Anti RH Law rally before the Supreme Court organized by Filipinos for Life: Chronology of Events

Anna Cosio and Mike Mapa of Filipinos for Life

Anna Cosio and Mike Mapa of Filipinos for Life led the recitation of the rosary during the Anti RH Law rally with the theme “RH Supilin, Buhay Mahalin” last July 9, 2013, 9:00-11:00 a.m.

Last July 9, 2013, 9:00-11:00 a.m., the Filipinos for Life organized an Anti RH Law rally before the gates of the Supreme Court.  As a member of the Filipinos for Life, I was given the task of a marshal.  So I took lots of pictures.  The participants, mostly young students of nearby Catholic schools, lined up along Padre Faura stretching up to the road before the Robinson’s Place Manila.  Anthony Perez, President of Filipinos for Life estimated the crowd to be about 800-1,000.  Meanwhile on the other part of Padre Faura also before the gates of Supreme Court are about 30 pro RH Law advocates in the same purple shirts, same purple umbrellas, and even same purple poster designs.  Someone even posed himself as a cartoon bishop in white and gold.  The sameness of their gears shows that someone bought in bulk and distributed it to the participants.  In contrast, the Anti RH Law crowd came from different groups with different uniforms and different posters–mostly handmade, and practically no umbrellas.  The morning crowd did not get much of the news.  What you see in TV are the Anti RH crowd in Green and the pro RH crowd in purple with roughly the same crowd size.  They are the afternoon crowd; the morning crowd was not covered by mainstream media.  But here are the  links to the pictures in the RH Supilin, Buhay Mahalin (Stop RH, Love Life) albums and see for yourself what you don’t see in the TV and newspaper news reports: part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4).

I took some notes of the proceedings of the Anti RH Law rally using my phone, typing as fast as my two thumbs can press the letters while I listen to the talks.  Here’s the chronology of the events:

Anti-RH Law rallyists of St. Paul University-Manila lining up before going to the Supreme Court

Lining up for going to the Supreme Court

Anti-RH Law rallyists of St. Paul University-Manila lining up before going to the Supreme Court

Lining up in front of Robinsons Place Manila before going to the Supreme Court

Anti-RH Law rallyists of St. Paul University-Manila lining up at Robinson’s Place Manila

Walking towards the Supreme Court

Anti-RH Law rallyists  of St. Paul University-Manila walking towards the Supreme Court

Students carrying Anti RH Law posters

Students carrying hand-drawn Anti RH Law posters

For comparison: the pro-RH Law rallyists with their purple umbrellas.  Double the size of this crowd and you get the total pro-RH La crowd in Padre Faura.

For comparison: the pro-RH Law rallyists with their purple umbrellas. Double the size of this crowd and you get the total pro-RH Law crowd in Padre Faura.

9:12 a.m.

St. Paul students occupy the pedestrian walk opposite the Supreme Court facade, extending up to the road before Robinson’s Place Manila.

9:18 a.m.

The crowd is now from the Department of Justice to the Supreme Court.  The Pro-Life Philippines Foundation displayed its green banner.  On the desk hangs the flag of the Filipinos for Life, a shield of blue and white.

9:26 a.m.

I see students from San Sebastian and St. Paul’s.  There is also one representative from the Rosary for Life holding a large flag containing the picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  There are also Don Bosco students with their gray uniforms.  I met Rolly de los Reyes of Courage Philippines.

9:32 a.m.

Mike Mapa and Anna Cosio of Filipinos for Life led the praying of the rosary.

9:41 a.m.

Ang Kapatiran senatorial candidate Lito David arrived all in white.

9:49 a.m.  

The crowd began praying the the Joyful Mysteries.

10:00 a.m.

Now the Glorious Mysteries.

10:13 a.m.

Finished the rosary.  Anna and Mike began to lead the crowd in shouting: “Buhay Mahalin, RH Supilin!”  They named the groups who came: St. Paul University-Manila.  Most of the crowd are students from this University.  Don Bosco Mandaluyong.  University of Sto. Tomas. Soldiers of Christ. Rosaries for Life. CBCP FL. Daughters of St. Paul. DMI Circle from Paranaque. San Sebastian Recoletos. CMT is still in the church for the mass.

10:17 a.m.

Mike speaks: “We must celebrate life. In the family we learn values.  I am thankful to be alive.  My happiest moment was when I became a father.  And then I understood many things God has done.”

10:18 a.m.

Mike and Anna enumerated the other participating groups: Holy Family parish from Parang, Marikina.  Sienna College. Citizens Initiative for Alternative Medicine.  Ang Kapatiran Party.  Augustinian Seminary.  Mike continued: “Sometimes we feel in the media that we are alone. No, we are not alone.  This is the happiest day of my life: to find a cause worth dying for.  It is a reason to live, an advocacy.  My happiest moment was when I became a father.   I would like to thank my lovely wife, Cecil.  There are so many attacks against the family. ”

Praying before the Supreme Court

Praying before the Supreme Court

San Sebastian College Recoletos de Cavite

San Sebastian College Recoletos de Cavite

10:22 a.m.

Lisa Poblete, a dentist, spoke in Tagalog.  Here’s my translation: “I know Pedro Gil. I lived in Padre Faura.  In the Filipino language, when a person is pregnant, she is ‘nagdadalang-tao’ or ‘bearing a man’. The human being is the beginning.  All of us have navels.  If we have navels, then we came from our mother’s wombs.  Conception starts at fertilization. We have to give all Filipinos in the womb a chance to live.

Mike speaks: “The only persons without navels are Adam and Eve.  I am a Filipinos for Life member.  We would like to welcome the Rogationst seminarians of the Diocese of Paranaque.  Very Pro-Life.  Our next speaker is from Courage Philippines.  This is an organization who helps people with same-sex attraction and live life to the fullest.  Let us welcome Mr. Rolly de los Reyes.”

Rolly de los Reyes speaks: “I am a Bosconian.  Don Bosco through Mary.  In the feast day of Mary we offer flowers.  All of us.  Pregnancy or pagdadalang-tao is not sickness but a gift.  We must thank God for the gift that is our mothers.  There are mothers who died in pregnancy.  But this does not mean that pregnancy is a disease.  Mothers offered their lives for us.  Let us give them a round of applause. Let us also thank our Mother, Mary.  We must fight against pornography, such as FMH.  What we need is not a sex education but a chastity education.  We must teach society about the beauty of virginity.  True love waits. ”

10:31 a.m.

The next speaker is Lito David, senatorial candidate of Ang Kapatiran Party.

Lito David speaks in Filipino.  Here’s my translation of what I can catch:  “Praise the Lord!  Why are we here?  Because of our faith in God who loves life.  Let us pray that Supreme Court will not be bought.  We could have won in Congress. There were 116 who are Anti RH.  Afterwards, there were only 69?  They sold their stand?  For 70 million pesos?  Because of the pressure of PNoy?  Let us pray that the Supreme Court will not be bought.”

10:39 a.m.

Anna speaks: “In the Flames of Love, there is an actress together with Dina Bonevie.  She is already a grand mom.  She is known for giving chastity talks in public schools.  Please welcome, Ms. Rica Dayrit.”

Rica Dayrit speaks in Filipino.  Here is my translation: “The youth are here.  Anna said that I am beautiful, a pro-life mother. Why are we beautiful?  What is the will of God?  The priest said that you can be a good Christian if you get married.  We have children entrusted to us to be born.  What is the beauty of being a pro-life mother?  I go to checkups.  I fall in line.  Then I hear the doctor say to other women ahead of me.  ‘Are you taking pills? I see many diseases in your ovary.’  We must take care of life.  In this way there will be many beautiful Filipinos in our country.”

10:43 a.m.

Anna speaks: “Let us welcome the Claretian missionaries.   We would like to welcome the Filipinos for Life and their president, Mr. Anthony  Perez.”

Anthony speaks in Filipino and English: “Let us give each other a round of applause.  What time did you wake up?  The Soldiers for Christ have not yet slept.  But they are here.  We stand to celebrate life.  And we have visitors here.  What is your name?”

Anthony Perez, president of Filipinos for Life

Anthony Perez, president of Filipinos for Life

Angel Liwanag, young poet

Angel Liwanag, young poet

Little Boy: “Angel Liwanag. 5 years old . from Bonifacio.”

Anthony: “Let us give a round of applause to Angel!  Where is your daddy?  I am the speaker.  Story?”

Little Boy: “No.”

Anthony: “There is Philippine Alliance of Ex-Seminarians.  Are you going to become a priest?”

Little Boy: “Yes.”

Anthony: “Are you sure?  Daddy’s message says that you are going to give a poem.  These is the  list of poems.  To my fellow youth.  Heart of Stone. You are my Boss.”

10:48 a.m.

Little Boy reciting in Filipino:  “You are my boss.  That is the word that I spoke.  No counterflow. To help in the cross.  You are my boss. … aspirations.  Face my parents regarding their legacy of democracy.  We can say that we have reached far, the way of the future generations.  Thank you very much.”

10:50 a.m.

Anthony: “These are speeches that were made into poems.”

Meanwhile I walked around to the pro-RH side and checked their props, posters, and crowd size.  There are only a few of them.  Their many umbrellas and large streamers hide their small number.  Their posters say that “I am a Catholic from a family of 8 or 9.”  Then there is that guy posing as Bishop of Cartoon Diocese.  They focus their attacks on the Catholic Church, creating a parody church in the process.  Indeed, they lack imagination.  They cannot truly create but only mock.  As Frodo said of Orcs:

No, they eat and drink, Sam.  The Shadow that bred them can only mock, it cannot make: not real new things of its own.  I don’t think it gave life to the orcs, it only ruined them and twisted them; and if they are to live at all, they have to live like other living creatures.  Foul waters and foul meats they’ll take, if they can get no better, but not poison.” (The Tower of Cirith Ungol, The Lord of the Rings)

Interesting.  When I walked to the other side,  I can’t hear what we in the Anti-RH side are saying.  And vice-versa.  I think this is what the current state of our dialogue on the RH Law right now.

10:54 a.m.

Anthony: “Sienna college is here.  Let us fight for life.  Our youth have talents; they just need the right guidance.  Let us celebrate life.  Thanks to all who came.  We can stay longer if we wish.  I know that many of you have classes.  Thank you very much for making a stand.  Let us think of our loved ones in our lives.  Let us think what if they were not born?  It is happier for men to love before they separate from each other.  So let us join hands and pray the “Our Father””

The crowd sang the Our Father.

Anthony: “Let us sing Happy Birthday To You!”

The crowd sang the song twice.

11:00 a.m.

The rally officially ended.  The Soldiers of Christ took over.  And they sang and prayed I think until 12:00 noon, which is the end of the rally permit.

Life is priceless

Life is priceless

Daughters of St. Paul and students

Daughters of St. Paul and students

Pro-Life Philippines Foundation

Pro-Life Philippines Foundation

God is Pro-Life

God is Pro-Life

Philippine Coat of Arms: a Catholic Interpretation

Icons of the Philippine Coat of Arms

Icons of the Philippine Coat of Arms

Wikipedia has an excellent entry on the Philippine coat of arms that describes its evolution from that of a colony of Spain, to that of the US, and finally to its independence as a sovereign nation. The historical interpretations of the the heraldric devices such as the sun, stars, eagle, and lion are well-known. What I shall propose here is a possible reinterpretation of the devices in the light of the Scriptures and the Catholic Faith.

The top icon is Crown of Spain who gave the gift of Christianity to the Philippines; it may also be interpreted as the billowing sails of Magellan’s Spanish galleon whose front hull is shaped like the bottom of the shield. The yellow and white are the colors of Vatican City, the seat of the Catholic Church. The three stars and the sun represent the doctrine of the Trinity–three Divine Persons in one God; they also represent the the wounds of Christ on his hands, head, and heart. The sun represents the radiating Sacred Heart of Jesus pierced by thorns or the Immaculate Heart of Mary pierced by swords. The blue and red represents the water and blood that flowed from the pierced Heart of Christ, as seen in the Icon of Divine Mercy.  This is reenacted during mass when the water (blue) is mixed with (wine), which becomes the Blood of Christ after consecration.  The sun on a white ellipse may also represent the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ hidden under the appearance of bread in the Sacred Host.

The Eagle icon is the Eagle of the United States of America. The Eagle also traditionally represents St. John the Evangelist because of his lofty description of the pre-existent divinity of Christ as the Logos or the Word of God (Jn 1:1). In the Book of Revelation, the wings of a great eagle was given to the woman pursued by the Red Dragon so that she can escape to the desert (Rev 12:14). The eagle is at the foot of Our Lady of Guadalupe, with the man with the the eagle’s wings (angel) representing Juan Diego whose native name was Cuauhtlatoatzin or “The Talking Eagle.” Our Lady of Guadalupe is the second patroness of the Philippine Islands as defined by Pope Pius XI; the primary patroness of the Philippines is still Our Lady under the title of The Immaculate Conception whose colors are blue and white.

Lastly, the Lion icon is the Lion of Spain. The lion represents the Judah, the Lion’s whelp, from whose loins the Messiah, the Son of David, Jesus Christ, shall come:

“You, Judah, shall your brothers praise –your hand on the neck of your enemies; the sons of your father shall bow down to you.9Judah, like a lion’s whelp, you have grown up on prey, my son. He crouches like a lion recumbent, the king of beasts–who would dare rouse him10 The scepter shall never depart from Judah, or the mace from between his legs, While tribute is brought to him, and he receives the people’s homage.11 (Gen 49:8-11)

The present-day Jews are named after the Tribe of Judah, who survived the destruction of Israel by the Assyrians but was later sent to Babylonian exile.  The Lion of Judah is the municipal emblem of Jerusalem.  The lion also traditionally represents St. Mark the Evangelist because he begins his Gospel with St. John shouting in the desert where the wild beasts like lions live. St. Mark also described Jesus as living in the desert for 40 days to be tempted by the Satan, living with wild beasts, and ministered by angels (Mk 1: 1-13).  St. Peter describes the devil as the roaring lion:

Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for [someone] to devour.9 Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings. (1 Pet 5:8-9)

Thus, if the sun represents the human person, he would always have his guardian angel (eagle) and a demon (lion) by his side to influence his will whether to obey God or to go against His Holy will.

Skyline movie review: Christian rapture and the war for human brains

My father and I watched the movie Skyline few Sundays ago. We came about 15 minutes late, but we made it to the Day One of the Alien Invasion. The film ran for about an hour and a half. Rotten Tomatoes gave the movie a 14% rating, i.e. bad movie. But I disagree.

First, there are no movie stars like Tom Cruise. I think this is a positive aspect of the movie. The characters are plain and boring–just like you and me. They represent many of people we know who spend the night away in parties and orgies. A casual sex made a girl pregnant and the man is not ready to be a father. The setting is a condominium and there is no family to speak of. An old man lives alone with a dog.

And second, the story was not well told because it has a hanging ending. When the movie ended and the cast of characters went up, the people still remained in their seats, wondering if the movie has really ended. I felt cheated that the movie did not end properly unlike Independence Day–a virus was delivered and the spaceships were destroyed. Or in Transformers: the Autobots defeated the Decepticons. A glorious morning shines after a terrible storm. But this is not how it ended in Skyline: in the face of an alien invasion, the humans–with all their jet fighters and nuclear missiles–are powerless. And the thought of powerlessness lingered long hours or days for me after watching the film.

Let us turn to some theological elements in the film:

1. Captivating Light and Beatific Vision

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, as quoted by Wikipedia, beatific vision is defined as follows:

The immediate knowledge of God which the angelic spirits and the souls of the just enjoy in Heaven. It is called “vision” to distinguish it from the mediate knowledge of God which the human mind may attain in the present life. And since in beholding God face to face the created intelligence finds perfect happiness, the vision is termed “beatific.”

The light seen by the human characters in the movie may also be called beatific in the superficial sense, because they find it wonderful to see.  Such a wonderful light pulls them towards the heavens, similar to what St. Paul described during the coming of Christ:

Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. (1 Thes 4:17)

But in the movie there was no heaven to speak of, but a deep pit of dark slime where humans are piled on top of each other.  This is Sheol, the abode of the dead.

Such an alien light reminds me of the shining darkness of sin (e.g. pornography): it captivates your vision, drawing you closer to read or see more, until your soul is plunged in the darkness of sin.  Not to look is difficult for the will, unless another person immediately pulls you out from the captivating light.  This reminds me of the palantir of Orthanc that Pippin looked into and the Dark Lord Sauron caught hold of his mind; Pippin only recovered when he confessed his sin to Gandalf.

2.  War for the human brain

The alien creatures may be classified as octopi and behemoths.  Octopi creatures capable of flight.  No, they do not scan for electromagnetic radiation like that in the Matrix and zoom in for the kill.  Instead, they seek human and draws them out either by lure or by force.  Behemoths, on the other, have nothing else to do but to crush everything in its path.  

These alien creatures remind me of the modern-day headhunters: multinationals, governments, and non-government organizations.  They get the best minds to join them and the persons they get became imbued with the organization’s culture and values.  I am thinking countries like China, companies like Planned Parenthood, and the many organizations which promote the homosexual lobby.  What the movie’s ending may be saying is that it is possible to be part of these organizations while keeping your own mind.  Tyranny is terrified by the human free will and tyrants will try to keep human mind in control either by brainwashing the adults in universities or by sucking the brains of infants in partial birth abortion.

The movie ends with utter hopelessness: no US nuke missiles can destroy the alien ships. The US tried all their military hardware and software against Vietnam; US lost the war.  The US also tried their military might against Iraq; the US is now recalling back its forces.  The US has not learned its lesson well: a war of the mind cannot be fought with guns and nukes.  The religion of peace called Islam can only be converted by the peace of Christ, the Lion from the Tribe of Judah.  The Great Red Dragon that is communist Russia and China can only be defeated by the Woman Clothed With the Sun, Our Lady of Fatima.  And the multi-tentacled behemoth that is Planned Parenthood can only be destroyed by She Who Crushed the Head of the Serpent, Tequaxalupeaux, Our Lady of Guadalupe whose feast we now celebrate.  In the end, this is what we can be sure: the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary shall triumph.

Philippine Flag for Christians and Muslims: Add Our Lady of Fatima on top of a crescent moon

In the Letters section of the Philippine Star, a Muslim proposed to add a crescent moon on the Philippine flag (see picture here):

Since the avowed purpose for the modification of the flag is to give recognition to the Muslims of Mindanao, I suggest that we add a green CRESCENT instead to one of the stars (see proposed design above) in which manner the recognition intended them can be said to be clear, distinct, apparent and can be readily pointed to even by any grade school pupil and not to be lost within one of those rays that most people never care to count at all. More importantly, it hails them not just as mere freedom fighters but as Muslims. — DATU RUBEN S. BUAN SR., Datu Lukes of Maguindanao Sultanate, 102 Quezon Avenue, Poblacion 1, Cotabato City

I am sure many Christians like me would object to this.  If we add a CRESCENT, we must also add a CROSS, but not to place them side by side, overlapping each other, to form the hammer and sickle of the Communist Russia.  And since about 90% of Filipinos are Christians, the cross should be at least nine times bigger than the crescent moon.

But I am sure Muslims would object to the cross.  So why not choose a symbol dear to Christians and Muslims alike: Mary.  Mary is the Mother of Christ and Mary is also found in the Quran as Miriam.  Muslims revere Mary more than Fatima, the daughter of Muhammad.  As Archbishop Fulton Sheen wrote in his book, Mary and the Muslims:

Mary is for the Moslems the true Sayyida, or Lady. The only possible serious rival to her in their creed would be Fatima, the daughter of Mohammed himself. But after the death of Fatima, Mohammed wrote: “Thou shalt be the most blessed of all the women in Paradise, after Mary.” In a variant of the text, Fatima is made to say: “I surpass all the women, except Mary.”

This brings us to our second point, namely, why the Blessed Mother, in this twentieth century, should have revealed herself in the insignificant little village of Fatima, so that to all future generations she would be known as “Our Lady of Fatima.” Since nothing ever happens out of heaven except with a finesse of all details, I believe that the Blessed Virgin chose to be known as “Our Lady of Fatima” as a pledge and a sign of hope to the Moslem people, and as an assurance that they, who show her so much respect, will one day accept her Divine Son, too.

Evidence to support these views is found in the historical fact that the Moslems occupied Portugal for centuries. At the time when they were finally driven out, the last Moslem chief had a beautiful daughter by the name of Fatima. A Catholic boy fell in love with her, and for him she not only stayed behind when the Moslems left, but even embraced the faith. The young husband was so much in love with her that he changed the name of the town where he lived to Fatima. Thus, the very place where Our Lady appeared in 1917 bears a historical connection to Fatima, the daughter of Mohammed.

The final evidence of the relationship of Fatima to the Moslems is the enthusiastic reception which the Moslems in Africa and India and elsewhere gave to the Pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fatima, as mentioned earlier. Moslems attended the Church services in honor of Our Lady; they allowed religious processions and even prayers before their mosques; and in Mozambique the Moslems, who were unconverted, began to be Christian as soon as the statue of Our Lady of Fatima was erected.

Because Muslims honor Our Lady of Fatima so much, it is fitting that our Lady should stand on top of the crescent moon as in the icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe or of the Immaculate Concepcion, which the Muslims also believe:

The Koran, which is the Bible of the Moslems, has many passages concerning the Blessed Virgin. First of all, the Koran believes in her Immaculate Conception and, also, in her Virgin Birth. The third chapter of the Koran places the history of Mary’s family in a genealogy which goes back through Abraham, Noah, and Adam. When one compares the Koran’s description of the birth of Mary with the apocryphal Gospel of the birth of Mary, one is tempted to believe that Mohammed very much depended upon the latter. Both books describe the old age and the definite sterility of the mother of Mary. When, however, she conceives, the mother of Mary is made to say in the Koran: “O Lord, I vow and I consecrate to you what is already within me. Accept it from me.”

When Mary is born, the mother says: “And I consecrate her with all of her posterity under thy protection, O Lord against Satan!”

The Koran passes over Joseph in the life of Mary, but the Moslem tradition knows his name and has some familiarity with him. In this tradition, Joseph is made to speak to Mary, who is a virgin. As he inquired how she conceived Jesus without a father, Mary answered: “Do you not know that God, when He created the wheat had no need of seed, and that God by His Power made the trees grow without the help of rain? All that God had to do was to say. ‘So be it, and it was done.'”

The Koran has also verses on the Annunciation, Visitation, and Nativity. Angels are pictured as accompanying the Blessed Mother and saying: “Oh, Mary, God has chosen you and purified you, and elected you above all the women of the earth.” In the nineteenth chapter of the Koran there are forty-one verses on Jesus and Mary. There is such a strong defense of the virginity of Mary here that the Koran, in the fourth book, attributes the condemnation of the Jews to their monstrous calumny against the Virgin Mary. (Bishop Fulton Sheen, Mary and the Moslems)

Our Protestant brothers may object to Mary.  But they can think of her simply as a Woman on top of a Crescent Moon described in the Book of Revelation (for Protestants will never believe unless it is in the Bible):

A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. (Rev 12:1)

How about the members of Iglesia ni Cristo and of the Masons?  The Philippine flag already contains the triangle, the stars, and the sun, which are their common symbols (see comparison of INC and Masonic logos).

I think this proposal of adding our Lady of Fatima on top of the crescent would be acceptable to all Faiths: Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, and Masons.  If we remove Our Lady, we must also remove the Crescent, and many would be happy with our flag as it is.

My friend enters the convent of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate in Novaliches, Quezon City

Yesterday, after more than a year long of waiting, my friend finally enters the convent and joins the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate as an aspirant. Her home is in Novaliches, Quezon city; the convent is just a few minutes ride from their home. I hope her parents accompanied her. Only her mother does not approve of her joining the sisters; her father does not say anything. But my friend feels she is now ready. She has to enter to see if it is to the convent she is really called.  She planned to enter on October 7, the Feast of the Our Lady of the Holy Rosary.  But she entered days before it to make it for the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, which is today.

I. Conversion Experience

My friend studied at the La Consolacion College under the Augustinian Sisters and finished as Salutatorian in high school.   She collected rosaries when she was still a child; she fiddled with them, but she can’t finish a rosary. As a middle child in her family, she tends to be alone. Her elder sister and her younger brother are playmates; she felt left out. Even in her elementary and high school years, she can’t relate well with her classmates. After a couple of unhappy relationships, she lost her sense of direction. She saw demons haunt her several times; they only vanish when she cry out to Mama Mary and to St. Michael the Archangel.

In her fourth year in college at the Ateneo de Manila University, she studied under Fr. Joseph Roche, S.J. in one of her theology classes; she is a Management Information Systems major, but theology, like Philosophy, is one of the core courses in Ateneo. It was 15 units in my time; I think it was down to 12 units in her time. Oh how she loved Fr. Roche. Fr. Roche would talk about the Catholic Church, the Saints, the Pope, Mary, and Jesus with so much love. But at times he can be temperamental: he would hammer his fist on the table as he repeats again and again and again the dogma of Faith he wants his students to remember. My friend always saw him at 7:30 a.m. in the morning to photocopy some biblical reflections in a newspaper for discussion in class; but many students did not appreciate his efforts. Before the semester ended, she went to confession to Fr. Roche. Her many sins were pardoned, and she resolved to go and sin no more.

After her graduation, she went to an 8-day retreat. The retreat master was Fr. Daniel J. McNamara, S.J., who was my research supervisor for nearly half of my life. A bond was formed between them. A father she became to her. Just like the many men and women whose lives Fr. Dan touched.

II. The Manila Observatory

Two summers ago Fr. Dan found work for her at the Manila Observatory. And two summers ago Fr. Dan sent me to the Observatory’s Ionosphere Building to write my physics dissertation; no one stays at the building anymore because Fr. Victor Badillo is confined at the Jesuit Infirmary. On that summer we met. According to her it was on the Observatory’s lobby. I was talking with Fr. Dan for a few minutes and she was there sitting looking at us, smiling. Fr. Dan told her later that I was staying the Ionosphere building alone. And she wondered who is this man who lives alone.

We only met a few times after that. Sometimes, it was while walking after mass or walking to the LRT station at Katipunan. I find her aloof, always fiddling her ten-bead rosary while walking. Sometimes it was during birthday parties. During the Feast of Our Lady of Penafrancia, the birthday of my friend at the Observatory, we were seated at the table with Fr. Dan. We talked about the saints and the mass. And we connected. But we never yet became friends.

Last November, I started writing my Monk’s Hobbit blog. One of my entries was on how Our Lady of Guadalupe converted me from the New Age Movement, how She taught me to read the Bible, and how She became my Mother after my mother died. My friend was able to read it. And she thought:

Here is a man who also loves Our Lady. What if he becomes my friend? I shall enter the convent soon, and I would be very sad if I enter without me knowing him.

She gave me a book on the Marian Shrines of France by the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, the same religious order who wrote my favorite Handbook on Guadalupe. I blogged about the book she gave me. And in just a Saturday and a Sunday, I received about 3500 visitors; my average number of visitors then was only about ten per day. My post became the top 83 post in WordPress worldwide. That was February 8.  Like Peter seeing the miraculous catch of fish, I said to God:

Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man. I do not wish to open my heart to another woman again. I already lost my long-time best friend since high school, and I already died when we parted. I do not wish to die again. But not my will, O Lord, but yours be done.

III. My Twin Sister

Last 10 Feb 2009, she emailed me some of her thoughts. I wrote her that she sounded like St. Therese of Lisieux who do not wish to be outdone in loving Jesus and Mary. So she proposed the following pact of holy friendship:

We shall outdo each other in loving Jesus and Mary. The first one to go to heaven wins.

I agreed, save for one small note: the pact officially begins on the next day, 11 February, on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.

We went to 5:15 p.m. mass at the college chapel of the Immaculate Concepcion. The one who gave the homily was my college classmate in physics, Oliver “Ody” Dy, who was a deacon then; he is now a Jesuit priest. He told the story of St. Scholastica and her twin brother, St. Benedict:

St. Scholastica visited St. Benedict in his monastery. In a little hut outside the monastery, they talked. They talked about spiritual things for several hours until night came. Then St. Benedict told her sister that he must leave, because the visiting time is over and he is wanted at the monastery. Scholastica pleaded, but Benedict won’t listen to her. Then lightning flashed and thunder rumbled. The rains fell. Benedict can’t leave. “O sister, what have you done?” he asked. And Scholastica said, “You won’t listen to me. So I prayed to God. He listened.”

I don’t know if you find this story cute. But I find it cute.

We smiled.  And since that time, my friend refers to me as her dearest twin brother, and I refer to her as my dearest twin sister.

IV. My Companion in Prayer

Last 15 February 2009, we went to Parish Church of Our Lord of Divine Mercy in Sikatuna, Quezon City. It was our first Traditional Latin Mass together. It was the first time I saw her veiled.

We went to mass together everyday, usually at the college chapel. For special events, we went to the Shrine of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel at Gilmore and renew our friendship before the statue of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel holding the Infant Jesus. For me it was the most beautiful and lifelike statue of Our Lady that I have ever seen. Beautiful. She is really beautiful.

We also went to other churches. We went to a Benediction a few times at the Monasterio de Sta. Clara in Katipunan, Quezon City. During Saturday mornings at 6:30 a.m., we usually go to the Carmel of St. Therese at Gilmore, except last Thursday, October 1, on the Feast of St. Therese de Lisieux. If we can’t make it to the college chapel, we go either to the della Strada Church in Katipunan or to the Shrine of St. Joseph in Aurora Boulevard.

We usually pray the rosary together, usually in Latin.  Whenever one of us feels troubled or tempted, I or she prays the first half of Ave Maria; the other prays the second half.   That is our signal. And we talk.

We sometimes talk over the phone, when we can’t see each other, usually during Sunday’s when she is in Novaliches. Our conversations last a quarter to half an hour and we end with an Ave Maria and three Gloria Patri.

Everyday we text each other, usually around 10:30 p.m.to reflect on the day and say sorry for the wrongs we had done. She would begin with “How are you, Pope?”  And we end with a “Goodnight.”  I recorded some of our text messages in my private blog  to note down certain recurring thoughts and actions.  In this way I can help her discern her vocation.

(Pope is my nickname at the Ateneo. Paul is my nickname in my neighborhood. Quir is my nickname in elementary and high school. My real name is Quirino, but my baptismal nickname–if there is ever such a thing–is Pope Paul, because I was born in the Holy Year of 1975 in the reign of Pope Paul VI. I have a special devotion to Pope Paul VI and his encyclical, “Humanae Vitae”, is one of the Monk’s Hobbit blog’s battle cry.)

V. First Farewell

Last 24 February 2009, after a 6:00 p.m. mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Gilmore, my friend told me that she is entering the convent soon. The day after, 25 February, was my dissertation defense. On my way to school, I was crying. I emailed Fr. Dan. I was still crying.  I felt keenly my loss of my new found friend. And Fr. Dan wrote, “Hang in there, Pope.” I finished my slides ten minutes before my scheduled defense. I passed.

Last March 10-18, she went again to a retreat with the graduating students of Ateneo. Fr. Dan helped her review her life, by noting the highest and lowest points. He also helped her discern her vocation. Fr. Dan wants to know whether her vocation is only the result of her strong will and her romanticism, for “these are a deadly combination,” he said. Fr. Dan is suspicious of stories about demons or St. Francis telling her, “What is it that you want, my daughter?” These can be just the result of watching movies or strong imagination. At the end of the retreat, Fr. Dan said that he must talk with the sisters on April 5.

At the day of the end of her retreat, I went to the Observatory at 4:30 a.m. to meet my friend from Baguio. I waited at the lobby. She waited in front of my building. We never met until 5:30 a.m.

Last April 5, my friend told her story to the sisters while Fr. Dan listened. It was agreed that my friend will not enter the convent without Fr. Dan’s permission. Fr. Dan told her to wait until October.  I felt relieved.

VI. Second Farewell

October has arrived. Fr. Dan gave her his recommendation. Last Thursday night, my friends at the Observatory gave her a simple farewell party with two pizzas and watched a movie. She never enjoyed the movie of John Lloyd and Bea Alonzo. She hates anything romantic. Halfway she left and went to the chapel. I went to her after some time and we left.

I accompanied her to Novaliches and arrived at 12:30 a.m. She asked her parents if I can sleep at their home, so that I can join her for the 6:30 a.m. mass with the sisters at the convent; they agreed. She said  that Sr. Magdalene wants to show to me the details of their altar and the candlesticks so that I have some idea on how to make the proposal for the renovation of the Manila Observatory’s chapel. (I shall tell about this meeting in another post.)

I slept in her room; she slept in their sala. In her room is a large crucifix, about two feet high. There are also some little statues of our Lady and of St. Michael the Archangel. Her room was cleansed after a few inches of flood crept into their home last Saturday, during Typhoon Ondoy.  Some carton boxes are piled up high.  The carpet was rolled to the side.

Two Saturdays ago she was not at their home; we were caught by Typhoon Ondoy at EDSA. I was coming from Defensores Fidei talk at Greenhills; she was coming from their other home near University of Sto. Tomas. She tried to make it to the talk, but the flood was already a foot-deep there when she left. We met at Guadalupe train station.  We passed by Market Market and she bought a shirt and skirt; she was wet. We braved the storm  for a few blocks and found a taxi. Her umbrella broke before she entered.  But the taxi can only go as far as the American Cemetery. There is a long traffic of cars towards Gate 3. Nothing moves.  Only my umbrella sheltered us from the battering rain.  It was a long walk.

My sister-in-law told her that she can sleep at the room of my niece who was stranded at the University of Asia Pacific in Magallanes; the flood already submerged the second floor there, so they stayed at the third. During the night, my friend helped me paint Our Lady of Guadalupe. I have finished the sketch and painted the face. She colored the mantle and the rays. Our styles differ: she uses pastel like crayons–dark and strong; I undid some of her colors using cotton dipped in baby oil, because I prefer colors light and subdued.  Our painting is still unfinished.  I don’t know how our opposite styles can blend in harmony.  I have to study her style and use it where it fits.  I have to modify my style and invent new techniques.  This can take months of work.  Or years.  If God permits that we see each other someday, I don’t want to meet her empty handed.  I must show her the final piece.

VII. Third Farewell

After our mass with the sisters, we went to their house for lunch and went back to the Manila Observatory. She gave some ten-bead rosaries to our friends. We left again at 5:30 p.m. The rain poured. Typhoon Peping is coming. The waters in Katipunan was rising to a few inches. We got a taxi and rode to Novaliches.  It was three hours of grueling ride. I placed my envelope bag on my lap, placed a clean bond paper on top of it, and there she rested her weary head. My mission is to help her find her vocation and I have to make sure she enters the convent safely.

We arrived at their home. Her parents offered me some brownies and Zesto juice. Her mother asked if my phone number is still the same. I said yes. She was the one who gave me the phone when I lost my phone in their car on the way to Novaliches before. My friend ‘s phone is dead; she intentionally left her charger at their other home, so that she won’t be disturbed by text messages. She borrowed my phone and texted Fr. Dan. Fr. Dan gave her his blessings. When I was about to leave, her father told me that it was raining heavily outside. I said I have to go. I promised my brother and sister-in-law that I shall be home. I bade goodbye.

The road home was fast. I arrived at 10:00 p.m. My brother, my sister-in-law, and my niece were there watching TV. I said, “Good evening.” My niece took my right hand and touched it on her forehead. At 10:30 p.m. I called my friend in Novaliches. That was just in time, since she was also thinking of calling me. We talked for an hour.

“Pope, I am dying,” she said. She was crying.

I told her to be strong. I told her that the Aspirancy is for her to know whether the convent is really for her or not. I told her to be obedient to her superiors and open her heart to her new novice mistress; her spiritual director, Sr. Magdalene, is leaving for Italy this October. She cannot expect to make other people change, but she can change her way of seeing other people, just as St. Therese did. I told her to tell the novice mistress whenever she feels pain.

And we talked some more and renewed our pact of friendship. My sister must die to herself and purge her soul of inordinate attachments before she can be a bride of Christ.  For two years I won’t hear from her.  Yet despite this, I cried not.  I promised her before that I won’t cry anymore during our parting.  I kept my promise.  There are only two things in the world that cannot be bought but only spent, as an Aztec once said, and that is Love and Time.  I spent them well and I never regretted.  So even if mountains and seas and silence shall separate us in this life, she shall always remain with me in my heart, and we shall never be part.

Somewhere out there beneath the pale moonlight
Someone is thinking of me and loving me tonight
Somewhere out there someone is saying a prayer
That we’ll find one another
Somewhere out there our dreams come true.

VIII.  Notes on Her Sickness

My sister is sick.  She has bronchitis. The doctor at Medical City told her to come back after two weeks, to make sure that she is really well before entering the convent. She took the medicines but she never went back to the doctor, for the sisters have their own doctor. She has ulcer and hyperacidity. She cannot fast.   If she delays her meal even for thirty minutes, she feels acute pain in her stomach. She also feels pain in her left rib. When she laughs long, she feels pain in her left chest.  She also feels pain in her shoulders, maybe from playing the violin for hours.  She usually practices in my office at 6:00 p.m. while I do my research.  Her knees are weak.  A doctor in Cardinal Santos told her that the x-ray of her knees revealed that her knee-caps are not properly placed–an inborn defect.  She feels pain whenever she tries to bend her legs upward from sitting position.  The doctor advised her not to walk too long or climb stairs.  Kneeling is ok, because only the tendons touch.  But when she kneels to pray a rosary on a bare floor, her knees hurt.  Before it was only her right knee; now it is both.

I pray that she will persevere in the convent.  Nothing makes her happy than to see Jesus at the Adoration Chapel and to receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.  Nothing makes her sad that to see Jesus placed inside the Tabernacle after Benediction and to see him received with profane hands.  If she can’t persevere, I may have to take care of her.

Monk’s Hobbit in Monastic Mood for a Week

Monk’s hobbit has been actively blogging this past weeks.  I am feeling burnt out.   It has been a while since I have really rested.  I feel that I am becoming a part-time teacher and a part-time blogger; I have left my beloved equations.  I miss the times when I am just deriving equations for several hours.  I watched expectantly how my equations seem to take a life of its own, as I counted the hours by the number of my pages of work,  until I reach the end of my labors and box the final answer with a red pen.

But it is not really the equations I miss.  I miss the silence, even the silence in not hearing other people speak through their blogs.  I daily go to mass, but I feel I need to just be alone and reflect on the questions of St. Ignatius: What have I done for Christ?  What am I doing for Christ?  What more can I do for Christ.  I am already halfway to death, considering that the average life span is 65 years.  I am in my midlife crisis.

I remembered St. Jean Vianney.  He too wanted to just be alone to pray, but his priestly duties forbade him from escaping to the monastery.  I don’t know how long I can really be alone until my duties demand my presence.  May Our Lady grant me graces this August 15, the Feast of Our lady’s Assumption.  O Mama!  Help me, Mama!

In silence I shall finish a painting for a parting friend.   It is a pastel (and baby oil)  portrait of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  My last painting was seven years ago, also for a parting friend; it was their family portrait.  I also painted Our Lady of Guadalupe for my scholarship benefactor in college and for my mother after her death.  It seems that I could never paint unless I face death.

God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever and ever in the next.

My prize in elementary storytelling contest: pictures of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary

When I was a Grade 1 student in St. Rose of Lima School in Bacolod City, I was asked to represent the class in a storytelling contest vs. the representatives of Grades 2 and 3.  My story piece is “The Boy who Cried Wolf.”  When the results were out, the winner was Grade 3, followed by Grade 2, and I for Grade 1.  My prize: two one-inch pictures of the Sacred Heart Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary connected by a hinge.  The pictures are framed with ornate plastic painted with gold.

My mother was proud of my prize.  She placed it on our altar where we pray the rosary every night.  Me and my brothers and sisters were already trying to fend of sleep, but pray we must.  My mother and father were kneeling, and so must we till the rosary ended, complete with the Litany (I just noticed the number litany prayers is the same as the number of the rosary beads).

I don’t know what happened to my little prize.  I think it was kept in a cabinet together with my journal notebooks–my mother keeps little things about me and my other brothers and sisters.  My mother died about ten years ago, but her face lit by candles as she prayed on our altar I still remember clearly.  Before she died, she entrusted me to Our Lady of Guadalupe.  And Our Lady has become my mother.

On my present workdesk are two 20 inch by 20 inch pictures connected by a hinge: the pictures of the Christ the King and Our Lady of Guadalupe.  The Sacred Heart of Jesus is visble: aflame, crowned with thorns, mounted with a cross.  The Immaculate Heart of Mary is invisible, yet her hands joined in prayer and the flower on her dress above her hands suggests her Immaculate Heart.  I gazed and gazed and smiled.  The boy who cried wolf, now cries “Lord, Lord!” and “Mama, Mama!”  Thank you for making me win third place, so that I will place first in your hearts.