Sunday, September 5, 2010

year of the Spirit

When we were preparing for the launching of the year of the Holy Spirit we were discussing what would be the appropriate symbol which will remind people of his presence.  When the year of Jesus Christ was launched we had no problems when it came to symbols.  When the cross was suggested it was immediately and unanimously approved.  Thus, we have crosses in the sanctuaries of all the churches in the archdiocese in no time. This time, however, the symbol for the Holy Spirit posed a problem.  One suggested that we launch it by releasing a dove.  However this was turned down for “releasing doves” (a pigeon actually) is associated more often with the struggle for freedom and peace in our country.  Though these are fruits of the Spirit we deemed it too limiting and too detached for the theme which is, “The Holy Spirit:  The life of the Church in the Home.” Another suggested lighting torches and candles representing the tongues of fire which came down on Pentecost.  However, that would require the parish priests in the different parishes of the archdiocese to put the fire department on standby during the launching.  It was too impractical.  What would we do then?  What would be the most appropriate sign to remind us of the Holy Spirit?  We ended our meeting with no solution in mind except a banner with the words “Holy Spirit” printed on it.  And for want of a better symbol we ended up with this banner in the cathedral. 

the sautana

This exhortation was given on the traditional prayer vigil for those who are to be invested with the cassock and surplice – a vigil dedicated to Mary. This is printed not just for our newly invested seminarian-parishioners, Virgilio Tolentino and Mark Hormigoso, but for the readers that we too may help these young men better appreciate their formation to the priesthood.

What does it mean to wear, to be invested with cassock and surplice? I would like to base my reflection with you from that perspective of the liturgy hoping that what you could not show in physical size you would demonstrate in your bigness of heart and strength of their character.

In the liturgy the sautana and the roquete or their ancient version, the alb symbolizes three things.

vocation 2

Gina was an idealistic and religious young lady.  She grew up in God-fearing family which counts among its members a cousin who became a priest and two aunts who became nuns.  She looked to them as her models and little by little an attraction for the religious life grew -  from an inkling to an overwhelming desire. She dreamed about it.  She imagined herself with the habit, dedicating herself to long hours of prayer, helping and caring for those who are in need and teaching young children about God and the bible.

Coming of age, she grabbed the first opportunity to answer that call for sisterhood by joining a search-in for religious nuns.  She passed and for her it was a confirmation that she was indeed called by God.  She became a postulant, and two years later a novice.  She loved every bit of her life as a sister and hoped that one day she will become professed, taking perpetual vows.  Only one thing bothered her though - the community.  She could not stand their prioress - she was old and conservative.  She could not stand the sister assigned with her in the sacristy - she was too clumsy.  Her seat mate in the chapel makes unnecessary movements disturbing her meditation.  She murmured her complains to herself which later grew to short but ugly outbursts of anger.  Still later, petty bickering started in the community with her at the forefront.  And it was not long before she harbored resentments in her heart.  She could not stand them anymore, her life became a constant escape from these people and convent life became boring, dull and even a burden.  Finally she said to herself, “I could not go on anymore.”  She quit.

vocation 1

I never really took serious thought about vocations not until my second year in the seminary when we were asked to campaign for priestly vocations in the parishes.  I did some serious thinking on the matter not because I have to make a choice for I was then too young to consider one, but because it was to be my first ever speaking engagement.  I was assigned to the faraway town of Ajuy with a major seminarian and I was tasked with relating to grade six pupils and fourth year high school students our life in the seminary, to give it so to say a human face (which consists in merely elaborating and collaborating with one’s experience the “eat much, play much, study much, work much and pray a little but well” way of life we were taught when we entered the seminary).  And my partner who was more experienced, was assigned to talk about the different vocations into which God calls us. 

Friday, September 3, 2010

living the second commandment

What’s in a name? People with normal names may not care much. But try living with an inappropriate name and you will understand why the narrator of the song Johnny Cash sings, “A boy Named Sue,” vows to “kill that man that gave me that awful name.” People with seemingly awful names almost always end up embarrassed during roll calls. Uncontrollable giggles can be heard whenever Gorgonia or Procopio are called out.

Added to this fray is the fact that people are sensitive to what we do and how we treat their names. In a book by Giovanni Guareshi, The Little World of Don Camillo a boxing match ensued between a priest and a communist when the latter decided to have his child baptized with the name Lenin Libero Antonio, after his nemesis Lenin. A name mispronounced in the middle of a speech can send alarm in the air. Ronald Reagan’s blunder in pronouncing the philosopher Camus as Caymus rather than Camu, was featured in Time Magazine. And sullying a good name can send the Mafia or a simple peasant scampering, ready for war. And to top all this name game thing, God forbade to have His name used without reverence. What’s in a name? Why is there so much fuss about a name? It’s just a name after all, or is it?

nang myra

Nang Myra was one of the first persons I came to know in Parish of Jaro, my first assignment. To be exact I met her in the morning of Saturday, September 19, 1993, my first morning at the cathedral.
How could I probably miss her? The first time I entered the room where they folded Candle Light her appearance struck me - attracted me actually. She was the oldest among the Children of Mary (except for her, they were all literally children), her posture was ramrod, her composure always demure and her manners, gentle, though she had been sitting for hours folding the paper. Her face was bright and genial then, and she was smiling, grinning from ear to ear.
 Throughout my three years, this same face will little by little turn sullen and white, her hair would thin out, her posture becoming more and more bent and her bearing noticeably uneasy and labored. But that broad smile would be the same smile that would greet me every time I entered that room as she went about her work.
Nang Myra is a regular folder . . . no . . . a faithful folder. The dying out of her organization, her many bouts with her illnesses, her failing body, her four children and her husband could not stop her from going there every Saturday. In fact when she was too ill to do the task, she would ask permission like a little child in school to be excused.

magdalena jalandoni

My first encounter with Magdalena Jalandoni was during a field trip we had in my elementary years. We were toured in her house by Ms. Ofelia Jalandoni, her only niece who was her caretaker in her old age until she died and now the guardian of her memory. That two hour encounter when I was twelve years old left a lasting impression on me that throughout the years whenever I would pass her house (now a museum) at Commission Civil I would remember the stories about her with great fondness. One story happened when “Lola Ina” as she was fondly called, was twelve years old. During the night of the belasyon of a relative, an arrogant young man challenged the ladies present in the wake to an exchange of binalaybay. One of the ladies would say something in binalaybay and it will be answered by the man, and they would do so alternately until one surrenders. After an hour or so all the ladies present surrendered and the man was beaming with pride. It was then that ladies remembered Magdalena who came to convince Francisca, the mother of Magdalena to send for her. The mother woke up the twelve year old Magdalena who had just recovered from chicken pox. With hair unkempt and with a face mark with blisters she was made to face her arrogant opponent in a duel of binalaybay. The man laughed at her sight and Magdalena sensing that she was being belittled straightened up and sent out the first salvo of words, in exact meter and rhyme. The fight went on until the early hours of the morning until the man surrendered and went away down-faced defeated by a twelve year old.

martin delgado

Heroes are not born . . . they are made. At the moment I’m still wondering what it takes to make one. And wonder of all wonders what makes an Ilonggo a hero. The Ilonggos in the past are never wanting of brave men and women who share the glory and the honor accorded to the more popular heroes of our country. But what makes him, what triggers his soul to rise above the ordinary to espouse with courage noble causes which could bring fame to our land and to our people?

I am asking these questions because of some events which has made marks of notoriety on the Ilonggo reputation. We are known for our bravery, no question about it. Anyone who does not agree with this statement has either never known an Ilonggo or has never read a newspaper for years. Bank robberies, kidnap for ransom gangs, killers for hire, the once notorious Ilaga terrorist group in Mindanao, you name it, you’ll find a fellow Ilonggo in them, pure breed.

graciano lopez jaena

One of prevailing attitudes of our generation today which might have somehow contributed to the demise of this proud region and its people is our apparent amnesia of who we are and our past. Ask an Ilonggo on the street about the proud history of the former Queen City of the South and one would be lucky if the respondent could go back as far as 10 or 20 years. And what would he remember? - childhood memories, unpolluted and unclogged streets maybe, or the exceedingly cheap prices of goods then, nothing more.

What is disturbing for me is the prevailing mood of amnesia of my fellow Ilonggos who have relegated its great men and women with a few token memorials like streets and petty historical markers. The British Muelle Loney is lucky enough to get a monument at the entrance of the city, but he is not a hero and neither an Ilonggo, nor could his supposedly achievements of bleeding our people’s sense of self-worth in the name of economic prosperity make us proud of him today. (This is the only place in the world where we honor our colonizers and oppressors with monuments!) We have forgotten our own heroes and because of this it is no surprise that the prevailing apathy of our people today is so unlike the courage, the creativity, the talent and the innovation of the Ilonggos of old. I believe that there is only one way of resurrecting the glory that was - it is by resurrecting the memories of the great men and women of our glorious past so as to provide us with the same brand of idealism that made this city resplendent.

priestly jokes

Wherever have you gotten the idea that the life of a priest is always prayer, preaching, blessing, study and doing all those activities in life that demands a degree of seriousness. Yes it is part of our duty to transform by means of rituals all the important moments of life, from birth to the difficult moment of final farewell, duties which demand that we retain our composure and reign in our emotions. So, either way, some people thought or even nonchalantly expect us to be seriously happy or seriously sad. The real priesthood, however, is not that gloomy, nor is it that bad. It is human, and the priest remains a man, and as in all other human beings, the first sign that he is one, is the fact that he is risible, he is capable of laughing and he is capable of making us laugh - no, I’m serious. And so after two weeks of some serious thoughts and at times gloomy forecasts on the priesthood, we deem it wise to end it with a lighter note, in lighter mood. Here, we present a collection of some funny anecdotes we heard and we experienced firsthand from our priests. And their experiences made us laugh . . . with them.

balaan bukid

On a clear night as one looks towards the Guimaras Island, one could see a glorious beacon - a constellation shaped like a cross familiar to all Ilongos. However, this not one of those stellar creations of the gods of Greek mythology but the dream of one man to build a fitting shrine for Mary overlooking and blessing the City of Iloilo. 

living the first commandment

How do I live the first commandment at this time and age when all the while I was born a catholic, I was reared and educated as a Catholic, I go to mass as most Catholics do? Of course I believe in no false gods, no anitos, no anting-anting, no whatsoever. There is only one God in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. How could I even violate such commandment?

Good question!

People have often wondered the redundancy of this commandment much more its significance to a believer, in a community of catholic church goers. Indeed how could it become a command to a people who have lived all their lives knowing and worshipping the one true God? Is this particular command referring only to a nomadic people who are consistently duped in worshipping the Baals and the golden calves of their pagan surroundings? How could we live this command, much less violate it today?

pan hay

Do you know how our Island came to be known as Panay Island?
In 1569, the Portuguese bombarded the first Spanish settlement of Miguel Lopez de Legaspi in Cebu which left the Spaniards famished. In fact a historian by the name of John Foreman described them like walking skeletons because they were left to eat cats, snakes and rats for months.

fort san pedro in iloilo

Fort San Pedro is synonymous for the young Ilongo generation of today (not now though iin the 2000s with Mang Inasal, etc.) for its chicken barbecue and a cool night air. However, this has not always been the case for the older Ilongo generation who has fond and not so fond memories about this famous landmark.


I never got to know the real Jaro not until I toured the Cathedral and examined closely the tombstones that abound its walls, its massive pillars and its tiled floors. In one of them I came upon the tombstone of one named Don Manuel Arguelles identifying him as the “Illustrissimo Capitan del Ciudad de Jaro”. Now that aroused my curiosity for I have thought all the while that the only city that existed in Panay then is Iloilo City, the former Queen City of the South which was chartered in 1936. Little did I know that Jaro was a bustling town in Panay even before the Spaniards came and later on a city which produced illustrious men and women who made their mark in Philippine History, as mentioned by the then Bishop Mariano Cuartero in his letter to the Holy See. 

a tale of two cities

Do you know that Panay Island has two cities in the 19th century side by side with each other?

La Ciudad de Jaro was the first city of Panay way ahead of Iloilo. It was established as a City in the early 17th century and became so to say the center of civilization in the south if not of the whole Philippines. Iloilo was made into a city in 1893 and the then governor General Valeriano Weyler came to inaugurate it. It was popularly known then as “La Ciudad Reyna del Sur” or the Queen City of the South. In 1896 the King of Spain cited the City of Iloilo as “La muy Leal y Noble Ciudad de Iloilo.” However Iloilo as a City was short-lived if not in fact but in law. In February 11, 1899 the conquering Americans took back the status of City accorded not only to Iloilo but also to Jaro and fused them to form one municipality together with La Paz, Arevalo, Mandurriao and Parian (Molo).

sons and daughters of the resurrection

I have been a priest for almost three years now and I feel that I have been unnecessarily worn out. They started giving me responsibilities which have direct bearing on the community since I was a third year high school seminarian. That was about 15 years ago and for that long I have been running around trying to cater to problems other than my own. I have to answer to so many expectations and have to work out beyond the limit to meet them. I was not just a law abiding person, I was diligently and unremittingly so to the point that duty became an obsession I could not and would not dare to escape from. An entry in a journal I kept in my high school days criticize persistently the seeming laxity of my peers in their love for duty. I wrote justifying myself that “when I chose to enter this place (seminary) I have embraced it with its demands . . . it’s sort of a packaged-deal . . . and I must not complain . . . .” You may think that this is something coming out straight from the Roman Martyrology or a book of saints. But this is not so if you consider what I have been through because of such obsessions.

real generosity

In my three years as a priest I have seen the many faces of generosity countless of times in this parish. They are not really that extraordinary so to say in terms of amount or effort. But every time they do happen, I always felt amazement, especially in their desire to “keep everything in secret.” 

 A parishioner and a reader of Candle Light who insisted on her anonymity, wrote in a letter dropped at our donation box telling that she “went to a bank wanting to start a savings account for five hundred pesos.” Her initial deposit however was denied, for the minimum amount required by the bank was two thousand pesos. So, finding that she could not make it earn interest in a bank, she deposited it in our donation box hoping, I would like to believe, that it would earn a long term “interest” for the people of God in our parish. (I assure you we would do our best!)

the real miracle

I have never been to Lourdes but there were at least three people who thought so well of my condition and brought me a bottle or two of its miraculous water. I have drunk many times from these bottles and have prayed intensely for a cure. I never was cured nor was there any relief whenever I did. I drunk it at night before I sleep hoping and praying that Our Blessed Mother will look so kindly and intercede to her Son, so that He could pronounce those words which has given me so many great expectations every morning as I wake up: “Rise up take up your mat and walk.” The call never came. I was perplexed. Am I to be counted with those who are weak in faith? Is my faith in God smaller than a mustard seed which is all that is required to move mountains? All these things troubled me and I even came to the day when I was so discouraged I cried in despair and in a fit of anger broke a few jealousies in my room. I wanted to do something but I can’t. I felt loneliness, cold loneliness and slowly a sense of helplessness overwhelmed me.

simplify . . . simplify

So finally, the plates and glasses are back inside their cupboards where they will hole up for the rest of the year until the next fiesta. By now the leftovers after being served on table four times in a row after the fiesta are (thank goodness) finally fated for the pigs. The floors are swept and mopped and every remnant of the fiesta including the carnaval are slowly and without any trace of sentimentality swept away for good. All we’ve got left are the memories and some bitter lessons which if we allow ourselves to learn, would make our fiesta next year a bit more pleasant and significant. Lessons like, “I should have gone early to mass to avoid the traffic jam, I should have served fish rather than meat to please our aging boss, I should have added more of this and more of that . . . .”

an experience of a loving father

A devoted father was ushered into the hospital room where his seven year-old son was near death’s door from an incurable disease. The lad seemed to sense that he would not get well.
He said, “Pa, am I going to die?”

“Why do you ask, son? Are you afraid to die?”

our lady of candles

This Friday we are going to celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Candles, the fiesta of Jaro. This particular feast has been celebrated in the church since the first centuries of Christianity and was known through the centuries, through various names. In the English world it is known as Candlemass, Lichtmess in German, Chandeleur in France and Candelaria in Italy, Spain and in the Philippines. In the Greek Orthodox, this feast is known as the “Hypapante,” a Greek word which means “encounter” to commemorate the meeting between Jesus, Anna and Simeon. 

asking for help

We have hit our red mark again! We have by now incurred a 14 thousand deficit and every week it is growing despite the fact that we have already slashed off some of the pages of this paper, from ten pages to eight. There are two reasons for this. One is the fact that for two Sundays because of the typhoon and the flood in September and October of last year we have not received a substantial amount to help defray the cost of printing and paper. Last September during the flood our second collection did not come even near the two thousand mark. And during the typhoon Pepang last October we only received two to four hundred pesos which we did not even bother to count. And yet we have come out with two issues on a calamity we never foresaw or wished for. Every issue costs us 8,500 pesos. And since we depend solely on our second collections, our expenses piled up to 17,000 pesos with no one to shoulder the cost of the two issues because of the two calamities. Now we are left with an ever widening deficit despite the fact that we have second collections during the Aguinaldo masses.

santa or no santa

When I was very young I remember quite vividly the imagery used by my lola in teaching me the perennial struggle for dominance between the forces of good and evil. Like all good Catholic catechists, she showed me in very vivid detail, before color television was even born, the struggle between the angels and the devils behind me. Yes, she believed, they were always there, locking their arms most of the time in mortal combat, struggling for control and dominance. I was pulled from one side to the other. Sometimes the angels won and most of the time the devil had a field day. Sometimes in a desperate attempt to make me a good boy my lola would tell me that my angels are grieving because of what I have done and would repeatedly do. In a surge of compassion I tried to be good for a day. I really pitied my angels then. 

significant persons in our life

“Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

This is, for me, one of the most beautiful questions in the bible asked to Jesus by a young man eager to know the way to life. And it is a question we too must often ask as we travel along the path of life set out by Jesus, “Teacher what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
The answer given by Jesus is quite unexpected as to its simplicity. In fact the answer is so simple that it has been learned by heart, if not by memory, by every Jew and every man for that matter. Jesus said, “if you would enter life, do the Commandments.”

merry christmas . . . forever

Today’s celebration of Christmas is like that story that can happen to anybody’s family. It’s a story of anybody’s boy. His father who is most of the time drunk than sober, comes home driving everyone nuts and on their toes. His mother who has more time for her gambling than for her family, was thought to be better off with her friends as her presence cause more destruction than good in the house. Everybody seems to quarrel at anything. There was no peace the whole year through. They were never a family and it was never a home.

working for a whole new world

When the pope arrived last January, a popular television commentator praised the pope whom he said was so unlike our bishops (obviously referring to Cardinal Sin) who muddle themselves in politics and other social related issues. What this television commentator obviously lack is a thorough knowledge or at the very least, a glimpse of the social encyclicals and apostolic exhortations made by the same pope who lived, worked and struggled in a communist totalitarian society for most of his life. I believe the observation of PCP II holds true to most of us and not just to this television commentator: that there is indeed a need “for knowledge and interiorization of the social teachings of the Church . . . .” (PCP II #289) for it is only through it “that the Christian conscience is formed into maturity.” (PCP II #288)


“Repent for the kingdom of God is close at hand.”

The message of the gospel this Sunday gives us the proper perspective from which all renewal comes. The kingdom of heaven, the new era, the new church which we dream about is brought to fulfillment through repentance, and only through repentance.
What does repentance consist of?

First, repentance can only happen if there is a conscious acknowledgment on our part that something is wrong with us. Something is wrong with me. This is a very important step in the stairway to perfection.


Working for renewal is one of the most demanding task especially when one is assigned in a very old parish. There is always that hold over of the past which can sometimes become like a brick wall blocking any attempt to disturb the status quo. There is always that sentimentality and nostalgia for the things of old that seems to tie one’s feet to traditions and customs of a different age with different ideals - practices which are now obsolete and sometimes even obstructive to the newness of life and possibilities engendered by the present age.

mary's yes

As we end the liturgical year and our issue on vocations, I would like to reflect on Mary, the woman whose simple “YES” to God’s call made such a difference to our life today. Mary’s life is our model in answering and remaining faithful to God’s call. When the angel announced to her that she would be the Mother of the Messiah, she was troubled but she gave her ascent - “Be it done to me.” 

She kept in her heart the strange events of his birth and childhood, pondering them, struggling in her belief, even during those times she could not understand. She trusted in the power of his Son by calling His attention to a human need, in Cana. She continued to search for the meaning of her call by following her Son throughout Galilee. She protected him and brought him out of the way of some disbelieving people who called her Son a fool. She followed him in faithfulness even in his darkest moments on the cross and stood there to suffer with Him. She held Him in her arms and buried him, struggling in her belief. She rejoiced when her faith was affirmed in the resurrection three days later. She was there in the community of disciples affirming them with her presence as they waited for the coming of the Spirit.

remaining faithful

With this issue, after reflecting for two weeks what vocation is and how to discern one’s vocation, we would like to follow it up with a third article on how to remain faithful in one’s vocation. However, I do believe that the third question could not be answered fully by just one article. So many forces are at work or should be permitted to play in order that we could remain faithful to our call and this issue does not pretend to answer everything. Let me cite two of them in addition to to my reflection found in the head article.

justice, the price of peace

Pepang continues to unleash its havoc long after it has left our shores. Some barangays canceled their Sunday masses because their chapels have still some inches of silt. The cathedral as of this writing has no electricity yet (thanks to PECO), and last week we almost missed an issue (after five years!) due to the persistent brownouts in our office and in the printing press. Here, I would like to thank the Sacred Heart Press people especially Tay Bert and his staff. They were frantically concerned as I was, when last Sunday’s issue was still being photographed and printed last Saturday (it is usually printed on Thursdays), just hours before it will be distributed after the anticipated mass. And I would like to thank also the Candle Light Marines, our "folders", who waited patiently for the printed copies to arrive (they usually begin folding on Friday afternoon) and folded everything in a record breaking speed of just under three hours.

the vocation to love

Last weekend we experienced one of the most devastating typhoon and flood ever to hit our parish. It was the second flood to hit us in the year with only a few weeks interval. It was also the highest, reaching to heights never before experienced and places never before seen. The newly relocated houses in Brgy Lourdes (their second relocation in two years) were destroyed by the strong gush of wind and raging flood waters. In Brgy. Calubihan which was celebrating its fiesta on that fateful Sunday I saw two houses carried away down the Dungon Creek. Our Chapel in Brgy. San Vicente lost all of its galvanized iron roofs. And most, if not all, and even our Cathedral and the surrounding concrete houses were not spared the damage wrought by the typhoon Papeng and the ever worsening flood.

fiesta minatay

November 1 and 2 are occasions for celebrations in our parishes. Usually we call it under one heading - the fiesta minatay. Actually these are two different celebrations - one of which is the feast of all the saints in heaven (November 1) and the other is the commemoration of the faithful departed (November 2). The former is a solemnity where we praise God for the glory he has accorded to all believers. And the latter is a prayerful remembrance of our beloved dead who await their admittance in the company of the blessed. It is not a fiesta as most of us call it and in fact celebrate it. Rather it is a somber prayerful remembering of the faithful departed who are in purgatory celebrated with the sacrifice of the Mass, alms-giving and other works of piety.

the vocation to the priesthood

The priesthood is a subject so dear to my heart not so much because I myself am a priest but because I find it an inexhaustible source of reflection of God’s constant care for humanity and at the same time of God’s merciful love. We have talked so much about it these past issues and though I believe the mystery still abounds we have to put a period to it somehow at least for now. And what could be a better ending than an article written by our new priest himself - from someone so new to the priesthood, so full of ideals and raring to go. His article is a response to our parishioners who reflected these past weeks on the priesthood and who willingly expressed in writing their dreams and expectations from us priests, dreams which taught me in a way the meaning of my priesthood.

on women

When Bishop Francis Murphy delivered a talk on “Woman as Person in the Church and Society” he narrated a story about a fifth grade girl who wrote God a letter which states:

“Dear God, are boys really better than girls? I know you are one, but please try to be fair.”

With the recently concluded Beijing conference on Women, there has been an on-going serious re-thinking of the role of women in society. Looking at the bare facts we can’t help but acknowledge that there is indeed a brand of sexism, or discrimination of genders in our society today which puts the female person in an unequal position with men. 

the priesthood in the eyes of the lay

As the results of our faith sharing on the priesthood from the different barangays came in, I felt some what intrigued and at the same time amused by the results. It intrigued me because I never really expected that the lay expectations from priests are so simple and so practical so that I am led to conclude that our people are not so demanding as we thought them to be. I even told one group “Why haven’t you told us this before, that you expect us to be like this - simple wants, simple desires, simple dreams for your priests?” And she answered, “Father, we’re afraid you will take it as an affront to your person.” The results show that a lot of dialogue has still to take place between priest and lay so that collaboration and co-responsibility in the church will work.

the priesthood

Last Sunday to prepare ourselves for the coming ordination in our parish we made a special reflection material on the priesthood to be reflected upon, prayed over with and shared. It included one’s personal experiences with priests, good and bad, our dreams and expectations from them and what we could do as lay people to help them live their role as servant leaders of the community.

towards a renewed clergy

PCP II’s declaration on the Clergy begins with a recognition that in the Philippine context “nothing on the human plane will influence both the shape of the Church and its impact on society as palpably as the leadership of its ordained ministers.” (PCP II 507) What it is trying to say is that in its vision of renewal it is the clergy - the bishops, priests and deacons, who take the larger role and carry the greater burden in order to propel the Church to take such course. 

the fifth year of CL

With this issue, Candle Light begins its fifth year in serving our parish through the printed media. We have gone through a lot of difficulties - financially, intellectually, a temporary privation of imagination and one time a loss of morale when two very important staff members left us because of a more pressing need. We missed them and I believe they missed the excitement and the headaches of the work too.


No longer shall they be servants of aliens,
but will serve Yahweh their God . . .(Jer. 30:8-9)

This prophecy was uttered by God through the prophet Jeremiah at a time when the people of Israel were exiled to Babylon. It was then a powerful kingdom which ruled most of the known world controlling not only the political destinies of people, but also became the arbiter of national economies which could mean the rise or fall of any sovereign. There in Babylon the Israelites became slaves of their foreign masters who virtually took control of their lives, their destinies and their hopes. They became like gods for them to whom they offered not fragrant incense or melodious odes but their very will, their freedom and the very sweat of their brow in exchange for their lives and that of their children. 

the iloilo that was

With this issue we end our edition on the rich cultural traditions of Filipinos, particularly the Ilonggos, as our way of observing the yearly celebration of the Linggo ng Wika. I must say that the materials still available to us are enormous, but we have no way of placing them all in the ever shrinking pages of our paper. I myself am surprised not only at the bulk of available materials but also on the facts presented to me when I did some researches on the history of Iloilo and the lives of its famous sons and daughters. 

the rice crisis

Values are neither good nor bad . They are in themselves ambivalent. Their merit or demerit depends on our choice of values to respond to a particular situation and what importance the community attaches to this value - in the way it rewards or punishes such behavior. The example given by PCP II will make it quite simpler. Filipinos who migrate to other countries adapt quickly to traffic rules and time discipline. If they do so it is not because their values have changed rather the social system which they find themselves in called for these values - values which were not emphasized in the social system in this country. 

the morality of lotto

I would like to voice out my opposition to Lotto and the proposal that it should be made available nationwide, which means that it could be introduced anytime now in our city and province. Despite the opposition of Cebu officials who are even planning an “anti-lotto summit” among mayors in the said province, an article in Panay News (August 15,1995) recently spoke of the foreseen favorable acceptance of the scheme in our city headed no less by our “popular mayor with populist tendencies.” And since the arguments of anti-gambling advocates have been time and again accused by the media and the government agencies involved as “hypocritical” (whatever that means) I would like to argue from the perspective of Filipino values - the values that make or unmake our nation.

parish congress

As I look back to our recently concluded parish congress several lessons came to mind and these are lessons which goes beyond words and concepts formulated and documented in the congress. Below are lessons as they unfolded throughout those eventful three nights which I found personally valuable.

supporting candle light

Last week when we published that we have a three thousand plus deficit hanging over us, generous donors came and gave their donations. One gave a check for one thousand, another came with a five hundred peso bill, and still another came to give a hundred. I was touched by this profound gesture of generosity, so that, for a time I entertained taking back our word to reduce the pages of our weekly paper from the usual ten pages to eight pages to save on paper. But what kept me from backtracking on this decision was the data given to us by our accountant Mr. Roming Tan who painstakingly traced how many people drop a donation during the second collections. He based his findings on the number of bills dropped and averaged them at one bill per person. At the same time he counted the amount of coins dropped which he averaged at one peso per person. With these data he concluded thus: “Out of 7,000 copies distributed during 10 masses, only 3,319 parishioners gave during our second collections or only 48% of the seven thousand persons who got Candle Light contributed for its support.”

God does not want us to suffer

Now it can be said. Our government is indeed “a government of press releases.” It paints its own picture of the Philippine situation other than the reality. It says that our economy has improved, that in fact we have a surplus of 18 billion pesos and are more than willing to increase the salary of our legislators 100% as if to award them for a job well done. 

 However, this wonderland the government is talking about is only on paper no less valuable than the fairy tales concocted by imaginative authors to tiltillate our minds. 

we of me

Fr. Gabaldon once wrote in his column an article entitled the “We of Me”. He tells of a play made by Carson McCullers’ in which Frankie, an adolescent tomboy, wanted to be a member of the wedding of her brother Jarvis and wants to go on their honeymoon too. She was dissuaded to do that very gently by their maid but Frankie, stubborn as she was, insisted in doing so. She said “ I love them both so much and we belong together . . . because they are the we of me.”

called and sent

The Ascension of Jesus reminds me that life is a steady movement -- it is never stagnant or unchanging. One does remain in one stage forever even if we wants to. Why? Without our knowing and sometimes even without our willing it something in us grows. Our body for one grows without our knowing or willing it, so that if our other faculties do not grow with it, our whole person degenerates, we fall off. The mind and outlook of a 12 year old would look funny in the body of a 30 year old. One could not stop the steady flux or progression of life. If he does not grow with it he becomes abberant, he becomes immature. Man has nowhere to go but up or down. He either retrogresses or progresses with life.