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Archive for November, 2011


“Heavenly Father, since the time of the Apostles, you have inspired the Church to commission certain members to assist in a special way in the pastoral mission of Christ.

Bless the deacons that they may be humble and faith-inspired in their service. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.”

Today is the Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle  but it was even more special because it is also the Diaconate Ordination of a close friend whom I also consider an older son. And before I forget, I would like to congratulate the newly ordained Deacons of the Order of Preachers:

  1. Rev. Bejay P. Namuag, OP
  2. Rev. Paul Lovell G. Javier, OP
  3. Rev. Jeremy E. Realubit, OP
  4. Rev. Rudolf  Steven N. Seno, OP
  5. Rev. Manoj Rasanjana, OP

We were at Sto. Domingo Church earlier than the appointed time. There was really no traffic because it’s a holiday today.  Today also marks the 4th Sacerdotal Ordination Anniversary of my good friend, Fr. Louie Coronel, OP who is also my co-admin  at Apostles Filipino Catholic Community. It was  definitely another day worth remembering – seeing old friends and meeting the Dominican  community in one of their most important gatherings. It was also my first time to meet the Ordaining Prelate , His Eminence Jose Cardinal Sanchez, DD.  The occasion was a solemn one, replete with meaningful moments.  I’ve quite forgotten how lovely an ordination can be since the last time I attended one was so long ago. What I do remember are the solemn profession of  vows made by some FMM (Franciscan Missionaries of Mary) friends two or three years ago.

I am looking forward to the event when all these five Deacons will finally be ordained as priests a few months from now. Fr. Louie told me to attend Lovell’s first mass. I am keeping my fingers crossed. We need to pray for them too, more so, we need to pray for our priests.

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The tender days of November are finally coming to an end. And you’re right, this is my month-ender blog. November will always be a special month for the whole family. It’s not everyday that your daughter gets  married and it’s not everyday that your son gets to be ordained  a Deacon.  November is a month of meeting old relatives and friends that we haven’t seen in a while. It’s a month of new discovery, of happy endings and new beginnings.

The cold winds bite but I welcome it with open arms and just let the gentle breeze kiss my cheeks. The birds are visiting our garden again and it’s time to spend the morning, coffee in hand to just let the world go by, savor pleasant thoughts of yesterday and plan for tomorrow.  It’s been a while since I spent sometime in the garden for long.  I’ve been conscious again of letting barriers down, commuting on my own, going to nearby places to run errands for the family. It’s more than a week now since I caught this colds virus that everyone seems to catch too. Believe me, I am finding it hard to breathe sometimes. I guess I have to wear face masks again, for the time being.

We normally put up our Christmas decor on the last day of November but since tomorrow is one of the days I’ve been waiting for, being Lovell’s scheduled Diaconate Ordination, I guess, we need to sort them out today. Seeing Christmas ornaments bring back nostalgic thoughts and longing for the past years when we were  complete as a family, when Dad was still around.  I remember his indulgent smile and miss his stories about life. I remember how he would gently nods if you’ll ask him if he likes seafood for Christmas. I remember how he would stare at the Christmas tree lights and just sit in a corner.  It’s almost four years now since we lost him. And celebrating Christmas four years ago without him was a little different,  because we lost him one December night before Christmas. Things fade and may get lost among the trinkets and Christmas lights and ornaments .  But  the memory of  Christmas past lingers and dwells in my heart.

A year ago, I enjoyed doing my own quotes in photographs and pasting well-known quotes  in various shots I took with my digital camera. It was quite a joy to do them but I lost interest when Facebook users started copying and pasting quotes on their walls culled from various pages and from some users. It looks as if everything could be told in a quote and I noticed they don’t even bother acknowledging the real source of the photo.  How do you say that in Tagalog? It has become “nakakasuya” and “nakakaumay”. Everyday, my news feed is full of it. I shudder at the thought that some people just rely on other people’s words and quote them verbatim without even thinking of doing something original, something they could really call their own.   Most of my friends would probably say, to each his own.

November is coming to a close, gently folding its leaves to welcome the cold December days. And may I say, Merry Christmas to one and all.

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We ask God for strength at the lowest ebb in our lives but sometimes we never realize that it is precisely the reason why He allows us to experience something life-changing to make us stronger in faith and love.

Never waver in your faith. when you think you are drowning, it’s at that instance that the tide will turn and will lift you up.

Earlier on, I used to write these  one-liner series which I call Heartland. It’s been a while, I am reviving it today but I won’t confine them to just one line. Besides, I want to share these reflections which I regularly post at the Apostles Filipino Catholic Community’s wall.

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We’ve all been waiting for this, Lovell’s Diaconate Ordination which is the next step to priesthood.  I really admire his tenacity, perseverance and love of what he does.  Teaching and preaching – two things that he does best. I won’t be surprised if in the near future, he’d become one of the revered figures of the UST academe.

Congratulations Lovell, I am so proud of you.  Happy Diaconate Ordination!

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There was this story of a little boy who ate worms because he felt no  one would mind if he did.  No one would care if he gets sick because he has no friends.  How many of us feel that way? We feel abandoned and alone because no one would say, “Don’t, you’ll get sick if you do that.”  How many of us feel that our life is useless because no one cares?

We seek that elusive thing called happiness but there is really no cut and dried formula or rules by which we could say, “follow this and you will be happy.”  Since time immemorial, man has searched for that one special something that would permanently put a smile on his face,  a lift of the heart and a feeling of joy everyday of his life. But do you think life would be interesting if we don’t encounter those small barriers that give its meaning? Problems are meant to spice up life just as search for happiness is. They say that happiness is a state of mind and it is a result of events and circumstances  that have positive effect in our well-being.  I don’t think we need to search for it because it naturally follows when something good or something inspiring happens in our lives.  Some people would be happy with just a few pesos in their pockets but some  need millions stashed in their bank accounts to make them feel secure and happy.

Happiness comes easy to those who look at the sunrise and think that it is another golden opportunity to shine while it does not come easy to those who think that it is another day to hurdle. In the end, happiness is how we make it, it depends on our attitude towards life, whether we choose to enjoy it or choose to be miserable. Happiness is infectious while misery is not. Think of happy thoughts always.

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It’s the Holy Season of Advent and we’re now celebrating the first Sunday. Every year, we look forward to the coming  of Jesus and pray those beautiful prayers of longing and waiting and sing those beautiful songs of hope and promise.

The Advent season is full of God’s blessings for all of us. He makes  us realize and remember to look back at the whole year that is about to end and to look forward to a new and hopeful  year that is about to begin.  Are we ready to take Him into our hearts? Are we ready to accept Him in our lives?  True, we always say time is gold and we should not waste it but we also need to take stock of what is more important, a quiet contemplation, a moment of silence, a minute of giving thanks.  Let this be a season of joy for all of us, awaiting a most precious event of the season – a baby born in swaddling cloths to save  mankind.

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Books, books, books and more books!

That’s right, we are celebrating National Reading Day or Araw ng Pagbasa as declared by the Department of Education. It aims to promote reading and literacy among learners and motivate them to learn from the lives and works of eminent Filipinos.  Araw ng Pagbasa has become an annual advocacy to commemorate the birth of martyred senator Ninoy Aquino Jr.

I remember the times I introduced my kids to reading. Started on Nissa as early as one year old by buying sturdy picture books  that would help her identify objects. By the time she was in grade school, I gave books to her as gifts for Christmas, birthdays and any important occasion in her young life, same thing I did with my son Josef.  They have established their reading habits early and I noticed that my son was more inclined to read Science and Discovery books  and yes, those costly comic books that he collects until now. My daughter is into inspirational, chick lit, romances and even the latest craze nowadays, vampire stories. Anyway, the important thing is, they read and I appreciate it. Reading has somehow helped them in their studies .

When we are all at home, I sometimes laugh that we are in each individual corner reading a favorite book, if not, we are grouped together in the dining room watching a DVD or a favorite film on TV.

By the way, the sketch  you see above is a gift from a friend who loves to read, write  and has an excellent passion in drawing. She has now her own published e-book.  Here’s a toast to more reading and to more lovely books!

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Being sick does not give you much choice on what to do except perhaps listen to the morning news on the radio, watch TV, sleep and read. I prefer the last two of course since rest and relaxation are all you need to get well.  Come to think of it, I was not even enticed by the thought of opening  a laptop and catching up with friends at Facebook. It was a long three-days of  just catching up on a long neglected hobby – reading.

I first encountered Rosamunde  Pilcher upon the recommendation of a friend whom I met at a book club three years ago. I got curious because for a guy to rave about  one particular author or  book, she really must be good. So I looked for a copy of The Shell Seekers, one of her well-known and much-loved books. I was hooked and from then on, I tried to look for more of her books every time I got the chance to visit Booksale.  Last month, I found four more of her earlier works and bought them all. The funny thing is I was able to finish three in the three days that I was indisposed. Her stories are not your run of the mill love stories. They speak of family relationships, heartbreak, friendships, betrayals, forgiveness and love. Once you start reading  her books, you get to absorb the characters like they are your next-door neighbors or your favorite cousin or your beloved brother or sister.  And seeing her describe Cornwall and Scotland with such beauty and grace makes you long to go there and see the snow-capped vistas and azure skies, it makes you stay at the beach all day long and  just look  at the water and go home with the thought of a nice hot cup of tea and fish and chips prepared by a loyal housekeeper who treats you as a long-lost daughter.  It makes you even curious how a Biro pen looks like because the character you’ve read won’t have no other except a Biro. It makes you long to buy rose-scented soaps and lavender bubble baths and stay relaxed for an hour or two immersed in warm and scented water and wrap yourself with pretty thick bath towels afterward.  You think of the first chill of autumn and the countryside awashed with pretty flowers. Short of saying, I want to live in Scotland and  get to explore Porthkerris despite the rains and the cold. I want to see the  silver hues of the raindrops  on a cold and chilly morning. Such are what you can imagine, just reading her books.

I am on my fourth book now, a collection of short stories called Flowers In the Rain And Other Short Stories. And one of these days, I want to re-read The Shell Seekers and her  other books. And here are some quotes I would love to share with you.

“It was good, and nothing good is truly lost. It stays part of a person, becomes part of their character. So part of you goes everywhere with me. And part of me is yours, forever” – The Shell Seekers

“…Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference in your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word it always was. Let it be spoken without effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was. There is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is this death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner. All is well.”  (from the book  September which I have just read).

“She remembered him smiling, and realized that time, that great old healer, had finally accomplished its work, and now, across the years, the face of love no longer stirred up agonies of grief and bitterness. Rather, one was left feeling simply grateful. For how unimaginably empty the past would be without him to remember.”  The Shell Seekers

 

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Don’t let fear overtake the path you intend to discover. Believe. Dream. Surrender. Follow the trail. You may discover something precious at the end of the road – the happy feeling of knowing that you are not alone in the battle for He is always by your side.

Look back, count the positive things happening in your life. Smile  and say,  “I am blessed”.

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Not long ago, I received this message from some Facebook friends and it says:

Put a heart (♥) on your wall without comment, only a heart. Then send this message to all your friends – only the women. Next, place a heart on the wall of the person who sent this message to you. And if someone asks you why you have so many hearts on your wall, do not reply. This is only for women to remember that this is the week to remember and care about breast cancer. And that we should always think about it.
To make a heart, type < with no space and then a 3 or just highlight the heart, copy and then paste to your wall post.

I wonder who started this but you know how it is on the net, every message you post seems to spread like wildfire without the senders even thinking if it would be appreciated by the recipient.  It’s their way of  making the guys curious about what the heart represents just like the one I received a year ago to just post any color on your wall when the original message was, what’s the color of the bra you’re wearing or something to that effect. Anyway, it’s good that they even think  of and care about breast cancer but it is quite insensitive when they send  the same message to a cancer patient or a cancer survivor  who had struggled with a different kind of cancer. Why do they have to isolate it to breast cancer alone? Why do they need to put the nail on the head and emphasize that it is only breast cancer that matters? You might think,  am I just so sensitive because I was also a cancer victim? Why can’t they just generalize their message and make it a sort of prayer brigade for all people afflicted with the disease, breast cancer or not? There are as many types of cancer that you could not even count on your fingers and if I may say, every cancer type is lethal when you discover it too late and when it is on its progressive stage.

A few weeks after I’ve finished my chemotherapy  almost two years ago (December 08, 2009 was my last session by the way), I searched the net for foundations which support cancer survivors and all I found were the pink ribbon organizations that again, are concentrated on breast cancer awareness and cure. I felt frustrated that they zeroed in on just one type when there are also millions of people out there suffering from other types of cancer.  I understand that breast cancer is one of the most common type of cancers in women, but when you are afflicted with the disease, breast cancer or not, you suffer the same degree of pain and anguish. You suffer the same insecurities whether you will get well or not. And it is even funny that when you meet people from all walks of life and let them know that you are a survivor, they always assume that it is breast cancer. Nope, I said, I had stage 3 colon cancer  and they usually ask if  the treatment is the same – I dont’ know about the other types but I underwent six cycles of chemotherapy and took oral chemotherapy tablets for more than five months. It’s the effect of the chemo drugs on your body that you have to be aware of because one of my friends who is also a cancer survivor  told me that long after you are done with the drastic treatment, the toxins injected in your body are still there.  Trite as it may sound, it’s not a walk in the park and you need lots of resources to continue with the treatment.

In the long run, if you ask me what I value most in my life now, it’s my health. What they say is true, health is wealth. And yes, prayers, lots and lots of prayers and the will and strength to move on – the will to live a normal life again as much as possible.  And the fervent wish that they will finally find a cure instead of subjecting a patient to slash, poison and burn. A friend whom I met on the net and has written several books on alternative cure  said that Slash means the surgery itself, Poison refers of course to chemotherapy and Burn is his term for Radiation Therapy.  And let me end this blog by quoting some favorite lines from one of my favorite writers of all time, Henri Nouwen, a Dutch-born Catholic priest and writer:

Why is it important that you are with God and God alone on the mountain top? It’s important because it’s the place in which you can listen to the voice of the One who calls you the beloved. To pray is to listen to the One who calls you “my beloved daughter,” “my beloved son,” my beloved child.” To pray is to let that voice speak to the center of your being, to your guts, and let that voice resound in your whole being.

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