Ikabud

April 4, 2018. Clark, Pampanga.  “Safe travels and may you find your Ikabud (Kapampangan dialect which means Only You),” Abby Garcia, Branch Moderator of Pampanga Lingkod ng Panginoon and her friend Kat Ching sent us well wishes before our trip to Batanes, northernmost province of the Philippines.

DIOS MAMAJES

April 5, 2018. Basco, Batanes.  Upon arrival at the airport, the tourism staff gave us an orientation and taught us an Ivatan phrase — Dios Mamajes, which means Thank You.

Thrilled, we started exploring North Basco through the “tricy”.

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The structures in the typhoon-prone area were mostly built on rocks.

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The sceneries from the hills were breathtaking.

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At the Basco Lighthouse, we noticed a group of tourists led by Fr. Orbos praying the rosary as they faced the sunset.  We joined them as prayers were offered for the dearly departed loved ones, the families left at home, and thanksgiving for blessings received including the present moment.  The prayer session ended with a community singing of the song “What a wonderful world.”  Then everyone greeted one another with smiles and it felt like we were in a pilgrimage to the holy land.

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Next day, we took a 3-hour boat ride to Itbayat, northernmost inhabited part of Batanes.

Nearing the port, the cliff surrounding the island welcomed us.

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After a short orientation, we began the trek to the Torongan Cave.

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On our way, we passed by this ancient tomb made of black corals.

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The view from the Torongan Hill was amazing.

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The cool breeze of the Pacific Ocean was a luxury.

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Inside the Torongan Cave with its natural shade, the pacific cool breeze refreshed us bountifully.

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Thereafter, we went to the viewdeck to meet the sunset.  There, three Itbayat women graciously invited us for some peanuts.  We joined them in the munching while listening to relaxing country music and relishing the scent of sweet fresh flowers surrounding the place.  Oh what a simple joy!

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“Dios Mamajes!”  We said to them as we bid farewell.

Next day, April 7, Saturday.  Planning to continue exploring South Batanes, we packed up for the scheduled boat trip to Basco, but the locals informed us, “Due to the weather condition, all boat rides are cancelled.  The next trip to Basco will be on Monday, but, there is a possibility that the Philippine Airforce will drop off the governor today and you can hitch a ride back to Basco.  Just pray.”

STRANDED? JUST PRAY.

And pray we did.

Yet inspite of the cloudy skies and windy cold breeze, Nanay Cano, 78 years old Itbayatan, graciously toured us around the village and we found delight in the vernacular houses made of rocks and Cogon grass as well as in the interesting histories she shared.

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The locals seemed used to stranded tourists around the place.  Upon learning that we were stranded, they told us, “Huwag kayong malungkot. Madali lang to dahil tag-init na. (Don’t be sad. This won’t last long because summer is here.)”  

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It seemed that their genuine sympathy for stranded tourists came out naturally because of their distinct sense of Community.  They help one another progress as they preserve their cultural heritage.

“No plane today.  Probably, the Philippine Airforce will come tomorrow.  Just continue praying.” Nanay Cano told us.  So we decided to cap the day with a karaoke session together with the locals.

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Next day, Sunday, we heard the first mass and had the chance to have a photo taken with the parish priest.

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After the mass, news came that the Philippine Airforce will be landing soon.  Nanay Cano immediately hailed a tricy and we went straight to the airport.

At the airport, Nanay Cano asked the locals if they were waiting for the plane going to Basco, then they responded, “The plane going to Basco already left.  The one coming now will go directly to Manila.” 

TO LEAVE OR TO STAY

And so we were faced with two options: 1) Leave Itbayat, forgo our plans to explore South Batanes and hitch the flight to Manila, or 2) Stay for tomorrow’s boat ride to Basco and continue exploring South Batanes.

Looking at the cloudy skies, we remembered the uncertainty of the PAG-ASA weather forecast in Itbayat.  So upon arrival of the Philippine Airforce, we chose the first option.

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In Manila, we rode a bus to Batangas where soul sisters Haidi Mejias and RM Aguado welcomed us and the adventure continued…

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So did I find my Ikabud?

Oh I sure did!  He was there all along in the presence of: the locals who guided us in our tours and comforted us when we got stranded, the Philippine Airforce which allowed us to hitch a safe flight to Manila, the beautiful sceneries, refreshing cool breeze and the sweet scent of flowers, the tourists praying while relishing the sunset, the hospitality of soul sisters in Pampanga and Batangas which enabled us to share laughter heartily, and the patience, initiative and prayerfulness of my pastoral leader and soul sister, Sarah Khu which made the travel worthwhile.

To my Ikabud Hesu Kristo, Dios Mamajes!

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Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.  For God’s Greater Glory!

 

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Three-Dimensional Training

During the summer before the start of fourth year highschool, a few of us joined the Cadet Officers’ Training Course of the Citizenship Advancement Training (CAT).  We underwent the basic military discipline developing our physical, intellectual and moral well-being.  Each day was packed with physical exercises such as squat thrust, push-ups, etc., memorization of the honor code and other relevant principles, and the practice of “buddy system” or looking after each other’s welfare.  At the end of each day, the Commandant or Tactical Officer would let us recite a mantra, “In everything you do, do your best!”.   After the summer training, I believe we all came out as more responsible persons and citizens.

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As I pondered on the experience, I thought, “How blessed are we to have had undergone that three-dimensional training, promoting not just physical fitness, but also, the sharpness of mind and strengthening of good will!”  These three dimensions are explained by Fr Nil Guillemette in his book entitled Musings, thus —

“There are three orders of things: the flesh, the spirit, and the will.  The carnal are the rich and kings; they have the body as their object.  Inquirers and scientists; they have the mind as their object.  The wise; they have righteousness as their object.

God must reign over all, and all men must be brought back to Him.  In things of the flesh lust reigns specially; in intellectual matters, inquiry specially; in wisdom, pride specially.

The infinite distance between body and mind is a symbol of the infinitely more infinite distance between mind and charity; for charity is supernatural.

All the glory of greatness has no luster for people who are in search of understanding.

The greatness of clever men is invisible to kings, to the rich, the chiefs, and to all the worldly great.

The greatness of wisdom, which is nothing if not of God, is invisible to the carnal-minded and to the clever.  These are three orders differing in kind.” (Pensées 460 – trans.  W.F. Trotter (New York: Random House Inc., 1941), pp. 152,792)

Then Fr Guillemette concluded —

There is no reason why a Christian would not belong to all three Orders but in a hierarchical way, always submitting the first two Orders to the Order of Charity.

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Thank you Heavenly Father for the freewill and intellect to lovingly and responsibly develop all the dimensions of our lives. 

And special thanks to our Commandant Madame Ermeh Lyn Bacas and to all who patiently continue to train and be trained well for peace.

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.  For God’s Greater Glory!

Composition and Improvisation

During our one-on-one dance session on Composition and Improvisation, Teacher Faith played a song and my task was to create movements out of the musical notations.  “What do you think could be the next best movement?” Teacher Faith asked and reluctantly, I answered, “Hmmm… Walk? Bend? Turn?”  Then Teacher Faith told me,

“Go and explore.  The possibilities are endless.  Focus and analyze the movements of your body.  As you create movements, evaluate by looking through the mirror.  Improvise until you are satisfied.  You have the freewill to compose a dance out of your own unique style.  Just be careful not to hurt yourself.  Take note of your strengths and weaknesses.  Let go of your inhibitions.  As artists, we are open to criticisms and we learn from them.  Go and explore.”

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Wow, it’s amazing how a class on Composition and Improvisation can help us understand God’s will for us to freely choose the next best step among all good options in life.  As quoted by Fr Nil Guillemette in his book entitled Ponderings

“Life is a dance with God improvising in response to what we do and how we develop and how we commit ourselves to the question of goodness and truth and beauty.

His thought for us does not constrain us; what he designs for us is that we should freely act; what he creates is liberty.  To enter into God’s plan for us is to be most sovereignly ourselves; it is through giving us the power and courage to be ourselves that he fulfills his purpose in us.  God’s will lies in ourselves deciding what is the most loving and responsible thing for us to do.  We discover God’s will by actually bringing it into being.

The will of God and our own deepest heart’s desire are one…  And everytime we do our best to fulfill his will, we come ever nearer to fulfill at the same time God’s dream and our own bliss.”

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Thank you dear Lord for giving us the freewill and intellect to lovingly and responsibly compose and improve the dance of our lives.  And thank you Teacher Faith Javellana for leading us to this inspiration.

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.  For God’s Greater Glory!

Gateway

The gateway (or the point of entry) in any social organization is humility.  In most of the fraternities, sororities or societies, newcomers humble themselves to undergo the traditional initiation rites hoping that the initiation master will ably control the power play of the resident members, and thereby successfully pass the initiation stage and be a part of the brotherhood/sisterhood.

As I recalled all the social organizations I joined and my humbling experience during the initiation stages, I thought, “How blessed are we that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, humbled Himself to be a brother to each of us mere mortals who perhaps, are not even a speck of dust in the vast universe!”    

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But the gateway to having Him as a brother is also humility on our part — acceptance of our nothingness without Him.  Yet who wouldn’t want to humble oneself to be a brother of the Son of God — almighty and all-powerful yet chose to be like us to be with us?  No power plays.  No “ifs”.  No “buts”.  Just pure love and care of a brother.  No wonder there is a certain inexplicable sense of peace, security and joy when I’m with persons who have sincerely humbled themselves to have a deeper relationship with Him.

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Thank you dear Jesus for humbling Yourself to reach out to each of us.  Grant us the grace of humility to accept our nothingness without You, so we may be able to fully reach out to You, Our Lord, Our Savior, Our Brother, Our Everything. 

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Special thanks to Fr. Asandas Balchand, SJ, for leading me to the grace of humility during the three-day silent retreat at Loyola House of Studies.

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.  For God’s Greater Glory!

Emancipation

In Civil Law, the age of Emancipation (synonymous with Freedom) is provided in Article 234 of Executive Order No. 209, the Family Code of the Philippines:

Emancipation takes place by the attainment of majority.  Unless otherwise provided, majority commences at the age of eighteen years. (as amended)

Article 236 of the same Code further provides:

Emancipation for any cause shall terminate parental authority over the person and property of the child who shall then be qualified and responsible for all acts of civil life, save the exceptions established by existing laws in special cases.

Note that the law presumes that at 18 years old, the natural person is already responsible for all acts of civil life, thus the age of emancipation under the Philippine Law.

For some people aged beyond 18 years old, however, emancipation is the right to do whatever they want to do, without any restriction whatsoever.  For them, obedience destroys freedom.  The problem with this concept of freedom is well explained by Fr Nil Guillemette in his book entitled Ruminations

The problem with doing anything I please is that, in the process, I disregard the fact that I am living in a structured universe which functions according to certain fixed laws such as gravitation, digestion, chemical reactions, physiological conditionings, socialization, etc.  I can ignore the way my organism functions, for example, and ingest all kinds of toxic substances (nicotine, opium, strychnine, etc.), but I will eventually get sick and die.  This sort of “freedom” is no freedom at all.

But, even if I do not abuse my freedom in such obviously unhealthy ways and merely “do as I please” by trying to enjoy life to the maximum,… I will habitually give in to my pride, my sloth, my sensuality, my selfishness… If I do not succeed in thus taking center stage, I will end up becoming a frustrated and bitter old man.  If I do succeed, I will become empty and bored like many celebrities who end up on a psychiatrist’s couch or who commit suicide.  Here, we do well to heed Paul’s advice to the Galatians:  “You, my friends, were called to be free men; only do not turn your freedom into license for your lower nature…”

… Christians are subject to divine law.  But inasmuch as they are led merely by an exterior law, they are not yet Christians.  They become Christians, or become progressively so, only inasmuch as they are more and more led by their own will, by their own love.  If we abstain from killing our neighbors only because of the Decalogue (Ten Commandments), it is clear that we do not love them.  Christians who love their neighbors spontaneously refrain from killing them and, while obeying the Decalogue which forbids murder, they do not feel the least bit pressured on by an exterior law.  They are under obligation, but they are not under coercion, and they certainly feel no constraint of any kind.

…to be a Christian is to be free: “The Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Cor 3, 17).  This freedom, however, is not an open road to the easy life.  Like Abraham setting out without knowing where he was going (Heb 11,8), Christians take a road without knowing where it will lead.  They only know that it will lead to a greater and greater love.

john-8-36.jpg Thank you Heavenly Father for the gift of emancipation through Your Son, Jesus Christ.  May we never forget that through grace, we have been set free from despair and death and now free for a greater love.

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.  For God’s Greater Glory!

 

 

Healthy Boundaries

In Law on Land Titles, the metes and bounds are the boundaries or limits of a tract of land especially as described by reference to lines and distances between points on the land.  Unauthorized entrance beyond the boundary lines of a private land may result to a crime of trespassing.

Similarly, as persons, each of us has a set of boundaries which must be respected. Keep-the-boundaries-set-before-you1 But some of us doubt our own boundaries causing a lot of misunderstandings.

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Clarifying our boundaries, with the help of discernment, is essential in any relationship.

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When we have clear boundary lines, we can courageously say “no” to any form of trespassing and thereby protect ourselves from unnecessary stress or suffering.

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Even the Heavenly Father respects the boundaries He has set for us.

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Thus, there is no reason for us not to respect our own boundaries and the boundaries of others.  These boundaries are gifts for us to freely protect, nourish and enjoy the beauty within us.

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Thank you dear Lord for the gift of healthy boundaries.  Grant us wisdom to clarify the boundary lines, so we may freely protect, nourish and enjoy the beauty you have bestowed within each of us, and thereby, be more happily productive.

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.  For God’s Greater Glory!

Lease

Articles 1642 to 1644 of the Philippine Civil Code provide:

Art. 1642. The contract of lease may be of things, or of work and service.

Art. 1643. In the lease of things, one of the parties binds himself to give to another the enjoyment or use of a thing for a price certain, and for a period which may be definite or indefinite…

Art. 1644. In the lease of work or service, one of the parties binds himself to execute a piece of work or to render to the other some service for a price certain…

Perhaps, once a believer welcomes the Holy Spirit in ones temple (body), a contract of Lease of this temple arises between the believer as the Lessor (with the gift of freedom) and the Holy Spirit as the Lessee.  The Lessor need not be the owner as in this case, it is the Heavenly Father who owns this temple.

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And perhaps, simultaneously, a contract of Lease of Service also arises between the same parties which constitutes the mission.  In other words, mission is actually allowing the Holy Spirit to work in us, through us and with us for the greater good.

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Amazingly, the price for these contracts has already been paid by the Heavenly Father’s love through His Son, Jesus Christ.  And since this love is beyond measure, there is more to relish for ourselves and more to share for everyone.

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And as this endless love is being relished and shared, these divine contracts of Lease continue.  And as these divine contracts of Lease continue, in time, they bear fruit.

Fruits of the Spirit

Holy Spirit, we welcome You.  Come, have Your way in this place.

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.  For God’s Greater Glory!