Friday, December 28, 2007

A Christmas postscript (or a Mary Christmas)

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

Hi there! First things first. Monsignor Basiling Rosales was laid to rest yesterday. He was 98 years old. Former Palo Archbishop Pedro Dean said the funeral mass at the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral. Concelebrating with him were Calbayog Bishop Isabelo Abarquez and Bishop Emeritus Maximiano Cruz.

* * *

It’s a weekend and it’s the feast of the Holy Innocents. I can still recall some old folks say that it’s not nice to lend money on this day. Whatever that means. The capitalists raked it in at Christmas, it seems that they have ran out of ideas as to how make money out of this day of the niños inocentes.

So, we’re a few days away to the New Year. As always, a question is asked: what’s in store for us in 2008? The answers will be varied. I believe it will depend upon your main concerns in life. Take BusinessWeek which said that many see dark days for investors in 2008. And that we should hope for a rapid resolution of the housing and credit crunch. For its part, the Arroyo Administration is reportedly bullish about the economy in the coming year. Okey, economics is boring. Let’s have politics then, now this is where the answers will be as colorful as it is varied. On the national front I see the impeachment smoke filling the air again (hmm, time to make money again? Oops, me and my mouth!) On the local front, I’d rather keep my mouth shut (for now, anyway). Election is two years away and as it has been said time and again, action for the next election starts after an election. I dunnow about you, but it seems like I didn’t notice anyone raise an eyebrow or anything when news came out about political alliance being brewed between Lakas and either the Liberal or the Nacionalista parties. And yes, surprise! Thanks to Pulse Asia, Fred Lim turned out to be the most popular politician there is.

* * *

I failed to submit my column for December 26. It was supposed to contain a reflection on the liturgy for the eighth day of the traditional Misa De Gallo. I found that reflection nice that I always made it sure to feature it in this column each time Christmas comes. So, let me give it to you as a Christmas postscript.

As I’ve been doing the past two years, once again I would like to share some reflection I got two years ago. The subject for that day’s mass was the visit of Mary to Elizabeth (yap, this is the second joyful mystery. It always reminds me of a friend’s and my delusion about royalty that one time a friend leading the rosary said: “the second joyful mystery is the visitation of Mary to her cousin queen Elizabeth”). Going back to the topic, so what’s the big deal about that visit? I can still remember Fr. Jun Jungco’s take on this.

Mary was heavy with a child. (According to biblical scholars) The distance she traveled was 90 kilometers and in those days that distance took seven days. We never know if Mary walked or rode a donkey (something akin to private car or trucks of today’s rich people). She ran the risk of her chastity being violated, and not to mention the wild animals and muggers along the way. To make it short, it was not a travel for pleasure.

But there she was, making real the first encounter between the Messiah (Jesus) and the prophet (John). Mary brings Jesus to John, she brings Jesus to all of us Christians. This is why Mary plays a vital role of salvation. In today’s world, the visit tells us that we all have a social concern for others, that we have a social obligation to others. Our human weaknesses trap us to the temptations of being apathetic and callous to the needs of others. We don’t mind others because we are so comfortable with our own selves, with the security of our jobs and the comfort and safety of our homes. Not until we become victims ourselves do we join groups aimed at eliminating that which caused us to be hurt or afflicted.

Mary braved the dangers of travel just to visit and assist Elizabeth. We are called to do same to others. Mary was sensitive to the needs of others. Let us not be apathetic and callous to the needs of others. Let us take Mary as our model. And let us remember that this is not really a very heavy obligation because God does not demand beyond our capacity.

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Taragpo 2007. Christie Regians will once again gather for the Annual Alumni Homecoming dubbed as Targapo 2007. Christ the King College Day and Night High Schools Batch 1987 will be this year’s sponsors. Taragpo 2007 is set at 7:00 pm this Sunday, December 30, 2007 at the Frs. Leopold and David Auditorium. And yes, following tradition, there will be raffle prizes.

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Have a Happy New Year everyone! Ciao!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Halad Sa Pasko '07

While most of the City Hall employees got busy with their respective christmas parties, employees of the City Arts and Culture Office got busy with the annual share-a-gift program dubbed Halad Sa Pasko. Today I saw them on board the school bus. They were about to leave for the right river area to distribute gifts for some less fortunate Calbayognons.

the 12 days of Christmas

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

Hi there! It’s Friday and we’re three days away to Christmas. Calbayog LGU employees are five thousand peso richer today. Disbursement of the said bonus started yesterday.

Yup, in addition to the Misa De Gallo, the food and the decors that depict either the birth of Jesus or crass commercialism, it seems that the bonus (and especially the additional or the extra) is the other big thing that many equate with Christmas. And sad as it may seem, when bonus comes around, a good number of people are quick to say, “salamat may pasko guihapon”. Does it boil down to values being eroded? Values (re)orientation perhaps? Or could be (considering that Christmas is basically a religious festivity) some, if not many guardians of the faith failed to inculcate the proper values upon the Christian or Catholic faithful entrusted to them.

But reality check. Commercialism is here to stay and values are sure to be affected by time and what have you. If there is one thing that characterized news this year, it should be the economic crunch that many of us are either complaining or raving about. So, is it going to be a lackluster Christmas? Nah! They don’t call us Pinoys if we don’t know how to make things light amid difficulties – perceived or real. One day news will report about families worrying about food on Noche Buena; other days one gets a report on how crowded Divisoria and the other shopping centers are.

Talking about the economic crisis. Alas, it’s not only the local establishments or the jeepneys that had to raise their prices. Even the U.S. embassy had to raise their fees. Well, what with every Filipino wanting to taste the milk and honey from the land of milk and honey, the increase in fees should be no big deal. Alas, not for one senator. I dunnow if I was watching the news half asleep or half awake, I thought I heard the newscaster say that the senator is planning to summon U.S. embassy officials to explain the fee increases. Hmm, the senate inquiry on this issue should be interesting.

* * *

Some history lesson. An AD in the lifestyle channel recently caught my attention. It was their take on that popular Christmas carol entitled The Twelve Days of Christmas. I kinda squirmed at the said AD (though I like what they did with the portion on the 5th day of Christmas . . . my true love gave me 5 naked men …) Seriously, that song seems so popular even fashion magazines occasionally come out with fashion forecasts based on the theme inspired by that song.

You might want to ask what in the world do leaping lords, French hens, swimming swans, and especially the partridge that won't come out of the pear tree have to do with Christmas? A few days ago I got an email regarding that song and I thought I’d like to share it with you.

From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning. The surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember.

The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.
Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.
Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.
The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.
The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.
Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit-Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.
The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.
Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit-Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.
The ten lords a-leaping were the Ten Commandments.
The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.
The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed.

* * *

Let me leave you with a line I got from Mana Charo (Nabong – Cabardo) when we met with her early this week. She mentioned something about her work on the life of the fist Bishop of the Dicoese of Calbayog, Msgr. Pablo Singzon. Asked why he chose Calbayog as the center of the Diocese which then included Samar, Leyte, Biliran and the Marianas Islands. The Bishop answered: “The religiousity of Calbayognons is second to none”.

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Have a Merry Christmas everyone! Ciao!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Desiderata in waray-waray

I am pleased to feature Yoyoy Genotiva's Waray-Waray translation of Desiderata. Please check this link.

hey big spender

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

Hi there! It’s midweek and we’re in to the fourth day of the Misa De Gallo. As to the attendance in the mass, no question about it, kumbaga it’s always "box office" (oops, sorry about the term, it’s so pink). It always makes me wonder what is it about this mass which makes people wake up and fill the cathedral early in the morning, come rain or shine, err, shining stars. A friend told me that for many it boils down to one word: wish. That one’s wish is supposedly granted if one is able to attend all nine masses. So, from the looks of it, it’s either many believers had their wishes granted thus they kept coming back all these years; or maybe one was not able to complete the nine masses for the past so many years and thus the desire to do it again and again. Seriously, whatever is one’s intention in going to this mass, it’s nice to note that we have this tradition wherein many make it an obligation to rise early and be with the faithful to worship and prepare for the birth of the Savior, that birth which in turn is also a time for many to be into what they do the best – seasonal generosity.

There is another familiar activity in Calbayog that happens in December, it’s the annual Light-a-Tree project (which we fondly refer to as Christmas Street café). The project is aimed at raising funds for the various humanitarian programs of the Rotary Club of Calbayog. They do it by renting out food stalls to local entrepreneurs for the whole month of December.

Just in case you’d like to know, the stall owners around the tree raked it in during the last weekend, and thus the title for today, what with the lowest earning for the night pegged at 15K. Well, nothing beats the timing: it was a Friday, sweldo time and many received their bonuses on that day. Some ATM machines in the city even had to hang for some time coz of heavy withdrawals. It makes me dizzy considering the money that circulated in the area that night; or should I say that was spent on beer, sinugba and chichirya. Well, it’s that time of the year. And considering the aim of the project, it was money well spent, in a way.

* * *

Awardees. Last December 11, 2007, thirteen Barangay Health Workers (BHW) from Calbayog received the Loyalty Service Award from the Department of Health (RO8). The award was given during the simultaneous awarding at the DPWH Convention Center in Candajug, Leyte.

The Awardees from Calbayog were: Anita Allequir, Norma Aquiliño, Teresita Balero, Dolores Cayunda, Aurea Concon, Dominga Jumaday, Concepcion Maribojoc, Sofia Monteron, Flaviana Yu, Gloria Arnaiz, Ana Gorgonia, Beatriz Merencillo and Angela Omila.

* * *

Two years ago the Philippines hosted the Southeast Asian Games. Among the issues that made it to the news at that time was the noise (read: protests) made by Thailand (so far the only country that made noise).

It made me write this paragraph in my column two years ago: “Now for the lighter side. So the Philippines topped the medal tally in the recent SEA Games. So, far it’s the Thais (or at least some of their officials) who made a fuzz about the Philippines making it to the top. A case of sore losers? C’mon, wait for the next games when you have the hometown advantage. But come to think of it, the Thai Olympic Committee president was all praises for the Philippine hosting.”

Fast forward 2007. No need to mention about how the Thais rigged the recent SEA games.

* * *

Also two years ago, I had a short chat with CSWDO’s Vir Tomnob regarding the MDG deliberations in Hanoi, Vietnam which, as expected, the Filipinos monopolized, well, almost. An Indonesian delegate commented: “We and the Philippines are both presidential but you are more intelligent than us. If you (the Filipinos) can only cut your corruption by 30% you will move forward”.

Fast forward 2007. Transparency international comes out with that controversial survey result on the world’s most corrupt nations.

* * *

Let me leave you with something to smile about this week. FUNERAL PROCESSION:

A woman was leaving a convenience store with her morning coffee when she noticed a most unusual funeral procession approaching the nearby cemetery.

A long black hearse was followed by a second long black hearse about 50 feet behind the first one. Behind the second hearse was a solitary woman walking a pit bull on a leash. Behind her, a short distance back, about 200 women were walking single file.

The woman couldn't stand her curiosity. She respectfully approached the woman walking the dog and said, "I am so sorry for your loss, I know now is a bad time to disturb you, but I've never seen a funeral like this. Whose funeral is it?"

"My husband's"

"What happened to him?"

The woman replied, "My dog attacked and killed him."

She inquired further, "Well, who is in the second hearse?"

The woman answered, "My mother-in-law. She was trying to help my husband when the dog turned on her."

A poignant and thoughtful moment of silence passed between the two women.

"Can I borrow the dog?"

"Get in the line."

* * *

Have a nice week everyone! Ciao!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

seasonal generosity

Hi there! It’s Midweek and it’s barely two weeks before many of our fellowmen will be indulging in their seasonal generosity. One thing I’m sure of, there will be an overkill (hhm, that term reminds me of some recent events. Yup, like a senator and his cohorts who expected 11 million voters to go to the Peninsula?) in the supply of food, used clothing and well, toiletries for either the jail inmates or some of wards at the home for the aged. What with every organization there is in town thinking about doing the same thing for the same beneficiaries at the same time. Well, it comes but once a year, let them have it.

Oops, I’m reminded of one Holy Week celebration. At least three friends of mine went to visit prisoners and bringing with them some foodstuff and what have you on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. It turns out the three (and I suppose, many other parishioners) said their confession with the same priest and they all got the same penitensya (does it mean they all committed the same sin? Smile, it’s supposed to be a joke). How about that? I couldn’t disagree with that priest, he must have realized early on the prisoners get attended to only at the end of the year, so why not a midyear break for them? (Smile! It’s midweek)

* * *

Yesterday, Mayor Mel Sarmiento together with some Department Managers met with Mr. Moon-Shik Kim, a Korean national who is connected with KIBIO 2007 Co. Ltd. They discussed about the possibility of tapping local resources / agricultural lands for conversion as jatropha / tuba-tuba plantation. Tuba-tuba has been identified as an important factor in bio-diesel / bio-fuel production. As an initial step, the Korean group is identifying a five-hectare lot which will serve as their nursery in Calbayog, that’s in addition to their nursery in San Roque, Northern Samar.

* * *

Cheers. The employees of the LGU will be 5-thousand peso richer this Christmas. During last Monday’s regular session, upon the request of the City Mayor, the SP approved an ordinance reverting the amount of 5.850 million pesos for the extra cash gift for qualified officials and employees of the LGU. Said amount is expected to be disbursed on the third week of this month.

* * *

Jeers. Last Monday, the City Mayor got pissed-off with the dismal attendance of employees in the flag-raising ceremony. He is expected to issue a memorandum aimed at (once again) reminding the LGU employees on the importance of the flag-raising ceremonies.

* * *

So, PGMA is back from her successful state visit to Europe and Kuwait. As to the term - state visit or junket - I guess it will depend upon which side of the political fence one is into. With Ranario being saved from the death row, PGMA got those rare few moments when she got raves from groups who are exactly into PGMA. Nice to know that. But of course, there is more to be done not only about Ranario and the OFWs but those who are planning to work as well, OFW.
Now, do you remember that man-on-the-street interview about the dollar’s dipping worth? I think I saw a husband complaining about his wife’s dollar buying less for their family. And a few days ago, the common-law husband of Ranario went on TV saying sana lubos-lubosin na ni PGMA na palayain na ang asawa ko. Just a question: what are the men doing here? Why is it that it’s their wives who are working abroad? Oops, I see some quarters saying that we have to blame it on PGMA coz of the non-availability of jobs at home. Seriously, I’m just bothered by that. Back to those two husbands who appeared on TV, I still need to hear reports if they have jobs here at home. I supposed they do, otherwise, it’s a different story.

* * *

Let me leave you with something to smile about this week. Let’s say it’s a result of the recent events. It’s something I got via email (as always):


1) Not even his mother joined them
2) Oakwood had a better lobby
3) CNN was not there to cover it
4) The hotel had run out of ice cubes
5) The APCs were parked in the lobby and not the parking lot
6) Sen. Trillanes realized being teargassed was not part of his mandate as senator.
7) Vice President Guingona thought it was an anti-erap, or pro-erap pardon rally, whatever...
8) Surrender was better than the company of Father Robert Reyes
9) Sen. Trillanes noticed people were crying not because of the tear gas but because of him
10) Even GMA was beginning to look better the longer they stayed

* * *

Have a nice week everyone! Ciao!

Friday, December 7, 2007


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

Hi there! It’s Friday, and yes tomorrow the annual Concert at the Pen will go on as scheduled, where else but at the famous Manila Peninsula Lobby. But today’s title is not about that kind of lobby. Far from it.

Tomorrow is the feast of the Immaculate Conception, Patron Saint of the Philippines. Just like the cold spell, that feast is also a reminder for me of Christmas being close at hand. The other reminder would be having some friends talk about memories of childhood. That we did a few days ago, and we ended recalling how we used to call things. Take these: idru (for airplane), pantalan (for the seaport), pridyider (for a refrigerator), bapor (for boat). So, it’s not hopeless after all, there still is another face of Christmas that we can look forward to, I mean friends and the happy memories of childhood.

* * *

So, PGMA is in Europe to pay homage to our (former) colonial masters (in Spain) and will be off to London to visit the queen. Ah, the perks of the Presidency (?). As the king and queen toasted PGMA, some solons back home are making noise about the trip being a junket. As in, like is it something new? I mean this kind of trip and entourage? (oops, me and my mouth!)

* * *

It’s been a week since we commemorated Andres Bonifacio (thank you for the long weekend). Seriously, (and thanks to channel 7’s i-witness) I’m wondering what happened to Bonifacio’s image which was replaced by that of Aguinaldo on the five-peso bill? As we all know the said denomination was later replaced with coins bearing the image of Aguinaldo. So where did Bonifacio go? He ended up sharing a spot with Mabini in the ten-peso bill, which in turn is also on the way out (read: out of circulation). Just wondering, is there a lobby group or something?

Talking about lobby groups (and how some of these groups can make people forget the law). Last Monday, Mayor Mel Sarmiento mentioned about what the LCP is doing about municipalities that were created as cities despite not being qualified (taking into consideration the requirements of the law). When confronted about this, one senator had it by simply saying “inaraw-araw kasi kami sa pag-lobby”.

* * *

Congratulations to Marju-Krisel Family Resort. The establishment won the 1st Place in the Economy Hotel Category during the recently concluded 2007 Healthy Cities Initiatives (HCI) – Healthy Places Contest.

Calbayog’s other entries to the contest included the following: Brgy. Carmen (Urban Barangay Category), Brgy. Panoypoy (Rural Barangay), Samar Coco (Industrial Workplace), Kaun Kit Restaurant (Eating Place) and San Joaquin National High School (for Elementary Public School).

Awarding Ceremonies is set on December 11, 2007 at the DPWH-RO8 Convention Hall. The said competition was joined in by the Cities of Maasin, Ormoc, Tacloban and Calbayog.

Still with the HCI activities. Last November 27, 2007. The HCI spearheaded the Regional On-the-Spot Painting Contest at DOH Office in Candahug. Angierose Rosales, a student from the San Policarpo National High School won over the other contestants from Region 8. Two other high school students from Calbayog participated in the contest. They were Nelette Sagayap of Christ the King College and John Paul Soliva of the Oquendo National High School.

* * *

I received an email regarding the celebration of the Immaculate Conception and the hour of grace. That’s what I would like to leave you with this weekend: THE REQUEST OF OUR BLESSED MOTHER FOR THE HOUR OF GRACE:

1. Day and time of the Hour of Grace: December 8th, Feast of the Immaculate Conception, to be started at 12:00 noon and continuing until 1:00 p.m. for one full hour of prayer.

2. During this hour, the person making the "Hour of Grace" either at home or at Church must put away all distractions (do not answer the telephones, or answer any doors, or do anything but totally concentrate on your union with God during this special Hour of Grace).

3. Begin the Hour of Grace by praying three (3) times the 51st Psalm with out-stretched arms. (Psalm 51 appears below)

4. The rest of the Hour of Grace may be spent in silent communication with God meditating upon the Passion of Jesus, saying the Holy Rosary, praising God in your own way, or by using favorite prayers, singing hymns, meditating upon other psalms, etc.

Have mercy on me, God, in your goodness; in your abundant compassion blot out My offense.
Wash away all my guilt; from my sin cleanse me. For I know my offense; my sin is always before me. Against you alone have I sinned; I have done such evil in your sightThat you are just in your sentence, blameless when you condemn. True, I was born guilty, a sinner, even as my mother conceived me. Still, you insist on sincerity of heart; in my inmost being teach me wisdom.
Cleanse me with hyssop, that I may be pure; wash me, make me whiterthan snow. let me hear sounds of joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Turn away your face from my sins; blot out all my guilt.
A clean heart create for me, God; renew in me a steadfast spirit. Do not drive me from your presence, nor take from me your holy spirit.
Restore my joy in your salvation; sustain in me a willing spirit. I will teach the wicked your ways, that sinners may return to you. Rescue me from death, God, my saving God, that my tongue may praise your healing power.
Lord, open my lips; my mouth will proclaim your praise. For you do not desire sacrifice; a burnt offering you would not accept.
My sacrifice, God, is a broken spirit; God, do not spurn a broken, humbled heart. Make Zion prosper in your good pleasure; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
Then you will be pleased with proper sacrifice, burnt offerings and holocausts; then bullocks will be offered on your altar.

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Have a nice weekend everyone! Ciao!