Category Archives: Litteratura

repository of speeches, columns, articles, literary pieces.

Field of Dreams – a Chapel Project Story

If we build, they will come. This is a line from the movie Field of Dreams. This was the same line we used to answer detractors when we decided to build a chapel with nothing but the belief that we will receive contributions from the community’s residents and friends

It was the early-90s, and Parkwood Greens Executive Village was not as affluent a community as it is today. This was prior to the real estate boom that drove up land prices in the area. We were a small community then -  mostly middle class employees at the early stages of their professional careers. Ninety eight percent of the residents are Catholics.  Once a month on Sunday afternoons, a priest held masses at the clubhouse. But as subdivision population increased, the small clubhouse become a bit small for the increasing number of mass goers.

In 1996, an attempt to generate funds for a chapel was postponed to give way to another pressing project: solving the subdivision’s water supply problem by interconnecting its water lines with the MWSS.  Every household had to fork out a substantial sum of money to make push through with the interconnection.

In 1998, Fr Henry Ferreras, then parish priest of the San Antonio Abad Parish of Maybunga, Pasig encouraged the residents to revive the project. He also promised that if a chapel is built within the village, he will make sure that there will be weekly Sunday masses in that chapel. The subdivision’s officers, which I then headed as President, took the challenge squarely.

In the beginning, all we had was the determination and the desire to build a chapel. The village association has no extra funds in its coffers to bankroll the project.   But we were able to increase the collection efficiency of the association dues so that we had excess funds after payments of the maintenance, security and admin expenses. We used part of these savings as a seed fund for the project. We also embarked on a series of fund-raising activities: a Little Prince and Princess of Parkwood;  a souvenir program;  and, fund-raising dinners. During the Christmas season, we went house to house and sang christmas carols.   All these activities raised funds and became opportunities to expand the support-base for the project. Those who believed in the project not only contributed cash and/or construction materials but also their own personal time campaigning for support from residents and friends outside of the village.

It was a community effort. Somebody worked on getting a written approval from the subdivision developer to allocate a vacant lot for the structure. Another resident made the engineering design. Two other residents, supervised the project. Another resident acted as foreman for the construction group. Within 5 months from the start of the construction, the chapel infrastructure was finished. The structure was blessed and the first mass within the chapel was celebrated by a guest priest — Fr Rex Arminia. Weekly masses in the still unfinished chapel started immediately after.

It took us another year to complete the finishing stages of the chapel. Another resident adept at finishing stages of a construction work took over the supervision of this meticulous phase of the project.  Almost  every aspect of the finishing stages of the project was sponsored by either one family or a group of families: the pews, the floor tiles, the altar, the altar’s marble floors, the ceiling, the chandeliers. the belfry, the images, the sound system. The parish priest waived the parish’s share of the Sunday mass collections in the chapel to add funds for the project.

We could not ask for anything more. We started building, and the support and the contributions came

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Our Lady of Remedies at the Parkwood Chapel

Finally, on November 18, 2001 — then Bishop Carino of the Archdiocese of Pasig consecrated the Our Lady of Remedies as the Patroness of a fully finished chapel,

Since then, the chapel has become an integral part of the community. Aside from the weekly Sunday masses, it is also a more convenient venue for the traditional Simbang Gabi and the Lenten activities. It is also used for recollections, retreats, Easter egg hunts,  and other activities of the various organizations of which some Parkwood residents are members. Occasionally, it is used for wakes of departed residents or their close relatives.

Last November 18. 2011, the village celebrated the 10th anniversary of the consecration of Our Lady of Remedies as the Patroness of the chapel. It was momentous occasion especially for those who were there when the chapel was nothing but a dream; and, who have worked to make that dream a reality. Moreover, it was an opportunity for the younger generations to understand how a structure has become a symbol of a community working together to fulfill a dream. To me, the most fulfilling part of the experience was when we got more than the majority of residents of the subdivision to take part and to take ownership of the project. I would not have trade that for one or two guys just giving me the whole sum we needed for the chapel project.

In closing., let me share with you a music video prepared to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the consecration of our chapel. (please click-through the video title below)

<A Decade of Faith and Community with our Lady>

And another one to show the feast day’s mass and procession (please click-through the video title below).

<Parkwood Fiesta 2011>

Let me end this post with excerpts from the homily delivered by Fr. Henry Ferreras during the Holy Mass on the feast day of Our Lady Of Remedies held at the chapel last November 18, 2011.

…… Walang saysay ang ating pananampalataya kung ito ay hindi nakaugat sa isang malalim na pagmamahal.. pagmamahal sa Diyos, pagmamahal sa Inang Maria….na ipinangalan natin sa chapel na ito … Our Lady of Remedies…

Today, as we come together in this chapel let us remember that this chapel… ay bunga.. bunga ng ating pag-ibig sa Diyos, bunga ng lahat nag ating pagkakayahan sa lahat ng pagsubok sa atin… at ito ay bunga ng ating malalim na panampalataya…

 

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Just for Today

Today, I will share with you a list I wrote in my notebook more than 25 years ago.

Its title is “Just For Today.”  I am not the original author of this list, but I don’t also know who is its original author. I may have copied it from some book, magazine or may have heard it from somebody. I may have liked it so much for me to put the contents into my trusty notebook.

Today as I read it again, I  noted that each line of the list gives strength and progress. I also realize that  I have tried to do most of what it says, everyday.

Here is the list.

This day I’ll do these thirteen (13) promises.”

  1. I will live through the next twelve hours and not try to tackle all of life’s problem at once.
  2. I will improve my mind
  3. I will learn something useful.
  4. I will learn something that requires effort, thought, and concentration.
  5. I will be agreeable,  I will look my best, speak in a well modulated voice, and be courteous and considerate.
  6. I will not find fault with friends, relatives or colleagues.
  7. I will not try to change or improve anyone but myself..
  8. I will have a program, I might not follow it exactly but I will have it.
  9. I will save myself from two enemies—hurry and indecision.
  10. I will do a good turn and keep it a secret,
  11. I will do two things I don’t want to do. Just for the exercise.
  12. I will believe in myself.
  13. I will give my best to the world and feel confident that the world will give its best to me.

-Just for Today

It may be difficult to do all the 13 items listed above within one day. Perhaps doing it a thing at a time will help, if only to get the ball rolling. But give it a try.  It is worth the effort.

 

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Change Yourself, Change the World

This is not to say that we should just be contented with what we see around us. This is also not an argument against working for changes in our society. Neither were we wrong when marched against corruption and abuse of power by our leaders.

Rather, this emphasizes the need for us to also change ourselves to become credible agents of change in the world. We cannot talk against  corruption if we too,  pay bribes. We cannot talk about human rights if we abuse our own workers and household helps.

For this All Souls Day, I am quoting one of the most popular inscriptions written to inspire people how they could make a difference in this world.  “Chicken Soup for the Soul” quoted this as supposed to be  written in the tomb of an Anglican Bishop in the crypts of Westminster Abbey in 1100 AD. I verified if there’s really an inscription written in the tomb of Westminster Abbey from its website. There is no such inscription. Nevertheless, this did not diminish the argument that one should focus on one’s self first, to make ripples in the world.

 

When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world. As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world would not change, so I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country.
But it, too, seemed immovable.

As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it.

And now as I lie on my death bed, I suddenly realize that had I only changed my self first, then by example I would have changed my family.
From their inspiration and encouragement, I would then have been able to better my country and, who knows, I may have even changed the world.”

                                                                                                                -Anonymous

What about you, do you agree that changing yourself first is a necessary requirement before you can change your community and your country?

 

 

 

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If I Had My Life To Live Over

In many of the novels we read, or in movies we have watched, there are scenes of dying persons doing a monologue of what they would have wanted to do, if given a few more days to live or a chance to live their lives again.

At this time of the year when we commemorate our dead, I am sharing with you an article that Erma Bombeck wrote before she died. Erma is a columnist and humorist who has influenced millions of readers worldwide. She lost her fight with cancer in April 22,1996.

I hope you will get something out of this article.

 

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If I Had My Life To Live Over

I would have talked less and listened more.
I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.
I would have eaten the popcorn in the "good" living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.
I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.
I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed. I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.
I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains.
I would have cried and laughed less while watching TV – and more while watching life.
I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.
I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for the day.
I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show soil or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.
Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.
When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, "Later. Now go get washed up for dinner."
There would have been more "I love yous"…more "I'm sorrys"…
But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute…look at it and really see it…live it…and never give it back.

- Erma Bombeck

 

Now, why should we wait for our last days to say all these?  Live a better life now! But, If you were to write your own version of  "If I had my life to live over" what would it be?!

 

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WE foun dour GOld in

Finding Pure Gold – A Reunion Story

 

Very recently, I became a golden girl. Turning 50 has its perks. You care more about substance rather than form. Men still take a good look at you and respectfully, smile. I like this. It used to be winks, or long glazed stares that make you either uncomfortable or could make you stare back. You think it matters? Perhaps two decades ago, when we sought some attention at an age when we were neither too young nor old enough, it could have meant something.

But it does not matter anymore, not at all, not now when I am half a century old!  Isn’t this grand?  I used to think, wow, when I’d get to this age, will I be wearing long skirts and tie my hair in a tight bun? What will it be like? Will there be many unwelcome changes? Surprise! It feels good. I only need to lose a few pounds; otherwise, it feels so good. It makes you thankful, that you have reached this ripeness of age.  It is very similar to knowing what you want and getting it. You understand what contentment is and know its cousin satisfaction.

The knowledge that you have gone through so much and have learned as much makes you slow-nod your head in quiet understanding. I remember thinking how ancient this age would probably be like. Now I throw my head back in laughter because my thoughts were as lacking in finesse as the age I was in when I thought them.

Would I wish to go back to my youthful days? To what? To be clumsy and awkward again? To be reckless and uncaring again? Should I turn back the hands of time and relive certain memorable moments? The thought took form when, one magical weekend, a group of childhood friends gathered together, after 33 years of being apart. A fluke! That the friend who put up a facebook page is named Jesus.  Jesus Betia, Jr.

And yes, what a gift for a golden girl! Is it possible to relive our youth, minus the awkwardness, the confusion, the curiosity, the ignorance or was that arrogance, too?! Yes it is!

After only a few months of filling the page, we were able to plan something quick. All eager, all missing one another, we set a date. This was not easy because some lived in the U.S., others in Canada, Japan, and scattered in the Philippine Islands. But, when people decide to do something and commit, the wheels of the universe also start turning and things happen.

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Nobel cor. Edison St., Makati

We once lived in a street called Nobel. We always mention Edison in Makati to let people know where this is. If it were not enough, you have to say Buendia and add Bautista. Those who know the main avenues would easily know where it is. Some would volunteer knowing all the other streets in Barangay San Isidro named after inventors: Marconi, Bell, Morse, Galvani, Faraday, etc.

The family friends we made include the Santoses, the Dys, the Betias, the Borromeos, the Evangelistas, the Mallaris, and the Patrimonios. The families became close not just by the proximity of homes, but by the friendships formed among the children and the parents. More intimately, there’s Angie, Tere, Mercy and Dothy, Danny and Rey, Lynn, Jesus, John-John and Con-con, Jun, Rey Dy, Matt, Ate Fely, Winnie and Siony, Boy P., Ponggie, Al, Mabeth, Beng and Elvie, Juan, Ellen, Judith, Daday, Mico, Gino, Nino and Ana. Of course my own beloved siblings, Cynthia, Bobby and Badong. And there were some more, much younger, but Nobel-Edison youth still.

For many years, in our case ten, we not only lived next to one another, we played the best of games on the street where we lived. There were times when rainstorms flooded the streets and you would think we’d be staying indoors, but we waded in the murky waters instead. No flood would stop the Nobel-Edison children from playing.

Play was a serious matter. It meant gathering the best players for each patintero team, cops and robbers (we used to say Touching Rubber) team, even soccer/football, Chinese garters, jackstones, skipping rope, hide and seek and whatever other games we could play.

There were no personal computers yet, no laptops, no cellphones, and so we had time to sweat on the street, to run in wild abandon, to scream, squeal our delight at winning whatever game we decided to be engrossed in for the day. As if we had all the time in the world! But yes, we gave our games the time. Despite our assigned household chores, or being required to sleep after lunch, the games had to be played.

We were children, ages 7 below, till we grew up to 17 below. Those who were older than us, had other things going for them, aside from being the despotic rulers of our magical world. They were the commanders, the older brothers and sisters who were blessed to have us to run to the stores for this or that.

Alas, nothing lasts forever. We parted ways and lost touch. Although there were times we would recall, sometimes teary-eyed and achy-heart, wondering where we could find our childhood friends again, whether we would see one another ever again.

But believing in our hearts that this day would come, it does! Facebook Assisted Reunions! Though so far apart and three decades later, we find our GOLD.

 

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We found our gold in the friendship we picked up from where we left off....

Gold is the friendship that has not been ravaged by the many years of being apart from one another.  The true mark of friendship is simply picking up from where we left off and it was clear, in our warm embraces, our hugs and kisses, it was reuniting the children in us once more.

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The apartment where we used to live is now the Bombo Radyo Bldg

The apartment building where we grew up, is now the Bombo Radyo Building. The noise it now makes may equal ours backthen. We trekked “our street” one more time and posed for photos. We felt its power, this great street, which witnessed us win and lose, laugh and cry, fight and make-up, and then laugh some more. It was there where we learned more than what our schools taught us.

We learned not to be lazy from the grand old men Mr. Ben Dy and Mr. Pol Santos who were up before any of us, before sunrise in fact. We learned to be tough women, from Mrs. Mary Santos and my own mother, who were strict disciplinarians. Mrs. Santos being a Navy Man’s wife who easily handled six children and my own Nanay, Pat Palomo, an ex-army nurse, widowed and raising four difficult kids.

We learned cheerfulness from Atty. Estela Betia and Tito Jess who often smiled at us kids and asked how we were. We learned kindness from Mrs. Dominga Dy and Mrs. Mallari who seemed to never raise their voices more than two notches above a whisper. Capt. And Mrs. Evangelista taught us what it was like to have many visitors every day! He was the barangay captain at the time and his wife Amalia ably assisted him. Mr. and Mrs. Borromeo taught us how it was like to care for little children by carefully watching over them.

But most of all, we learned that no amount of time can erase the wonderful feeling of being friends, no distance will stop true friends from reuniting and that love which we know we share with our family members is the same kind of love we share with these very friends whom we have known in our innocence and pureness of hearts. What a great gift for all of us who made it to the first reunion. What a privilege it was to see one another again.

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Reunions made us feel like kids again.

How many people get this rare privilege? What are the chances of hugging your best childhood friends after 33 years of being apart? How do you cram all the missing information in the two days that you’re allowed to be with them? So many more stories to tell, so many lessons to share, yet so little time. But the promise of sustaining and nurturing the gift is there, in our hands now, and hearts, too.

Now that we have been reunited, it marks the beginning of hopefully longer chapters in our lives, to stay connected, to continue our communication, to keep caring for one another. This for me, is finding pure gold.

 

 

 

About Stella Palomo Monteno:

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Stella is a Cebu City based writer, advertising practitioner and television producer. She recently turned golden and decided to trace back her roots to where she spent her childhood years.. in the streets of Makati. Stella works as a marketing consultant of a beach resort in Cebu. But most of the time, she is  a secret poetess and a novelist taking forever to finish her first published epic novel! Stella’s email address is stellla_monteno@yahoo.com.

 

 

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Limpya Bota Series 2: The Shoe Shine Box


The Shoe Shine Box

I got my shoe shine box from a cousin during the summer months of 1970. He knew I wanted to have one. I told him that there is an opportunity to earn money shining other people’s shoes. He promised that one day, he will give me a shoe shine box. And on that summer, he did!

Inside the shoe shine box was a shoe brush and a can with a little shoe polish left on it. I bought additional items to complete my shoe shine kit:  a shoe brush, two packs of shoe dye or dyobos –one black, one red. I mixed these with water and put the solution in an empty medicine bottle. I also got a fresh can of shoe polish, two used toothbrushes and an old white cotton T-shirt.

I practiced with the shoes at home; first with the old ones, and later, with the relatively newer pairs.  I simulated various types of grime or dirt a pair of shoes could have, and made sure I ended up with a clean and shiny pair of shoes. Only when I was very confident with my skill did I declare myself ready.

On my first two days as shine boy, I tagged along with Sammy – a neighbor who has plied the trade for more than a year.  Sammy was my on the job trainer. He gave me pointers on how to approach customers and emphasized that I should converse with the customer while shining their shoes.  I also learned from him how to set the price of  shoe shine services by pricing levels based on a pre-agreed quality of polish :  one application of shoe polish was 25 centavos; two to three applications would cost 50 centavos; and a charol (a wet-look finish) was at least one peso. We also charged a premium depending on how dirty the shoes and/or how bad the customer’s foot or socks smell!

As “payment” for his efforts at showing me some tricks of the trade, Sammy made me swear on the following: I will not poach on his regular customers, I will maintain the pricing levels of the shoe shine services; he can borrow shoe shine materials from me during emergencies; and, he can tell people that he taught me how to shine shoes.

For the next four years, I was a shoe shine boy during weekends and holidays! I was charging from a low of 25 centavos to a high of one peso per pair of shoes.  I had my stable of regular customers.  Some of them told me their life’s stories; a few shared to me their fears; and, quite a number talked about their dreams. Normally, I just listened. But when they asked for my opinion, I did not give them straight answers. I normally give my opinion by asking them what-if questions. Or, I share with them anecdotes of what another person did under similar circumstances. I was not the best shoe shine boy in the market, but a lot of customers looked for me when they want their shoes cleaned.

I also introduced my younger brothers to the ins-and-out of making money in the public market.   Rey also braved the alleys of the market as a shoe shine boy for more than two years. But when the fuel crisis erupted, he shifted to selling kerosene on retail. Alan did not want to shine shoes. Instead, he sold fruits and other food products to passengers in the town’s bus terminal.

As a shoe shine boy I stayed in the public market during weekends. In doing so, I met and dealt with various types of people. By observing the actions and listening to the stories of the store owners and the commodity traders, I got a very good idea of how they manage their business:  where they source their goods, their source of financial capital, and the margins they made.

From shining shoes, I earned around ten pesos on Saturdays; and fifty percent more during Sundays. That was a lot considering that in the early 70s, we could buy a bottle of soft drink plus a big piece of bread or a stick of banana cue for 25 centavos. To be sure, I earned more money from selling and attaching spikes to shoes, and from commodities and livestock trading.  In the early seventies, the money I earned on weekends not only covered my day-to-day allowances and other needs, I was also able to share these earnings with my family and my siblings.

I still relish the opportunities that the shoe shine box has opened to me.  In the years after my stint in the public market of my hometown, my playing field has expanded several folds. But the set of skills I learned during my shoe shine box days were all put to good use during my professional and business career.

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