anyway). Which leads me to today’s title.

Forgive me but I looked at the recent holy week break as just that – a break. As a time for us to pause and ponder upon the suffering of Christ and in a way put it upon ourselves and in our dealings with our fellowmen being the believers of God (well, for a week at least). And after Easter? Trust me, many among us are into our usual not-so-good selves, myself included (on top of the list, if I may add). Do we call that seasonal holiness? Something akin to the seasonal generosity that many of us are into during the Christmas season? Be that as it may, it’s nice to have these breaks. Human as we are, we can never have things perfect. If our bodies need a break, so do our souls. But then again, a question hangs in the air. What if some of the so-called guardians of our souls need some guidance (or need to be guarded) themselves. Suddenly I’m reminded of that line (better said in latin): “who will guard the guardian themselves”.

* * *

Let’s pan our sights to other events. After the summit that never was, the Thai Prime Minister declared a few days as public holidays due to protests. Now that’s certainly a new way to ask for a holiday. What if one day we get too lazy to report to work, would a protest be a solution? (Smile it’s a weekend)

So Obama has undertaken his first overseas trip. I understand he was there for a NATO summit or something like that. Sorry, I got too busy paying attention on Michelle Obama, Carla Bruni and the Queen of England. Alas, (move over you military-clad septuagenarian North Koreans) not even the threat of a rocket launch could take the attention away from the three ladies. Yup, it seemed like people paid more attention on the Queen getting cozy with Michelle; and Michelle and Carla and their fashion sense over the North Koreans (well, the presence of their leader is a different thing). Can’t blame them. With so much trouble happening and bad images cropping up in this world, it’s nice to watch interesting people once in a while.

And on the local front. They hit the local headlines days ago. Just the same I’m itching to ask, “Are they running?” I mean Secretary Gilbert Teodoro and Senator Richard Gordon. Their squabble over the ICRC hostage made Mar Roxas’ legacy issue pale in comparison. But please don’t mention that PD cab AD.

* * *

The 6-month supplemental feeding program of some folks in Barangay Binaliw will officially end today. It is one of the successful supplemental feeding programs undertaken in Calbayog. Among its prime movers is a good friend Ms. Edil Romano – Alegria. They have invited some city officials and department managers to today’s event. I’ll give you more details about program in my next column.

* * *

The Calbayog Diocesan Synod. The second Synod of the Diocese of Calbayog commenced last Tuesday. The event opened at with an 8:00-a.m. Mass at the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral. The said mass was presided over by Bishop Isabelo Abarquez.

After the Eucharistic celebration, some 140 delegates from all parishes of the diocese proceeded to the St. Vincent De Paul Seminary in Barangay Dagum. They will stay there until tomorrow Saturday, April 18, 2009. The delegates are expected to deliberate on policies of various concerns to the diocese.

The synod is expected to come up with a book or set of documents or policies which will be implemented all over the Diocese of Calbayog a month after its 100th Anniversary Celebration on April 10, 2010.

This year's Diocesan synod would have been the third. The second synod supposedly took place during the term of Bishop Sofronio Hacbang, the second bishop of Calbayog (1923- 1937). But in the absence of official documents, said synod remains in question.

The first Calbayog Diocesan Synod happened sometime in 1912.

* * *

The CKC – Jose Gomez Orchestra opens its 2009 concert season with a concert at the Poor Clare Monastery Chapel tomorrow afternoon.

* * *

A new lawyer for Calbayog. Congratulations to Angiebel Abuela Divinagracia who passed the recent Bar Exam. Atty. Divinagracia is a member of La Milagrosa Academy Class 1999.

* * *

This is it for now. Have a nice weekend everyone! Ciao!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Holy Week in my Hometown (2)

(This column appears in today's edition of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

Hi there! Happy Easter everyone! I was supposed to give you something last Good Friday but I never made it. Anyway, here I go. You must have noticed it, the church have always regarded the cross as a symbol of triumph of Christ. I think it is only during Palm Sunday (and Good Friday?) that we get to witness a graphic (dramatic, if I may add) presentation of the suffering of Christ. More reason for us to pause and ponder upon what made the preceding week holy.

Let me continue my feature on holy week in Calbayog City. As with the past years, the Good Friday service at the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral began (on the dot) at 1 pm with the siete palabras. Priests from the parish and the nearby parishes took turns to reflect on the seven last words.

Old folks fondly recall that many years ago this activity ended with some sort of reenactment of the death of Jesus. Someone would say a line (supposedly the last line uttered by the Lord) and on cue, a parish worker in charge would pull a cord and the head of the crucified Christ (yup, the one with a movable head which one finds in the left wing of top of what used to be tombs of Calbayog’s first two bishops) moves or bows down portraying the death of the Lord and it always gave goosebumps to many parishioners. Alas, things can never go perfect. I’d like to recall this kwentong barbero about one particular Good Friday service in the city many years ago. The person in charge missed the cue, and forgot about pulling the cord and the head of the crucified Christ did not move. The (cue) line cannot be uttered again, so how did they do it? Someone supposedly called (‘twas more of a loud whisper) the name of the person in charge and said, “tiwasi na!” Ahh, Filipinos indeed can always make something light out of anything they go through. And yes, I experienced something akin to that myself a few years ago. There was this guy who I presumed was inspired by the crucifixions of folks in Luzon or maybe in his effort to do penitensya, had himself crucified. And there he hanged on his cross somewhere in Rawis. It was some kinda sight to behold until he called on some of his companions, nope not to reenact the seven last words, but to ask for ice water.

And what is Good Friday without the procession? There were at least 14 corrozas that went around the city last Friday and it included the carrozas that have always fascinated me as these are the ones I grew up with, so to speak.

An carro san Señor” is how members of the Gomez family refer to the more than a century old life-size image of Christ tied and scourged on the pillar. Originally part of a set of 5 images (from Mexico) which included a centurion, the image of the Señor tied to a pillar was all that’s left after the Gomez family evacuated during the last world war.

There was the one owned by the Rosales Family. It is the one depicting the third fall of Jesus. Life-size images of Christ on the ground with a big cross on his back and at least four hudeyos with their glaring eyes are my earliest images of the suffering of Christ.

The Santo Intierro of the Sarmiento Family (or is it the Ignacio or Bernardo family, now I'm not sure), for whatever reason, is always the most popular among the mass goers. On top of many people taking time to touch its feet, its decors and flowers always get plucked even just halfway through the procession.

The image of the Dolorosa or the Sorrowful Mother gives some kinda eerie twist to Good Friday when it goes on procession in the middle of the night. It goes through the silent streets of Calbayog with the recitation of the rosary blaring and the moon peeping over the horizon.

These are some of the memories or the stuff that holy weeks are made of in my hometown, and I guess in everybody’s hometown. Let’s not even start discussing on how the people in Boracay or other resorts fared last weekend. Be that as it may, at the end of the day, it takes more than the color, rituals and pageantry that our religious traditions are made of. I guess it takes ourselves as individuals not only taking part in the activities for the sake of following tradition, but to take time to pause and ponder upon the greatest gift that the Almighty has provided us. And in doing so, to take time to ponder on the sad fact (or is it reality) that love and peace, despite being the most overused words there is, are also the most elusive in this world.

* * *

This is it for now. Happy Easter everyone! Ciao!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Holy Week in my hometown

(This column appears in today's edition of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

Hi there! It’s Holy Monday! I tried checking my (first) blog for my entries during last year’s Holy Week celebration and this is what I found. I have made it a point to have the same feature each time Holy Week comes, and that is to recall in my own little the semana santa tradition that is Calbayog City.

I did not watch any religious movie this time. But I’m contemplating on Cecil de Mille’s epic Ten Commandments, the scene where the sea parted still excites me, the Discovery channel’s documentary on Moses notwithstanding.

Holy Week is different things to different people. Whatever one is into, it’s nice to note that even just for a few days, we are all given to the opportunity to contemplate upon the greatest gift that is the life of the Son of God. As to those who are to hit the beaches and other tour sites this week, well . . .

* * *

Semana Santa. Days ago, the images of the saints at the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral were covered with violet cloth and it will stay that way until the Easter vigil. As with the rest of the Catholic world, Domingo De Ramos ushers in Holy Week in Calbayog. This year, the traditional blessing of the palms took a different twist, well at least the time of the day when it was done. Traditionally done early morning at the Julio Cardinal Rosales Plaza, the ceremony with the Bishop and the faithful going in procession around the plaza was done at 5:00 in the afternoon. Be that as it may, the Palm Sunday activities set the tone for the next few days on to the Easter triduum. On a personal note, this is always the busiest week for the past so many years. And for many generations of Calbayognons, Calbayog’s observance of her Lenten traditions is always one reason to come back to one’s hometown in Holy Week. Well, on top of swimming in Malajog on Easter Sunday, of course.

On Holy Thursday, the image of the Dolorosa (on the left wing of the cathedral) will give way to the monumento which will be the object of veneration of the faithful from 6:00 pm until noon of Good Friday. The 12 persons (usually members of the K of C) who were selected as this year’s apostoles will have their feet washed by the Bishop. Old folks fondly refer to the ceremony as pamosa san mga apostoles. That ceremony used to have one old lady – apparently on a panata – go up the altar and hand out small bags with coins to the apostoles. We missed that old lady last year. Later at the parish rectory, they will have their dinner – ala last supper - with the bishop. I was once a part of this “ritual”. The bishop seated at the center with the twelve apostles on both sides. So was it a good dinner? I dunnow. Try to imagine having dinner while lectors take turns in reading a good number of gospel passages and a choir sings psalms in between. Then at exactly 8 pm, it was time for the jubileo, that saying of the rosary while in procession around the Cathedral and going in and out of it, yes, through all its doors. (to be continued…)

* * *

A funeral. Mrs. Lourdes “Dayday” Catalan - Soria was laid to rest last Wednesday. The funeral was preceded by a 10:00 am Mass at the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral. The said mass was presided over by Bishop Isabelo Abarquez. Concelebrating with him were Msgr. Jun Cinco, Fr. Mika Aguilar, Fr. Tony Mahinay, Fr. Noel Abiertas, Fr. Johny Papel, Fr. Dondon Paulino and Fr. Mando Cagomoc.

A short necrological service followed. Mana Dayday was eulogized by her grandson Limuel Cabañas, Board Member Charlie Coñejos, Mayor Mel Sarmiento, Congressman Reynaldo Uy and Mr. Tito Soria.

The Bugto Association Choir sang during the Funeral Mass. Boboy and Naty Biliran sang Mana Dayday's favorite songs "Somewhere", "Sana'y Wala Nang Wakas", "Ikaw" and "Mama" during the necrological service.

* * *

We have our own memories or images of Holy Week in our hometowns. Whatever these are, it boils down to one thing. I believe that holy week have always been declared as a holiday, a long one at that, for us to spend some holy days before the big celebration which is Easter.

* * *

This is it for now. Have a holy week everyone! Ciao!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Of Filipinos maids and what have you

(This column appears in today's edition of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

Hi there! We’re in for another long weekend before another long weekend (parang redundant ‘no?), what with Araw ng Kagitingan being moved to April 6. So what is there to celebrate about kagitingan? Okey, I expect some quarters to give out speeches on love for country and the like. Well, I think I’ll say yes to that, especially so during these times, and nope, I’m not referring to the economic crisis, but Filipino-bashing again, this time thanks to Chip Tsao (But he has already apologized, or so said the news).

So what about him? Let’s not even start discussing, blaming or defending the government about the usual economic-mess-thus-no work-at-home-we-work-abroad stuff. The Chip Tsao feat is not the first and certainly not the last that we Filipinos will suffer. I am tempted to call it an occupational hazard (what am I saying?). Anyway, that’s on top of the racist attitudes that many nationalities are into or are born into. Suddenly I remember that email asking “What if one day all Filipinos didn’t show up for work?” Certainly, the world - from the U.N. to the Vatican - will turn upside down (Oops, mukhang naging o.a. ang reaction ko. Smile, it’s a weekend.) Seriously, it hurts but c’mon let them live in their own fantasy (or whatever) worlds. And whoever gets to sit as President of the country of Juan De La Cruz, many Filipinos will still go abroad to work. Let us find inspiration in the fact that the Filipinos cleaning toilets, doing the money market abroad or entertaining newly-weds and near-deads in cruise liners and hotels help make a difference in the lives of many Filipinos back home, Filipino-bashing notwithstanding. Do I have to mention that they help keep the Philippine economy afloat? And again, they will do that whoever gets to sit as President, well, at least in my lifetime.

* * *

Exactly a week ago today, Mayor Mel Senen Sarmiento was in Barangay Migara for an early morning graduation program. He was on hand for the First Commencement Exercises of the Migara High School (or officially the Migara Campus of the Calbayog City National High School).

It was no ordinary commencement exercises. Migara is an interior barangay of Calbayog. It is located in the Lower Happy Valley area of Calbayog (2nd) District. Opened during the first semester of school year 2005 - 2006, the Migara High School produced her first set of graduates which numbered 58. The pioneering class was headed by the Class Valedictorian Caroline Dumpit.

With Mayor Sarmiento were Calbayog City Schools Superintendent Editha Paculan and the Migara High School teaching staff headed by Karen Yu.

If plans will materialize, the said campus will be independent from the Calbayog City National High School by June 2009.

* * *

DILG Calbayog recently conducted a special Conference on Peace and Security Concerns for the Punong Barangays of Calbayog City.

The activity was designed to enable participants to provide support in solving the problem on illegal drugs and substances abuse. It aimed at having the participants:
  • Consider illegal drugs and substance abuse as a priority concern;
  • Organize the Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Councils (BADACs) in their respective barangays;
  • Monitor and report places in barangays where there is sale or use of illegal drugs and other substances;
  • Coordinate with PDEA and PNP authorities in its operations against illegal drugs;
  • Provide the necessary assistance and cooperation from operations to prosecution of illegal drugs cases.

Topics during the Special Conference were:

  1. Peace and Security: A Priority Concern for the City of Calbayog;
  2. Salient Features of RA 9165: Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002;
  3. The State of Illegal Drug Use in the City of Calbayog;
  4. MC No. 2009-09: Unified Action Against Illegal Drugs and Other Substances;
  5. Organization of the Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Councils;
  6. Message of Support from the Sangguniang Panlungsod

Discussants included Mayor Mel Senen Sarmiento, Vice Mayor Ronaldo Aquino, Calbayog Police Chief PSupt Lito T Bigoy, DILG Calbayog City Director Valente P. Bajet, CDAPRO’s Clarita Oliver and Ms. Cielito Adelaine Peñaflor.

* * *

Courtesy Call. Yesterday, Mayor Mel Senen Sarmiento received seven Police Commissioned Officers from Leyte and Eastern Samar. They are PInsp Alfredo A. Espina, PInsp Eric L. Leuterio, PInsp Glenn D. Petilla, PInsp Miguelito N. Bocade, PInsp Francisco A. Tupaz, Jr., PInsp Allan T. Novales, PInsp Michael N. Oraller.

They will be serving Calbayog as part of their Field Training Program from March 25, 2009 to September 30, 2009.

The Police Officers were accompanied by Calbayog Police Chief PSupt Lito Bigoy during the courtesy call.

* * *

Belated birthday greeting to Fr. Jun Jungco, ofm (March 31) and Fr. Noel Labendia (April 1).

* * *

Wedding Bells. Rommel Prudente and Shanta Montealto got married last Friday. The wedding mass was held at the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral. Reception was at the Centennial Pastoral Center.

* * *

This is it for now. Have a nice weekend everyone! Ciao!

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