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Archive for April, 2011


“What really matters in life is that we are loved by Christ and that we love Him in return. In comparison to the love of Jesus, everything else is secondary. And, without the love of Jesus, everything is useless.” – Pope John Paul II

How time flies! Not long ago, I’ve welcomed April with a bang and it seems that the start of May is so  significant and worth-remembering. Tomorrow, we’re not only celebrating Divine Mercy Sunday but also the Beatification of our  beloved Pope John Paul II. Don’t you just wish you could sprout wings and be with the crowd in Rome to witness an event which  will go down the history of the Catholic Church? Don’t you just wish you could mingle with the joyous crowd from all over the world to celebrate this event which is another step closer to sainthood? How I wish I were there too, counting the hours and the minutes till the big day. It’s like anticipating your own birthday, only this time  it is even more worth-celebrating. Last week, I received a commemorative rosary of JP II’s beatification courtesy of Fr. Louie, a Dominican priest friend who is based in Rome. What a lovely gift, it would always remind me of  JP II’s beatification.  Thanks to social media, even if we’ll just be in front of our TV set, we won’t miss the event.

It’s been a long and busy day for me . We had visitors at home,  we met  up with my daughter’s fashion designer for her upcoming wedding. I have nearly forgotten the joys and anticipation in preparing for a wedding. It’s been twenty-nine long years since our big day. It’s my daughter’s turn now. Although it is still five months away, I am also excited like her.  There is something nice about reminiscing your own wedding. Last night, we watched the exchange of vows between Prince William  and now Princess Catherine aptly dubbed as the Royal Wedding. It’s a fairy tale wedding complete with a handsome prince  and a lovely princess.  That’s what wedding should be, a happy union of  two people in love.

In ten days, I’ll be celebrating my two years of blogging here at WordPress – 509 posts including this one. How time flies!  May here I come!

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It was lovely to see how the other half  lives. Understated Elegance. Kate simply looked stunning in her gown.

Sorry guys, for this very, very short blog.

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There’s a cold breeze blowing making the leaves dance. Strange, the sun is late in showing its face today and the sky is still a mixture of dull blue and orange. Apart from watching the dusk unfolds for the night, this is my favorite moment of the day – a beginning of realizing another dream, a positive sign of another lovely day. Even our dogs are probably savoring the silence –  the youngest Grey and our old dog Boo are gently falling asleep at my feet using my pair of blue slippers as pillows. Meatloaf  is just waiting for a signal to lick my face and Soo Kee  wants a cuddle. I’m thinking, they can actually sense your mood if you want to play or not.

I am simply amazed at how life unfolds. The birds are chirping non-stop hopping from branch to branch of our avocado tree. Maybe, it’s their way of thanking God that they can still fly and enjoy the breeze.

Can you hear the silence? Can you feel God’s loving embrace ? Can you appreciate the peace and quiet of a morning like this? I do, because everything is grace. And here are a few shots I took while watching the grey sky turn into blue.

 Where are the Koi? They are hiding beneath the rocks at the bottom of the pond.

 This Amazon Lily never fails to give me flowers every year. I am just surprised that some buds are showing despite the heat.

 There was a time when I dreamed of having white flowers in our garden. I can imagine a blanket of white petals at night and the intoxicating scent of sampaguita or gardenia.

These purple blooms are quite fascinating. They look so fresh and wonderful in the early morning.

Ah, one of our Sweet Basil pots – they’re ready for harvest!

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In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.
-Albert Schweitzer

This is the second time in a span of a week that I was able to  personally meet two online friends.  I’ve known Fr. Louie  for about two years now through a friend who referred me to his videos of Batanes on YouTube.  He is a student priest based in Rome  but spending a two-week break by celebrating Holy Week here. We met finally last Holy Thursday.We regularly get in touch with each other via e-mails and private messages. He created a site at Facebook for the Catholic Community in Rome but made it  open to all Filipinos here and abroad. Back in September 2010, he asked me to be a temporary administrator of the site, then a month after, he made the appointment permanent. Looking back, I am so grateful for this online apostolate because there are lots of members based abroad who find joy visiting our site and reading our posts.  I am learning a lot too interacting with more than 4,300  members of the site.

Noel is one of our very active members. He is one of the winners of our first trivia contest sometime last February, I think. Fr. Louie brought home rosaries for the winners and Noel claimed his  prize this morning when we finally met.  We had a long chat about life, about my illness, how I coped with the treatment and his activities in their parish.

Who says one can’t form a friendship using social media?  True, when you are hiding behind the wall of your monitor, it feels so easy to share  but it’s kind of different though when you are sharing face to face. There is something so touching about the fact that they accept you as you are – no pretense, no hiding behind a computer screen but just three souls finally meeting and like what they see. Another grace from God, another way of telling me that life is beautiful.  New friends are blessings too in our lives.  And it is always a joy to see a new friendship blooms.

I was so touched when Fr. Louie toured us at Bahay Dominiko (their convent).  He even went out of his way to bless the whole family and to pray over my healing.   We are indeed lucky to have a friend in him.  Noel texted me this. I won’t change nor translate the text from its original Tagalog because it would lose its essence.  Suffice to say,  I am also glad to have found another friend.

Na uplift po ako kanina. Actually nga po kayo po yung pumapasok sa meditation po kanina habang nagrorosaryo po ako pauwi . Yung stories of  joy, trials, and triumph and how you encounter the Lord. Nasabi ko sa sarili ko po na God uses others to inspire us and trust Him more. Talaga pong I was blessed  by our conversation. Kaya nakinig po akong mabuti, because the Lord spoke to me  through your stories of faith. Kaya po natutuwa talaga ako.

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I finally received an autographed copy of the magazine Bagong Bayani  Modern Day Hero featuring Rico Hizon on the cover. I am just borrowing his words because he wrote on the cover, “Proud to be Pinoy”.  Four days ago, I received an e-mail from him saying that my free copy has already been mailed. What a nice surprise to find it delivered today, with his autograph, no less.  The first time I blogged about him was last February 2010 when he was included in People of the Year Award  with  then  presidential bet Sen. Benigno Aquino III who is now our President. I greatly admire people who  are achievers at an early age.  Rico is one of them.  I am a fan, you see. I watch him on BBC but not too often since I seldom watch TV and he has made a name for himself as BBC’s lone Pinoy news anchor.

Hubby was smiling when he handed me the  mag saying, “from Rico Hizon”. I read it from cover to cover of course and I am touched that this is about OFWs and Filipino expatriates in Singapore and that they are giving it free as a sort of public service to our kababayans.  The glossy pages and lovely layout is something else. Wow, the interview they did on Rico is even better.  Here you can see a glimpse of the man behind the warm smile you see every morning. And I quote: “Never forget your Pinoy roots. We must continue to listen, watch and support Pinoy arts, culture, talents in our own way. Eat Pinoy,  watch Pinoy movies, listen to our OPM music, meet and networks with our Pinoy friends overseas. A Bagong Bayani is someone who is proud of their Pinoy heritage, tells and shouts to everyone  in the world about their roots.”  Well said Rico. Proud to be Pinoy!

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Be like the bird who, pausing in her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing she hath wings.
Victor Hugo

I’ve blogged about them for the last two weeks and promised myself that I will  continue taking shots of them as long as they stay in the garden. Sad to say though,the hatchlings only lasted a week too before they died. Yesterday, after we came back from the Sunday mass, my son checked the nest and discovered that there were only two left of the three hatchlings  which were born last Palm Sunday, exactly a week ago but they were dead. I don’t know what happened to the third one. Last time we checked, the nest was empty.  I wonder how the mother Yellow-vented bulbul was able to transport the dead hatchlings to another place. We tried looking for them at the cluster of anthuriums and prayer plants beneath the gardenia shrub but there was nothing there. We ruled out the idea that  our cats ate them. Our cats never stay in the garden and they hardly could reach the gardenia branch where the nest was.

Although things were short-lived, it was wonderful to experience this – watching how birds take care of their young.  Like humans, they have the natural instinct to take care of their young. They seldom leave the nest unless they look for food to feed their young.  Come to think of it, we have grown so used to watching several birds in our garden that we even made a bird feeder when we found out about the nest. Son made some research on how to make them stay in the garden a little longer. And here’s what I found about nesting, a very interesting article on bird life.

I would love to share with you the pictures I took on their journey from mere eggs to young birds. Every time I look at the spot where they stayed, I think of them waiting for their mother to bring them food.

 Our Gardenia shrub where the nest was.

Perfect oval-shaped eggs….

Notice the slightly irregular shape of the eggs a few days after we discovered them. 

These hatchlings were born on a Palm Sunday – 04-17-11

They were one day old here. 04-18-11 

At two days, notice the growing feathers at the tip of their wings – 04-19-11

 

The last shot I took  on 04-22-11 (at 5 days old) There feathers have grown in all places. Their eyes were still closed but they could sense movement.

I hope one day, these birds would come back to nest again.

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I’ve been waiting for this, the celebration of Easter Sunday. I look back at the days beginning Lent and the silent but meaningful celebration of Holy Week and Easter Triduum , and I’m  once gain grateful for lessons learned, sacrifices achieved, prayers answered and lots of blessings to speak of.  When I think of Easter, it always reminds me of a new beginning, a new hope, a new life.  We should not only look at Easter as Christ being risen but as a symbol of His infinite love for us.

Hope is something we all need in our lives and Easter brings that hope in all of us. Every year we are given the chance to renew our baptismal promises  during Easter Sunday. And isn’t it a great celebration knowing that what your godparents did  for you when you were just an infant are the same promises you undertake to do for the rest of your life?  Isn’t it amazing that grace flows when we affirm it? For us Catholics, Baptism is not just a mere formality but it brings us to a new life in Christ, the very mark of being a Christian.

I took  a few shots of the Easter Sunday celebration in our Parish and would like to share them with you. My daughter and I did some cooking too to celebrate Easter lunch and dinner. I prepared  Pork Adobo and Ginatang langka while she cooked Shrimp Pasta for dinner.  Hubby was not around so it was only the three of us who shared lunch and dinner. There is more than enough to last us until tomorrow.  We’ve  abstained from eating meat since the start of Lent  so it is a little exciting to eat pork again.

 The Paschal Candle

 Image of the Risen Christ

 The image of Mama Mary during the Salubong

I love this tradition of Salubong which dramatizes the eventual meeting of  the Risen Christ and that of His Mother, Mama Mary. It is  a pre-dawn procession wherein the men and women start from different areas and meet in front of the church.  The men walk behind  the image of the Resurrected Christ while the Blessed Mother, still covered in a black veil, comes in the front line of the women. A kid do the task of lifting the veil of Mama Mary. Beautiful. The Salubong signals a new beginning for all of us. And what does the Salubong and Easter tell us?  God is truly present in our lives and He is present in every heart that truly shares love with one another. Would love to end this reflection with this lovely lines:

Now let the heavens be joyful,
Let earth her song begin:
Let the round world keep triumph,
And all that is therein;
Invisible and visible,
Their notes let all things blend,
For Christ the Lord is risen
Our joy that hath no end.
-Saint John of Damascus-

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Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in spring-time. ~Martin Luther 

How could we even think that Easter meant  bunnies and egg hunts?  It is sad that the season has become a little commercialized when it is the most important event that tells us not only Jesus’s death and resurrection but His immense love for all mankind. What has Easter bunnies  and candies and colored eggs got to do with the celebration of the rare beauty of a new life?  Eggs are widely used to symbolize and represent a new life.  It’s a symbol of rebirth. Some  people use real hard-boiled eggs while others make do with plastic eggs filled with colorful candies inside.

It was a long journey, filled with pain, suffering and death.  We could not even begin to fathom if we are worthy of such sacrifice, we could not even begin to fathom if we deserve to be given this beautiful gift of life despite our sins. Easter should center on remembering what Christ did for us. He died on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead . Sin and death. Darkness  to  light.  A new beginning. What a beautiful message Easter brings!

A HAPPY AND BLESSED EASTER TO ALL!

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“Look at His adorable face.
Look at His glazed and sunken eyes.
Look at His wounds.
Look Jesus in the Face.
There, you will see how He loves us.”

~ St. Therese of Lisieux

Yesterday, we did the rounds of seven  churches in Quezon City and San Juan areas to do our traditional  Lenten Visita Iglesia. Last year, we visited several towns in Laguna for our Visita Iglesia 2010. We earlier planned of going to Bulacan but my son had work so we decided to confine our visits at the nearly churches in Quezon City. Hopefully next year, we’ll be able to go there. I took some shots of the churches we went to  and I think this is the first time I’ll be doing this on WordPress since most of my Visita Iglesia albums are posted at another site. I am just excited to share these places which are as lovely as the old churches we’ve been to before. First stop was Christ the King Church in Greenmeadows. It’s a modern structure with a lovely garden in front.

They have a lovely altar, don’t they? We were surprised  that a van of a health drink  called Pocari Sweat was giving out  several bottles for free. What a lovely gesture promoting their product that way. Hubby said, it was a nice start because the church, Christ the King have a lovely ring to it. Next stop was Mary the Queen Parish in Madison St., San Juan City. There was on ongoing retreat so we didn’t stay long and parking was a little hard. We have to walk a few meters to reach the church.

The church was open on all sides so it was a bit airy. Third stop was St. John the Baptist  Parish in San Juan City. Obviously their patron saint is St. John the Baptist. I knew it simply as Pinaglabanan Church.

Notice the covered images at the altar. Even the 14 Stations were all covered. In some parishes, they only cover the images with purple cloth after the mass of the Last Supper.

It was a short distance from Pinaglabanan to the National Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel  in New Manila, Quezon City. There were lots of vendors lining up the side of the church selling sweets, fruits, even cooked food like inihaw na bangus, sinaing na isda  (haven’t tasted this yet), dried fish and other seafood. Parking was not easy, we have to wait for a vacant slot before we entered the church.

I simply love those stained glass windows that reflect the light in different directions. This place is so familiar to me since  hubby and I used to pray the rosary here after every laboratory visits when I was having my chemotherapy almost two years ago.  Next stop was Sto. Domingo Church, the  National Shrine of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary located in Quezon Avenue, QC.  We stayed for an hour or two here since we met up with Fr. Louie, a Dominican priest friend. He toured us at Bahay Dominiko, prayed over my healing and blessed the family too.  I love everything about Bahay Dominiko (will have to put it in another blog). Thank you for the lovely rosary Fr. Louie.

Aren’t you envious of their lush garden? I am. Every time we visit here,  I always feel the urge to take pictures of the lovely image of Our Lady and this corner.  It’s so soothing to see lovely greens all around.

This is the lovely interior of the church. I always tell myself that I could not do justice taking shots of this place, the lovely interior, the ceiling, the stained glass windows – everything is just beautiful.

Of the seven churches we visited, four of them are shrines, beautiful churches around Metro Manila. Our 6th stop is the National Shrine of our Lady of Lourdes  in Amoranto St. Quezon City. Hubby and I were here last month. Like the Sto. Domingo Church, this should be a must-visit for you.

Our last and final stop was the Shrine of the Divine Word. I spent a lot of Sundays here when we were still living in Kamuning, I used to visit their seminary store.  It’s the old Christ the King I knew from way back.

This cross was laid right in front of the church’s steps. It’s very symbolic, isn’t it?

It was a meaningful Way of the Cross for the family.  Attending the Last Supper mass capped our observance of Maundy Thursday, a solemn and lovely celebration which made me cry.

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I would have wanted to make this blog a bit special since this is my 500th blog here but my mind is full of lovely thoughts  that need a little organizing (if you will) or shall I say, I need to prioritize on what to blog about today and in the coming days as well.

Since we are celebrating Maundy Thursday, I’ll keep quiet  and meditate for a while and update you later. There are definitely more surprises and more blessings.

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