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Davao Blast: What I saw was our country’s nightmare

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The view from the plane’s window at 5:45 AM. 31 August 2016

At four in the morning on the 31st of August 2016, I flew out of Manila; at a quarter before six, we were hovering over the mountains of Mindanao. When a sliver of morning light illumined the serene landscape of Davao, welcoming me to my new mission, I said to myself, “This is gonna be exciting!” Across from my residence two days later, a bomb exploded.

 

I was horrified. It was around 10:30 in the evening. The sound of the blast reverberated at every nook and cranny of Ateneo de Davao University. It came from a portion of Roxas Avenue, the massage area of the Night Market that opened at 6:00 PM and closed at 11:00 PM.

 

On a Friday night, the long rows of food stalls with makeshift tables and monoblock chairs were always full of people. The food was very cheap: a glass of lemonade was at Php 10.00; a stick of barbecue with rice is around Php 20.00. For people on a budget, the Roxas Night Market was heaven. Except on that Friday night on the 2nd of September: that street was hell.

 

From my room on the top floor, I heard screaming and saw frenzied movements on the street below. I took photos of the AFTERMATH: people were running in every direction; some froze in shock; bodies where strewn all over the place. Tables and chairs were overturned, and I could see some blood on the street where a few minutes ago massages were offered to the weary.

(WARNING: Some photos are graphic!)

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For a moment, time stood still. Then I heard the sirens from police cars and ambulances. A fire truck skidded on the parallel side of Roxas Avenue. The street had an island of trees at its center. Some civilians with cars helped bring those wounded to the hospitals. Later, ambulances would field bloodied survivors to other hospitals, while those who sustained minor wounds were admitted to the Ateneo’s clinic.

 

But those who did not make it remained where they were. The scene had to be examined untouched. In less than an hour, the area was cordoned off. It seemed that those who were valuable witnesses but were not wounded, were asked to stay. Those outside of the crime scene were asked to leave.

 

Ateneo de Davao locked down the whole campus immediately. No one was allowed to go out of the buildings or to go into the cordoned area. I was, at this time, on the ground floor taking these photos that you can see below, which I also uploaded on Twitter (@jboygonzalessj).

At around 11:30 PM, all we knew were unconfirmed numbers: 30 or more people were being loaded into ambulances; the dead count at this time was nine. But I knew the numbers would increase in due time. People were shocked and traumatized. One student asked me in disbelief, “How could this happen? This is a peaceful city!” I was (and still is) a priest, and I had no answer.

It took some hours before I saw government officials on the scene. The fault was mine: I was new to the place, so I could not identify officials who could have been there before this first photo I took of an obvious public leader. What gave him away was this: media practitioners rushed to interview him. He was, I learned, Vice Mayor Paolo Z. Duterte of Davao City.

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Vice Mayor Paolo Zimmerman Duterte being interviewed by the media. 2 September 2016

Sad and disillusioned, I retired to my room at 2 AM, a few minutes before the President came to visit. I knew he was in Davao then. But I wasn’t interested: the night was cold and quiet. The body bags had already been brought to wherever they should be. Only the media, police and other forces particularly concerned about what had happened remained. But the quiet was not peace. It was the eerie quiet of those traumatized and in shock.

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The Philippine police, army and the SWAT team at the crime scene. The featured photo above was in the Philippine Star on 3 September 2016.

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It would take time for people to re-imagine Davao now. What seems to be immune to violence under the President’s protective arm has been infiltrated under his nose. The Davao blast then challenges his promise of peace to his people. Will he be able to keep his word?

 

But what concerns me now is not about his leadership. The most important thing is how to allay a people’s waning confidence in the present government’s ability to protect innocent lives amidst the President’s all-out war on drugs and the peace negotiations being carried out with militants in the South.

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Taken during the memorial mass held at the site of the bombing. The mass was presided by Bishop Romulo Valles DD of Davao City. Mayor Sara Duterte was present, as well as of other government officials, priests, religious, and civilians. 3 September 2016

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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.

***

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.

 

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.

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***

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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.

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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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    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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    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.

 

***

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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On Keeping Promises: Ang Mensahe ng Adbiento

Sa panahon ng Adviento, o paghahanda sa Pasko ng Pagsilang ng Mesias, laging binabalikan ang pangako ng Panginoon sa atin. Sa buong lumang tipan, inuulit-ulit ng Panginoon ang kanyang pangakong magpapadala ng tagapagligtas upang maiaahon tayo sa ating mga kasalanan. Ang Pasko ang siyang katuparan ng kanyang mga pangako.

 

Sabi nga ng marami, “promises are meant to be broken.” Subalit, hindi ito ang tingin ng Kristiyano. Ang tunay na nagsasabuhay ng turo ng Diyos, hindi nagbibitiw ng salita na hindi naman isasakatuparan. Tulad ng Diyos, hindi niya ipapako ang kanyang mga pangako sa atin. Ito ang dahilan kung bakit nagtitiwala tayo sa kanyang mga Salita.

 

Wika ni Hannah Arendt, ang ating pananampalataya ay nakasalalay sa pangako ng Panginoon kay Abraham; at ang ating maayos na pamumuhay ay nakabatay sa maraming pangakong nakasulat sa ating Saligang Batas at sa mga kontratang pinapasukan nating lahat. Tulad ng Diyos, nangangako ang gobyerno na aalagaan ang ating karapatan. At tulad ng pangako ng Diyos na mamahalin Niya tayo magpakailan man, ang bawat pumipirma sa kontrato ng kasal, nangangakong tutuparin niya ito hanggang kamatayan. Magkakagulo kapag ang mga binitiwang mga salita ay hindi natin ginagalang. Manalangin tayo: Ama naming makapangyarihan, kami nawa ay lalong umunlad sa pagtuklas sa hiwaga ni Kristo. Amen.

On Progress: Pinagbabawal Ba ng Diyos na Yumaman Tayo?

 

May tanong ako sa inyo: Pinagbabawal ba ng Diyos na yumaman tayo? Upang sundin si Hesus, wika Niya, ipamigay natin ang lahat ng ating kayamanan sa mga mahihirap upang matagpuan natin ang buhay na walang hanggan. Ngunit hinahamon tayo ng Diyos na umunlad sa buhay sa pamamagitan ng pagpapalago ng ating mga kakayahan.

 

Sa talinghaga ng mga talento, binigyan ng malaking posisyon ang tagapangalaga na napalaki ang tubo sa iniwanang pera ng kanyang amo bilang parangal sa kanyang kagalingan.

Ang taong mahusay ang siyang yumayaman at nagiging matiwasay ang buhay. Dahil dito, maaaninag natin na isang maka-Diyos ang pag-unlad at paglago sa buhay.

 

Ngunit pinapaalalahanan tayo na huwag kumapit sa mga materyal na bagay na resulta lamang ng ating mga kakayahan. Huwag kakalimutan na ang buhay ay hiram lamang sa Diyos. At dahil hindi ito atin, pinapagamit sa atin ang biyayang ito hangga’t sa ating makakaya, para mapaglingkuran ang kapwa.

Manalangin tayo: Manalangin tayo: Ama naming makapangyarihan, ipagkaloob mong lagi naming ikaliligayang Ikaw ay paglingkuran namin. Amen.

On Repetition and Creativity: Paano maging Mapanlikha sa Paulit-ulit?

 

May tanong po ako sa inyo: nagsasawa ka na ba sa paulit-ulit ninyong ginagawa? Naghahanap ka ng mapaglibangan na hindi kailangang gumastos nang higit sa makakaya ng bulsa? Ang pagiging creative o mapanlikha ang hamon sa atin kapag nawawalan tayo ng gana dahil sa araw-araw na ginawa ng Diyos, hindi nagbabago man lamang ang ating mga gawain.

 

Likha sa ating lahat ang pagiging katuwang ng Diyos upang baguhin, pagandahin, asikasuhin ang ating mundo.

Dahil dito, lahat ng tao, hindi lang ang mga “artists,” ang may angking kakayahang lumikha ng panibagong mapaglibangan. May mga nanay na biglang nagkakaroon ng kahusayan sa pagluluto, pagtatanim ng iba’t ibang namumunga’t namumulaklak, o pag-aaruga sa halamang nagagamit sa pagluluto. Kung mapanlikha tayo, natutuklasan natin ang panibagong pagkakakitaan at paglilibangan.

 

Marami sa atin ang lumaking pinagsabihan na “hindi natin kaya” ang maraming mga bagay. Kaya nasanay tayong maniwala na limitado lamang ating magagawa. Ang pagbabago ng pag-iisip natin sa ating sarili ang siyang nagiging daan upang matagpuan natin ang ating kasiyahan.

Sabi ng isang manunulat: The greatest happiness in our lives is doing the things others say we cannot do.

Manalangin tayo: Ama naming Lumikha, kalugdan mo ang paghahain ng mga tagapakinig, upang ang aming inihahain ay mapakinabangan namin ayon sa Iyong kaluwalhatian. Amen.

On Self-Confidence: Paanong Magkaroon ng Self-Confidence?

 

Meron ka bang self-confidence? Nanliliit ka ba kapag malaking tao ang kaharap mo? Kaya mo bang magsalita sa harap ng maraming tao? Kaya mo bang panindigan ang iyong prinsipiyo o ideya kahit hindi sumasang-ayon ang iyong mga kasama? Kung puro hindi ang sagot mo sa tanong ko, maaaring wala kang self-esteem.

 

Hindi ka magkakaroon ng self-confidence kung hindi maganda ang pagtingin mo sa iyong sarili; kung hindi mo gusto ang iyong personalidad. Self-esteem is about feeling good about yourself. And when you feel good about yourself, you develop self-confidence.

Confidence then builds self-esteem.

Sabi ni Hesus, mahalin natin ang ating kapwa tulad ng pagmamahal natin sa ating sarili. Ibig sabihin, kailangang may tamang pagmamahal tayo sa ating sarili upang alam natin kung papaanong papahalagahan natin ang iba.

 

Ang batayan ay simple: Kung minamahal tayo ng Diyos, may nakikita Siyang karapat-dapat sa atin upang mahalin.

Kung inalay ng Diyos ang Kanyang kaisa-isang Anak para sa ating kaligtasan, may kahalagahan ang tao para sa kanya. Kung madaling patawarin tayo ng Diyos, ibig sabihin, lagi Siyang umaasa sa ating kagandahang-loob. May tiwala Siya sa ating kabutihan.

Manalangin tayo: Ama namin, ang paghahain naming ito ay maging dalisay nawa sa iyong awang dakila. Amen.

Handling Challenges: Mga Pagsubok sa Pangarap

 

Ang pagkakaroon ng malinaw na direksyon sa buhay ang siyang minimithi ng marami sa atin. Malinaw kay Hesus ang kanyang gagampanan upang mailigtas ang lahat. Kailangan niyang tanggapin ang daanan ng krus. Kailangan niyang harapin ang kanyang Jerusalem kung saan siya ipagkakanulo, pahihirapan at ipapapatay. Kailangan niyang daanan ang mga ito kung tunay ang kanyang hangaring iligtas ang sambayanan.

 

Marami sa atin ang may pangarap sa buhay. Alam natin kung ano ang gusto nating makamtan. Malinaw na sa atin ang gusto nating marating. Ngunit laging may pag-aayaw sa kailangang daanang pagpapakasakit. Totoong walang may gusto sa kahirapan. Walang gustong masaktan, mabigo at magdanas ng kalungkutan.

Ngunit may mga masasakit na bagay na kailangang gawin, makamtan lamang ang pinakaaasam.

 

Ngunit maaaring katapat nito ang pagsasakabilang bayan. Kasama nito ang labis na pagtitiis ng kalungkutan, gawa ng paghihiwalay sa minamahal. Ang Jerusalem ang simbolo ng ating “necessary pains” — simbolo ng krus na kailangang pasanin upang makarating sa ating kaluwalhatian.

Manalangin tayo: Amang makapangyarihan, gawin mong ang iyong mga pangako ay aming mapakinabangan ayon sa paraang iYong ikinalulugdan. Amen.

 

All Souls’ Day: Bakit Kailangang Dalawin ang Patay na?

 

Dahil bukas na ang Undas, maaari nating isipin na isang reunion o pagtitipon-tipon ang araw ng mga patay. Ginugunita natin na ang mga minamahal nating yumao ay hindi naglaho na lamang, kundi buhay-na-buhay at tunay na kapiling natin sa araw-araw.

Ngunit magiging makahulugan lamang ang ating paghahanda sa araw na ito kung may pananampalataya tayo sa Diyos na magpakailanman. Na tunay ngang kapiling ng Diyos ang ating mga yumao.

 

Sinasabi natin na sumakabilang-buhay na ang mga mahal nating yumao. Ibig sabihin, ang kamatayan ay hindi katapusan, ngunit isang hakbang tungo sa mas magandang buhay. Kaya tunay na hindi napaparam ang ating pag-ibig, dahil kahit yumao na ang ating sinisinta, natatanggap pa rin nila ang ating pagtatangi.

 

Kaya ang pagdalaw natin sa libingan ay isang pagpapahalaga sa kanila at ating buhay. Sa iisang Diyos, ang buhay at ang sumakabilang-buhay ay hindi nagkakahiwalay. Tinutulungan pa rin tayo ng mga yumao; at tinutulungan din natin sila sa pamamagitan ng ating mga dasal.

Manalangin tayo: Ama naming mapagmahal, ang mga yumao nawa’y makarating sa iyong tahanang mapayapa’t maningning. Amen.

On Faithlife: Mahalaga Pa Ba Ang Pananampalataya? Si Aaron at ang Rabbi

Isang araw, lumapit si Aaron sa kanyang rabbi, “Rabbi, sabi ng aking mga kaibigan na wala na daw kuwenta ang relihiyon. Marami naman itong itinuturo pero wala namang epekto lalung lalo na sa mahihirap. Tama po ba?” Pinag-isipan ng Rabbi ang kanyang sasabihin, hanggang naisip niyang samahan si Aaron sa labas ng sinagoga. Nakita nila ang isang kumpol ng mga batang naglalaro sa lansangan. Tanong ng Rabbi, “Mahalaga pa ba sa kanila ang sabon? Pagkatapos maligo, maglalaro sila at pagpapawisan.”

Sabi ni Aaron, “Mahalaga pa rin po ang sabon. Nakatulong ang sabon upang malinis ang kanilang katawan at maproteksyonan sila sa anumang sakit na nagmumula sa dumi.” “Gayon din ang relihiyon, Aaron,” wika ng Rabbi, “Ang halaga ng relihiyon makikita sa pagsasabuhay ng itinuturo nito.”

Hindi bago sa ating buhay ngayon ang marinig sa maraming mga tao na hindi na raw importante ang relihiyon lalo na sa impluwensiya ng komersyalismo, internet at iskandalo. Ngunit tinuturo ni Pope Francis na makikita ang halaga ng pananampalataya sa pagpapakita ng awa at malasakit. Manalangin tayo.

O Dios, lingapin mo kaming lagi, tanggapin mo sana ang alay naming buhay, upang sa pamamagitan ng mga ito, mabuksan sa amin ang bukal ng lahat ng mga biyaya. Amen.

On Resiliency: May Abilidad Ka Bang Lampasan Ang Iyong Mga Pagsubok?

 

Nakabulagta sa ating mga gunita ang larawan ng mga namatay at namatayan nang dahil sa lindol at bagyo. Sariwang-sariwa sa ating alaala ang mga taong nawalan ng bahay at ari-arian. Kumusta na kaya sila, o kung man ang biktima, naka-ahon na ba tayo?

 

May halong galit sa sitwasyon ang dagdag sa anumang pagbangon. Mabigat sa dibdib at may lasang pait ang simulain. Gusto nating maghanap ng taong sisisihin.

Ngunit mayroong angking tapang ang Pilipino. Sa Ingles, resiliency: ang abilidad na labanan at lampasan ang anumang pagsubok sa buhay.

 

Kasama sa abilidad ng resiliency ang labis na pagkapit sa Diyos. Kung merong kapit sa patalim, ito naman ang mahigpit na pagkapit sa Maykapal. Hindi nawawalan ng pag-asa ang Pilipinong nananalig sa Diyos.

Manalangin tayo: O Dios, tunghayan mo alay na galing sa aming paghihirap upang ang paglilingkod na aming ginagampanan para sa Iyo at sa aming mahal sa buhay ay humantong sa Iyong ikadarangal. Amen.

On Mercy: Sino ang Karapatdapat na Pumasok sa Simbahan?

 

Mas malaki ang utang na loob ng isang taong matindi ang nagawang kasalanan kaysa ang taong hindi mabigat ang pagkukulang. Kailangan ito ng paglilinaw: hindi ibig sabihin kailangan nating gumawa ng kahangalan para maramdaman natin ang tindi ng pagmamahal ng Diyos.

 

Pinapahiwatig nito na mali ang akala na ang mga banal at malinis lamang ang nararapat na lumapit sa Diyos.

Maraming piniling makasalanan ang Diyos upang maging pinuno ng sambayanang Kristiyano. Isang mamamatay-tao si Moises, Dabid, at San Pablo. May lamat ang buhay nina San Agustin at San Ignacio. Ang pinakadakilang banal ang siya ring dating dakilang makasalanan. Ngunit dahil labis ang kanilang pasasalamat na pinatawad sila ng Diyos sa kabila ng kanilang nagawang karumaldumal, ibinuwis nila ang kanilang buhay para sa Maykapal.

 

Kadalasan hinihintay natin ang panahong ganap na malinis ang ating budhi. Saka na tayo magkakalakas-loob na lumapit sa Diyos. Ngunit hindi nagkakatotoo ito; laging nababahiran tayo ng dumi.

Manalangin tayo: O Dios, patawarin ang aming mga sala, at gawin mong lagi naming matapat na sundin ang loob mo upang kami’y wagas na makapaglingkod sa iyo magpasawalang-hanggan. Amen.

On Empathy: Pakikiramay

 

Tila hindi natatapos ang mga pagsubok na dumarating sa ating buhay. Marami ang napinsala ng lindol sa Italy at Burma; maraming namatay sa digmaan sa Syria at Africa, at sa mga kasabwat sa mga gumagamit ng droga. At sa ating personal na buhay, iba’t ibang klaseng unos ang nasa sa atin.

 

Hindi magkasing-tulad ang pagtanggap natin sa mga pangyayari sa ating buhay. Magkaiba ang tindi ng tama nito sa bawat tao. May mga kapamilya tayong kayang-kayang dalhin ang sakuna; may iba namang paralisado sa harap ng unos sa kanilang buhay.

Ano ang maaari nating gawin sa ating mga kaibigang hindi pa nakakalabas sa kanilang shock o pagkabigla sa anumang pangyayari?

 

Nakakatulong na may nakakausap tayong tunay na nakikinig sa atin. Halimbawa, kapag may yumao kadalasang tinatanong natin kung ano ang sanhi ng pagkamatay at kinukumusta natin sila. Sa mga oras na ito, hindi kailangan ang anumang advice; mas kailangan nila ang ating pagkalinga at pakikiramay.

Manalangin tayo: O Dios na makapangyarihan, ang pananampalataya, pag-asa at pag-ibig namin sa kapwa ay Iyong dagdagan upang makatulong ng higit sa mga kapatid naming may dinadaanan. Amen.