As we celebrate the feast of the Birth of Jesus Christ, “Wednesdays with Nic” sincerely wish you and your loved ones the Peace, Joy and Hope of this Christmas Season.
Simbang Gabi or Misa de Gallo
Today is the first day of the Simbang Gabi – a nine-day novena which starts December 16 and ends on December 24. It is celebrated at 4:30 in the morning. But in recent years, when masses are also regularly held in chapels and other places outside of the main church, simbang gabis are held during evenings – at 7:00, 8:00 or 9:00 depending on the availability of the priest celebrant.
But the original practice is to hold it at dawn; at hours before the sun rises. It is common among former colonies of Spain. The friars convinced the catholic converts to prepare themselves for the celebration of the birth of the Saviour; and what more fitting preparation there is but to attend nine-day novena mass. The problem however, is that the subjects have to be in their agricultural fields early, so as a compromise, the clergy began to hold Mass early dawn when the land would still be dark. In fact, it was so dark going to church from their homes that the faithful brought with them lanterns or parol… which later on took various shapes… and eventually into the shape of a star – the Christmas lanterns of today we are familiar with.
I remember with fondness the simbang gabi of my youth, in Padada, Davao del Sur. Misa de Gallo, as we called it, was an event that everybody looked forward to. Parishioners filled-up the church every day of the simbang gabi. Every mass was sponsored by one or two socio-civic organization, a church-based group, school-based youth organization or barangay units. The mass sponsors provided the lectors, commentators, collectors, altar servers, the choir and any and all tasks attendant to celebrating the mass.
It was not only a religious celebration; it was a social event as well. People looked around which ones of the mass goers are wearing new clothes. Some checked out what the offerors give as gifts for to make sure they will give something different when their designated day as offerors come. Kids greeted their godparents and subtly reminded them of the coming Christmas Day (and their gifts). To the teenagers and the singles it was an opportunity to see their crushes and special friends. The bolder ones sat beside them during the mass, and walked them back to their house after. Those with political ambitions lingered around after the mass and met as many people as possible.
But it is what cams after the mass that everybody looked forward to – the early morning “painit” that awaited you when you came back from the church; or the “painit” that you bought after hearing mass and before going home. The painit can be any or all of the following: bibingka, torta, suman, and biko with tsokolate or brewed coffee as the accompanying hot drink. If the lady of the house had not cooked or bought any native delicacy, the family shared a fare of pandesal with margarine bought from a neighbourhood bakery.
But even among families that had no “painit” awaiting them when they come home from mass, the simbang gabi was still something they look forward to. For one, while waiting out for the sun to rise, family members talked among themselves and consequently had some quality bonding moments. Moreover, completing the whole nine day novena without fail has its rewards. It is said that when if you make a wish on the first day of the mass and when you completed the nine day mass, your wish will be granted.
Today, December 1 is World Aids Day. In solidarity with all those involved in putting a human face to this affliction, we feature a post contributed by Emmanuel Roldan about his encounter with persons living with HIV(PLHIV) and what they are doing to increase awareness about HIV infection.
DAVAO CITY – One good thing about being in news writing is to be able to write about the lives of different people. A few days ago I interviewed three persons living with HIV (PLHIV); two gentlemen and a young lady. This activity was part of my internal program assessment commissioned by the Alliance against Aids in Mindanao (ALAGAD-Mindanao).
This was not my first time to meet PLHIVs, but this one was rather up close and personal. The 3 persons I interviewed, were in their late 20’s and early 30’s. And contrary to our notion of them being skeletal and sickly, my new friends exude life, beauty and hope. They are no different from people I see everyday: those waiting for jeepney rides; those pushing carts in grocery stores; those swimming in pools or beaches; and, those seating me in the church.
I did not bother to ask them about how they got infected. Rather, we talked about their lives as members of the positive community. Sometime in 2009 about 60 PLHIV formed themselves into what is now Mindanao AIDS Advocates Association (MAAA), Inc. with support from ALAGAD-Mindanao. The objective is to give a local face to the dreaded disease that has no known cure yet. It used to be that the face of HIV and AIDS was represented by a former overseas Filipino worker in the name of Sara Jane. But now, this group proudly stood on her behalf and those of hundreds more in Davao found positive with HIV. They want to tell the people about it and prevent them from being infected. The latest report says Davao ranks second to Cebu as having the most number of HIV positive and their number is growing everyday.
Organizing the positive community is hard. Even my three friends who are now seasoned volunteer peer counselors of ALAGAD-Mindanao concur that they have difficulty in reaching out to PLHIVs. Most difficult are those who are still in the denial stage; those who are professionals and athletic type; those who belong to well-to-do families; and, those who are hiding the truth from their families and loved ones. They told me that they too underwent the same stages in their lives after being diagnosed positive but later they realized that there is life beyond HIV and they have a mission to tell the people, particularly children and young people about their journey.
Definitely there is future for PLHIV because most HIV positive die from complications rather than from the virus itself, and we know that researches for medicinal cure of AIDS are underway. I was moved by their candidness so I asked them about their frustrations and fears being in the positive community. They told me that it could have been better if they had information about HIV and AIDS before. With a smile on her face, the lady in the lady in the group said she was worried about what will eventually become of her looks and her figure. They also stressed the need for family support and understanding of their situation as well as community support because HIV is not only an issue for gays, OFWs, sea fearers, prostituted men and women, but an issue for all sectors of society.
Correct information about HIV is a key to the prevention of being infected. Filipinos have yet to get rid of the stigma and discrimination that are associated with HIV and AIDS. I am happy though that the government is starting to show seriousness in the implementation of the national AIDS program and putting resources for its education, care and support with the help of private sector. Creation of positive communities, like Mindanao Aids Advocates Association (MAAA), is also an important component of our care and support to PLHIV. It is a way of strengthening them to overcome stigma and discrimination and to help educate the public about the infection.
Thank you and good luck to my PLHIV friends, to MAAA and to ALAGAD-Mindanao.
About Emmanuel Roldan:
Emi is my kababayan from Padada, Davao del Sur. We went to the same high school and were altar boys and choir members in our parish church. Today, Emi is a news editor/columnist of the Mindanao Gold Star Daily – a member of the Sunstar Group. Aside from being a journalist, he is also a development worker and a human rights advocate having served in various organizations engaged in human rights protection and development work. At work and at play, Emi was able to nurture his childhood love for music. He still plays mean tunes on his guitar and sings very well.
Emi can be reached via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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
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)
And another one to show the feast day’s mass and procession (please click-through the video title below).
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…
So what do you think will happen if Pacquiao loses to Juan Manuel Marquez this Sunday? Can you imagine a scenario like that?
A must win bout for Pacquiao
We all want Manny Pacquiao must to win convincingly in this bout against Juan Manuel Marquez. This is their third bout and Marquez has never acknowledged his defeat against Pacquiao. In fact, Manny has every reason not to fight the Mexican. He has everything to lose; Marquez everything to gain. But then again the lure of the fight day pay-out may be too much. After all, it means another millions of dollars to Pacquiao’s bank account.
Marquez has a fighting chance
To be sure, Marquez has a fighting chance to win over Pacquiao. First of all, he has every motivation to beat Manny Pacquiao. He felt he was screwed in their first two fights, and this should motivate him to do enough in the ring to convince the judges that he, not Pacquiao is the winner the third time around.
Second of all, Marquez has the hand speed, an exceptional counterpunching skill and use his jab effectively against his opponents. Coupled with his reach advantage, he has a formidable arsenal that may help him secure a win against Pacquiao.
Finally, there are distractions that come Manny Pacquiao’s way today. Negative news has surfaced about Manny’s troubles with some accountants: that Manny Pacquiao has some tax troubles which these accountants fixed, that he did not pay for the services of these accountants; and that he borrowed money from these accountants but refused to pay them.
So, can you imagine what would happen if Pacquiao will lose this fight?
What if Pacquio Loses the fIght?
For one, he will surely get the ire of the hundreds of gambling aficionados who bet their moneys on him. Never mind if they have already raked in a couple of millions from winnings in his previous fights. Just like a fighting cock, a boxer is only as good as his last performance. Try to lose and these bettors will blame him for every possible reason that they can think of as the reason why he lost the fight.
He may no longer have as many hangers on to watch his post fight concerts and celebrations. The hangers will be gone immediately after the post fight conference.
When he comes back to the country, he may no longer have the usual parade around various cities in the metropolis alongside some politicians. A lot of politicians will avoid him. Several of his fellow congressmen will not even bother to thank him for the free plane tickets and hotels rooms he gave them for free.
There may even be a danger that the Arm Forces will withdraw the promotion to Colonel which was recently granted to him. They will simply cite as reason the questions raised by some sectors about his qualification for the rank.
Media will have a heyday analyzing why he lost. They will look at his family life, the state of his finances, his possible troubles with the US IRS, cases filed against him by his previous accountants. He will turn his life upside down just trying to provide explanations on why he lacked concentration for the bout.
Then everybody will focus on his training habits. They will point out his failure to prepare hard for the fight. His many distractions: his TV show, media interviews, and various personal appearances. They may even mention his ambition to run for higher positions in Philippine politics. Mind you even his dog will be scrutinized.
Everybody loves a winner. The loser will be left alone to lick his wounds. Manny Pacquiao cannot afford to lose.
September 28-29 is the parochial fiesta of my hometown – Padada, Davao del Sur. Our patron saint is St Michael the Archangel. I remember with fondness the image of our patron on the front wall atop the main door of our church. It is a symbol of the triumph of good over evil. It is a concrete sculpture of St Michael stepping on the body of Lucifer and burying his spear into the devil’s heart. Below the sculpture is the phrase “KINSAY SAMA SA DIYOS.”
I often tell my friends that only those who can clearly describe how the image look like can rightfully claim he is from Padada. Moreover, I also have kababayans who maintain that only those who can explain the meaning and the context of the words “KINSAY SAMA SA DIYOS” can rightfully say that he understands the Story of Creation.
The church of St Michael in Padada was built 59 years ago in the spirit of bayanihan. The original chapel was located beside the national highway, more than a kilometer away from the present location of the church. My grandfather told me that led by a Fr. Paul Gravel, a PME priest, they first repaired the old chapel, after which they literally carried it on their shoulders to its present site. Of course, there were hundreds of them who enthusiastically did it.
Town folks, rich and poor alike, pooled their resources to build the church. They contributed money, materials, and labor in order to build the present church. That they contributed the best construction materials can be better appreciated if one examines closely the type of wood used in the construction of the church. Before it was unfortunately painted over in the 80s, the upper walls, pillars, and ceilings glistened in the natural sheen of the hardwood used.
Every year, the parochial fiesta is a much awaited event in our small town. The fiesta proper is preceded by a nine-day novena. Every night during these nine days, there are cultural and/or sports events held either in the church grounds or in the municipal auditorium. After the fiesta mass, the catholic school students hold ground demonstrations wherein they showcase their terpsicorean and musical abilities. Parents and visitors watch these activities which usually end before noontime. During lunchtime and well into the evening, visitors are treated to sumptous feasts in various houses in the town.
Fiesta is an excuse for us to go home to our hometown to renew ties with old friends and to visit parents and relatives. If one fails to do so, the tradition is to light a candle in any church and say a prayer for St. Michael. The better option of course, is to gather some kababayans and their families and celebrate the fiesta in the part of the world where they are staying.
Let me close this post by sharing with you the Prayer to St Michael:
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in the day of battle; be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, cast unto hell, satan and all the other evil spirits, who prowl through the world, seeking the ruin of souls, Amen.
Mary, Queen of the Angels, pray for us.
All your seven Archangels of God, pray for us.
HAPPY FIESTA TO ALL MY KABABAYANS.
VIVA Señor San Miguel!
*pictures in this post are from www.padada.com