Last week before spending a short weekend escape in Baguio, I and my friends stopped over and heard a Holy Mass in the Shrine Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag in Pangasinan. And during this very Holy Mass only did I realize that every time the Offertory is about to begin the person that enters my mind is my father.
Offertory would always remind me of my childhood, my father and the numerous episodes of my family hearing Mass in Baclaran Church. When the choir starts singing to indicate the start of the Offertory, my father would automatically dig his hand in his pocket and would hand me and my siblings a couple of coins. These are the same coins that we would naively put inside the collection bag being reached out and brought around the church to collect cash donations.
This simple episode that constantly reactivates in my memory every offertory, I guess is the modest and humble symbolism that reminds me about my father being the family’s able provider and role model. This simple act (I guess) is the symbol which in a way developed in me the concept of charity, kindness and sharing.
Aside from enriching my soul and taking the opportunity to thank the Heavenly Father for all the blessings he showers me, attending the Holy Mass is also an avenue to remind myself that I actually had a “good” father.
Feeling the vibrant charge of New York, I navigated my way to the World Trade Center located in Greenwich Street. The first thing I had in mind was to immediately have a selfie to prove, seal and record that I have actually been to the 9/11 Memorial thirteen years after the extremely tragic and deadly attack.
But as soon as I stepped into the memorial plaza, my effervescent bubbly feeling vanished. I was suddenly charged with gloom-ness and melancholy. The place was beautiful but it seems that grief and misery still fills the air. It was just too powerful not to feel it. Maybe it is because of the amount of tears that has been shed and intensity of sadness that has been vented out in the area that made me shut up, pause and contemplate.
I realized that smiling at a camera and shooting a selfie in the area seem disrespectful to the victims as well as the families affected by the tragedy. What I simply did was took a couple of photos and say a little prayer.
Like any other normal human being, I prayed that there would not be another World Trade Center Memorial…
A miracle happened in Luneta hours before the Holy Mass was about to be officiated by Pope Francis. It was a miracle that involved me and my elder sister. Both of us did not whine nor whimper about going to and from the people-infested Luneta right in the middle of the storm. In fact, we both actually enjoyed it!
My relatives know that in case I am subjected to any discomfort, I whine and grumble to the highest level. While my elder sister is the most cautious and the least adventurous in the family. So if we are together, nothing really happens and everything seem so dull.
But not today. I would like to claim that I and my sister were rebooted and were recharged by the visit of Pope Francis in Manila. At exactly 12 noon, I, my sister and her son Luis converged at Vito Cruz. In our respective jackets and rain coats, we walked our way heading to Luneta to attend a once in a lifetime Holy Mass in Manila by Pope Francis. Both of us surprisingly did not complain nor felt tired nor whine about the long walk, the drenched feeling, the muddy puddles, the dizzying swarms of people as well as the cold and heavy downpour of typhoon thrashing above us.
And when we were heading back, we were actually caught in a throng of people crammed and tightly squeezed together. People were so compact, it was like a wave of people. You cannot just standstill because the wave of people would thrust you in varying directions.
I actually got nervous for my sister and my nephew for it really takes a lot of energy to survive the shoving force of such surfs of moving people. The three of us got separated along the way after about 25 meters. But when the crowd got a bit loose and no longer too crammed together, I found a concrete planter box and stood up to look for them.
Luckily, in about five minutes my sister saw me high on the planter box and headed towards me and then suddenly my nephew appeared smiling walking towards us. My sister told me that she was pressed towards a group of old ladies while my nephew was prodded towards a group of young foreigners also attending the Pope’s pastoral visit in Manila.
At an ordinary occasion, I would have wailed, whined and complained. While my sister could have simply passed out. But we kept our composure and actually smiled and congratulated ourselves for surviving such a deadly throng of people. We headed back home happy and feeling accomplished.
Now that I am writing this, only now that I realized that I would definitely will walk that far or get drenched that drenched or brave a smashing typhoon or subject myself to be crushed by hordes of people if it is in the honor of the Holy Vicar of Christ.
This experience is definitely nothing but a miracle.
Maganda din pala kapag iniiwan ang kaartehan sa bahay.
Not regularly going to church to attend the Holy Mass is something that I am not definitely proud of. But aside from dipping my index and middle finger in a bowl of Holy Water upon entry and exit, the other thing I love doing when inside a Catholic Church is lighting up candles.
That is why every time I have the sweet opportunity to light candles inside a church, I always light five of it. One for me, one for Nengkoy and Joe, one for my beautiful family, another for my friends and colleagues while the last one is for the one whom I have patiently been waiting for.
For me, lighting up candles is like toting up an interactive medium towards one’s prayer. One does not simply say a prayer instead such request, petition, gratitude, supplication or wish are conveyed to the heavens with a cool and funky symbolism.
I just arrived early this morning from Siem Reap, Cambodia. The flight going back to sunshine Manila was generally smooth with a couple of freaking turbulence.
This is totally different from the nerve rattling turbulent plane ride going to Siem Reap. It was so shaky!!! It was the mightiest gust of winds and deepest air pockets combined that I have ever experienced in all the flights that I had. Our flight then was still at the end of the monsoon rains that flooded and shattered the whole Metro Manila for five long days.
It was so shaky me and my sister were already holding hands while the airplane hits the combination of massive cumulonimbus clouds. What is so bad about it is that the madness did not last only for a couple of minutes, the turbulence and shaking happened for more than an hour. Children inside the plain were all crying while adults are trying their best not to scream.
Instead of uttering expletives, I prayed hard and called out all the saints that I know to ask for their holy intercessions. All the “Santos” and the “Santas” that I could recall, I called. I even called for Santa Quiteria whom I don’t know. What is so funny is when I could no longer recall other names of Santos and Santas I called out the name of Santa Claus and Vilma Santos to help us with our journey! The thought actually made me laughed and relaxed a little.
Nerbyoso! Muntik na ko mapa-ihi sa nerbyos at katatawa!
Devotees from around the world would usually go to the magnanimously divine Shrine of Our Lady of Manaoag to ask for a holy intercession. I did not. After travelling more than 200 kilometers by land from Manila to Manaoag, Pangasinan and as soon as we settled on the seats of the church the only thought and prayer I did was to thank God and the miraculous Lady of Manaoag for the health, wealth and happiness of my family.
Imadyin? Pinapasok ang demonyito kong ito sa loob ng simbahan? Hahaha!