Tuesday, June 30, 2009


To say 'I love you' in Tagalog, one says 'Mahal kita', or 'mahal ko kayo' when one addresses a group of several people. Oftentimes we say 'mahal kita' or 'mahal ko kayo' absentmindedly that we eventually forget its true meaning. For example, the word 'mahal' is also the Tagalog word for 'expensive', and thus, it is joked that, for the Tagalogs to accept one's love-offering, it must be expensive for it to be even considered. The word 'kamahalan' is the Tagalog equivalent of 'majesty'; it basically means 'preciousness'. But 'kamahalan' is not always inert; sometimes it is invested. The process of investing an object with a suitable degree of preciousness is 'pagmamahal', while an already 'love-invested' object is called 'minamahal' (beloved). The Tagalog term for the Sacred Triduum is 'Mahal na Araw'-- 'the precious', 'the beloved', or the 'blessed days', perhaps even 'the majestic' days.

Then there is 'kita'. In the word kita, there is no distinction made between subject and object. The Tagalog word for oneself is 'ako' and the appropriate pronoun for the second person is 'ikaw'. In kita, these two seem to have been fused together, so that it becomes impossible for the speaker to consider the one spoken to in distinction from himself. They are, so to speak, become one person in kita.

Thus it becomes clear: when a Tagalog speaker says 'mahal kita' to his beloved, he is no longer thinking of himself as an entity distinct from him or her; rather, he is saying, 'tayo na' (approximately 'we are an item now'). To be poetic about it, a fitting translation of mahal kita would be: 'I take thee to myself, you, whom I consider to be more precious than all the treasures of the earth.'

Photo taken at Vigan's historic Calle Crisologo

Friday, June 26, 2009

Photo of The Day

Former Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos (supposedly penniless now, but still has a diamond ring)gets a disapproving stare from the Santo Nino. She probably wants to covet His boots as well. Pic source.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Heart Which Has Loved So Many

... And is so little loved in return!

On 30th May, 1919, the Spanish king Alfonso XIII, together with his wife and members of the Spanish government, trooped to the high hill known as Cerro de los Angeles-- the Hill of the Angels-- and believed to be the geographical center of Spain, to consecrate that great nation to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (photos and information here). The new cult was on fire, gaining widespread popularity in very little time, spreading to Latin America and the Philippines in a few decades. At the feet of the colossal statue of Christ, El Rey, in utter humility, besought the Divine Heart to have mercy on Spain, and offered thanksgiving to Him for their deliverance from the Great War.

In 1936, at the height of the Spanish Civil War, a group of anarchists descended on Cerro de los Angeles. Faced with the massive colossus of the human God, arms spread in blessing, they drew their guns, and in a wicked parody of an execution, shot at the image of Christ, before finally blowing it into dust. The Civil War would leave a nasty gash on the side of the Church in Spain, with thousands of clergy and religious, including elderly bishops, priests, and nuns, were murdered in the most abominable ways possible.

Today, Spain, like the rest of Europe, is secular. Wars and ideologies --soul-killing enterprises-- have soured the Church and religion in general in that continent. There are still remnants of the past, images of Christ and His Mother and the saints of God, that dot the European countrysides here and there, but they no longer remain things to be venerated, nor objects of affection; they are there, no longer as divine helpers, but remembrance of an older age that most would rather forget. But despite being relegated into the sidelines, that image of the man who was God, Who held His beating Heart-- not a representation, but the real organ itself-- flame-crowned and cross-surmounted, remians a silent, if not patient, witness to the comings and goings of a world that has ceased to know what it is to love.

The Sacred Heart, despite its moniker of sacred, that is, set apart, is a remarkably human image. Here is God, not as the divine, all-conquering Hero, but, rather underwhelmingly, as a Man, Whose greatest weapon are not the thunderbolts of Zeus
nor the flaming sword of Kalkin, but a beating, suffering, human heart. This God is the same God Who would rather come to us as a Child-- for indeed, who could fear a Child? Weapons He had not, neither armies, nor titles, nor secular power, and least of all, glory. But He had a Heart-- a Heart so big and yet so fragile, so human, that we should rightfully be overwhelmed by such sweet condescension.

"I will not execute my fierce anger, I will not again destroy Ephraim; for I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come to destroy. (Hosea 11:1 - 9)"

The most wonderful irony in the world is that He had to become man in order to show us that He is, indeed, God-- ever ready to forgive, ever ready to embrace us, even after we have spat on His face so many times before. Heart of Jesus hear, O Heart of love divine! Listen to our prayer, make us always Thine!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Catholics No Longer Weep

One of the most unusual stories I heard when I was in Ilocos Norte was the legend of how the town of Burgos got its name. In the past, say the old folk, it was called Nagparitan, an Ilocano word which means 'forbidden', more or less. The people aver that prior to the Spanish conquest, that town was the abode of fierce warriors, vengeful, proud, and terribly ruthless. Came the time when the Augustinians first sent missionaries to that proud northern province; it so happened that one priest chose Nagparitan to be his 'home base'. Initially discouraged by his superiors because of the unforgiving nature of the Nagparitanons, he nevertheless proceeded with his mission, and God be praised, the priest made headway among that proud warrior race.

As the priest's power and influence grew, some old shamans, servants of the elder gods of the Ilocanos, plotted against the priest. Eventually they convinced the village chiefs that the missionary was up to no good; and in the dead of night, they seized the priest from the convent, and proceeded to hack his body into several pieces, scattering the butchered parts in different areas as a warning not to tempt the power of the old gods. The town was now called 'Nagpartian', which meant 'butchered'. Almost immediately, evil things fell upon the land; the soil, it was said, turned red, and even now tales of lost spirits that haunt the wary traveler are common in that part of the country. For years the people of Nagpartian lived under the shadow of their evil deed, begging the God of the man they slew to save them from His wrath. Our guide said that many of them vowed to go barefoot for years if only the curse would be lifted. It was not until the town changed its name to Burgos, after the brilliant, martyred Filipino nationalist priest Fr. Jose Apolonio Burgos, did things pick up for the haunted town.

In many parts of the Philippines, tales such as the one above are still common, although admittedly not as popular as they were in older, more genteel times. The drama of good versus evil is played out in narrative in the most extravagant, most lurid traditions of the baroque, acquiring an almost gothic flavor. It was tales such as these that nourished the faith, wonder, and sense of community of my ancestors. The good, while initially crushed and defeated, is ultimately vindicated by an act of God, punishment raining down on the heads of the impious. It is very different from how the blogosphere, in general, seems to portray the Church.

Maybe it's a sign of the times, but I am watching Fox News more and more-- not becuase I believe the bs that they spew (admittedly some good points, but nothing one can't see from a distance) but because I am fascinated by the fact that many conservative, traditionally-minded Catholics seem to think that whatever it says must be the truth. Or more accurately, just because it appears on that network, automatically makes it more 'profitable' for one's suburban salvation. And this is not a phenomenon limited to Fox, it is the same animating principle behind armchair liturgical criticism (as if one were discussing a ballet! ugh!), covert racism masquerading as patriotism, and just about anything 'counter cultural.' In short, just because it is counter cultural, it follows that it must be correct.

You might be wondering: how exactly are the name changes of a quaint rural town in the northern Philippines related to American counter cultural gimmicks? There is the issue of sin to consider: in the former, the sin committed was the brutal murder of a servant of God. And the latter? The answer is none. It has done nothing at all, except being counter cultural. The former demonstrates how good men--and the good, in general-- are not so good after all. For the men of the tribe of ancient Nagparitan were considered to have been one of the most hardworking in the entire Philippines, who proudly defended their values and lifestyles from foreign influence. All of these are admirable traits, and strangely, these are the same things which one often hears from the talking heads at Fox. But I think this is precisely the problem: Good is not good enough. And it is certainly no equivalent to holiness.

While I am certainly not anti-American, I think some of the things which I post here do merit considerable cause for concern. In my opinion, Americans, as a people, are too 'good', that is, pleasant and warm, that they feel they have no need for holiness. A good American Catholic is one who knows what page of the Missal to turn to at any precise point of the Mass, one who joins Chesterton and Lewis reading societies in their spare time, who collects graduals for fun, who can cite the number of liturgical abuses 'in vogue' at the drop of a hat. Let's be realistic here. Most hardcore Trekkies are expected to have even a basic command of Klingon and can cite technical specifications on why their universe is superior to the 'Star Wars' universe. That makes them good fans, not holy people. There seems to be an excessive feeling of sufficiency among most American Catholics that it is no wonder the cult of the saints, novenas, rosaries, and penitential processions (and yes, Ireland has these too) are seen as mere cultural accretions, and consequently, liable to be picked and adopted at random as if they were mere objects fought over by over-educated aesthetes. In such a universe as this, it becomes almost impossible to weep over one's sins, since, hey, I know the difference between a cope and a chasuble, and you don't, so hah, I'm a better Catholic, nyah.

Triumphalism is a curse. The Church on earth is not called the Church Militant for nothing. When an army clashes with another army, there is nothing romantic about that. Blood is spilled, limbs are hacked, joints are stabbed, eyes are gouged, children are orphaned, wives are defiled, entrails are gutted, excrement is expelled, kingdoms burn, and the spirit is crushed. You can carry all the glittering banners you want, and shout Deus Vult! at all the infidels, but there is no denying that war will always claim its toll. We have forgotten, it seems, how to weep. We have forgotten what it is like to resign one's fate to God's hands, its profound fear and fervent hope. In short, I believe that we are locking ourselves, if not constructing, an entirely novel, extremely myopic Church, one made in our likeness, with no need for holiness, just 'the good.'

I think the problem is that it all seems too sophisticated, too smart and too suburban for your average Third World parishioner. In fact, take the word 'sophisticated' and look at the first seven letters; they spell 'SOPHIST'. Plato, of course, lambasted the sophists as flatterers, who will teach the children of the elite what they wanted themselves to be taught. While the comparison may admittedly be vague, one can never disregard it completely. Just a week ago, I saw a video comment on Youtube by a supposed "Catholic" who believed that black people are inferior to Caucasians, not just in terms of civilization, but ontologically as well. The most chilling part was when this commenter later on likened the poor, starving children of Africa to apes. These are dangerous times for the Church in America. And America, believe it or not, matters greatly in the Catholic world, since it is the single most influential and not to mention the wealthiest (and perhaps the most visible, what with the sex abuse scandal) sector of the Universal Church. What America sneezes, all of us under its radar will naturally be affected by it.

It is always a good thing when the Church manages to relay Her message throughout the world. Hers is a voice that is, thankfully, still sane, still motherly and still claiming to know better for us. But one must always be wary of the people who do get the message-- for even if they do hear it, there is a great chance that much, too, will be lost in translation. When one enters the Church with the full assurance and confidence that he is part of the Elect, that is a conversion. But what one really needs is a metanoia.

The Church, it seems, has forgotten how to weep; or more to be more precise, Her members no longer do so. We have forgotten the Church Suffering, and even the Church Militant, and are content to lock ourselves in our little, sanitized world where it seems that holiness is no longer a requirement for salvation, just a nice, little option. The most frightening thing which we are faced now is not the rampant secularization around us, but the secularization-- the ethical-moral redaction to the 'essential Christ'-- within the elements of the Church. We no longer need His help, only His blessings.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

"Irresponsible F--king"

Some brief thoughts: one thing that has always annoyed me about people who claim abortion to be a 'right' is their seemingly blatant disregard for the laws of nature. When one has sex, the logical-- and natural, I may add-- outcome would be pregnancy, assuming that there is fertilization that occurs. Today, things are a lot easier, since the sexual revolution of the 1960s has irrevocably introduced the contraceptive mentality into our culture. Given these two basic facts-- what the hell is abortion necessary for, anyway? What the hell is it good for? What the hell is it for? If I may be so blunt, the answer is fairly obvious: that is, to guarantee a totally guiltless, totally free from consequence, and totally irresponsible, and immature lifestyle. Fucking has never been a right, at best it is the highest expression of love a husband and wife can give to each other, and at worst, a natural consequence of our biology. Trying to separate childbirth from copulation is about as natural as saying that eating and digesting food does not produce shit.

One always has to be very careful. The Devil can do brilliant things, too. Sure, the ancient Greeks and Romans loved their hairless little boys and engaged in extreme orgies once in awhile, but at least they had the decency and the shame to admit when excess and indulgence has overruled reason. And for all the 'liberation' supposedly brought about by sex that is being harped about by everyone who ever held a megaphone in his life, I find it ironic that the quality of our lives are framed in the categories of sex, sex, sex. There is no greater buffoonery than a so-called independent woman raving about how she has had sex with so many men, or some bald-faced politician justifying his countless illegitimate children by saying that 'I just love women' or something iffy like that. At the end of the day, you are still fucking irresponsibly, and there is nothing that will change that. What has the sexual revolution brought about, anyway, that is so transcendental or timeless? Nothing.

That is why I find it hard to have any sympathy at all to the 'pro-choice' lobby (interestingly, in the Philippines, this is composed mostly of middle to upper middle class wannabe Americans, who incidentally are also the ones with he greatest access to the best hospitals). Hey, they had a choice. They chose to fuck like there was no tomorrow. Just be man, or woman enough, to admit when you have gone wrong. Abortion is not going to solve that; it will just give you another reason to continue with your brainless exercise. It's this type of thinking that caused the 'global' recession-- that line of thought which is deeply entrenched in entitled, consequence-free whining.

It’s Satan’s semen, stupid

By Minyong Ordoñez, Special To The Manila Times

In the Birth Control Bill the devil is in the details.

In Humanae Vitae God is in the details.

That’s why Catholic men and women who follow the teachings of the Magisterium of the Church are up in arms against the Birth Control Bill. In essence the bill puts on the chopping block two fundamental rights, human and divine—the dignity of women and the sanctity of life.

The title of the Birth Control Bill is an oxymoron: “Reproductive Health and Population Development Act of 2008.”

‘Kill Bill’

The bill is unequivocal about its true intent: the extermination of a living fetus in the womb of a mother through aborticide using abortifacients in order to reduce birthrate. The oxymoron: How the hell can health result when killing is an integral part of the birth- control plan? How can development happen when the scheme is premised on the predestined failure of a future member of the population and therefore exterminated at fetal stage? This is technocracy of absolute skepticism.

The Bill is surreptitiously anti-democracy, because it violates the right to live. Let’s say if to-be-butchered creatures, a fetus and a piglet can express their true sentiments on their imminent deaths, the fetus will say, “You can’t kill me. When I grow up I want to be the first incorruptible congressman in the Philippines.”

And the piglet will say, “Great! It’s OK to kill me on my fifth month. My ambition is to be the most succulent melt-in-the-mouth lechon de leche available in La Loma.”

The fetus has rights. The piglet has none.

Woman as victim

Central to birth-control managers is their clever idea labeled as: The woman with “unwanted pregnancy.” Who decides whether the pregnancy is unwanted or not? Herself? Birth-control managers? Dark-alley abortionists? Critics of Humanae Vitae? Indifferentist demographers and social engineers at IMF World Bank who incentivize their loans to poor nations by tacking on birth-control funding?

It can’t be the Francis of Assisi type of priest. Or the Mother Teresa type of nun. Or the God who is in the hearts of men.

It must be the devil disguised as a do-gooder.

Since a huge inventory of condoms (the modern version of onanism), abortifacients, inclusive of easy access to invasive birth-control technologies such as intrauterine device, ligation, sterilization, etc. are well funded, surely the educational campaign directed to the “woman with unwanted pregnancy” will be slanted in favor of aborticide using abortifacients. The much ridiculed but Church-approved rhythm method, sex abstinence and celibacy, has a poor chance, because to most birth-control managers those methods are prone to failure, medieval and a big killjoy. Abortifacients are safer and more effective. Safer for the killer. Fatal to the fetus. Isn’t it satanic?

The real villain here is Satan’s semen ejaculated by heartless rapists, brutish abusers, happy-go-lucky fornicators, jilting boyfriends, two-timing husbands, slippery lotharios, predatory DOMs and other closet perverts. It makes more sense for the government to go after ejaculators of Satan’s semen than to warp a woman’s good conscience.

Unwanted pregnancy does not belong to our mainstream life. It’s an oversimplification and exaggeration. Unwanted pregnancy is usually self-corrective through the innate capacity of a woman to feel compunction, to learn from her mistake.

Woman as love

The concept of unwanted pregnancy is a slur on authentic feminism.

Consider the Filipina. Her spiritual, intellectual, physiological and physical make-up contravenes the rejection of a baby (or fetus) in her womb. To verify, let congressmen ask their grandmothers, mothers, sisters and daughters if their natural instinct is to commit aborticide because pregnancy is hazardous, money is short and raising their children sucks. If the answer is yes, there goes the honorable congressman, a rotting fetus cadaver in a garbage pile. If no, there goes a congressman going great guns and aspiring to be the next Speaker of the House.

Consider maternal instincts: to breastfeed, to hug, to cradle, to change diapers, to bathe, to sing a lullaby. Consider her miraculous milk. Even by the law of physiology a mother’s womb is an authentic and truthful organ for nurturing life, not a vehicle for death. Genetic!


The Birth Control Bill attacks our Christian culture.

Our woman culture cannot regard the Filipina as a utilitarian object, a machine for retooling social engineering as Herod, Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot did.

For centuries Catholicism nurtured a culture of respect, admiration, honor and love for the Filipina. This lofty woman positioning has roots going back to Sacred Scripture when God chose a humble woman, Virgin Mary of Nazareth, to be the mother of Jesus Christ. The Magnificat is God’s ultimate honor accorded to feminism.

Our regard for womanhood is holistic. Body and soul. Mind and heart. Mystery and reality. Mortality on earth. Immortality in the afterlife. She is worth all the blessings and commitments only the sacrament of matrimony can give on the day when she’s the most beautiful bride in the world: “to have and to hold, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in pain till death do us part.”

Motherhood as Agape

Motherhood is her crowning glory. Motherhood. This is the earthly spirit of Agape. It means high truths of love, care, sacrifice, bliss, peace and joy directed to others specially children. Even the greatest painters of the Renaissance marvel at this unselfish kind of love. Botticelli, Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael painted awe-inspiring mother and child Madonnas.

The task of fatherhood is for all men to safeguard and nurture motherhood. Primordial!

Family. The basic cell that is formative for children is family. To acquire virtues and values for excellent constituent of his country, and spiritual values as heirs of God’s kingdom.

Procreation. The miracle and mystery of life creation whereby a mother in a unitive act with her husband and God as author of life. A logical reason why Filipino parents instinctively call their children gifts from God.

Pope swims against the current

With confidence and courage, Pope Paul VI in 1968 promulgated Humanae Vitae, the encyclical on the transmission of life, condemning the aborticide for birth control. In spite of contrarian opinions inside and outside the Vatican circles. The good Pope swam against the current of practical materialism. He chose the biblical and truth-based route. He used his excathedra power, “the bind and loose power” given by Christ to St. Peter and his successors. Today the widespread social malaise encouraged by state-crafted immoral law vindicates Pope Paul VI’s promulgation of Humanae Vitae.

Fidelity to the Church is fidelity to Christ. For Catholics, the bottom line is obedience to the teachings of the Magisterium. A difficult thing to do for those who disagree with the supreme pontiff and vicar of Christ on earth. Without humility, obedience is impossible. To be humble a Catholic should always strive to be in a state of grace, by means of daily prayers, frequent confession and communion. Accepting God’s will in the spirit of Agape.

Fr. James Reuter’s favorite advice is, “God draws straight with crooked lines.” Hilaire Belloc, the Catholic historian who wrote books on the major role of Christianity in building Western civilization, says, “Without authority, there is no life.”

The pill as ‘mother evil’

The Pill entered the scene in the Sixties and it became the icon of the much-touted Sexual Revolution. My old and witty golfer friend laughs at the term Sexual Revolution. He calls it irresponsible fucking! Hahahaha!

The Pill turned out to be a “mother evil” whose multiplier effects disabled the moral compass of glitzy lifestyle in modernistic centers of the world. Multiplier effects such as the increase in numbers of divorced couples, broken homes, loveless children, unwed mothers, teen suicides, child abuse, sexually transmitted diseases and drug addiction among others. Empirical data abound in the files of city police blotters, vice-squad arrests, city morgue forensic files, psychiatric asylums, post-trauma rehab centers, psychiatric couches and of course the cemetery.

Our late and beloved Pope John Paul II called the Pill’s domino effect a “culture of death.”

Enlightened self-confidence

To bring life of a human being into this world is not a pure science technocracy, nor political governance. The miracle and mystery of faith is involved, therefore life creation is supernatural and God-caused. Consequently the taking of life is not for man to decide. Only God the author/creator of life can define the purpose and integrity of death. We simply cannot play God. The Church is the duly appointed (Tu es petrus) interpreter/teacher of the word of God.

Catholics, whether congressmen or constituents, are duty bound to continuously enrich and deepen their understanding of the fundamentals of faith so that they can be competent in judging morality issues that crop up as civilization marches on.

On the controversial points of birth control the following books will be helpful in combining faith with reason in evaluating the Birth Control Bill, which raises issues on the Sanctity of Life and Dignity of Women, issues that will affect our future as a Christian and democratic society:

Brave New Family by G.K. Chesterton
Edited by Alvaro de Silva. Published by Ignatius Press, San Francisco

The God Who Loves You by Peter Kreeft
Published by Ignatius Press, San Francisco

The Essential Pope Benedict XVI edited by John Thorton and Susan Varene
Harper, San Francisco

The Vindication of Humanae Vitae by Mary Eberstadt
Copyright © First Things (August/September 2008)

Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church

Editor’s note: Minyong Ordoñez is a retired chairman of the Paris-based Publicis Communications Group. He is a freelance journalist and member of the Manila Overseas Press Club.

Friday, June 12, 2009

111 Years

(I forgot to publish this awhile ago-- better late than never,I guess)

Today the Philippines celebrates 111 years of Independence from Spanish rule. To all my fellow Pinoys, may you have a blessed Independence Day. We all know the country is not perfect, but now is not the time for bickering, or partisan politics, or hatred-- it is, rather, a time for a lot of work to be done. Happy Independence Day! Enjoy it! :D

Thursday, June 11, 2009

No Mas Amor Que El Tuyo

Here is a song in honor of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, one of the most popular in the Philippines in the 20th century. It was written by Manuel Bernabe, a Filipino poet who was a master of the Spanish and Latin (!) languages. Bernabe was one of the most gifted luminaries of early 20th century, whose volume of work spanned translations, anthologies, and countless poems. No Mas Amor was originally written as a poem, and then set to music by Simeon Resurreccion. Unfortunately I could find no mp3 available on the internet, but here is the sheet music (PDF file), for those interested.

There is also an English translation here.

No Mas Amor Que El Tuyo

Letra de Manuel Bernabe (see biography below)
Musica del Simeon Resurreccion

No mas amor que el Tuyo
O corazon divino,
El pueblo Filipino,
Te da su corazon.
En templos y en hogares,
Te invoque nuestra lengua,
Tu reinaras sin mengua
De Aparri hasta Jolo.


Ha tiempo que esperamos
Tu imperio en el Oriente,
La fe de Filipinas
Es como el sol ardiente,
como la roca firme,
Inmensa como el mar.
La iniquidad no puede
Ser de estas islas duena
Que izada en nuestros montes,
Tu celestial ensena,
Las puertas de infierno
No prevaleceran.

Found on Monk's Hobbit, and thanks to Enbretheliel for 'reminding' me about it.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Fluvial Procession - Nuestra Senora de Penafrancia

The devotion to Our Lady of Penafrancia is old, very old, having its roots as early as 711 AD; in 1434, the French friar Simon Roland (Simon Vela to the Spaniards)reportedly found an image of the Blessed Virgin in a rocky cave in Salamanca. Simon Roland started to build a shrine in honor of Our Lady's miraculous image, but died before it was completed in 1438. As was usual then, rivalry between religious orders was high, and to settle property issues, as well as to bring peace, King John II awarded custody of the shrine to the Spanish Dominicans.

The Spaniards brought the devotion to Our Lady of Penafrancia to the Philippines when they colonized the islands. Our Lady is venerated under this title in Manila and in Naga, in the Bicol region, where she is considered the spiritual mother of all its people. To her they lovingly gave the title of 'Ina', which means 'Mother' in Tagalog and (presumably) Bicolano. On the third Saturday of November, the image of Our Lady is borne in a fluvial procession from the Cathedral back to her shrine. A novena is recited in her honor, and for nine whole days, thousands upon thousands pay her homage in the cathedral. The day of the procession gathers hundreds of thousands, if not a million, devotees on the shores of Naga, following the river route back to the shrine. After being carried on a silver palanquin, she is enthroned atop a pagoda of sorts in the boat, which is rowed in perfect unison by her devotees (mostly male, as can be gleaned from the pic). The whole river is lined up on both sides by devotees, waving at their beloved 'Ina' and shouting 'Viva la Virgen!' in chorus in a seemingly infinite number of times.

I love how the priests band together to prevent the crush of people from rushing into the river. Also of note are the soldiers in the back, in dark green. In events like this, where participants number in the thousands, it is always a good precaution to have backup.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

The Cloak of Juan Diego

I saw this documentary on EWTN a couple of years ago and liked it a lot. Just watch it.

Friday, June 05, 2009


Pieced together from a rather loud conversation I overheard on the bus exactly a week ago. They were arguing in Tagalog, and while a lot is lost in translation from Tagalog into English, I think I managed to get the gist of their arguments.

'You know, all this extravagance in this church is just unnecessary. Do you really, honestly think God feels honored that you splurge so much on Him, when your fellow men are hungry? This is a classic case of arrogance. The Church is too concerned with riches, that's why so many people are leaving it. This church is offensive to poor people everywhere. It's a sin to worship here!'

'With all due respect-- if they had not built this church, we would not have had jobs, we would not have been able to perpetuate an art form, we wouldn't have been able to get even a brief respite from all the poverty around us. Without jobs we can't eat, and I'm sure even you agree that a poor man with a job is better than a poor man with a dole out. And would you rather pay to enter a museum to see this kind of craftsmanship? At least you get to see it here for free! What's really arrogant is how you think we can't have a beautiful church because we are poor. You need to grow up, asshole.'

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Kapurpurawan White Rock Formation

Some photos from my recent trip to Ilocos Norte (I may blog about this soon). According to our tour guide, this spot is one of the least visited spots in the entire country, for the simple reason that it takes forever to get there. One has to traverse a kilometer's length of rough road which can get really muddy when it rains, climb down and walk across a pitted rock surface that stretches for roughly the same distance, before actually setting foot on the karst limestone cliffs you see in the photos. I'm proud to say that I was able to conquer Kapurpurawan in just Havainas. I'm awesome... Not. Lol.

If you look at it from a distance, it almost resembles a dragon unfolding its wings.

This was the view from the side of the white rock formation. It actually overlooks the sea, and according to our guide, come high tide, the water reaches all the way to the cliff. That's why a the landscape is scarred, rough and pitted. It actually brought back memories of the Dead Marshes.

It was actually quite dreary that day. The sun only started to show up after we had reached the limestone cliff, and it only shone for all of thirty minutes. My camera was being problematic that day so I had to shoot all of it on manual focus, which is harder than it sounds. But then again, shooting 800 photos the hard way makes for good practice!

I'll try to post more photos when I can. I was also able to visit the mausoleum of the late former dictator of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos.. It was certainly quite an experience. Ilocos Norte is Marcos country and many people still address him as Apo Ferdinand or Apo Marcos, 'Apo' of course being the Ilocano word for 'Sir'. If I remember correctly, Marcos and Mao Zedong were close friends back in their days of power, and both former leaders seem to share the same fate after their deaths. I'll be sure to blog about that, too.