A Family Dinner.

I was the only one who remembered the oath taking. I was thinking of what dress to wear. I decided on wearing my Mommy’s clothes. She wanted very much for Tish to become a full pledged physician. Melancholic and mushy, I talked to her, that somehow, she would feel the joy of the occasion, each excited beat of the heart transmitted to heaven.

Whoaaah. I asked Jean what she was wearing. and came a clueless answer: for what? The oath taking, I said. A moment of silence. Then the disbelief. That is on Saturday? Aha, I said. And she blasted: Oh no, Ma, I have a talk in the morning, in Pasig, up to eleven, what time is the oath taking? Twelve, call time. Oh no, you go ahead and I will take the Uber.

That was Tuesday.
Then came Wednesday. I received a text.

Ma, it’s oath taking on Saturday, I forgot. Please fetch me Friday night.

Then Friday night came.

What am I to wear?
There are two beige gowns. You can try those.

Saturday morning. The rain dropped heavy in the early morning. Blessings, I prayed.

And sure enough, Tish and I waited at Jazz, where Jean resides, and together, we went to the Philippine International Convention Center.

The Plenary Hall was filled to a capacity. The oath taking was brief, the beeline to the ID and certificate was longer. The event was much a family groupie. I prodded Jean to take pictures of me. What else can we do?

When Tish came, feet blistered, we snapped a few souvenir shots.

Then drove all the way to Bonifacio Global City, away from the buzz, for a quiet dinner.

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The Oath Taking

Saturday, the 21st of October, was a day to remember. Tish took an oath, the Physician’s Hippocratic Oath.

The oath was sacred. It binds the physician to a duty to save lives. Duty first, before all else. That means no Christmas celebration, no social life. No holidays.

Tish has realized early on that that exactly would be her life. Once, the family went to Cebu, for a wedding. She was the only one left behind because she had a test.

And her music, that has to be sacrificed also. Although the piano and singing has rendered her the most joy, life would be trifling if there is no service to one’s fellow man.

Now, there’s the unbreakable oath. Praying to God Almighty that Tish sustains the strength of mind and body when duty calls.

St. Paul of the Cross Rising

t. Paul of the Cross is some four decades and four years old.

When other churches around the Philippines have been in existence for four centuries, mine started to build when I was a child.

I can still remember the wind-tossed stilts and nipa that was our make-shift chapel come Sundays, in a grassy slope beneath our valley.

Somewhere between then and now, a bigger chapel was constructed. Our community had grown.

Four years ago, a new parish priest by the name of Fr. Eymard Balatbat came to take care of us. Under his watch, a new St. Paul of the Cross comes to rise.

The construction of the new church is going on its second Christmas. A long time constructing, but hey, every one is excited.

La la Land

Uncanny Saturday afternoon when Jean, Tish and I had to rush to Robinson’s Magnolia, to catch a screening of La la Land. I asked: What?

My two girls rattled about seven Golden Globe awards including Best Picture. I think.

I sort of thought, if it was Best Picture, why is no one swooning gaga over it on facebook? I would have noticed.

Anyways, I went along, wondering about the title. If it’s Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, it’s a treat.

Excitement hushed as I took a bite on my organic chicken burrito. Nah. It was the Los Angeles highway packed with traffic scene, and young people started hopping out of their cars, swaying to a rolling twenties(?) music. I remembered Jean and Tish saying this film garnered Best Music, too.

Okay, a musical. After enduring High School Musical for my two teens a decade ago, I swore I will not watch any teeny boppy flick.

But there goes the story, a man and a woman, Sebastian, a jazz pianist, and Mia, a talented actress auditioning for her place in the theater, accidentally meeting each other here and there, and because of one incidence too many, decided to be together. For four seasons.

It would have been a good love story, except for the part that both are in search of their dreams. As destiny would have it, Mia got her role in Broadway, and Sebastian, after a touring stint with a modern jazz band, built his own jazz bar.

Fast forward five years later, Mia comes back to Los Angeles, now a deemed theater artist, with her husband and a toddler of a daughter. And by some strange pull, she is led to Seb’s, Sebastian’s jazz nook.

And the two saw each other again. No hellos. No words. Just a look and an acknowledgement that, I suppose, they have reached their respective dreams.

Do I like it?

My daughters were disappointed. I had my reservations. Will hold my comments until further feelings arise from reviewing the film in my mind.

And now, after two days, here I am, trying to find the satisfaction one expects from watching a movie.

If this was Best Picture, surely it would have a great impact on me. There was none. Sadly.

And so I had to think more. Those Golden Globe judges must have seen something that would have impacted the viewers.

And so I came up with credits for this movie, even if in my view it is a tragedy.

First, it is a story of the ordinary people. The dreamers, specifically.
Which brings me to the title that I googled for meaning, La la Land, meaning “Los Angeles or Hollywood, especially with regard to the lifestyle and attitudes of those living there or associated with it; a fanciful state or dreamworld.”

These ordinary people have this illusion that their lives will only have meaning if they attain their dreams. And, more often, they miss out on one important thing: LOVE. These dreamers mistake that success and happiness can only be achieved after realizing their dreams. And love can be set at bay. These dreamers, unbeknownst to themselves, have been reduced to a mechanical existence, mere robots, or even slaves of their own passion. Thus, the tragedy.

Second, this movie brought isms for revaluation. The idealist and the realist, for one, comes in conflict. Holding on to tradition, as sustaining the art form of original jazz, for another, as against reinventing the music to fit in to the new techno-aided sound.

Third, the slow, or rather seemingly unhurried presentation of events, as contrasted to the quick flashback of what could have been, allowed the audience to create misgivings, hoping, as I did, that I could have my happy ending. Nah, again. It was a ploy utilized to make the viewer own the tragedy. For who amongst us did not miss on true love, and lived with what we bargained for.

Fourth, the music was jazzy, and it brought the audience, including the juvenile, to a time melancholic, like dream time.

There are many other things worth commenting about, such as the acting, remarkable, and the costumes, appropriate and nice, ha ha, and the dancing, and the museums, and the stars. Oh, well. But I leave that for others to see.

What we truly celebrate on the first of January.

For our 2017 New Year’s Mass, we trooped to the Shrine of the Divine Word. As blessed as I felt, thankful enough for being in the company of my daughters this New Year’s Day, I did receive a most wondrous of homilies from a missionary priest.

He said that there was a common factor among the Archbishops of New York, Archbishop of Chicago, and Archbishop of Los Angeles, they all in agreement that the Filipino is the new chosen people set to bring our faith into the corners of the world. Why? Because the Filipino fill the churches come Mass time.

Once, when this same priest was studying French, he was summoned by his teacher who resided on the third floor of a building. He was made to witness an empty promenade, vacant for many decades, until the Filipino set foot in France, and filled the cobblestones with devotees wanting to hear Mass.

Yes, the faith of the Filipino is formidable as a rock. Sent on a diaspora to many corners of the world, the Filipino, specifically the Filipino mothers, or the women who worked, initially as domestic helps and caregivers, nurses or entertainers, artists, etcetera, when faced with hardship and trouble, turn to faith and cling to that hope, that God will ease the difficulties that beset their situations. Thus, the churches filled with black-haired Filipinos.

Further, what is most unusual in the Filipino is their utmost devotion to the Blessed Mother. How the Filipino pay Her with most high regard, calling Her Mama Mary, like She is their very own Mother.

Yes, the Filipino is a chosen race, chosen to bring to the world the love of family, the devotion to mother, and the deep faith that transcends trials.

Then the missionary priest asked us to kneel, to give honor to that Mother called Mary and Her Child Jesus, with Joseph by Their side, because They set the example of FAMILY, that which binds the Filipino, that which the Filipino lives for.

The missionary priest said that after the Mass, he would have to make his own journey home, because his own mother makes a head count, and the priest is always late, for her Mano Po, Inay blessing.

That is what we celebrate today, the solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God.

Of course, this blog is a short summation of that doctrinal homily, I just hope that we know why we celebrate today.

For my own Mommy, I miss you. And Lola Naty and Lola Oda, too.

My father fought for my country in WWII.

My snowflakes.

The event I look forward to this time of the year is my wordpress snowflakes. I am delighted with the scene on my page. Makes me feel the Christmas warmth yet to come, and I wish for my miracle.

Advent is a time of waiting. It is also a time of soul searching for me. The girls are bonafide professionals, serving the country and the people the best ways they know.

I am left home with my melancholic meditations. The garden is therapy for me, especially when the flowers bloom and the butterflies come to kiss.

But lest I become a bonafide recluse, my daughters bring me out to eat, or in this picture, to watch a musical. I love drama. If I wasn’t a teacher then, perhaps I’d been a playwright. Wow. That was then. Not now.

About that third commandment.

Talk about how time seems to have been so lost in the nature of our busyness, that our undertakings always take precedence over our Sunday appointments with our God, then that is exactly what happened with us on the very first day of the new liturgical year: Advent.
Wait, the greeting must come first, especially to us Catholics: Happy New Liturgical Year!
Oh well, my little family was, as usual, rushing from here to there, picking the most necessary things we need, like food ha ha, and the doggy food, and we all desperately need some sweet slumber moment, that even if we planned an anticipated Mass at our old St. Paul, it was foiled by the horrendous Barangka traffic.
Plan B meant an early hour Mass at Christ the King, because Tish goes on duty at exactly 7 am. We were there, all right, and we certainly enjoyed the feel of Advent air, but Father’s homily, theological and realistic. took more than the usual admonition lashing (joke) that before we knew it, we just have that little time to dash to the hospital. Meaning? We missed the second and most important part of the Mass: Communion.
Sigh. If that is a foreshadowing of the year to come, because we Filipinos have this silly notion of believing that what happens on the first day will happen throughout the year. Good thing that I don’t buy such baloney. I will take the bacon, please.
Confession is now in order. The third commandment was not exactly obeyed.
And why so? Precisely because Advent means a time of purifying our selves, for the coming of our Messiah.
Once again, Happy New Liturgical Year, every one.

Spotlight on.

Tomorrow signals the beginning of Semana Santa, when we wave our palms to welcome the Lord as He enters Jerusalem.

Yet today, I feel it is already a Black Saturday.

My daughter Tish and I meant to be attuned with the Lenten Season, as we try to do so every year. Today, we were early for a recollection at our parish church, St. Paul of the Cross. One morning, we thought, to refresh in our hearts the Passion of our Jesus, a necessary restrengthening after a long year of busyness. I have no problem with the faith, fortitude is a blessing. My upbringing in the Catholic Church was a formidable one. Still, a renewal of sorts comes in useful, to wave off temptations. More importantly, Tish is hungry for a credible theological study, an infallible standpoint or viewpoint why the church we love, the Catholic Church, is the one true church. The public schools which Tish attended fell short of defining in an intellectual or academic presentation, our being and our relationship with God. In other words, even the teachers have not read the entirety of the Bible, otherwise, they could have inculcated in their students the faith in a very satisfactory level. Anyway, that was why we were punctual, because we want to know.

Fr. Alex Balatbat of the Archdiocese of Antipolo shocked the laity, most of whom were white-haired servers from different ministries, when he opened with a statement that we would be talking about the enemy, or the devil. It was a tactical strategy, he said, because in warfare, if you do not know the enemy, you will lose.

He proceeded narrating the battle of a second lieutenant Archangel Michael, the very one who defeated the five star general of a seraphim called Lucifer, the bearer of light, and cast this evil one not into hell, but right here on earth.

That is why, he proposed, to look beside you or right behind you, the devil might be there, in the form of a good person, waiting for an opportunity to tempt you. Beware, he said, because the devil can imitate even the voice of God.

Which brings me to why I am feeling a Black Saturday today. Do not get me wrong, because Fr. Alex wrapped up the Recollection with the hope in the Eucharist and an overwhelming Mercy that was instituted and bequeathed to us in the Last Supper, after one of the apostles betrayed our Lord for thirty pieces of silver that first Maundy Thursday. Fr. Alex said he had succumbed to many temptations, too, as many priests,did. Like all of us. No such thing as a perfect human being.

And I had the sad luck of picking SPOTLIGHT, Oscar’s best picture, a film highly recommended by a friend, Denis Andrenson, that movie that revealed the atrocities of the clergy, towards poor, innocent, impressionable and lonely children. I did remember those who called themselves men of God, and they dressed in robes, and yet somehow, I know, they have abused their priesthood.

No, the molestation did not happen only in Boston, nor was it a single incident. At the tail end, I saw Manila. It was a global psychiatric phenomenon that affected the Vatican. The tally of priest molesters still has to be divulged. The more depressing thing, many of the molested did not survive. Those who did kept away from the faith.

You and I will have a long week, and perhaps you could include in your quiet moments watching Spotlight, and make an effort to pray for our erring priests. Lucifer was a seraph. Our church had been infiltrated. We are called to arms.

On the eighth day of Christmas, a rant.

Dear backdoor neighbor who blasted all his fireworks towards my house. You must be sleeping soundly right now after all the irresponsible revelry you made last night, and I know, after all these years, that that comes with the thought that I’d pick on your mess by morning, which, I surmise, that you must be getting triply rich, judging from the number of sticks I have to bend over and collect. That’s all right. Vengeance is yours after I reminded you not to put barbed wires on your fence, because it is against the city ordinance. And the two times I asked baranggay to tell you to tone down the noise, because it was already midnight, and my children were studying for exams. Exams is a serious matter for us. After that, I was like that guy in the tv ad, I just have to endure your out-of-tune singing, and hoped you would treat me to a burger. Last night though was terrifying. I woke up like my house was on fire. But what can I do? I cannot curtail your merriment by shouting out the window to beg you to blow your bombs in your front yard. Just kept a prayer my house sustain your bombardment, And this morning, after a gasp at the state of my garden, I have to breathe in and condition my mind for some peace. It is New Year’s Day, after all. I am leaving fate to karma. Telling you though that one person you deprived sleep with is on duty today at the ER. And that couldn’t possibly be good karma. So, I checked my cp for a good image that would bring serenity to us all. And this blue tree popped. Christmas Season ends today, the eighth day of Christmas. Here’s to a blessed 2016. May neighbors be kind and congenial.

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