Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage

On the day we received some really bad news, and we were luckily in the vicinity of Antipolo City to bring Ma and Dad to one of their regular acupuncture sessions, what better way to while away the time than to praise and beg for indulgence. So off we went to the Antipolo Church, abode of the Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage. We lit candles for the intention of our special friend who at the time was battling for her life. While we knew the Lord heard us, through Our Lady’s intercession, He has better plans for her, her family and our friends.

And since we were already there, we again asked for the cover of His protection every time we travel.

Trek up north

Today, we go on vacation that isn’t the beach or Tagaytay, or our hometowns. Hooray! It’s also the first time the husband drove that long. I would have traded seats with him but I haven’t got the hang of driving the new car so it’s just him.

The first order of the day was a spur of the moment, but totally worth it visit to Our Lady of Manaoag. Wouldn’t pass up the chance to pay our respects and say our prayers. I know that many other religions or cults have bashed Catholics for praying in front of statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary or saints. We don’t actually pay homage to the physical things, but we believe deep in our hearts that we can pray anywhere with or without the representations in front of us. We believe in their intercession, and I for one, believe in living Christ’s teachings and emulating the godly life of saints. Ours is more of faith rather than literal interpretation of what is written in books.

Our new community

This will be our new hangout every Sunday.

church

Last Sunday, I was sort of cornered by my new friend, Ate Daisy, who lives in the same village and is the coordinator for our parish, to serve as offeror at the Sunday mass. This was when nobody was manning the parish office when we dropped by to schedule our house blessing the previous week, and I had to make bilin with her. She volunteered to arrange the blessing for us then asked us for this, for lack of a better word, “favor”. I said yes in a heartbeat. And I was very glad I did. There’s nothing like being in God’s house, and praising and thanking Him.

We haven’t exactly been the regular churchgoers in the last few years. We try to, as much as we can, but real life seems to always derail plans. I know, I know, that’s not an excuse. But discovering that there’s a church five minutes from our house gave me renewed vigor to set aside time for my trusty Kuya Jess since He has blessed our family so much.

Heritage Tour

On my second trip to Iloilo this month, I was able to go around and see what Iloilo City and its nearby towns have to offer. I went around on a heritage tour with the group we arranged a conference for. It was an authentic cultural journey, and while I am no architecture buff nor critic, I was definitely in awe of the beauty of the facade, trusses, buttresses, altar, and the structures in general. I marveled at the love the Ilonggos have put into preserving their heritage as seen in the perfectly kept and maintained sites. Everything stands majestic, and will always remind us of eras that shaped our history, and contributed to what we are now as a nation.

First stop: Molo Church


Second stop: Casa Mariquit. Old home of a branch of the Lopez Family. My camera starting conking out and producing very blurry images (which was really weird). Settings went ok as soon as we got out of the place.


Third stop: Barquillos-making demo and authentic pancit molo at the Deocampo’s

Fourth stop: Jaro Cathedral where the belfry stands across and apart the main church


Fifth stop: local weaving center

Sixth stop: The famous Miag-ao Church, one of UNESCO’s heritage sites in the Philippines.

Didn’t get to take a photo of Tigbauan Church, which was just as magnificent as the others.

Carlos Celdran and birth control

Did you hear about what happened to Carlos Celdran yesterday?  He apparently disturbed a mass being held at the Manila Cathedral to air his protest about the Church meddling in politics, bearing a placard in his hand with the single word DAMASO (a figure in Jose Rizal’s novel, Noli Me Tangere, who represents greedy friars during the Spanish era in the Philippines).  Being the history buff himself, he felt it so fitting that he would be attacking the Church in right about the same way that early brave Filipinos did when they finally stood up to abusive Spaniards.   I would surmise that this stemmed from the news that circulated the day before about threats that Pnoy is about to be excommunicated by the Church for supporting the Reproductive Health Bill being pushed in Congress.  Carlos’ little stunt didn’t actually surprise me being a regular reader of his blog and having known his active advocacy on birth control (I knew he gives out condoms).  In fact, I almost applauded him. Sadly, what he did landed him an overnight stay in jail while waiting for the Church to press charges against him for disturbing a solemn gathering. Wtf.

For the record, I am a Catholic having been raised by religious devotees and sent to an exclusive Catholic school up until the age of 16.  My faith is intact.  I am a lover of humanity.  I am a believer of a Higher Being.

Still, I am also for informed choice.

All the recent hullabaloo is about birth control, which the Catholic Church is so up in arms against. Their reason is so old-fashioned and outdated, I’m surprised it hasn’t been burned to the ground. They are still trying to hold on to the old “go forth and multiply” adage! At this day and age when our population and poverty are on an all-time high, the time for being conservative (at least in this aspect) has passed. Poverty in the Philippines has gripped all of us, and has left our economy in a semi-devastating state. Hence our people has also been left with misery and very little hope for the future. Our situation for the past decades has been this: more people equals more mouths to feed but with lesser employment opportunities equals hunger and pain. Our population has totally boomed out of proportion, and both the nation and the government has been feeling the brunt of trying to live and protect. This has become the root cause of ALL of our problems as a country. We are unable to move on because we haven’t even satisfied the first level of the hierarchy of needs (Abraham Maslow). Our population is hungry!

Unluckily, the most badly affected by all of this are those with low income levels or no income at all! Somewhere along the way, the issue of lack of education, thus less access to information, comes into play. Many poor families where mothers and fathers generally finished minimal education are saddled with more children that they can raise. We see this everyday, in the roads and slums that we pass by on the way to work, on television where the media feasts on their vulnerability, in print, etcetera. It’s heart-wrenching, frustrating and annoying to witness all the time. The way dirty babies cling to their equally unkempt mother, ugh!

Now, what the government intends to do now is to do something about eradicating poverty by curtailing the continued ballooning of our population. We all know that it can only do so much about social services, and it cannot forever be providing instant relief but unsustainable lives for the poor. It is trying to come up with steps to curb the growth of our people but it is facing its greatest enemy in this fight-the church. I really couldn’t fathom the latter’s resistance and vigorous efforts against the government’s stabs at birth control and reproductive health of women and mothers. Sometimes I think church officials (my apologies up There) are acting like cretins and are so narrow-minded that they fail to see the positive effects that these efforts by the government and other organizations may bring to the lives of Filipinos, especially the poorest of the poor. And these won’t even be imposed upon those who do not want them. For the most part, the government intends to provide information on natural and artificial birth control through a massive campaign. It also plans to make available condoms, pills, IUDs and other paraphernalia in health centers so that people can avail of them if they want to. There’s no pushing happening here. It’s all voluntary. And again, it’s all about availability of choices. Why is it that the Church is adverse to people learning?

I consider myself lucky that I have resources available within my reach. I can choose for myself the best way I can take care of myself and my family by not having more children until we are more able and stable. How about those that cannot? How about that wife and mother down the street that feeds “am” to her children because she couldn’t buy milk? Why would you deprive women like her of the opportunity to be more careful and discerning when it comes to her body and her family? It is like depriving them of a better life and future, don’t you think?