Monday, July 01, 2013


Magninilay, makikiramdam.
Magdarasal ng taimtim.
Magmumulat ng mata, magmamahal ng wagas.
Mabubuhay para sa iba.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

what the Lord asks of me

Journal entry august 29, 2012

My helplessness.

            As I ponder about my life in the novitiate I was moved to know, what the Lord asks of me now. In this novitiate where I seem to be helpless and powerless, I am still strong and able but left with not so much to do. No T.V. programs to direct, scripts to write and edit, videos to shoot and produce. There were no project consultations and planning for the apostolate. I do not have the time and opportunity to talk with my family and friends, to give them my comfort and love. I ask again: is this what the Lord asks of me now?

            Maybe the Lord is saying that there are many Edward, Edong and Epat who are out there doing the same things that I used to do but there are less Edward, Edong and Epat praying and spending time with Him. This is what he wants of me now, to be still and to stand by Him. This is what my novitiate life should be. I remember the book I was reading (Letters from the Dessert, Caretto) the author presented a question postulated by Pope Pius XII “What does Jesus do in the Eucharist?” He explained that the Lord who is all powerful is immobilized and reduced to a small white bread. We all needed Him so much but he chose to be just there, silent and immobile. The silence of God – the weakness of God he said further. While the whole world is noisy and agitated and confused, he reduced himself to bread.

            It is true that the world and the Eucharist seem to move in opposite direction as the author explains, but I believe that there is no dichotomy (that one is separated from the other) in these because both exist in the same plane. As we live our daily lives which seem to be a churning of pain and labor, we are being gushed like strong waves that crush when it hits the boulders of disappointments and frustrations. It will take a lot of courage and grace for us to be able to swim opposite the current and go where the stillness is – towards the Eucharist. To be able to drop everything and stop for a moment to be quiet – quiet the mind and heart, to worship with the whole being. To be able to do all of these not only in a cerebral level but with the whole body, heart and soul.  

            I have to have a strong faith to understand all of these that at one point God has become powerless to be able to save. That was what he did in the Calvary. In the Eucharist, He let Himself transform into a piece of white bread so that we can receive Him. To spend a moment of helplessness in the exposed host so we can adore Him. In this sense, I want to be a helpless servant – powerless. I thank the Lord for my status now as a novice, he allowed me to be helpless so I can spend time to get to know Him better and be with Him – the source of my vocation, the meaning of my life.  

to be love . . .

Journal entry august 31, 2012

For the times I failed to love, to see love and be love.

            We belong to a community; we all must learn to love each other. We are from a religious congregation and the clergy look up to us in terms of living a community life, they say that in the end we have “a home to come home to” and brothers to have.

            The major issue I am confronting now is how to live with my brothers. I mean on a daily basis, I see them and interact with them. Eat pray and work with them. The problems is that there were moments that I’d rather not see them and know what they do because I cannot help but comment on what they do and how they do it. I also hate myself for being a perfectionist, for demanding and expecting too much from myself and with other people. But I cannot help it. I once told my brothers that I also wished that the time would come that I would just stop caring and minding them.

            I summon love to be my guide, the Lord who is the source of all love. Is it because of too much love for them that I want everything to be in order? Is it the same love the poisons me in the vile of hate and discomfort when things go wrong? It affect me a lot that I mind even the small details of what they do, like being late in the mass and in our prayer time. I get affected if they do not know their schedule for the leading the prayer, serving in the mass and if they are not wearing the prescribed attire for the mass. Maybe I am being too much.

            I think what counts with God is how much we love and how well we serve Him. Love should then be the reason and basis for my words and actions – may I always be reminded of this even though it is hard to follow. Everyday activities and chores should lead me to loving others rather than condemning them. To serve and not to lord over people, to be compassionate and not to blame people, to ask forgiveness and not offer excuses. May I be love. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

2 funerals and a banquet

Journal entry August 19, 2012

        Just recently Tita Janet, one of our benefactors and friend here in the novitiate lost her mother Mommy Lourdes. It happened the same day when ate Len, our choir conductor lost her father. I wonder how these great women are coping up.

We first went to Tita Janet ready for a requiem mass, all the brothers prepared early after dinner. When we arrived at the memorial chapel all her family members were there (all Chinese), we found out that the body of her mom was not yet there. It was still at the morgue and that they have to wait for 8 hours as prescribed by their Chinese Buddhist relatives before they can take it out. It was already late in the evening so we decided to go home at go back the following day for the mass.

When we returned, the wake looked like a scene in one of the Chinese themed movies that we saw. There were Chinese characters in calligraphy printed on long sheets of white paper placed on the walls. Chinese banners also hang on the hall. There was a corner where they fold small sheets of paper which they said were paper money to be burned so that the dead can carry and use it in the afterlife. There were fruits, Chinese soup, tea and Chinese cakes placed in a small table as offering and incense burning continually at the side of the chapel which they said has to be lit until the last day of the wake. At the side of the coffin lies a big paper house. It was elaborately designed and comes with maid servants, a car with a driver and a horse drawn carriage. They said that it was all needed by their mother for the afterlife as advised by their relatives. Tita Janet’s family was Catholics but felt obliged to follow their Chinese tradition in reverence for their dead. I felt a deep sense of love for their mother because as what they had said, they made such preparations and followed the Buddhist rites so their mother will not have a hard afterlife. It was for me a showcase of love that goes beyond life.

On the same day in the afternoon, we went to Ate Len for the requiem mass of his father. In contrary with Tita Janet’s family who decided to hold the wake in the big mortuary, hers was held in their house. We were greeted by the laughter of the family members playing joke with each other as they prepare for the mass. They actually prepared a 9 day novena service for their reposed father, complete with response and song sheets. I saw their love and reverence for their father as they share stories with their relatives, tapping each other’s shoulders and making sure that everyone eats something before leaving the wake.

Just before leaving, Ate Len showed us pictures of his father. He said that they were preparing for his birthday, it would be a big family celebration but he died days before that day came. Now, they share stories about their father with smiles on their faces and laughter in their hearts. One strong family indeed.

The following day, we were invited to the 79th birthday celebration of Tito Jame’s Ima, mother. We were treated with a beautiful and bountiful feast. There were big prawns, fish fillet, cakes, coffee and food to our hearts content. What was even more amazing was that Ima was so happy with the celebration in their house even if she cannot remember why and what were they celebrating. Alzheimer struck Ima. It shows in the stories she tells, statements she makes which were incongruity with one another. There was a time she would say that she will give us money, everyone present in the party. Maybe perhaps, Ima was really generous way back or maybe because his son Tito James and his family gave all that Ima could ever wanted. I felt that it was out of love that they made a big party and celebrated Ima’s birthday. She may not have known it was her birthday but they celebrated it anyway. In her happiness, she would sing and dance cha-cha and would invite us to join her.

Tita Tess made her a beautiful cake. In the cake decorations, there were fruits wrapped in paper. She told me that Ima would wrap fruits and say that it was for her children but would forget where she placed it. She was very much like my Mama Luz, always wrapping something for her children. It is true that the mind may forget but the heart remembers.

Journal entry

August 6, 2012

It has been almost two weeks since our brother Ramon left us, he went out of the novitiate to work and support his family. It was very tough decision for him. I admire his strength, courage and bravery for letting go of what he really wanted and answer the call of his family. It was hard to accept that he let go of the six years of formation life to be a priest and to start over as an ordinary person. But I think that what he did was not a turning back from the call of God, but responding God’s call through his family.

            If there was one person who can say that he feels for Ramon that would be me. I can say that because I was in the same situation many years ago.   Being the eldest among the siblings, like him who felt the pressure of helping the family and taking care of the other siblings really strikes a big blow in the vocation.

            I was fourth year college when encountered the same scenario – a senior student with full of potential and promise. After finishing college I should be looking for work, but instead I wanted to join a religious congregation and be a priest. Those who knew me like my friends and other relatives rallied behind me in support. Those who did not know me think that I was crazy or I just wanted to run away from the responsibility of being the first born. That was the time when I wanted to run away literally from my family because I thought they were holding me in captivity since they disagreed with my plan. I went to friends for advice and had a drinking session with them to help me talk of what I really felt that time. I cried several times in front of my friends in the midst of our drinking spree, that was the time they felt that I was really serious with my problem. I was so restless then that I wanted to elope with the Lord. I was afraid to postpone entering the seminary in the fear that I may lose my vocation. A good friend who was a former seminarian told me that if the vocation I have is true, even if it take me many years and even if they put spears and swords in my path I would still continue.

I also went to priests for guidance. It was Fr. Bebot, an Augustinian Rocollect priest who made me decide finally to postpone my desire to enter the seminary. He told me to be courageous in confronting my issue with my family, that I should give time and listen to what they were saying. That I have to find in my heart that it was the same God who called me to my vocation who is calling me to respond through my family. I felt I was like St. Augustine who was restless until I heard His answer.  

I know that I did not turn away from God’s call during that time because after ten years of postponing and working for my family, I am now here in the formation. May the Lord God take care of my brother Ramon that he may persevere and always find love.  

of death and remembrance

Journal entry september 21, 2012

          There have been too many deaths recently. My good friend Jenny just lost her mother, Ogie and Joan lost their fathers. We lost our good friend Joseph with asthma. I know that these people are special and will not be forgotten. They played a great part in our lives and will take a special place in our hearts.

            Last film viewing session, we saw ‘Asiong Salonga, Hari ng Tondo’. It was one of the most remarkable Tagalog films I have seen so far, in terms of the story, visual narrative and ensemble performance. One scene from the film captured my attention; Asiong the lead character was watching a funeral service on television. It was that of the late comedian Tugo. He was ushered by crowd of people in procession towards the cemetery.  Flocks of different people were in long queue on the funeral procession, a real sight to behold. Asiong said to his wife that he wanted to be remembered by the people and send off to his grave in the same way. People crowding the streets, crying, sobbing and mourning the loss of a great man. By the end of the film, Asiong because of his great love for the people and for the country got the funeral that he wanted.

            It would be too premature now and morbid to think about what my funeral would be like. This deep thought is too existential even. I still want to profess my first vows and later on ordained as a Pauline priest and I pray that God would give me that grace. I want to hold my thanksgiving masses in our barrio in San Miguel Bulacan and in Marinduque. I want to hold masses for the underprivileged people in far flung areas and if give the chance I also wanted to guide media practitioners in the proper use of communication and shepherd them the Pauline way. That is a lot to think about and to hope for.  I pray that I can live to see the mission of our founder Blessed James Alberione be realized. May I help in spreading the Gospel in the most efficacious means to a large number of people. But when the Lord said cut! . . . .  Like in a shooting of a film, all will be put to hold or even put to stop. In my life, He calls the shot not me and I am just His production crew.  

            Will there be flowers beside me, in my head and feet? Wish it would be all white. But may I leave good deeds that are like the flowers that would remind them of God’s love manifesting in my prayers and my love for all of them. Will there be ribbons? Wish they would be yellow like Ninoy and Cory’s. But may I leave a good example of how production and communication should go and flow that every ribbon that they see will remind them of the hallmark of perfection and order that we tried to accomplish as communicators and media practitioners. Will there be crying? Wish there would be none. But may I leave memories that would make them smile and even laugh, may they feel that I will always be there for them. May the tears be only mine – tears that will wash away all the troubles and heartaches that the world has given them. Can I be comfort to them? Wish I could be comfort for all.

Will it be a sunny day? Wish that it would rain. To bring freshness and rest to the earth and to souls longing for rest in God’s embrace. But may I leave marks of love and forgiveness in many hearts that I may dance with them all in the rain and assure them that God is faithful in His promise. Will there be people to send me off? That we have to see. But may my life be long enough to love more people, to show love, to be one with love and be love. That people need not show up but show love and send me off with their love multiplying and reaching God’s desk that they all may vouch for me to enter His heavenly kingdom.

Will there be more questions? Wish that there would be more. That death is just a passing through and remembering is in the heart. 

compassion in confession

 journal entry july 28, 2012 

            It is a monthly thing, it is all cleansing and renewing like a regular car wash or a foot spa. You came in all dirty, with all the grease and dust. My cuticles protruding and I have thick calluses on the soles of my feet.  The cleaning process produces murky, dirty and all ugly wastes. But after the session, will come out something clean and new as ever.  It gave a feeling of rebirth, being born again.  Oh whoa! What a relief. 

Once a month we go to “Balay Pare” not to visit the old priests there and do a program with them, but for a confession. It was time for a little tuning up. I have to admit that at first, I was uncomfortable and hesitant to do my confession there for many different reasons. Most of the priests there were old already and they may not hear anymore what I will be confessing or I will be misheard and misunderstood by them. Although for some they say that I works for them, the more they cannot be heard, the better. I was dumbfounded with my experience confessing with one priest. Being biased and inconsiderate, I did not imagine encountering a very good confessor in ‘Balay’. It was my most interesting confession to date. After shamefully telling him my sins, I wondered if he understood it. ‘Among’, (as how priests are called here in Pampanga) started telling me about his vocation story. What?! OK wait, I told myself. Where did my sins go? In the midst of his story telling, it dawned on me that he was paralleling his life story to that of my sin story. He told me to hold fast to my vocation and persevere, that sin will always be there. He said; the important thing was that, I admitted my sins and that I can go on with my vocation. He closed our confession Ala tete-a-tete with strong words that stuck in my mind. He said that for more than fifty years of being a priest, there was never a day that he regretted. All his assignments, the people that he met and the troubles he encountered were all nothing compared to the blessings he received from the Lord. He said that all was grace.

On the second time we went again for the regular confession, I was looking forward to meeting again and doing my confession with the same old priest. I told myself that confession would by then be easier for me since I know the priest’s formula and rhythm. But our God is a God of surprises, Among cannot attend to us because of dizzy spells.

So, we were assigned to a different priest. He was older and a bit paralyzed. I went to confession the last, since I have to talk to him about his stipend and for the schedule of the PDDM sisters’ confession.

I went in and kissed his hands and started talking. I thought he was not attentively listening and he asked me to repeat my last statement. He asked me if that was all I have to say, I said yes. He gave a big laugh and I wondered what was happening, I asked myself if I went to the wrong place or was I dreaming. I looked around and confirmed to myself that I was still in the room confessing. He laughed and laughed again. He then told me that all my sins were human sin. He continued speaking; soon I felt a certain lightness and easiness. Compassion enveloped me and I felt that God was there with us like that of the laughing Christ painted by Fr. Armand. He was there laughing with Among, He understood me and got me all covered by His Love. God’s goodness and love was overflowing. I found myself in tears.      

I love recalling our conversations. He told me that (while he was laughing) all human sin and that I have to love my brothers because the Lord loves them and He wants them to be saved. He even said that my mind and heart should always be there for the mission. I kept it all in my heart.