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Chasing mangroves in Palawan: Why we have to conserve and protect mangrove forests.

I began falling in love with mangroves when I visited the mangrove forests being protected in Culion, Palawan. It was holy week and we were at the end of the Good Friday procession which ended at the Jesuit Retreat House. I could see the patch of green trees below the place where we had the prayer at the end of the Via Crucis. Since then, I started to research on mangroves.

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A study on the Mesoamerican reef, for example, showed that there are as many as 25 times more fish of some species on reefs close to mangrove areas than in areas where mangroves have been cut down. This makes mangrove forests vitally important to coral reefs and commercial fisheries as well.

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Why do I advocate for the protection of mangrove forests?

 

  1. Mangrove forests protect the land from the sea.

With rising sea levels due to climate change, mangroves function as a buffer zone, a natural shield against ecological disasters (eg. erosion) and storm surges (eg. Yolanda), therefore protecting the shoreline and coastal areas and those living there (eg. fishing communities).

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  1. Mangrove forests are very important for estuarine and marine life.

It is the breeding ground and nursery for a variety of marine animals such as fish, invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals. When I explore mangroves, I check on fish, shrimps and crabs, the main sources of income for shoreline communities like fishing villages. It has been proven that those with a large population of mangroves also have a large population of fishes and an increase in marine diversity.

 

Puerto Princesa

 

  1. Many of us do not know that mangroves are also good for timber, fuel and fodder.

Mangroves are used to build houses, furniture, or even electrical posts. And because of the density of the wood, they are also excellent as firewood. In some countries where pastures are nearly scarce, mangroves are used to feed cattle.

Puerto Princesa

 

  1. The barks of many species of mangroves produce tannin.

Many fishermen use bark extracts to make their fishing nets durable. In one of my skin diving experiences, snorkelers and divers who use the flower of the mangroves to clean goggles fascinated me.

Puerto Princesa

 

  1. Like many trees and plants, mangroves help purify the air and water.

Mangroves absorb pollutants and heavy metals in the water and in the air. Thus, you can be assured that you are breathing fresh air if you are in a mangrove forest.

Puerto Princesa

 

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Puerto Princesa

What can we do?

 

  • Plant mangroves.

Know what species of mangroves in the area. Those are the types of mangrove trees that you should plant. The introduction of a new specie will affect the ecosystem. Remember that mangrove forests have many species of mangrove trees and plants. For example, some areas have nipa palms; some do not.

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  • Organize groups to protect it.

I would highly encourage church groups to participate in government efforts as part of their living out Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si.

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  • Be vigilant.

Report to authorities destruction of these forests. Some local governments have mangrove and reef conservation efforts and programs. It is good to participate in their efforts to protect these crucial ecosystems.

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  • Create appreciation and awareness.

Since we are all on social media, we might want to post photos and articles about mangroves and reef conservation efforts, such as clean up drives, mangrove planting, etc. At the very least, post photos of mangroves when you find yourself in an island or in a place with mangrove forests. Photos of these forests posted on Instagram or Facebook make people appreciate its beauty and its importance.

Puerto Princesa

Puerto Princesa

Puerto Princesa

 

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10 Things Not To Miss in the Islands of Honda Bay

When parents from Ateneo High School invited me to a wedding and to spend some days in Palawan, I said “Yes” without thinking twice! Palawan is one of the most beautiful provinces of the Philippines, and I have placed this western group of Philippine islands on my bucket list.

I visited our mission area of Culion Island in the past to help out at the Parish of the Immaculate Concepcion and its satellite chapels in various settlements scattered throughout the surrounding islands. I went island hopping in Coron during one test run of Hotel Maya, the new laboratory of Hotel and Restaurant Management students of Loyola College. But I have never been to Puerto Princesa City, the seat of the church in Palawan. In July 2016, we will surrender our parish to the diocese, while the Jesuits will concentrate on education at Loyola College.

Here are my experiences of being in Puerto Princesa. For the purposes of blogging, I will write in a separate post my experiences of chasing mangroves in the islands of Honda Bay as one of my ventures to help out in mangrove and reef conservation and rehabilitation. It is my way of responding to Laudato Si, Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment.

For my review of a local restaurant in Puerto Princesa, click on this link.

So what are the things that you can enjoy in the islands of Honda Bay, Puerto Princesa? Here’s my top 10.

  1. Vigilant Skin Diving

 

Puerto Princesa

Puerto Princesa

Puerto Princesa

Off the islands of Palawan, giant clams are bleaching at an alarming rate. I took these photos on one of my skin dives. Because of global warming, sea temperatures rise and clam and coral bleaching occurs. Bleaching happens when corals and clams expel the colorful algae that live within them as a result of the stress of warmer temperatures. Most corals have symbiotic algae, called zooxanthellae, on which corals and giant clams rely for food (while the algae acquires a place to live). When coral polyps and clams lose their complement of zooxanthellae, they become pale in color and their white skeletons and shells become exposed. This is especially true to stony corals, tridacnids (giant clams) and sea anemones.

Puerto Princesa

 

Puerto Princesa

  1. Amazing Sunsets

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Puerto Princesa

 

“At the end of the day there’s another day dawning,

And the sun in the morning is waiting to rise.

And the waves crash on the sand,

Like a storm that’ll break any second…

There’s a hunger in the land,

There’s a reckoning still to be reckoned…

And there’s gonna be hell to pay,

At the end of the day!” — “At the End of the Day,” Les Miserables.

 

Some lyrics cut to the bone, especially when it is set in beautiful music. I go out to explore God’s creation for rewarding scenes like these, and with my music library at the palm of my hand, I let the orchestra play. For maximum appreciation: JUST. BE. AWED.

 

Puerto Princesa

Puerto Princesa

Puerto Princesa

 

During the dry season, plants were scorched on the islands. As I returned to Arreceffi Island, a column of rain was at the horizon as a boat speeded away from it. As Eponine sang before she died in the musical: “And rain will make the flowers grow” (“A Little Fall of Rain,” Les Miserables). To flourish, let the rains fall.

 

Puerto Princesa

 

  1. Fire Dancers

The fire dancers were like, “Whoa!”

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Puerto Princesa

Puerto Princesa

 

4. Swim in these clear waters

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Puerto Princesa

 

Puerto Princesa

The Islands of Honda Bay

5. Arreceffi Island

This is an island off Honda Bay. Its rich marine ecosystem has a long line of mangrove forests, sea grass beds, and coral reefs. The locals call Arreceffi, “Isla Mais” or Corn Island. In this island, as well as in other islands off Puerto Princesa, you can see migratory and non-migratory birds, marine turtles and the locals said (I have not seen one though) sea cows or “dugong” feeding here.

 

Puerto Princesa

Puerto Princesa

Puerto Princesa

Puerto Princesa

 

6. Isla Puting Buhangin

Puerto Princesa

Puerto Princesa

Puerto Princesa

 

7. Barlas Island

Isla Barlas has long mangrove and coconut palm areas.

Puerto Princesa

 

8. Pandan Island

The island is named after the giant pandan plants in the island. It has a white sand bar perfect for summer frolickers.

Puerto Princesa

Puerto Princesa

  1. Cowrie Island

This is a popular destination for beach goers and combers. The island is named after a type of shell, the cowrie.

Puerto Princesa

  1. Bat Island

This is home to many giant fruit bats that fly to other islands at the cusp of evening to feed. Huge mangroves cover the island. It is closed to island adventurers because it is a protected area.

Puerto Princesa

Bolinao River 01

7 Places To Visit When in Bolinao, Pangasinan

When Mrs. Ems Fausto invited me to Bolinao, Pangasinan to join her and some parents from Ateneo High School at their beach house, I readily said yes. I seldom visit the north and Pangasinan was towards northern Philippines. So, with my packed bag in tow, I headed to Bolinao, and I did not have any regrets.

Check out some of the places we visited, and allow yourselves to imagine a meaningful trip there. If you find yourself planning a Pangasinan trip, here are some places you would not want to miss.

  1. The Balingasay River Cruise and Floating Restaurants

The Balingasay River Cruise was very much like the floating restaurants of Loboc River in Bohol. However, you had to order your food prior to the cruise. So, we just ordered halo-halo and some soda because we had breakfast and lunch was being prepared at the beach house. The cruise brought us to lines and lines of mangroves (which I love). But above all, it had been a great nature trip: fresh air, the relaxing sound of water, and communing with nature.

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Bolinao Pangasinan

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  1. Cape Bolinao Lighthouse

Cape Bolinao Lighthouse is the 2nd tallest lighthouse in the Philippines; the tallest is Cape Bojeador Lighthouse in Burgos, Ilocos Norte. American, British and Filipino engineers built this 101 feet high lighthouse in 1905.

 

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  1. Patar White Sand Beach

I loved these scenes of a father and daughter enjoying the beach and the sunset.

 

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  1. Bolinao WaterFalls

Though the cascade was flimsy because we were there during the dry season, I still would recommend a visit to the falls but during the wet season.

 

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  1. St. James the Great Parish Church

 

Bolinao, Pangasinan was a mission territory of the Dominicans in 1594. Due to the vastness of their area and the lack of missionaries, the Dominicans left in 1607 and entrusted it to the Augustinian Friars. Under the Augustinians, Bolinao was canonically erected in 1609. The church tower is 75 feet, the tallest in Pangasinan. In 1788, an earthquake destroyed the top of the bell tower, and the convent was burned in 1819. The church is made of black coral stones.

 

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  1. The Enchanted Cave

The Enchanted Cave’s charm lies in its underground spring pool where you can swim or dip. The cave is made of limestone coral stones and the surrounding area has fossilized giant clams. It is a haven for nature lovers.

 

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  1. Short Stop at Binmaley, Pangasinan

 

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A. Our Lady of Purification Parish Church

The Dominicans built this church in 1627 and completed by Fr. Barrozo OP in 1754. The Dominicans took care of the parish until the religious revolution of 1898. The parish is under the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan. Binmaley, Pangasinan.

 

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B. The Bell Tower of the Church of Our Lady of Purification

 

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Some photos along the way.

The Candaba Wetlands, Pampanga

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Bolinao518

 

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Acknowledgements:

Thank you very much, Ems and Gian!

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The gang at the Fausto’s beach house.

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The Islands of Gigantes Live Up To Its Name

It was a trip devoid of a single regret.

I heard about the group of islands across the town of Estancia in Iloilo from Bok Pioquid, a faculty member of the Ateneo High School’s Christian Service Involvement Program. He and his wife would go on a “couple” backpacking tour every now and then. Until today, their unwavering passion is exploring the Philippines. They have gone to many places, and they travel on the cheap — and this is what I love about their stories. You can go on an adventure without breaking the bank.

I told Bok about Fr. Ruben Orbeta SJ’s invitation for me to help out at Sta. Maria Parish in Iloilo City for the Holy Week. I would fly in on Palm Sunday and fly out on Easter Sunday. My work was to give a recollection talk for an hour each day of the Triduum and hear confessions on Good Friday. So I had three days free: Holy Monday to Wednesday. Bok suggested the Gigantes trip because I was already there. He gave me the number of Ms. Rolin Barba (0929-3949708) of Paon Beach Club Inc,*** and off I went.

GigantesJboySJ I took the Ceres Bus to Estancia from the Jaro Terminal on a very humid Monday. It took around 2 hours to the town. From Panian Crossing, I took a tricycle to Paon. GigantesJboySJ

I woke up early the next morning for the boat ride to Gigantes Islands. It was a 2-hour trip to the islands. I learned that Gigantes did not belong to the Municipality of Estancia, but the town of Carles. So if you prefer to take off from Carles, it would be an hour to the islands.

Rey Ambito, our guide,** said that the group of islands was named after an ancient skeleton, discovered in one of the isles. The height of the human bones was taller than many natives, hence, a higante, a giant. I also heard you could go caving if you preferred that adventure, but the caves were in Gigantes del Norte. Unfortunately, I explored only Gigantes del Sur where many islands with white sand beaches were, and whose views were “Instagramable” and picturesque.

Below are great reasons why you should visit the islands. Believe me, I was in awe all the time I was there! It was indeed a gigantic experience!

  1. Cabugao Gamay Island

From a vantage point is the iconic view of the whole island. The famous photos of Gigantes are taken from here (see featured photo above). Below is the eastern side of the island. The sun was rising when I took this photo.

 

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    1. Bantigue Island’s white sand bar.

It is a long island, but the tip of the island is perfect for a photo shoot. From a certain point, you have many islands as your backdrop. But do take a dip. The water is pure and perfect as you can see.

 

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GigantesJboySJ

    1. Antonia Island’s beach.

This is the usual stop-over for lunch. Fishermen would sell scallops and wasay-wasay shellfish. You can’t imagine how cheap the scallops are: Php 1.00/per piece. When I was there, Rey and I feasted on a hundred pieces with spiced native vinegar and lots of rice. Rolin made sure that I would bring more than enough cooked rice, water and vinegar. I was so grateful for her thoughtfulness.

 

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    1. Cabugao Dako Island’s rock formation.

The rock formation is like the backdrop from the movie, “The Lord of the Rings.” Simply, the rocks are surreal. Let the photos speak for the islands.

 

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    1. Tangke Island’s Lagoon.

The boats will dock at a certain opening between towering rocks. These high-rise rocks protect a beautiful sanctuary of a white sand lagoon where you can swim. But be sure to be there before 2 PM: the water begins to drain during low tide.

 

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GigantesJboySJ

    1. Cheap seafood.

In Punot Restaurant and Grill in Estancia, I ordered a bowl of Imbao (shellfish) Sinigang (sour soup) and grilled squid. I loved imbao; the flavor just bursted in my mouth. I thought the servings were just enough for me. I was surprised that the servings were good for four. Each order was just Php 100.00. (Shout out to Engr. Carlito Centeno for my dinners!)

 

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  1. Estancia’s Dried Fish.

The town of Estancia is famous for its dried fishes. I tell you, your trip will never be complete without a sampling of their dried fish especially for breakfast. Paon serves them.

 

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***

 

You might wonder why I write about these trips. Going out from my usual work in school enriches me. The world is far greater and bigger than Ateneo. And this is what I like to do: go and explore the richness of the very home God has given me.

When you get to see how beautiful this world is, this home of ours, then you will do everything to protect it. You will become a real steward of creation, just as God has appointed us to become. This is the premise of Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si. The encyclical’s dream is for every single human person to be at home in the very planet we live in.

In a few months, I will bring my students to Iloilo. Last November 2015, I explored Iloilo accompanied by Bok and some parents. We saw what this province could offer us: a pilgrimage of churches, a food trip, an ecological adventure and a cultural experience.

We hope that our students will truly love our country because they have seen how beautiful the Philippines is. We also have a greater hope: that they would be angry enough to act when unscrupulous people would dare corrupt its beauty.

Just like falling in love, you will always protect that which matters to you — or whom you deeply care about.

 

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Some notes:

*We call these visits to Jesuit schools, “Eco-Spiritual Pilgrimages” instead of the usual “field trips” because there is a spiritual angle to the tour. We do an “ecological examen” and end our day with a mass. And as part of Ignatian prayer, we ask God the specific grace to “Find Him In All Things” — in creation, in the people we encounter, in the experience. This program is part of the Jesuit Youth Ministry of the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus.

It also includes an interaction with students from the place where we visit. This August 2016, the Iloilo Pilgrimage will include an interaction between students, parents and faculty of Ateneo de Iloilo to share our common experiences of being in a Jesuit school. In other words, the program is always in partnership with other Jesuit schools, and one of our goals is the appreciation of our common Ignatian spirituality.

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** To the left of this photo is Rey Ambito, waiter and tour guide of Paon Beach Club. He accompanied me on the boat to the islands. I highly recommend him because he is both knowledgeable and trustworthy. You can call or text him at 0930-5859104. If you can’t reach him, Rolin can help you find your guides.

 

*** Call Paon Beach Club Inc. at (033) 397-0444 or 0929-394-9708. And oh, you can also enjoy this sunset from Estancia.

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A whale sharks moves graciously away. Oslob, Cebu. 23 August 2015 Photo: Fr. JBoy Ginzales SJ

Si Gina, Amy at mga Sirena

Kape't PandasalPagpapahalaga o value: harapin ang takot

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Matakutin ka ba? May mga takot ka bang pumipigil sa iyo na gawin ang gusto mong gawin? Halimbawa, takot na tanggihan ka sa alok mo ng pag-ibig; o takot na i-friend zone ka na lang?

May kuwento ako ukol sa takot. Magkaibigan si Gina at Amy at pinagtatalunan nila kung tunay nga bang may mga sirena sa dagat. Kaya upang malaman kung tunay nga ang sirena, pumalao’t sila upang sumisid sa dagat.

Iba’t ibang klaseng isda ang una nilang nakita. Sa maliwanag, may mga maliliit at malalaki rin. Habang lumalalim sila, dumidilim ang kanilang nararating. Sa pinakamalalim, wala na silang makita. Nang tinamaan sila ng takot, bumalik sila sa ibabaw ng dagat.

Ngunit, hindi sila mapakali, dahil hindi nasasagot ang kanilang tanong ukol sa mga sirena. Kinabukasan, nagpasiya sila na sumisid muli. Sa pinakailalim, binuksan nila ang kanilang dalang ilaw at nakita nila ang isang tropa ng mga sirena.

Lumapit ang mga sirena sa kanila. Gusto sana nilang makipagkaibigan kay Gina at Amy sa una nilang pagsisid; ngunit nag-akala silang ayaw nilang makipagkaibigan dahil umalis sila kaagad.

Mga kapamilya, lumalampas sa atin ang mga mabubuting pagkakataon dahil sa ating mga takot.

Manalangin tayo upang harapin ang mga ito:

O Dios na makapangyarihan tulungan mo kaming laging maisip ang mga bagay sa langit upang maging marapat kami sa pakikibahagi ng Iyong kaluwalhatian. Nawa’y pagningasin ng aming Inang Maria ang aming mga puso, sa gitna ng aming mga takot. Amen.

Kids swim and play in the shallow basin of Tumalog Falls. 23 August 2015

Ang Tabak ng Hari

Kape't PandasalPagpapahalaga o values: kapayapaan

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Sa panahon ng iba’t ibang digmaang nangyayari sa buong daigdig, may kuwento po ako ukol sa kapayapaan. Nangangarap ang isang tabak na makasali sa isang malaking digmaan. Dahil bago at gawa sa pinakamalakas na bakal, siya ang tinatawag na “The king’s sword” o ang tabak ng hari.

Isang araw, naranasan niya ang digmaan. Labis itong nabigla sa nakita: tambak ang mga patay, maraming duguan, at maraming nag-agaw-buhay. At dahil dito, ayaw na niya sa anumang digmaan.

Isang araw nagkaroon ng away ang dalawang hari na nauwi sa hamon ng isa pang digmaan. Sa bisperas ng digmaan, hindi mapakali ang tabak ng hari. Hindi dapat mangyari ang digmaan. Sa kanyang takot, nanginig siya nang nanginig, at narinig ng ibang tabak ang ingay ng kanyang panginginig o vibration. Naunawaan ng ibang tabak ang kanyang ginagawa. Hindi rin nila gusto ang nangyayari sa digmaan, kaya sabay-sabay silang nanginig.

Dahil sa ingay, hindi nakatulog ng mahimbing ang mga sundalo’t hari.

Dahil nakapagpapahina ang puyat, pinagpaliban ng mga hari ang digmaan. Ngunit sa pagkakataong ito, nakapag-usap ng masinsinan ang mga hari. Napagtawanan nila ang kanilang alitan, hanggang sa naisipan nilang makipag-ayos at magtulungan na lamang bilang magkaibigan.

Mga kapamilya, hindi kailangang maranasan natin ang digmaan o anumang alitang nauuwi sa patayan upang matutunan ang halaga ng kapayapaan.

Manalangin tayo:

O makapangyarihang Dios, ikaw ay buong giliw naming tinatawag na Ama. Loobin mong mabuhay kami bilang mga anak Mo nang mapayapa. Amen.

Photo by Bok Pioquid, CSIP, Ateneo High School

Ang Mga Hayop Sa Bintana

Kape't PandasalPagpapakahalaga o values: Pagkakaibigan

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Minsan ang pagiging banal ay nauuwi lamang sa pagdarasal at pagsisimba. Nguni’t ang pagiging tunay na kaibigan ay isa ring pagpapakabanal.

May kuwento ako.

Nagkasakit nang malubha si Anthony, isang anim na taong gulang na bata. At dahil mahina ang kanyang katawan, nakahiga na lamang siya sa ospital at pinagbawal ang mga batang dadalaw sa kanya. Sa kanyang lungkot, mas naging malubha ang kanyang sakit.

Isang araw, tumingin siya sa labas ng kanyang bintana. May nakita siyang unggoy na nakasalamin na kumakain ng isang sandwich. Nagtaka siya, ngunit hindi niya sinabi sa iba. Baka mapagkamalan siyang sira-ulo. Kinabukasan, isang aso naman ang kanyang nakita na nakabihis ng kanyang uniform sa eskuwelahan. Ganoon din nangyari sa sumunod na araw: minsan kambing, ibon, elepante, atpb. At tuwang-tuwa siya sa kanyang mga nakita.

Dahil dito, gumaling siya nang gumaling.

Nang pumasok na siya sa kanyang eskuwelahan, nakita niya ang kanyang kaibigan si Lancel at naikuwento niya ang kanyang mga nakita. Habang tawa sila nang tawa, nakita niyang may naka-usli sa bag ni Lancel. Nakita niya ang buntot ng unggoy at tenga ng asong nakita niya sa bintana ng ospital!

Manalangin tayo:

Paunlakan mo, Panginoon, ang aming hinihiling na kalinga ng tulad ng galing sa tunay kaibigan. Pangalagaan ang aming buhay at kabuhayan nang makapaglingkod kami sa Iyo nang buong katapatan. Amen.

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Ang Manika ni Lola

Kape't PandasalPagpapahalaga o Values: Respeto at Pagaalaga sa Kagamitan

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Matagal akong naassign sa Payatas. Gabundok doon ang basura. Iba’t ibang bagay ang nakatapon doon. May mga bagay na kung inalagaan nang maayos, maaari pa sanang gamitin ng iba. Tulad ng manika ni Anna na binigay ng kanyang lola.

Bumalik si Aling Nena sa kaniyang pinanggalingang lalawigan sa Camalig, Albay.

Matagal na siyang umalis doon nagmulang nakapangasawa siyang taga-Maynila. Natuwa pa rin siya dahil bagaman lumang-luma na ang bahay ng kaniyang mga magulang, naroroon pa rin ang kanilang mga kagamitang alaala ng kaniyang pinagmulan.

Binuksan niya ang kanyang dating aparador, at nakita niya ang manikang bigay ng kanyang magulang sa kanyang kaarawan. Iningatan niya ito at inalagaan.

Pag-uwi niya ng Maynila, ibinigay niya ito sa kanyang apo. Habang pinaglalaruan ng apo ang manika, dumaloy na parang batis ang mga alaala ng labis na pagmamahal ng kanyang mga magulang sa kanya. Hindi niya ipagpapalit ang mga alaalang iyon. Mga kapamilya, alagaan nawa natin ang ating mga gamit, kasama ang mga alaala ng ating mga nakaraan. Bawasan ang basura at alagaan ang kalikasan.

Manalangin tayo.

O Dios, ang pinagmulan ng lahat ng lakas at kabanalan, patnubayan mo kaming gamitin ang mga makalangit upang makamtan ang ligayang walang hanggan. Amen.

Two children enjoy the fish spa in the Enchanting Tree, Lazi, Siquijor. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

Ang Bag ni John

Kape't PandasalPagpapahalaga o values: Pagkakaibigan o Kasiyahan na nagpapagaling sa atin.

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May kasabihan na “laughter is the best medicine.”

Meron akong kuwento. Nagkasakit nang malubha si John. At habang tumatagal siya sa ospital, nararamdaman niya ang kawalang-pag-asa. Lumulubha nang lumulubha ang kanyang pakiramdam, hindi lamang sa katawan, kundi sa kaluluwa. Naging malungkutin ang bata.

Isang araw, may dumaan na clown o payaso. Nakita niya si John kaya pumasok siya sa kuwarto at nakipagkaibigan ito sa maysakit.

Wika ng payaso, “Anong ginagawa mo diyan? Hindi mo ba alam na may langit para sa mga batang maysakit, na mas maganda kaysa sa mga wala? Ngunit kung gusto mong makarating doon, kailangan mong punuin ng mga papel ng kabutihan ang bag na ito.”

At inilabas ng payaso ang isang bag. Sabi ni payaso, papalitan ng ticket ang mga papel, ng mga anghel sa langit. Kaya nang dumating ang kanyang nanay, nginitian at hinalikan niya ang kanyang magulang. Sa gabi, sinulat ni John ang mga katagang, “Natuwa ang Nanay ko ngayon.”

Araw-araw, nag-isip si John ng mga mabubuting gawain: inalagaan niya ang ibang bata sa ospital, hindi siya naging pasaway sa mga nurses, hanggang naging bukal siya ng kaligayahan sa buong ospital. At araw-araw, nakikita ni John na dumadami ang ticket niya sa kanyang bag. Hindi napuno ni John ang kanyang bag.

Ngunit dahil sa kanyang saya sa buhay, gumaling nang gumaling siya!

Manalangin tayo.

Lumakas sana ang aming pananampalataya, pag-asa at pag-ibig Panginoon. Loobin mo na ang inihahandog naming buhay sa iyong karangalan ay magbunga ng kasayahan sa lahat. Amen.

Vendors sell their goodies at the entrance to Tumalog Falls. Oslob, Cebu. 23 August 2015 Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

Ang Tatlong Magkakaibigang Binhi

Kape't PandasalPagpapahalaga o values: Tiwala sa Diyos na ibibigay ang kailangan natin sa anumang haharapin.

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Kapag hinaharap natin ang anumang hirap sa ating buhay, nalilinang natin ang mga bagay na gagamitin natin sa pagharap sa anumang hamon sa ating buhay.

Kuwento ako. May tatlong binhing magkakaibigan. Isang araw, dinala sila ng hangin sa isang patag sa kagubatan. Tuwang-tuwa sila sa kanilang naratnan. Ngunit hindi nagtagal nakita nila ang dahilan kung bakit walang kahoy ang tumutubo sa patag: hinahagisan ng mga unggoy ang anumang binhing tumutubo ng saging.

Sinimulan ng unang binhi ang tumubo. Ngunit hindi pa siya nakakarating ng ilang metro kataas, hinagisan siya ng maraming saging at halos napatid ang kanyang mga tangkay. Kaya sinabihin nito ang dalawang pang binhi. Sumang-ayon ang pangalawa, ngunit, nagmatigas ang pangatlong binhi: ang binhi ng narra.

Sabi niya, susubukan niyang tumayo, tumubo at lumago. At ito na nga ang nangyari: sa bawat hagis, dinoble niya ang kanyang pagsisikap.

Paulit-ulit ang hamon sa narra at hindi tulad ng ibang binhi, hindi nawalan ng pag-asa ang binhi. Hindi nagtagal, lumakas ang kanyang mga tangkay hanggang nakayanan nito ang lumago sa kabila ng mga saging inihahagis sa kanya.

Manalangin tayo.

O Dios, tanglawan mo ang mga nawawalan ng pag-asang magsumikap sa kabila ng anumang hamon sa kanilang buhay. Loobin mong dumami at maging banal sa wika at gawa ang mga nakaanib sa iyo. Alang-alang kay Kristong aming Panginoon. Amen.

Two girls walk towards their school carrying flower garlands used for a Philippine cultural dance. Photo: Fr. JBoy Gonzales SJ

Kuwento Para sa Simpleng Pamumuhay

Kape't PandasalSi Olav ang pinaka-kinatatakutan sa lahat ng mga Vikings. Kaya niyang patumbahin ang anumang hayop tulad ng mga toro, oso at leon sa isang iglap lamang.

Kaya upang makilala siya, inilagay niya ang kanyang mga tropeo ng mga digmaang kanyang sinalihan sa kanyang helmet at balabal. Sa kanyang helmet ang higit na isang libong mga sungay at sa kanyang mga balabal ang higit na limampung mga mabibigat na diamanteng kumikinang habang siya’y naglalakad sa daan.

Isang araw, nabangga ni Olav si Virgensten, isang patpating estudyante ng medisina, dahil nagbabasa habang naglalakad ang binata. Sa galit, hinamon ni Olav si Virgensten; at hindi rin tumanggi ang binata sa isang kondisyon. Sabi niya, “Dahil malabo ang aking paningin, hindi kita makikita hanggang suot-suot mo ang iyong helmet at balabal.” Pumayag si Olav. Nang nagsimula na silang mag-away, iisa lamang ang ginagawa ni Virgensten: sa bawat suntok at tadyak ni Olav, umiwas siya nang umiiwas.

Sa tagal ng kanilang pag-aaway, bumagsak si Olav na waring namatay. Nagtagumpay si Virgensten!

Dahil dito, naging simple na lamang sa pananamit si Olav. Mas gusto niyang makilala siya, hindi dahil sa kanyang mga tropeo, kundi sa kanyang pansariling lakas.

Manalangin tayo.

O Ama, dahil sa kababaang-loob ng iyong Anak, itinaas mo ang sanlibutan. Ipagkaloob mo sa amin ang simpleng pamumuhay at banal na kaligayahan sapagka’t iniligtas mo kami sa kasalanan at pinangakuan ng buhay na walang hanggan. Amen.