Tuesday, February 24, 2015


Feast of the Black Nazarene
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/ by JSinglador
Religiosity or Fanaticism?

The Philippines is a country of 7,100 islands, with 95% of its citizens, Catholics. As a group, they are known to practice their faith to extremes. The most blatant of which, is their deep sense of religious fervor. In the Feast of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, Manila, accidents are known to occur that results to physical injuries or even death. Hundreds of devotees are trampled upon by the influx of believers, in a procession that is participated in by millions of people.

What makes devotees participate in this accident-prone festivity, can baffle the mind of any hard-core observer. The sea of people gyrating in the push-shove process just to be near the Black Nazarene is beyond belief. Another festivity is the Pagoda Boat Festival in Laguna, a region south of Manila, where a boat parade in the river is held every year, to venerate the Blessed Virgin. The devotees often jump to the lead boat where the statue of the Blessed Virgin is placed, causing it to capsize and drown a number of people.

Penafrancia Festival
Source: https://remit2homeblog.wordpress.com/

Religious Traditions and Practices

There are now safety provisions imposed by the lay leaders of the festival to avoid further accidents in the last two years. How far the exercise of sobriety can go, is anybody's guess. When asked why they join the festivity, the stock answer is, "panata" or a promise to the Lord to do the same act, until they are physically able. Christianity was brought to the country by Spain hundreds of years ago. However, the practice of the faith have evolved into something far beyond the dreams of any Spanish conquistador, who ever set foot on this island.

The Holy Week which starts on the last week of March till the 1st week of April for 2015, is a celebration of the faith. The countdown starts with Ash Wednesday, to remember that from dust did we come from, to dust we shall return. On that day, Catholics flock to their respective parish churches to have their forehead marked with ash. This act signifies that life on earth is temporary, and the final destination is the heavenly kingdom.

Ash Wednesday

If practiced in earnest, the marking of ash serves to strenghten ones faith with God. However, some young people just used it to show off to friends that they have gone to church. Whatever that means, is lost on me. If you think that the mark serves as a passport to heaven, you will be disappointed. No way will it make you see the heavenly gates, if there is no piety involve to go with the markings.

Nonetheless, the season is marked with prayers and deep contemplation. In the rural areas,  old women sings the "Pabasa" or the books of prayers from morning till early dawn of the following day, non-stop. This is held on the barrio chapels with partipants numbering from 20 to a hundred people. This is done on Holy Thursday and can last till the early hours of Good Friday. Food is served to the group from community donations. Since it is a week of fasting, only the most basic meal of rice, vegetable, and fish are serve.

Self flagellation
Source: en.wikimedia.org

Beyond the Call of Faith

In some areas, self flagellation is practiced. These are men who beats their bodies with thorns until they are bruised and bloodied, as they walk down the streets. They go barefoot, with bare upper bodies, and heads covered with cloth. The act can horrify any onlooker who is not used to it. There are areas too, where some believers nail themselves on the cross. These I believe, are extreme practices, that have gone beyond the basic teachings of the church.

I can only imagine what the early Spanish missionaries would say, if they see how Catholicism has grown roots in this country today. It may be far beyond their wildest imagination, that the practice of Catholicism has gone this far. If only Filipinos can temper their deep religiosity, then we may see the Catholic faith as going back to what it's really meant to be---as the true Church of Christ.



Onli in da Pilipins: A Writer's Journal
Copyright © csmiravite™. All Rights Reserved 

Friday, February 13, 2015


A Friend's Story

I became aware of Valentines Day when I was 16. Most of my friends at that time either have crushes, boyfriends, or have some wacko kid following them around. I didn't have that. What I had were books, more books, and a schedule of movies in Makati for the next one month. You see, I am a movie buff. I watched movies by my lonesome, and had lots of fun reviewing them for what they are worth, back then. Well, I had friends too, where we have barbeque parties with disco music blasting around, and pineapple juice drink spiked with gin tonic to go with our pica-pica.  Oh, those were the fun times! .

Las Pinas was still a town then, and a part of Rizal. It was commonplace to find carabaos plying the Las Pinas-Zapote route as most lands were rice farms. I remember that there were only two to four buildings in the entire  highway. With this scenario, thinking about valentines day in a romantic way, was alien to me. All I knew was that, our late dad either took us clubbing to watch Pilita Corales (his favorite), or go out of town in the nearby Nido Resort (is it still around?) for some swimming and fun.

Teen Years

I realized that I was the only one without a boyfriend among my friends at 16. I got worried about that. Am I ugly or unlovable? How come they have dates and I don't?  That really bothered me, that I prayed to the Mother of Perpetual Help in Baclaran to intercede, and please, pretty please --- give me a boyfriend!  Oh, boy! That was hilarious! But the Virgin must must have taken pity on me since a week after my 9th day novena, a suitor came around!

That's divine intervention, if you ask me. God sometimes hears the pleas of His flock if they are persistent on asking Him on what they want. It was a boyfriend I wanted, so I got that. That valentine gift didn't last long , however, as I got introduced to the fun ways of being a "sossy" girl.  Not that sossy really, but I experienced going out of the country for the first time with my sisters, went shopping in top-end stores like Rustans, went on out-of-town trips with the family, and accompany our dad in watching nightclub acts in nearby Paranaque and Makati.

Hence, valentines was not a significant part of my life during my teens, as I have social diversions that I found more entertaining.

The Yuppie Years

Valentines Day suddenly became a boy-girl thing to me when I started working. It meant --- movie dates, dining in top end restaurants , night clubbing, disco dancing, and receiving gifts like chocolates, cakes, and all the sweetie things from the love one. It meant going into relationships and having emotional investments to make it work. As a yuppie on the rise, I took the occasion in stride and savor the experience for what they were worth.

Those were turbulent years, when the practice of one's profession can run contrary to the needs of the love one. The day can sometimes ran smack into important meetings and conferences. Problems can arise in the office, where the celebration would have to be put off since there are more important things to do. Valentines come and go, until the significant other grew tired of all the alibis and reasons why I can't be with him on that particular day.

After some time, the occasion was celebrated either a day or two after Valentines. It was no longer a significant occasion to reckon with, as it began to look like one of my appointments where my presence was needed; and can be cancelled, if the occasion calls for it. Those were dangers signs. Meaning, that this type of relationship was gearing towards disaster--- which it did, a few years later.

The Later Years

I have now evolved into a person who is deeply anchored with her beliefs, and independent of any deep emotional ties. I see relationships as something that should  be under my own terms and conditions. I never wanted to follow anybody around, nor do I want anyone to keep on following me.

So, how do I spend valentines day today?

a. I had fried veggie lumpia with pickled green mangoes and ampalaya this morning;

b. Had cornetto duo ice cream --- coffee flavor with vanilla for merienda;

c. Write articles re --- politics, accountancy. and Christianity. Update my journal;

d. Continue to curse Sun Broadband for slow internet connection. It's been acting up since last night;

e. And a SHOUT-OUT to everybody ---  Get out of cyberspace! Have a life, and date your significant other. Leave cyberspace to us poor bloggers and online writers! Free some internet space so we can do our work! LMAO!

Happy Valentines everyone!  :D



Onli in da Pilipins: A Writer's Journal
Copyright © csmiravite™. All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


FB Friend:  "Dios ko po, Ma'am naman! Balentayng na, ei wala pa akong labs! Kwawa naman ako, wala man lang magbigay ng roses at tsokolayts sa akin!"

Me:  "Pwede ka namn bumili ng roses at chocolates para sa sarili mo. Kung gusto mo, padala mo sa iyo --- para kunwari may labs ka!" Heheheh!

FB Friend:  "Kahiya naman yun Ma'am. Alam naman nila ei zero yung lab layf ko!" Huhuhuh!

Me:  "Go out with friends, that can be fun too! O handa ka sa bahay with mom and dad and the little 'uns."

FB Friend:  "Mamatay na ako sa kahihiyan niyan. Ei lahat kaming walang lab layf ei magsasama-sama!  Huhuh! SWLL ---Samahang Walang Lab Layf! Kantiyawan din ako sa bahay na wala akong balentayng, Ma'am!  :(


Na survive niyo ang pasko na SWLL. Bagong taon na SWLL. Ei, mag survive din kayo ng balentayng na SWLL!  Heheh!  Punta ng Jollibee at magpalamig sa Mall. Lilipas din yan! Hahahah!

Mag dasal ng taimtim din. Baka bagsakan ka ng Panginuon ng lablayf! Heheheh!

Juks lang mga parekoy!  Hapi balentayng sa lahat!





Happiness is seeing a gumamela plant  in bloom, with a blast of colors in full glory. Inauspiciously placed, its beauty stand out in a world that is in a hurry.

God has a way of letting me know that the beauty around us, is His creation. I do not have to look far,  if only I find time without much suasion.

Let us learn to stop once in a while, when work engulfs us. To admire God's garden with  His plants ---Oh, so lush!



Onli in da Pilipins: A Writer's Journal
Copyright © csmiravite™. All Rights Reserved

Monday, February 9, 2015


Relationships can be fickle, where finding contentment is hard in a sea of envious people. We have family, neighbours, and friends that we sometimes envy. There is no contentment in our being: in seeing that the others seemed to have a better life than our own --- wealthier, healthier, and happier.

We look at ourselves and take pity on how we are compared to them. When that arises, our morale takes a nose dive that could make us feel very small. What we do is put up a happy fa├žade to cover up an empty and lonely soul - like in the social media.

Several studies have shown that social media sites, like Facebook, may be harmful to our self worth.  There is always the need to compare our lives vis-a-vis our friends. What we do is post pictures of things that glorifies us in our normal lives.

The glorified selves would include ---eating in fine dining restaurants, owning expensive gadgets and electronic equipment, vacationing in and out of the country, and posting about anything that would show us in a good light.

Envy can lead to loneliness and lack of self worth
Photo credit: Pixabay.com by Atranias

Is there something wrong with that?

Nope. Not particularly. It is intrinsic in human nature to only show the good side and hide what is bad. We assume that if we bombard the others with what is good, they may eventually believe it---especially if the tirades were made for a long time. But very few people can do that. Untruths have a way of rearing its ugly head when you least expect it.

Envy: Other Man's Grass Seemed Greener

I live in a neighbourhood with different persuasions. Most belongs to the working group and have businesses of their own. The big shots own motorcycle dealerships, chemical /industrial firms, are doctors or professionals, or  owners of upscale stores. The middle-of-the-roader owns retail outlets, have families who are OFW's, and/or have small family-owned businesses.

A few houses away, was a neighbour who was into the catering business. They owned delivery vehicles and were busy manning their different outlets in the metropolis. Since we don't cook most of the time, we rely on this neighbour for our instant food fare whenever we go hungry.

I admit, that I sometimes envy them, on how lucrative the business seemed to be. Neighbours appreciate their cooking and I see cars parked everywhere, to buy food before going to their respective offices. That went on for quite sometime, until I noticed that the selection of dishes was dwindling. The quality was not what it used to be. After sometime, we stopped patronizing the outlet as we would rather cook at home than buy from them.

A bowl of Pancit Luglog bought from nearby food stalls


This morning, I saw a man sweeping in the front yard. I also noticed that the yard was dirty and in a mess. Upon inquiry, I was told that the owners were no longer there since the bank foreclosed the propert a month ago.

All through that time, I envied this neighbour. How wealthy they seemed to be, with their business going strong. I never stop to think that they may be having problems of their own.

Envy is a bad trait. You never know what the other person is going through until you get into their shoes. It is always best to be contented with what you have and to never compare yourself with the others.



Onli in da Pilipins: A Writer's Journal
Copyright © csmiravite™. All Rights Reserved

Sunday, February 8, 2015


Dragon fruit is one of those exotic fruits that you can find in the supermarkets of Metro Manila. This is a  spiky and reddish fruit that you can buy at P200 a kg when it is in season.

It doesn't taste unusual. But for somebody who is into juice drinks and fruit slush, it is a favorite addition to the local fruits that one can taste. I am one of those avid fanatics that has a penchant for different fruits.

A few months ago, I got the chance to visit my relatives in Pangasinan to settle important matters. On the way back to Manila, I visited a dragon fruit farm in Tarlac, a nearby province.

I know that I have to go farther north, in Ilocos Norte, to see the bigger plantations. Since I didn't have that much time, I dropped by a much smaller farm in Tarlac.

The farm was about three hectares where dragon fruits were planted at 1.5 meters apart. As it was no longer the fruiting season, I was not able to buy  fruits --- only the plant cuttings at P30 each.

I knew that it was double the price than in other farms, but I got them just the same so I can bring them to Manila for replanting.

 The caretaker and his wife were amiable and more than willing to show the site to me. I noticed that the plants were made to stand in cemented stakes and roped together. Only the upper portion were made to spread outwards like an umbrella.

To make full use of the land, eggplants were planted in between. The caretakers earn from the eggplants while waiting for the fruits to ripen.  I was told that the harvest occurs from July to October.

Noticeably, there were some branches that were burned nearby. When asked, the farmers said that burning was done if plant diseases like yellowing occurs. Burning prevents the disease from spreading to other plants.

I look forward to having this fruit again come July, which is the start of the harvest season. This runs up to October where the price of the fruit can go down from P150 to P100 a kg. depending on the variety.

They say that dragon fruit has health benefits and is good for the body. Regardless, I like mixing it with kiwi fruit, for a cool sweet drink of fruit slush as an early morning drink.



Onli in da Pilipins: A Writer's Journal
Copyright © csmiravite™. All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A Trip to the Shrine of Our Lady of Manaoag in Pangasinan

Whenever I go to the hometown of my mother in Pangasinan, I am reminded of the Shrine of Our Lady of Manaoag, a minor Basilica, which is situated in a nearby town. My mother's place goes to the right, after the town of Binalonan, and the shrine on the left going to the town proper of Manaoag.                                                                                                       
Filipinos by nature are ardent devotees of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They pray  for her intercession in asking special favors to her son, Jesus Christ. In Manila, we have the church of the Lady of Perpetual Help where Marian devotees flock, especially during Wednesdays. It is a pilgrimage site where people from all walks of life congregate to pay homage to the Blessed Virgin.

The Shrine of the Lady of Manaoag, however, is considered as a place of miracles. It is replete with stories and anecdotes about the Holy Mother. Many have been written in various journals ,and among my favorites are stories that were told firsthand, by my own mother.

She often says that the Virgin is miraculous. During the Japanese era, the Blessed Mother is known to show herself to local farmers whenever there is danger or pestilence.She is a beautiful lady with a shining face who talked placidly with the natives. A farmer who saw her in the fields, was surprised to see her image in the church.

Several people claims to have seen here walking around. As of result, the pilgrimage to the site grew in numbers.  Devotees came from all parts of the Philippines, and some of them are from other countries like the United States and Europe.

When I went there a few months ago, I saw the same number of people flocking around the church. The entrance was full of vendors of : rosaries, replica of the Virgin and the Sto. Nino, kakanin (sweet bread), tupig (sticky rice with coco strips and charbroiled), fruits, and native bags and decors. The church was basically the same as when I last saw it and the lines going to the Virgin at the altar is still long as ever.

There are several stores managed by the church where I bought a few floating candles, calendars, and a t-shirt for my kid. It was a religious experience and I could have finished hearing the mass had I not been distracted by the commerce that were all around me.I saw several ladies selling ginger juice in different sizes of bottles. I wondered what that has got to do with the veneration of the Virgin. But I let go of the ill thoughts and went to the small pool to float my candles. These candles were said to be  for special favours and I lighted ten of them.

I stood there transfixed with the Blessed Virgin gazing down at me. I asked for forgiveness from all the distractions that must have shaken my unwavering faith in her. I then sense a sudden calmness that must have meant, that she has forgiven me. I left the site with a feeling of contentment and inner peace.


Onli in da Pilipins: A Writer's Journal
Copyright © csmiravite™. All Rights Reserved