Friday, April 30, 2010

The First of May

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

Hi there! It’s another long weekend, thanks to PGMA’s holiday economics; and yes, we are 10 days away to the election. Nope, today’s title is not about the famous Bee Gees song which I happen to love very much. It’s just my way of highlighting the holiday that is Labor Day which is the reason why many of us (read: the working classes like me and some of you) can afford to oversleep this coming Monday.

Let me give you something which I always feature in this column each time Labor Day comes. Why do we have to refrain from work (or labor if I may say) on the day that is designated for labor (redundant ba?)? Anyway, if my memory serves me right, my soc sci lesson taught me that a good number of countries are into Labor Day tomorrow (May 1), save for some countries, the U.S. of A included (which celebrates Labor Day in September). Today’s commemoration stemmed from a picket or workers’ strike which was violently dispersed. And this happened in the country which supposedly stands for democracy a.k.a. the land of Uncle Sam.

On the other hand, we’re in for the merry month of May; ngan patrun yana sa Brgy. San Policarpo, the biggest barangay in Calbayog. Well, aside from May 1 being a time for us to salute the laborers, it’s also ushers in that time (or season) for house-hopping for feasting, drinking and what have you. Needless to say, the first day of May also ushers in the fiesta season in the country. The merry month of May is always made colorful by the decor; made heavy by the loads of cholesterol and alcohol; and made especially more exciting every three years thanks to the election, which incidentally happens this year. Well, purists (and the like) will remind us that fiestas also mean novena masses and sponsors and what have you. But certainly, adding more spice is the election season (or is it seasoning? Smile! It’s a weekend). Hmm, happy days are indeed here again.

* * *

Local news. PDEA is set to open its satellite office in Calbayog City. This after PDEA RO-8 Director Julius Navales formally accepted the office space offered by Mayor Mel Sarmiento. PD Navales was in the City last Monday for the simple turn-over ceremony which was attended by Mayor Mel Sarmiento. The program also included a ribbon-cutting at the future PDEA satellite office located at the Calbayog City Sports Center premises. Also in attendance were Calbayog PNP Chief PSupt Ramil Ramirez and Deputy Police Chief PSupt Nestor Valenzuela.

The City Health Office (CHO) on Monday conducted the Ceremonial Launching of the Pandemic H1N1 Vaccination in Calbayog City. The simple ceremony which was attended by Mayor Mel Sarmiento was held at the City Hall Stage immediately after the flag-raising ceremony. Dr. Eufemia Alcantara, DOH Representative gave the program rationale. The two personalities who received the voluntary first shots of the Pandemic H1N1 vaccine were CHO Officer-in-Charge Dr. Sylvia De Guzman, and Dr. Mario Casera, the former City Health Officer now with the CHO as a Contractual Service employee assigned at the Oquendo Main Health Center.

The official ballots for the May 10, 2010 election in Calbayog has arrived. Assistant City Treasurer Evelyn Junio on Wednesday (April 28, 2010) received 210 boxes containing the official ballots for the 210 clustered precincts in the two districts of Calbayog. The boxes are now stored at the City Treasurer's Office lobby. PNP officers have been assigned to provide security in the area.

* * *

New CKC President. The Christ the King College community on Tuesday bid farewell to their College President Fr. Prisco Cajes, ofm. Fr. Cajes will be assigned to Davao. Taking his place as the new CKC President is the former Director, Fr. Mar Tubac, ofm. Fr. Tubac is expected to be in Calbayog next week.

* * *

Sarah Geronimo in Live in Calbayog! Great Times Events and Tours owner and manager Salve Uyloan recently signed a contract with Mr. Vic Del Rosario of VIVA Records. This is for the concert of Sarah Geronimo slated on September 7, 2010 at the Calbayog City Sports Center.

* * *

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

Friday, April 23, 2010

Jean Reni De Guzman

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

Hi there! It’s another weekend and we are 17 days away to the election. So what do we have today? Forget about Goldman Sachs, that venerable institution is sure to weather the recent crisis (or investigation) to hit it. And that Iceland volcano disrupting travel plans. Just another proof how vulnerable we are when mother nature is in the mood to flex her muscles. As to some political issues this election season, oh well . . .

* * *

So, what’s with today’s title? You might want to ask. Having a name for a column title was the only thing that came to mind when I thought about ways to introduce Calbayog’s new source of pride.

A young Calbayognon will have the honor to represent the Philippines in the 2010 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) which will be held in San Jose, California, U.S.A.

Jean Reni B. De Guzman, a resident of Barangay San Policarpo and a graduate of the Philippine Science High School (PSHS) - Eastern Visayas Campus will join seven other young people from Palo (Leyte), Tagum City and Cabadbaran City in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair on May 9-14, 2010.

The project which Jean Reni will be presenting together with his teammates Maria Clara Isable Sia and Marc Mapalo is entitled "Use of Natural Flocculants in Mitigation of Harmful Algai Blooms". To put it simply, their project has something to do with an intervention preventing the occurrence of Red tide as the algae aggregates and sinks at the bottom of the body of water (or something to that effect. My apologies, I'm poor with scientific terms and the like).

Jean Reni is 16 years old. He won the First Place in the 13th Intel National Science and Engineering Fair recently held in Quezon City.

* * *

Earth Day in Calbayog. The City Government of Calbayog through the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) observed Earth Day 2010.
As per information provided by CENRO OIC Lorenzo Ras, Jr., the following activities were or will be spearheaded by the CENRO:
  • Campaign for signatures in support of the "10 million signatures to improve Mother Earth Project".
  • Information dissemination aimed at promoting awareness on the significance of Earth Day celebration and the call to protect Mother Earth will be conducted throughout all the barangays of Calbayog.
  • synchronized tree-planting activity was done in the following areas yesterday:
    o Mangrove tree-planting in the coastal barangays of Tinambacan District.
    o Mangrove tree-planting at Barangay Rawis, Barangay Bagacay and Barangay Carayman.
    o Mangrove tree-planting in Barangay West Awang.
    o Coastal clean-up in Barangay West Awang.
    o Roadside tree-planting at the Diversion Road (Barangay Dagum) with the CENRO and the City Social Welfare and Development Office personnel.
    o Roadside tree-planting in Barangay Sinidman and Barangay Cagbilwang in Oquendo.

This year's Earth Day celebration is anchored on the theme: "HAMON NG PANAHON: CLIMATE CHANGE, 10 MILYONG SOLUSYON (Kilos na! Ngayon na!)"

* * *

Wedding Bells. Congratulation and Best Wishes to Gerardo “Badz” Mendoza and Merry Jane “Jing” Bergonio. They will get married tomorrow. Fr. Dndon Paulino will preside over their wedding mass at the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral. Reception will be at the Centennial Pastoral Center.

* * *

Sarah Geronimo in Live in Calbayog! Great Times Events and Tours owner and manager Salve Uyloan recently signed a contract with Mr. Vic Del Rosario of VIVA Records. This is for the concert of Sarah Geronimo slated on September 7, 2010 at the Calbayog City Sports Center.

* * *

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

Monday, April 19, 2010

A post script of sorts

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

Hi there! It’s a new week and we are on the 9th day of our count-up to the next hundred years of the Diocese of Calbayog. Surely it’s nice to be back. Yup, I got so loaded I forgot about my columns days before and after the Centennial celebration. One way or the other, that event was a success. In the words of Bishop Abarquez, it was result of the collaboration of talents, resources and time of all concerned in the Diocese of Calbayog.

My first p.s. The dust has settled. The Nuncio, the Bishops and the guests have left. It’s the faithful of Calbayog by themselves again to face the realities of life. The realities which have characterized and will characterize the lives of the Samareños. Where we go next and how we get there is everybody’s guess. Many words were said during the homilies and speeches in the liturgical events and programs during the centennial week. One thing worth noting was the reminder of Bishop Soc Villegas about the event and the elections. The good bishop noted how the event fell exactly a month before the May 10 polls. He also reminded the faithful that the election is the (only) chance (or means) for us to instill the much-needed change in society.
More than elections, poverty, politics and what have you, let us always remember what the Diocese of Calbayog has been through. While we all relish to recall happy moments in our lives, let us always remember that only a couple of years ago crises struck the diocese which almost led the Vatican to demoted Calbayog to a mere titular diocese. I hope the celebration did strike a chord in the faithful of Calbayog. That it may serve to inspire all the faithful to move for a more vibrant church. Certainly, it’s a small price on our part to give to this institution of faith that inspired, cared, guided and sustained us in the past 100 years.

* * *

Let me give you another p.s. It’s my holy week p.s. It’s something for my column after Easter, but thanks to the centennial celebration I completely forgot about it. Anyway, it’s my other way of looking at some holy week traditions in my hometown. I guess I call it my lighter way if looking at these tradition or stories of old.

Old folks fondly recall that many years ago the siete palabras at the cathedral 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.

Seriously, we have our own memories or images of Holy Week in our hometown. 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.

* * *

Election season. Seen in town on Thursday last week was Kris Aquino who campaigned for Noynoy. Also in town minutes before Kris’ arrival was Bayani Fernando who was aboard a transformer truck with his wife, Marikina Mayor Marides Fernando. Last Tuesday, Vice Presidential candidate Perfecto Yasay was in Calbayog with senatoriable Alex Tinsay.

* * *

Congratulation and Best Wishes to Estanislao “Islaw” Tarrayo and Adoracion “Doring” Tarrayo. They will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary tomorrow. Their renewal of vows will be held at the Holy Infant Parish Church in Oquendo. Reception will be held in Brgy. Jose Roño.

* * *

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

Friday, April 9, 2010

100th Birthday

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

Hi there! It’s another weekend and this line is all over the place: “100 years of Journey, Celebration and Hope”. That’s the theme of the Centennial celebration of the Diocese of Calbayog which will happen tomorrow April 10, 2010.

Let me begin today’s column with some historical tidbit from the Calbayog coffeetable book. It’s on Calbayog as sede of a new diocese.

“. . . The new civil order ushered in a new ecclesiastical order. On April 10, 1910, Pope St. Pius X (by virtue of the consistorial Decree Novas Erigere Dioceses) separated the islands of Samar and Leyte from the Diocese of Cebu and created a new diocese. Calbayog was designated as sede (or seat) of this new diocese.”

* * *

I suppose the people of Calbayog (and of Samar for that matter) will take a break from the election season in observance of the Centennial celebration. Let me devote today’s column to the various activities in line with the celebration.

The Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Joseph Edward Adams will lead the Centennial Thanksgiving Mass at 10:00 am tomorrow at the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral. He is expected to arrive at 8:oo am at the Calbayog airport where he will be accorded planeside honors. Bishop Isabelo Abarquez and Mayor Mel Sarmiento will lead church and government officials in meeting the Nuncio. After the airport ceremonies, a motorcade will convey the nuncio to the Centennial Pastoral Center to prepare for the Centennial Thanksgiving Mass. The Eucharistic celebration will be followed by a luncheon at the Calbayog City Sports Center.

For today (April 9, 2010), events include the following:
  • 8:00 am - 3:30 pm: The Congress of the Clergy which will be held at the NwSSU Socio-Cultural Center. This will be presided over by Archbishop Soc Villegas
  • 4:00 pm: 9th Novena Mass & Episcopal Coronation of the Blessed Mother at the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral. Archbishop Soc Villegas will be joined in by other bishops in this celebration.
  • 5:00 pm: Grand Centennial Procession
  • 7:00 pm: Diocesan Centennial Awards and Cultural Night (Calbayog City Sports Center)

Other activities which included novena masses, reflections and catechisms were held in various parishes all over the diocese since April 1, 2010. The Calbayog Clergy did two concerts. One at the St. Bartholomew Church in Catbalogan last Monday and the other one last Wednesday at the Calbayog City Sports Center.

Yesterday’s events included the Centennial inter-Diocesan Friendship Games was held at the Calbayog City Sports Center, St. Vincent de Paul Seminary and Joggers Basketball Court; the Opening of the Diocesan Museum at Centennial Pastoral Center; the Awarding of Centennial Inter-Diocesan Friendship Games winners; and the concert of the CKC-Jose Gomez Orchestra at the Calbayog City Sports Center.

* * *

The Diocesan Museum formally opened yesterday. Leading the ribbon-cutting were Archbishop Jose Palma, Ms. Agueda Chan and Monsignor Tony Petilla. Also present at the event were Bishop Isabelo Abarquez, Fr. Butcho Abujuela, Dr. Susie Bohol, Mr. Intoy Chan, Charo Cabardo, Boin Nicolasora and Nelson Petilla, among others.

* * *

This is it for now. We wish the faithful of the Diocese of Calbayog a very meaningful and successful Centennial Celebration! Have a nice weekend everyone! Ciao!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Holy Week in my hometown

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

Hi there! Happy Easter everyone! We are 5 days away to the Centennial celebration of the Diocese of Calbayog.
I think I’ll refer to this column as a Holy Week postscript. As I always do each time Holy Week comes, I make it a point to feature the semana santa tradition of Calbayog City. And if you are a regular reader of this column, you would have had read the same material at least four times. It’s not that I’m in no mood to write something about Calbayog, it’s my way of recalling the holy week that many of us grew up with.

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 (or were) given the opportunity to contemplate upon the greatest gift that is the life of the Son of God. As to those who had to hit the beaches and other tour sites last week, well . . .

* * *

Semana Santa. Last week, the images of the saints at the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral were covered with violet cloth and it stayed that way until the Easter vigil. As with the rest of the Catholic world, Domingo de Ramos ushered in Holy Week in Calbayog.

On Holy Thursday, the image of the Dolorosa (on the left wing of the cathedral) gave way to the monumento which was 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 had their feet washed by the Bishop. Old folks fondly refer to the ceremony as pamusa 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 for three years now.

After the Mass, the apostoles had their dinner – ala last supper - with the bishop at the parish rectory. I was once a part of this “ritual”. The bishop seated at the center with the twelve apostoles 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 ritual of saying of the rosary while in procession around the Cathedral and going in and out of it, yes, through all its doors.

Viernes Santo. As with the past years, the Good Friday service at the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral begun at 1 pm (but not necessarily on the dot) with the siete palabras where priests from the parish and the nearby parishes took turns to reflect on the seven last words. No need to mention that the cathedral pews already get occupied at noon.

And what is Good Friday without the procession? There were at least 14 carrozas that went around the city that day and it included the ones 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 is 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 Ignacio and Bernardo families, 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 went on procession in the middle of the night. It went through the silent streets of Calbayog with the recitation of the rosary blaring and the moon peeping over the horizon.

The celebration was capped by the Easter vigil which always begun with the Cathedral covered in darkness and the whole thing ended with the sugat.

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. Now, let’s not even start discussing on how the people in Boracay or other resorts fared last weekend (but honestly, I’m drooling). 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. Have a nice week everyone! Ciao!

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