Frontage of the Parish of Our Lady of Candelaria, Silang, Cavite. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

Pilgrimage to Pre-Suppression Jesuit Churches: Silang, Cavite

Church of Our Lady of Candelaria, Silang, Cavite:  The Franciscans established this as a parish in 3 February 1595. When the church was burned in 30 August 1603, they rebuilt it and dedicated it to San Diego de Alcala. In 1611, they handed this church to the Jesuits.

The Interior of the Church of Our Lady of Candelaria, Silang, Cavite. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

The Interior of the Church of Our Lady of Candelaria, Silang, Cavite. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

In 1637-39, Fr. Juan de Salazar SJ built this church of stone and dedicated it to Our Lady of Candelaria. This is the reason for the dedication: a native found the image of Our Lady, but the image mysteriously disappeared several times. Upon the advice of a Jesuit, the natives built a church so that the image will have its home. The devotion to Our Lady of Candelaria grew from then on.

Notable to the visit is this retablo of Jesuit saints.

The Retablo of Jesuit Saints, Church of Our Lady of Candelaria, Silang, Cavite. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

The Retablo of Jesuit Saints, Church of Our Lady of Candelaria, Silang, Cavite. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

These are details from the retablos of the Church of Our Lady of Candelaria. If you want a little excitement, identify the Jesuit saints in the retablos. And then, offer candles for your petitions to end your visit.

Jesuit saints enshrined in one of retablos of the Church of Our Lady of Candelaria, Silang, Cavite. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

Jesuit saints enshrined in one of retablos of the Church of Our Lady of Candelaria, Silang, Cavite. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

Next stop: Parish of St. Gregory the Great (San Gregorio Magno), Indang, Cavite.

The Church of Mary Magdalene, Kawit, Cavite. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

Pilgrimage to Pre-Suppression Jesuit Churches: Kawit, Cavite

From 13-16 January 2015, the Ignatian Youth Camp participants celebrated the Bi-Centennial Anniversary of the Restoration of the Society of Jesus. They went on a pilgrimage to Jesuit churches in the province of Cavite. They wanted to get a glimpse of the missionary activities of the Jesuits before the Suppression.

This is one of the churches they visited: The Church of Mary Magdalene, Kawit, Cavite.

Christmas interior of the Church of Mary Magdalene, Kawit, Cavite.  Photo: Fr. JBoy Gonzales SJ

Christmas interior of the Church of Mary Magdalene, Kawit, Cavite. Photo: Fr. JBoy Gonzales SJ

The Jesuits first came to Kawit in 1624. They built a wooden church in 1638 and dedicated it to the patronage of St. Mary Magdalene. With the help of six families from Silang and Maragondon, they set the cornerstone of this church in 1737. But a storm destroyed the roof in 1831.

The retablo with the saints, Church of Mary Magdalene, Kawit, Cavite. Photo: Fr. JBoy Gonzales SJ

The retablo with the saints, Church of Mary Magdalene, Kawit, Cavite. Photo: Fr. JBoy Gonzales SJ

When the Jesuits were suppressed, the church went to the wings of the secular clergy in 1768 and the Recoletos priests in 1849. This is where the first president of the Republic of the Philippines, General Emilio Aguinaldo, was baptized in 1869.

One of the images of St. Mary Magdalene, Kawit, Cavite. Devotees line up to touch her images. Photo: Fr. JBoy Gonzales SJ, December 2014

One of the images of St. Mary Magdalene, Kawit, Cavite. Devotees line up to touch her shrine. Photo: Fr. JBoy Gonzales SJ

Note to the pilgrim: While you’re in Kawit, you might as well take a short segue to the house of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo. It is a short distance from this church. When you get here (see photo below), don’t miss the balcony facing the road. It is the balcony where Gen. Aguinaldo proclaimed Philippine Independence on June 12, 1898. It is also here that the Philippine flag made by Doña Marcela Marino de Agoncillo was unfurled while the band of San Francisco de Malabon played the Marcha Nacional Filipina (Philippine National Anthem) composed by Julian Felipe. Gen. Aguinaldo is also buried here.

The Balcony and house of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, the 1st President of the Republic of the Philippines.

The Balcony and house of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, the 1st President of the Republic of the Philippines. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

Next stop: Parish of Our Lady of Candelaria, Silang, Cavite.

Mission San Xavier del Bac, Tucson, Arizona. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ, January 2011

Tucson, Az: Mission San Xavier del Bac

On January 2011, I was one of the visitors who flocked to the Mission San Xavier del Bac, one of the few Spanish colonial missions in the US still serving the native peoples it was built for. I was on Tertianship, the last stage in Jesuit formation. Together with my fellow priests, I was coming from the exposure to the work at the Kino Border Initiative  at the border of Nogales, Mexico. (Check my experiences here, here, here, here, and here)

Ornate details of the frontage of the Mission San Xavier del Bac. Photo: Fr. JBoy Gonzales SJ

Ornate details of the frontage of the Mission San Xavier del Bac. Photo: Fr. JBoy Gonzales SJ

The KBI was a joint apostolate of the Jesuit Provinces of Mexico and California. It provided humanitarian aid to undocumented migrants deported from the Nogales, Arizona border. The KBI took its name from Fr. Eusebio Kino, the Jesuit missionary-explorer of Nueva España, the one who built the predecessor of this church.

One of the Baroque retablos at the Mission San Xavier del Bac. Photo: Fr. JBoy Gonzales SJ

One of the Baroque retablos at the Mission San Xavier del Bac. Photo: Fr. JBoy Gonzales SJ

Fr. Kino arrived at the Indian village of Bac in 1692. The people there seemed to be open to conversion, so he built a mission church that he named after St. Francis Xavier, the Jesuit who became the patron of the missions for his work in Asia.

In the late 1770s, the Franciscan missionaries took over when the Jesuits were suppressed. They began to build this present structure with a cruciform floor plan. They built it with a 7,000 silver peso budget borrowed from a local rancher. They invited artists from Querétaro, a town north of Mexico City who worked with Indian laborers to sculpt and paint this extraordinary Baroque interior.

The altar of the Mission San Xavier del Bac. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ, January 2011

The altar of the Mission San Xavier del Bac. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ, January 2011

I was awed at the interiors. With mouth agape, I took pictures in frenzy: wide-angled, close-up, or macros in portrait or landscapes. It was already stunning to be at the white exterior of a massive church at the center of an Indian reserve, but it was more intense to be inside of it.

I was more than impressed. But I felt that that was exactly the effect of Baroque architecture of the 17th and 18th century. The extravagance of ornate details seem to send the message to the Indians — and to all visitors of the present — how big and lofty Christianity was.
So, check these photos, and tell me if I have all the reasons to wonder.

Detail: St. Francis Xavier,  Mission San Xavier del Bac. Photo: Fr. JBoy Gonzales SJ, January 2011

1. Detail: St. Francis Xavier, Mission San Xavier del Bac. Photo: Fr. JBoy Gonzales SJ, January 2011

1. A 1759 statue of St. Francis Xavier at the center of the retablo (right photo).

St. Ignatius of Loyola at the altar of Mission San Xavier del Bac. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ, January 2011

2. St. Ignatius of Loyola at the altar of Mission San Xavier del Bac. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ, January 2011

2. St. Ignatius of Loyola (left photo).

3. This is the bier that held the statue of San Francisco who turned the mission into a place of pilgrimage (photo, below).

The Bier of St. Francis under the Christ in red robes. Photo: Fr. JBoy Gonzales SJ, January 2011

3. The Bier of St. Francis under the Christ in red robes. Photo: Fr. JBoy Gonzales SJ, January 2011

As one of the pilgrims who came to this place years ago, I also had more than a dozen petitions, except that I did not have what other pilgrims were leaving behind: a token of devotion, pinned on the robe of San Francisco Xavier.

Tokens of devotion are pinned on the robes of St. Francis. PHoto: Fr. JBoy Gonzales SJ, January 2011

Tokens of devotion are pinned on the robes of St. Francis. PHoto: Fr. JBoy Gonzales SJ, January 2011

Fire

The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.

– Ferdinand Foch

I found this quote from Brainy Quotes while preparing a wedding homily today. This is worth reflecting. The General Congregation 35 of the Jesuits states that in the world today, we have to deepen our friendship with the Lord, who will be the source of our fire when sent to the frontiers (the mission). The GC 35 document was published in 2008; Pope Francis used “frontier” with the word, “peripheries” in his exhortation today. So, go to the peripheries, with our hearts burning!

Finding a Solution: Rephrase a Problem

Sometimes just seeing a problem differently can enable you to find new solutions. Try writing out the problem as a simple sentence or phrase and then, rewrite it, substituting one or two keywords with synonyms – use a thesaurus if necessary. If it’s a creative brief you’re working on, try rephrasing the proposition or the objective as many times as you can. Different words have different connotations and will trigger different images and ideas in your mind. Although this technique will generate some strange and awkward-sounding phrases, it should also help to spark alternative ideas.

– Tools for Idea Generation

Image taken from http://qnexitsolutions.blogspot.com. Thank you for this image.

Ano ang Kahulugan ng Santacruzan?

Pagtuonan natin ng pansin ang kultura ng Santacruzan. Nakasali ka na ba o nakinuod ka lamang. Ano nga ba ang kuwento sa kabila ng Santacruzan? Isang pagpaparangal sa paghahanap ng tunay na krus ni Reyna Elena ang santacruzan. Si Reyna Elena ang ina ni Emperador Constantino ng Kaharian ng Roma. Ginawa niyang pambansang relihiyon ang Kristiyanismo, kaya lalo itong lumaganap noong mga unang panahon.

Pinaparangalan ng Santacruzan ang mga bidang babae ng pananampalataya. Makikita sila sa Lumang Tipan: si Reyna Ester, Reyna Saba o Sheba, at si Infanta Judith. Kasama din si Veronica, Maria Magdalena, Maria Jacobe, at Maria Salome. Sa buntot ng prusisyon ng Santacruzan, makikita ang iba’t ibang Reyna Elena, minsan may Emperatriz pa. Ngunit meron tayong nakakaligtaan: hindi laging nakikita, sa mga nagagandahang sagala, si San Macario, ang obispong sumama kay Reyna Elena sa Jerusulem. Dahil dito, ang santacruzan ay isang paalala sa atin sa kahalagahan ng maraming babae na tumutulong sa pagpapalago ng ating pananampalataya. Higit sa lahat, ang masigasig na paghahanap sa Diyos. Sabi ni San Agustin, hindi daw mapapakali ang ating puso, hangga’t hindi natin matagpuan ng lubusan ang Diyos. Pagdasal natin ang mga bayaning babae sa ating buhay-espirituwal na tumutulong sa ating matagpuan ang Diyos sa ating buhay.

Gerphil Flores’ Vindication

Commentary

I found this video of Gerphil Flores, or Fame, at the Pilipinas Got Talent when she said, “I will not stop from singing classical songs because that is my talent.”

It is her response to Kris Aquino’s advice that she should sing the songs that the masses can “relate to.” Kris said, “In order to win your audience, you have to sing a song which the audience can identify with. You definitely have the talent, but I’m basing my vote on impact.” Kris’ comments tell us that PGT was after impact, not talent. Because impact sells.

Fr. Alberto Ampil SJ said that in this video below, Gerphil showed to those in PGT her “backbone” and her “strong belief.”

Years later, Gerphil proved the PGT judges wrong at the 1st Asia’s Got Talent. To her, it IS ideal to use what God has given you. We should appreciate our unique talents, hone them and master them. That would be our contribution to the world. In AGT, she showed that the audience would be pleased IF you are good at what you do. Thus, she sang what she loves to sing. Thus, AGT IS after talent, not impact.

What troubles me is Kris Aquino’s condescending attitude towards the masses: that the public’s ability remains only at the level of pop music. Gerphil believes otherwise: that the general audience is also capable of appreciating a range of musical genres and in various languages. She said, “Kaya ng Pilipinong kumanta, hindi lamang ng Tagalog kundi sa ibang lenguahe din” (The Filipino can sing, not just Tagalog, but also other languages as well).

Kris’ comment renders us incapable of improvement, while Gerphil believes that we can improve our taste.

Gerphil proved it here at the AGT’s audition. It won David Foster’s Golden Buzzer.

Moreover, she rose further in this emotional rendition of the theme from “Love Story.” Melanie said, “You belong to the world stage.”

But she performed unbelievably at the Grand Finals. Note what David Foster said about her (David Foster’s work and talent proved more credible than Kris, Ai-Ai, and whose that other judge (?) of the PGT. David Foster said that her “(the) Impossible Dream, made her dream possible.” He added, “I promise you that the world is gonna know about you.”

Fr. Ampil SJ called this Kris Aquino mentality as the “idolatry of the masses.” He said, that Gerphil Flores’ performance at the Asia’s Got Talent was “her sweet revenge” — it proved that those PGT judges should be somewhere else.

I perfectly agree. Now, do you?

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May Lugar Para sa Iyo

Maaaring nagbibigay-buhay o nakakawala ng gana sa buhay ang anumang alaala. Nakakawalang-buhay kung hindi natin nalalampasan ang sakit; nakakabigay-buhay kung nagkakaroon ng lunas ang ating mga sugat. Upang sariwain natin ang ating mga alaala, dinadaan natin ito sa iba’t ibang ritwal. May mga pumupunta sa lugar ng una nilang pagkikita; meron namang kumakain ng paborito nilang ulam kung kaarawan.

Sinasariwa ng mga Judio ang kanilang karanasan ng pagliligtas sa Ehipto sa pamamagitan ng ritual ng pagkain at ng pagkukuwento nito o pagbabasa sa libro ng Exodo. Ginugunita natin ang Panginoon sa ating misa, upang hindi natin makalimutan ang inuutos niya sa atin. Sa kasawimpalad, may mga hindi nakakalampas sa mababaw na pananaw sa isang ritwal. Walang kabuluhan ang ritwal kapag hindi natin nauunawaan ang lalim nito.

Pinagsabihan ni Hesus ang mga Pariseong mas nagbibigay-halaga sa ritwal ng paghuhugas, nguni’t kinakaligtaan naman ang pagsasabuhay sa mga utos ng Diyos. Lahat tayo nagkukulang, ngunit sumusubok pag-aralan ang mga pagdiriwang sa ating pananampalataya. Sabi ng isang tao, “Hindi na po ako nagsisimba. Maraming diyang mapagkunwari, mga hipokrito!” Sabi po ng pari, “Halika, may lugar pa para sa iyo!” Ipagdasal natin ang masigasig na pag-unawa sa ritwal na may kahulugan, upang lalung lumalim ang pag-ibig natin sa Diyos.

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May Mata Ka Bang Nakakakita sa Diyos Kahit Saan Ka Man?

Tinanong ng kanyang nanay ang kanyang anak na nakatutok sa kanyang ginuguhit. “Anak, ano ang dino-drawing mo?” Sagot ng anak, “Mama, dino-drawing ko po ang Diyos.” “Walang nakakita pa sa Diyos, anak!” sagot ng nanay. “Hintay na lang po kayo, Nanay. Pagkatapos nito, makikita ng karamihan ang Diyos!” Hindi nagtagal, lumapit ang bata sa nanay upang ipakita sa kanya ang Diyos. Naka-ukit doon ang kanyang pamilya, kaibigan, at iba’t ibang taong hindi niya kilala.

Ang sinumang nagsasabuhay sa mga salita ng Diyos ang siya ring nagiging paraan sa pagpapakita ng Diyos sa ibang tao. Kaya tama ang bata, ang pag-ibig natin sa Diyos ay makikita sa ating pag-ibig sa kapwa; ang sinumang tumutulong sa kapwa, ginagawa niya rin ito sa Diyos. Ang Diyos na hindi nakikita, ay nagpapakita sa bawat taong nakakasalamuha natin araw-araw.

Pinapahalagahan natin sa araw na ito ang kapayapaan, hindi lamang sa ating bansa, kundi sa buong mundo lalung-lalo na sa Syria at Africa kung saan may digmaan sa kasalukuyan. Nang nagpakita ang Panginoon, wika niya, “Ang kapayapaan ay laging sumainyo.” Tinatanggap natin ang kapayapaang galing sa Diyos, ibinibigay din natin ito sa ating kapwa. Sa gayon, nakikilala natin ang Diyos sa ating gawaing pangkapayapaan. Kung tutuusin, may nakakita na sa Diyos: nakita nating mga tao si Hesukristo. Ipagdasal natin ang mga matang nakakakilala sa Diyos sa lahat ng panahon.

St. Agnes Academy 2015

Homecoming

“What I love about homecomings is this, friends,” said Gertie Duran-Batocabe when asked about why she keeps on being part of St. Agnes Academy’s Grand Homecoming. Gertie and I were classmates since grade school in 1974-75. Now that we are in our late 40s, returning to our beloved alma mater is not just a matter of reliving memories, it has been a matter of gratitude.

St. Agnes Academy, Legazpi City: Batch 81 & 85 during their practice for the homecoming.

St. Agnes Academy, Legazpi City: Batch 81 & 85 during their practice for the homecoming.

Established on 1 July 1912 by the Benedictine Sisters of Tutzing of Germany, St. Agnes Academy in Legazpi City first began as a primary school. Fifteen years later, St. Agnes opened its doors to secondary education on 1 June 1917. It transferred to its present site in 1920.

During World War II, St. Agnes became a hospital and refuge of the citizens of Legazpi on April 1-28, 1945. It was eventually destroyed during the war, but rebuilt in 1946. The high school became co-education in 1983.

The Grade School. I spent 7 years here. St. Agnes Academy, Legazpi City.

The Grade School. I spent 7 years here. St. Agnes Academy, Legazpi City.

Annie Roa-Llaguno remembers how we began our day in school. From the flagpole (see above) to our classrooms, we would form a straight line, maintaining an arms length distance from each other. Sr. Melanie Lumauig, OSB, our principal, taught us cleanliness very early. She would always say, “Please pick up the pieces of paper” and we would receive a stern warning if our classroom was in disarray. We would clean our classrooms every afternoon; a group of cleaners were assigned per day.

The Benedictine sisters were serious about labor. We had endless theme writing, from “Our Summer Vacation” to “My Ambition in Life” – this training honed our skills in organising our thoughts, perfecting our grammar, and reflecting on our daily lives. And it improved our handwriting. Believe us, our handwriting was graded.

Music Department. I began my piano training here.

My piano teachers here were the best. The sisters exempted me from PE to play music. Music Department. St. Agnes Academy

But more so, these formidable sisters, with the German culture in their very veins, taught us prayer.   On my way back to the grade school building from my piano lessons in the Music Department, I would visit the chapel and hear the sisters praying and singing the Divine Office. Prayer had been a constant part of the Benedictine life.

My mom who graduated from St. Agnes in the 50s passed on the importance of faith and devotion to her family. Praying the rosary regularly before bedtime marked our family evenings. But she made it clear that not everything should be just prayer, “You have to work on your desires too.” That to me is the Benedictine’s tenet: Ora et Labora. Pray and Work.

This, I believe, is what the homecoming is all about. What we actually celebrate is who we are and what we have become.