Thursday, September 14, 2006


I had just finished Talk 10 of the Parish Renewal Experience (PREX) weekend seminar being given to some parishioners. I looked for a chair to rest for a while at the Secretariate corner. Five children coming from the side of the Parish Center slowly approached me. Two were probably twelve years old; one small girl was being carried by another bigger girl in her arms; the other was just following them.

I looked at them as they approached me.

"Sikayo may pari dia, awa?" The bigger of the girls asked me if I was the priest of the parish.

"Yes, I am", I said.

That started a conversation between me and the five little girls.

"Akin et anggapo kayo ed eskwelaan? Agkayo manaaral?", I asked them wanting to know why they were not in school.

Big girl said, "I am not going to school. I have stopped going to school."

"Why?" I asked her.

"My mother wanted me to wash clothes." She told me, as a matter of fact.

"Lots and lots of clothes." Volunteered the second big girl.

"And, how about you why are you not in school?"

"My mother said we do not have money for my education."

"But, it is free."

"My mother could not afford to buy notebooks for me to use in school."

'Your mother? Where is your father?"

Big girl: "He died already."

Second Big Girl: "My father also died already."

"And what do you do?"

"I sell native cakes near the school."

She continued, "At least I go to school still even if I am not studying! Ha! Ha! Ha!"

She laughed.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Familiar walls!

Muddy paths!

Rev. Julius and I arrived at Sitio Baraoas, Brgy. Anonang at a little past 12 noon. "The prayer meeting must have ended already", I told Rev. Julius.

"Probably, Father", he replied.

We were met by one of the BEC members who insisted that we wear rubber boots for the walk going to the place of the prayer meeting.

"We have only one pair right now, Father", she told me. "The other pair are with Sis. Cathy. She will be bringing them with her when she comes."

I wore the rubber boots which were borrowed from a man who was all smiles as he handed them to Sis. Susing, our guide. "They are my cousin's", she told me.

I wondered if the boots would fit me. I looked inside cautiously. There were pieces of papers inside the boots. The markings on the paper were familiar. "Of course!" I told myself.

We arrived at the house where the prayer was held. We were on time for lunch!


When we went back, we passed by a huge lot with high walls.

The markings in the paper inside my boots? They were Jueteng bets! The lot with the high walls were apparently meant to hide some operations being done three times a day!

So many in the barangay knew the existence of that lot, and what was being done there.

Except its officials. And the police.

As usual.

See no evil. Hear no evil. Say no evil.

Saturday, August 19, 2006


It has been raining for the past three days. Continuous rains. Day and night.

So we have occasional flash floods. Especially in the places where the drainage systems seem NOT to catch any water. Clogged waterways they are rather than flowing drainage systems.

Thus, for an hour of rain, the Church patio is flooded! Notwithstanding the fact that a new drainage system that flows from the Church patio to the water canal going to the Cayanga River has been built by the Parish.

A clogged canal? A silted river system? A garbage-cum-canal water system? Whatever it is, waters seem to want to stay longer in the church patio inconveniencing the parishioners. Like the funeral procession this morning. The tears flowed out of grief and out of despair?

Monsoon rains have come. And so do the floods.

No Sin

"Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. My sins are..."

The voices on the other side of the confessional kept on. Parishioners going to confessions. Accusing themselves of such and such sins. Making firm purpose of amendment. Asking God to forgive them.

"Father, I am sorry I did this. I thought it was alright to do it because nobody saw me did it anyway."

One of the more common justifications made why one who knows that a particular act is already wrong and who would nevertheless commit the evil anyway is "I am alone. Nobody can see me. I will not be caught. And if I am not caught, there is no sin."


What is wrong can not become right even if one is not caught doing it. When one is caught one is punished. Punishment is a consequence of the wrong and the evil that was done. It is a reparation for the damage done.

"Father, I thought there is nothing wrong about it because I promised myself I will do it only once".

Soon, the one time sin becomes a series of sins. In fact, the one time, personal sin, certainly and surely will bring about more sins. Affects more lives, other than one's own. Brings about sadness to others lives. Sins multliply. Their effects too multiply.

"Everybody is doing it, Father."

Even if all the people are doing something which is wrong and evil from the very beginning does not mean that that evil becomes ultimately good. Morality is not something that changes in time. What is wrong today cannot become good tomorrow. Nor a lie becomes a truth because so many have started to believe it to be "true".

Nobody sees me. Only once. Everybody is doing it.

They lead us to believe it is alright to think, see, hear and act evil.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

"Walang Tataya!" BE ANGRY!

Jueteng is once again back! It has been operating ILLEGALY for about three months now. It has made its return with a "vengeance". Seemingly, it is invincible! Seemingly, it is indestructible! Its operators are seemingly untouchbles! They are seemingly beyond the reach of the law!

And why so?

Everybody knows who the operators of Jueteng are.

Except the police.

The cobradores are seen collecting bets in the open. Everybody sees them. And knows them.

Except the police.

As long as the police can not see.

Can not hear.

Can not talk.

Jueteng is seemingly here to stay.

Our response: "Walang Tataya!" Nobody bets!

This appeal does not only mean that nobody bets on jueteng.

"WALANG TATAYA!" also means that it is about time we become ANGRY at the Jueteng Lords who shamelessly suck the hard earned money of the poor. Who become rich and powerful at the expense of the poor! "Robin Hood" they surely are not!

It is about time we get ANGRY at the inutile police force. They who have the law and the authority on their side but who refuse to enforce the law.

BE ANGRY at the corruption of morals of public officials. BE ANGRY at the corruptors of these officials who live by the principle that there is nothing and nobody that money cannot buy! BE ANGRY at these officials who allow themselves to be bought, corrupted and laughed at by the corruptors themselves!

And so evil thrives in our refusal to be ANGRY.

We have not been ANGRY enough!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Let the Truth Speak

Truth does need any sugar-coating to make it more delectable. Truth tells it is as it is. Everybody wants to know it; and everybody wants to hide it. Especially the powerful cheats and corrupt liars.

But, even if the powerful would want to destroy it by muzzling it with their seeming superiority; even if the cheat would want to cover it by telling lies and more lies against it, truth outlives the liars and their lies, the powerful manipulators and their machinations.

Truth can be hidden, but for a while. It has a life of its own. It has a power that even the most powerful cannot match.

Truth outlives all of us.

Truth is feared by those who profit from their lies. Truth is detested by those who cheat.

Especially those who are entrusted with “public trust” and who work for “public service”. It is they who must respect it, live it, protect it, defend it. But woe to them who shamelessly manipulate the meaning of “trust” and disregard the magnificence of “service” while declaring their loyalty only to themselves and call it “public good”. They lie!

Only history can judge the period we are in. But today, it may suffice to say: we have become a nation of cheats, when it seems the only way to pass an exam is to leak the questions, and provide the answers to the examiners! Where cheats are rewarded, not punished. Where superiority in numbers has become the standard for “truth” and “morality” (and we call it the “democratic way”).

Let the truth speak what it knows!

But, why be afraid of what it knows?

Unless one is a cheat. A liar.

(Breaking News Headline: House panel junks impeach rap vs. Arroyo)

Saturday, August 05, 2006


The wake was at the Mt. Carmel Chapel near the parish church. Her relatives and friends went to pay their last respects to her, even if for one night only. There were many who attended the funeral mass, and interment. Two others who died were prayed for during the mass.

Her body was found days after she died.

She died.

In her house.


Friday, August 04, 2006

The Priest (Michel Quoist)

On this feast of St. John Vianney, patron of parish priests, a prayer of Michel Quoist from his book "Prayers" is most appropriate.
. . . . . . . . .

"People ask a great deal of their priest, and they should. But they should also understand that it is not easy to be a priest. He has given himself in all the ardor or youth, yet he still remains a man, and every day the man in him tries to take back what he has surrendered. It is a continual struggle to remain completely at the service of Christ and of others.

A priest needs no praise or embarassing gifts; what he needs is that those committed to his charge should, by loving their fellows more and more, prove to him that he has not given his life in vain. And as he remains a man, he may need, once in a while, a delicate gesture of disinterested friendship... some Sunday night when he is alone.

"Come with me, and I will make you fishers of men." (Mark 1,17).

"You did not choose me: I chose you. I appointed you to go on and bear fruit that shall last..." (John 15, 16)

"Forgetting what is behind me, and reaching out for that which lies ahead, I press towards the goal to win the prize which is God's call to the life above, in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3, 13-14).

Tonight, Lord, I am alone.
Little by little the sounds died down in the church.
The people went away,
And I came home,

I passed people who were returning from a walk.
I went by the movie house that was disgorging its crowd.
I skirted cafe terraces where tired strollers were trying to prolong the pleasure
of a Sunday holiday.
I bumped into youngsters playing on the sidewalk,
Youngsters, Lord,
Other people's youngsters, who will never be my own.

Here I am, Lord,
The silence troubles me,
The solitude oppresses me.

. . . . . . . . . .

Lord, I'm thirty-five years old,
A body made like others,
Arms ready for work,
A heart meant for love,
But I've given you all.
It's true, of course, that you needed it.
I've given you all, but it's hard, Lord.
It's hard to give one's body; it would like to give itself to others.
It's hard to love everyone and to claim no one.
It's hard to shake a hand and not want to retain it.
It's hard to inspire affection, only to give it to you.
It's hard to be nothing to oneself in order to be everything to others.
It's hard to be like others, among others, and to be other.
It's hard always to give without trying to receive.
It's hard to seek out others and to be, oneself, unsought.
It's hard to suffer from the sins of others, and yet be obliged to hear and bear them.
It's hard to be told secrets, and be unable to share them.
It's hard to carry others and never, even for a moment, be carried.
It's hard to sustain the feeble and never be able to lean on one who is strong.
It's hard to be alone,
Alone before everyone,
Alone before the world,
Alone before suffering,

Son, you are not alone,
I am with you;
I am you.
For I needed another human instrument to continue my Incarnation and my Redemption.
Out of all eternity, I chose you,
I need you.

I need your hands to continue to bless,
I need your lips to continue to speak,
I need your body to continue to suffer,
I need your hearts to continue to love,
I need you to continue to save.
Stay with me, son.

Here I am, Lord;
Here is my body,
Here is my heart,
Here is my soul.
Grant that I may be big enough to reach the world,
Strong enugh to carry it,
Pure enough to embrace it without wanting to keep it.
Grant that I may be a meeting-place, but a temporary one,
A road that does not end in itself, because everything to be gathered there, everyting human, leads toward you.

Lord, tonight, while all is still and I feel sharply the sting of solitude,
While men devour my soul and I feel incapable of satisfying their hunger,
While the whole world presses on my shoulders with all its weight of misery and sin,
I repeat to you my "yes" -- not in a burst of laughter, but slowly, clearly, humbly,
Alone, Lord, before you,
In the peace of the evening.

- Michel Quoist, 1954, France.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

"Father, I betted on Jueteng!"

"Father, I betted on Jueteng!"

It was almost too good to be true! I heard the confessions of some parishioners today. The sin that was acknowledged and promised not to do it again brought an unexpected "Thank You, God" from me.

There I was sitting in the confessinal box when this parishioner knelt and said the usual prayers.

"My sins are..."

"I betted on Jueteng!"

I have been in the parish for a little more than three years. This was the first confession that I heard which mentioned that betting on Jueteng was a sin. Although, it came as a surprise to me, it was not unexpected.

The Parish had embarked on a massive anti-Jueteng campaign. This advocacy has three major components: Information Campaign on jueteng. "Walang Tataya!" campaign. Signature Campaign.

Partial signatures that we had gathered were already submitted to the Mayor. It was presented by the many anti-Jueteng advocates of the town, and so many concerned citizens. About five hundred students, young and old people, the parish lay leaders. The letter explicitly mentions that since Jueteng is an illegal activity, then the law which prohibits it should be enforced strictly. The Mayor said he was against jueteng and instructed the Chief of Police to enforce the law.

I am waiting for positive results with hopeful anticipation!

Our catechists and lay leaders have been going around trying to explain the truth about jueteng: it is a vice, a sin, a corrupt and corrupting evil!

Today, somebody confessed, and acknowledged that it is so.

Thursday, June 01, 2006


The parish church, in almost all the old towns in the Philippines, is located at the very center of the poblacion. Major streets connect to the church grounds and premises. In the same way as the major activities are centered in the church!

It is not surprising that the parish church also attracts all kinds of people. As a haven, of sorts.

There is the old woman who ALWAYS carries a sack with her. Every afternoon without fail at around 4:30 PM, she enters the church, and goes first to the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I am not sure what she does there but she usually brings out her hankerchief and wipes it at the feet of the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Then she goes to the sanctuary, leaves her slippers just at the foot of the stairs, and proceeds to the back of the sanctuary passing by the side door. Until, I do not know what she does there. But she goes out after a few minutes, sits on the celebrant's chair, and quietly rests for a while.

Then she leaves the church. Until the next day, when she does the same things again.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

NOT the Solution

"You are only 18? And you want to get married?", I asked as part of the Pre-Marriage interviews I conduct. "Why?"

"We love each other, Father", replied the 18 year old teen-ager who wanted to get married.

"Your boyfriend is only 19 years old!", I said, my voice hardly audible.

Their filled out forms say that both have stopped studying. They have known each other for only four months. Occupation? There was a blank space in the form.

"Have you ever had a job?", I asked.


"How about your boyfriend?"

More silence.

I looked at her. She looked down. Her eyes avoiding me.

Now I know why.

"Since when ...?"

"I am three months pregnant, Father." She said, almost in a whisper. Then the tears came.

At the corner of my eye, I saw her parents looking in through the window of the office. Concerned and worried looks in their faces.

"My father insists that we get married. I brought shame to our family." She cried.

"The only solution is marriage." She said, looking outside the window.

Marriage is NOT the solution. Forcing these two unprepared and emotionally immature young people to marriage is not solving the problem of pregnancy. It is putting them literally in the lion's den.

But how many marriages break up after only a few years -- and sometimes, months, only -- because it is believed that marriage is the only solution to an unexpected pregnancy?

Parable 2

Juan continues to violently defend himself from what Juana told him: that he has halitosis! He says, "Why is it that Juana has to focus on that one particular thing? Can she not see that I have other positive features?"

Juan enumerates the good qualities that he has: he has good looks, nice smile, good posture. He continues, "The problem with people is that they only see the negative thing, but do not appreciate the good qualities that I have!"

Juan continues to ignore that one negative comment that Juana and her friends have observed. And in the meantime, his bad breath has become even worse than ever!

"True, we do have good points and have done good things. True, too, that we have some bad points that need to be pruned if we want to grow as persons. Accepting the good as well as the bad in us is the only way to perfection."

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit." (Jn. 15)

Saturday, May 13, 2006

A Parable

Everybody is complaining about it; everybody is talking about it. Juan has bad breath! His friends know about. His co-workers are disturbed about it. Juan's bad breath has a way of irritating almost everybody. But nobody dares tell Juan about it. He has an influence in the workplace. He has a temper and a sensitive nature. So everybody talks about it, but nobody tells Juan about it.

Except for Juana, a co-worker. She hears about the complains and the talks about Juan's oral condition. She knows that it is affecting the workplace especially when Juan starts to talk near a colleague or a superior. What if he begins to talk to a customer and a client? Her friends urge her to tell Juan about it.

So Juana tells Juan about it.

Juan reacts violently.

He calls his friends and tells what Juana has told him. His friends, who do not want Juan to get "hurt" start to gang up on Juana. They spread lies and talk about her. Juan and his friends think that by destroying Juana's reputation, what she told about Juan's bad breath may turn out to be untrue! Soon, many begin to treat Juana like she has the leprosy. They start to avoid her.

On the other hand, Juana's friends can not believe that this is happening to their friend. They start to avoid Juan and his friends, too.

The workplace is now divided.

In the meantime, Juan's halitosis is still there; it is getting worse than ever!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Parish Events: April-May 2006

The Parish celebrated the following for April and the early days of May:

21 April 2006, Friday
The Parish Staff and some lay volunteer workers had an excursion at the flowing river of Brgy. Ambalangan Dalin, San Fabian.

23 April 2006, Sunday
WABI participants' visit to the Parish of St. Fabian
The World Alive Biblical Institute participants of the three week seminar on the Biblical Apostolate came for a brief visit to the Parish of St. Fabian. They were accompanied by Msgr. Renato P. Mayugba, DD, the Biblical Apostolate Coordinator of the Archdiocese.

28-30 April, Friday-Sunday
Parish Renewal Experience (PREX)
PREX class 13 sponsored this PREX Weekend.

1 May, Monday
Msgr. Renato P. Mayugba, DD celebrated the 4,30 PM Mass as he arrived in the Parish of St. Fabian, Pope and Martyr. Msgr. Renato P. Mayugba, DD is the auxilliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan and has made the Parish as his episcopal residence. The Parish is truly privileged and honored to have Bishop Rene with us.

4 May, Thursday. 9,00 AM
Misa de Gracia
A mass was celebrated at the Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish, Manaoag, Pangasinan to celebrate the parish's yearly thanksgiving in honor of Mary, our Lady of Manaoag, the patroness of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan. The mass was presided by the parish priest, Fr. Oliver E. Mendoza. The parish choir and the different lay ministers assisted in the celebration of the mass.

9-12 May, Tuesday-Friday.
Archdiocesan Youth Day. Urbiztondo, Pangasinan.
The Parish Youth Apostolate took part in the annual celebration of the Archdiocesan Youth Day in St. Pius Parish, Urbiztondo, Pangasinan.

Monday, April 17, 2006


On Holy Week, there are more than the usual penitents who receive the Sacrament of Reconcilliation or Confession. They come in sorrow for their sins, sometimes in anger; others come with doubts in their hearts, with tears in their eyes. They come with problems that seem to weigh them down.

They leave with hope in their lives; they receive comfort and consolation from God's mercy. For every sinner, the mercy of God is a providential gift!

"Bless me, Father, for I have sinned", came the voice on the other side of the confessional. "I did not fast last Ash Wednesday".

The voice seemed to belong to an older woman.

"Bai, how old are you?", I asked her.

"I am now 73 years old", was the reply.

"Bai," I said, " at your age, you are not obliged to fast. You are exempted already."

There was a pause on the other side. Silence.

Then the unexpected question:

"Father, does that mean I can now tell a lie, play tong-its and gamble?"

Amen to that.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Stations of the Cross: Brgy. Guilig to Poblacion

12 April 2006, Holy Wednesday

A meditation on the suffering and the death of our Lord Jesus Christ through the Stations of the Cross was done at 2:00 PM on Holy Wednesday this time in Brgy. Guilig to Poblacion. The First Station was meditated upon by the parishioners in the home of Mrs. Fely Dismaya. Succeeding Stations were assigned to different homes. The meditations were led by a member of the household of the assigned homes.

The last station, the Resurrection of the Lord, was held inside the Parish Church.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Stations of the Cross at Brgy., Lipit

11 April 2006, Holy Tuesday. 3PM

We first held the Stations of the Cross at Brgy. Lipit three years ago. The road going up from Brgy. Lipit to Inmalog Sur is ideal for the Stations of the Cross.

At that time, three years ago, we were loooking for a place where we could hold the Stations of the Cross. I told Bro. Tony, our BEC Coordinator, that it should be in the mountains, not so far and accessible to our parishioners. We thought at first of Ambalangan Dalin. It was one of the mountain barangays of San Fabian. But it was too far. Accessible, it was not.

Brgy. Lipit is just about ten to fifteen minutes from the poblacion. The road going up to Inmalog Sur is not so steep. There are still trees lining the road which can provide some shade for the devotees.

We began the Stations of the Cross at three in the afternoon. We followed the Pangasinan Divine Mercy Stations. There were certainly more people than last year. I saw some parishioners from Sto. Tomas de Aquino Parish, Mangaldan, Pangasian who joined us this year. They were Apostles of Divine Mercy.

Mrs. Maria de Guzman was the oldest who participated in the devotion. She is eighty seven years old! This is her third year, too. She has been with us since the beginning. Although at the sixth station this afternoon, she sat and rested for a while after saying, "Naksawan ak la!" I thought she would not go up until the fiftenth station. But at the top, I saw her waving her tired arms to everybody!

This year, the members of the Parish Youth Apostolate re-enacted the different stations of the cross by creating a live tableau. A mass was celebrated at the peak of Inmalog Sur.

Parish Lenten Reflections

8 April 2006, Saturday. 4,30 PM - 6,00PM.

In preparation for the observance of Holy Week, the Parish held a Lenten Reflection with Rev. Fr. Mario Dominic Sanchez last 8 February 2006, Saturday from 4:30 PM to 6:00 PM. Fr. Sanchez gave his reflection on the Lay Spirituality, the call to holiness for all! While he was giving his talk inside the church, confessions were being heard.

10 April 2006, Holy Monday. 8,30 AM - 1:00 PM

There was a two hour reflection on the "Passion of John Paul the Great" to the Apostles of Divine Mercy last 10 April 2006, Holy Monday. The Apostles of Divine Mercy of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, Mangaldan, Pangasinan (the nearby parish) joined us in this reflection. The reflection mainly dwelt on the meaning of suffering as taught and lived by Pope John Paul II. His encyclical "Salvifici Doloris" was the main souce of our reflection.

After the reflection on the meaning of Suffering, the movie "Passion of the Christ" was viewed by the parishioners.

"Ag ak la antakot natan ya manirap, Father", a devotee of the Divine Mercy told me. ("I am not afraid of suffering now, Father").

Unless we find a meaning to our suffering, unless we find the reason why we suffer, we will always fear suffering; we can never find hope in these "vale of tears".

Monday, April 10, 2006

Domingo de Ramos

Palms were blessed in all four Sunday masses for the celebration of Palm Sunday. "Domingo de Ramos" ushered in the observation of the Holy Week.

The scheduled barangay mass last Palm Sunday was Brgy. Bigbiga. We celebrated it in Zone 1, and at the yard of Bro. Ben Aquino. There was an unusually large number of people who attended the mass. Even those coming from Zones 3 and 2 were there. And these had to walk about two kilometers to reach the place of the celebration.

"Adu tao tatta", I commented in Ilocano to Sr. Lidia, wife of Bro. Ben.

"Palaspas gamin", she explained why there were plenty of people.

Brgy. Bigbiga is one of the mountain barangays of San Fabian. It takes us about thirty minutes to get to the place. It was only about three months ago that we began to celebrate the barangay mass in the different zones, and in homes. I realized that there were a lot of people who would attend the mass when we bring the celebration to their place and residence. Neighbors come together; pray together. Before this, we held the mass at the barangay hall.

9 April 2006, Palm Sunday

Saturday, April 01, 2006


Every first Saturday of the month, Barangal Aramal celebrates the Eucharist. The celebration this Saturday was joyful. I even had a longer homily than usual, explaining within it, the Holy Week schedule of the Parish. After the Prayer after Communion, I called the April birthday celebrators. Five came forward and received a special blessing. We sang "Happy Birthday" to them.

Then, just before the final blessing and dismissal, Bro. Rod who was the lector and the commentator, and was sitting infront was approached by his son. His young son whispered something to his father. Bro. Rod, in a flash, was out of the chapel, and was running so fast. I saw him ran the length of the field by the chapel and disappeared from my view!

Then, I heard somebody shouted: "Po-ol! Po-ol! (Fire! Fire!)

Bro. Rod's wife followed. She ran as fast as her husband. The whole chapel was now in a commotion. Everybody ran towards the window; everybody was by now looking out in the direction of Bro. Rod's house!

I heard somebody shouted, "Napopo-olan so abong di Bro. Rod!" Bro. Rod's house is on fire!

Soon, everybody was out of the chapel. Even my two servers were out.

I was the only one left.

And I had not even given the final blessing and the dismissal yet!

(As a postcript: The fire gutted the outside kitchen of Bro. Rod. It did not do any damage to the house itself. Except for the malagkit, and some pots and lots of firewood, nothing much was destroyed by the fire that disturbed our regular barangay Mass. Cause of the fire: an ember left burning by Bro. Rod after he cooked some bananacue).

1 April 2006, Saturday.

Friday, March 31, 2006


Bro. Tony told me that they would be waiting for us at the foot bridge. He told me that there was but one way: it was down, down... until we would reach the foot bridge. It was the end of the road, literally. We parked the red Parish Jeep at the foot bridge. Bernard and I were met by Bros. Aries and Ben.

"Let's go", Aries said. "Where?", I asked.

"See that mango tree up there? That's where we will be going." Bro. Ben said. Bro. Ben has been with the BEC formation team for a while. He is about sixty years or more.

I looked up. I saw a mango tree. But it was way up, up. I told myself, "That could not be it. There must be another mango tree he was referring to. That tree is several kilometers away!"

We walked under the blazing sun at 12 noon! I just celebrated a wedding mass at 10:00 AM and celebrated the sacrament of baptism after that. I was looking forward to a nice, cool shade to relax for the BOS (Basic Orientation Seminar) for BEC (Basic Ecclesial Communities). Not a hot, long and winding climb!

I could hear my breath which was becoming shorter and shallower. Bro. Ben who was walking behind me was breathing hard. I could literally hear him gasped for air! But he was urging me on. "Kaya tayo ya, Father!" We could do this, Father.

At around 12:40 PM we reached the "Ulo'y Dueg" or "Carabao's Head". I flopped myself literally at the first chair I saw, perspiring profusely, while Bros. Aries and Ben went under the shade of that mango tree. Bernard was looking at me with his toothless smile.

The community prepared a lunch of rice, beans and crabs (in the mountains?) There are about 27 households in that place. A very ideal number to form a Christian community among these families.

We rested after eating lunch; then gathered the people together under the shade of the mango tree. We had several action songs before Bro. Tony began his talk on the BEC. I was there to lend my presence, share some thoughts on the vision of the church in building Christian communities, and listen to their voices.

This truly is the Church, families coming together, praying together, serving one another.

Going back would not be so difficult anymore . . .

26 March 2006, Sunday.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Sacred

The Second Commandment which says that we should not take the name of the Lord, our God, in vain, is not just for us to show disrespect to God and His Holy Name, but it is for us to discover the sacred among us. The word “sacred” means “set apart”. It implies that there is a dignity and sense of worth that requires setting apart in order that the value be recognized and cherished. It is not enough then that we refrain from using the name of God in sacrilegious way, misusing God’s name and even doing acts contrary to God in the name of God!

The second commandment urges us positively to value the sacredness of the person, the holiness of God, the sanctity of life and creation. Love and reverence are synonymous in the second commandment. But, how have we shown reverence to God and His name? In our world where the scourge of the vulgar in our language and actions seems to be the rule rather than the exception, we ask ourselves: how have we reverenced God’s Name? The loss of the sense of the sacred seems to be everywhere: in our ordinary conversations, in our songs, in our movies and TV shows, where the name of God is abused and misused as if it is the most ordinary thing to do. The sense of the sacred seems to have vanished from most of these productions.

Discovering the sacred in our world and in our lives means being ready to live our faith and religion publicly. This has not always been easy in a culture that prizes the privatization of religion. We are familiar with the various ways that society has pushed for the so called separation of the church and the state. The idea is that faith ought to be a personal matter conducted on private time. Public affairs should be conducted without the benefit of religious affiliations, church symbols or any effort to influence public policy from a faith-based point of view. It is pushing the church and the faith outside of the realm of human activity!

But there is nothing personal and private when the state begins to abuse and misuse its power; every human action is a moral action. Graft and corruption, lying and stealing and murder are all human actions, therefore, with moral implications. Human actions are done by people, including church men, politicians, military men, and the ordinary people living their ordinary lives. We can never separate the moral from the personal and communal actions of people, in and out of government.

Let us not forget: we can support a proper understanding of the separation of the church and the state, but must we separate our faith from our culture? Must we take away the sacred in our lives? Must we live different, incongruous lives? One life inside the church, another in the government? One life which prays, and another which lies and steals? One life that kneels in reverence to God’s name and another that runs away with the people’s money?


Blessed be your Holy Name, O God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Your love for us moves us to honor your name. We are saddened and appalled by the desecration of your divine name in our culture and society. We resolve through prayer and reparation to restore the dignity of your name in our society as well as in our personal lives. We ask for the graces of spiritual transformation so that we may have the wisdom to know and do what is best in this matter. Adorable Trinity, we worship you and honor you with our whole being. Amen.

“O Lord, our Lord, how awesome is your name through all the earth! (Ps. 8,1)

(Alfred McBride, O. PRAEM. The Ten Commandments: Covenant of Love).

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Fiesta of St. Fabian, Pope and Martyr. 20 January 2006, Friday

The annual fiesta celebration in honor of St. Fabian, Pope and Martyr, was celebrated by the whole parish last 20 January, the feast day of St. Fabian. The celebration began with the 7:30 AM procession in honor of St. Fabian. The images of the different barangay patron saints were also brought in for the procession.

The mass of thanksgiving in honor of St. Fabian was celebrated by Msgr. Oscar V. Cruz, DD, the Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan. He preached about the difficulties and challenges that are besetting the Filipino people today. The good news however is that we as a people have a God who has mercy on us. Repeatedly the good Archbishop prayed the Kyrie: Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

The celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation was administered by Very Rev. Fidelis B. Layog, the Vicar Forane of the Vicariate of the Queen of Apostles. He is at present the Parish Priest of the Holy Family Parish, Sta. Barbara, Pangasinan.

St. Fabian, Pope and Martyr, pray for us!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Start of the First Confession/Communion Celebrations

12 January, Thursday. Longos Proper Elementary School became the first school to hold the First Confession and Communion of its Grade Three Elementary pupils. The Parish catechists prepared them for almost six months.

Regular catechism classes have been going-on in all the barangay schools of San Fabian. The Parish catechists who number about forty volunteer to go these different barangay schools to conduct catechism classes in all grade levels every week. Since last year, the Parish has been conducting catechism classes also to some High School students in the different barangays, most especially in the San Fabian National High School.

The catechists at the same time receive regular updating classes on the doctrines of the faith every week during the Faith Formation Program for Adult Catholics being given by the parish priest, and twice a month on catechetical methods by the Parish Catechetical Program Director, Ms. Gloria Emuslan.

Novena in honor of St. Fabian. 11-19 January 2006

The Novena Masses to commemorate the feast of the patron saint of the parish, St. Fabian, Pope and Martyr, began last Wednesday, 11 January. Different religious groups and associations were on hand to sponsor each of the nine days of the novena.

Mass is celebrated at 4,30 pm. It is preceded by the praying of the Rosary and the Novena Prayer of the day.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

4 January 2006, Wednesday: Opening of the Blessed Sacrament Chapel

The Blessed Sacrament was transferred to the new Blessed Sacrament Chapel of the Divine Mercy. It was formerly at the foot of the statue of St. Fabian at the center of the sanctuary, just at the back of the altar.

The Blessed Sacrament Chapel of the Divine Mercy was a project of the Parish which was started last August 2005. The chapel was formerly the baptistery, located at the base of the belfry.

"Come and See", was the answer of Jesus in the gospel read for the day to the question of his disciples as to where he was staying. "Come and See" is an invitation for all of us to visit him, to to feel his divine presence, to keep watch, to spend time with Him in prayer and adoration.

My Barber

His friends tease him that he is the only one in the parish who can twist and turn the head of the Parish Priest; and the Parish Priest can not do anything about it! The Parish Priest always obeys his wishes and commands!

It is true, of course. When he tells me to bow my head, I do it. Or when he says to turn a little to the left, I do it. "Keep still", he says. I keep still.

His friends after all are not exaggerating. He really can twist and turn my head!

He is after all my barber!

When he sees my hair getting long, he tells me. He makes the sign with his two fingers as if they are scissors and make cutting movements. Then he points his finger to his head. Meaning: I need a haircut. And so we make an appointment. Usually after the mass in the morning. That is because, he is a daily mass goer.

My barber comes to mass everyday. He is also a commissioned Minister of Holy Communion, and serves every second mass of Sundays. He drives me around too when I go to the different Elementary Schools of the town to hear the first confessions of the grade school kids and give them their first communion. Of course, he comes together with his friends, who are also Ministers of Holy Communion.

Cutting my hair gives him satisfaction; a sense of service. In the same way when he distributes the Holy Communion to the parishioners, especially to the sick members of the community. My barber serves.