Today is Ash Wednesday

 

English: Ashes imposed on the forehead of a Ch...
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Today is Ash Wednesday.

It is a holiday of obligation and the faithful are supposed to attend masses . During the masses, ashes are imposed on the foreheads of the faithful . The priest or the officiating layperson  marks the forehead of each participant with black ashes in the sign of the cross, which the worshipper traditionally retains until it wears off.  Made by burning palms, the ashes are a reminder of mortality, a symbol of spirituality and a sign of repentance at the start of the season leading to Easter.

As Wednesdays  is the first day of the Lenten Season,  a time when many Christians prepare for Easter by observing a period of fasting, repentance, moderation, spiritual discipline and giving.

 

 

 

 

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Impeachment Trial Impressions: Defense Wins Round 1 But Renato Corona is Badly Bruised

Round 1 Goes to the Defense, but CJ Corona is Badly Bruised

 

Fourteen days have passed and the prosecution team is about to wrap up the presentation for Article 2. Thus far, these are my impressions of the first 14 days of the impeachment proceedings:

  1.  I thought that Chief Justice Renato Corona would do a Merci; i.e. resign from his post and  spare himself from the embarrassment of whatever things the prosecution will throw at him during the trial. Renato Corona however has chosen to fight. In an interview  aired over TV Patrol last January 16, 2011, he declared that he will not resign as Chief Justice and only death can remove him from the Supreme Court. Such a bold statement can be interpreted either way: He is either “kapit tuko” or he is convinced he will be acquitted. Whatever it is, his statement over television suggests a long drawn trial.

 

  1. Except for one member of the court who never fails to perform headline grabbing antics when  attending the proceedings, I thought there is a conscious effort on the majority of the senator jurors  not to let the process be hampered by technicalities attendant to judicial proceedings.  I hope this will continue well into the rest of the impeachment trials.  The worst thing that can happen is for technicalities to prevent the truth to come out.  I believe that a decision that is reflective of the truth will surely get the support of the people. But a decision that bars the exposition of the truth using legal technicalities will be rejected by the people and my even result to some form of direct action. (Remember the second envelop and Edsa 2?)

 

The Impeachment Trial on the front page of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, January 16, 2012
  1. This is a trial to show that Renato Corona is not fit to become Chief Justice.  Specifically it is not about the commission of high crimes” but about “betrayal of the public trust” and “culpable violation of the Constitution.”   For the first fourteen days, the trial was progressing  like a criminal proceeding. This could be a mistake by the prosecution resulting in the arguments being focused on evidence akin to a criminal proceeding, not about fitness in office of the Chief Justice.  Result: the Defense is having a field day in Court.

 

  1. The impeachment trial is a showcase of the best lawyers this country has.  I wonder how expensive these lawyers are.  And if indeed they are offering their services for free, are there strings attached to these free services?

 

  1. The defense team may have won this round on technicalities but their client has been badly cruised and his reputation badly tarnished.   No matter how brilliant and experienced the defense counsels are, the prosecution team was able to paint a Chief Justice who has not been that honest with his SALNs, who has bought penthouses at a great discount and who has tried to avoid paying the correct taxes on his real estate transactions and other incomes.

 

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How to Maximize the Philippine Holidays in 2012

The Long Weekends for 2012

Proclamation No. 295  signed last November 24, 2011 provided a list of Official Philippine Holidays and Special Non-Working Days. To the public and private employees as well as the students, this provides an opportunity to plan ahead for possible vacations, out-of-town trips, or for simply having longer quality time with family.
There are  six opportunities for those working in the Philippines to have an extended weekends:
  1. 3 day weekend from January 21(Saturday) to January 23(Monday), the day of the Chinese New Year celebration which has been declared a holiday.
  2. 5 day break from April 5 (Maundy Thursday) to April 9 (Araw ng Kagitingan). In fact, this could be an opportunity to take a very long break starting on the31st of  March and only file for a 3-day leave of absence(from April 2 to 4).
  3. 4 day weekend from Thursday November 1 (All Saints Day) to Sunday Nov 4
  4. 3 day weekend from Saturday August 25 to Monday August 27 (National Heroes Day)
  5. 3 day weekend from Friday November 30 (Bonifacio Day) to Sunday December 2.
  6. 3 day weekend from December 29 to New Year’s Day of January 2013.
In addition, there are also holidays that sandwiches weekends, so that taking one day off may also mean longer relaxation times:
  1. May 1 falls on a Tuesday, so one can take Monday April 30 off and get a 4 day extended weekend from April 28 (Saturday) to May1 (MOnday)
  2. One can take a day off on the Monday, June 11 and get a 4 day extended weekend: June 9 (Sat) to June 12 (Tuesday), a holiday
  3. Christmas day is on a Tuesday, so why not take take a break also on December 24, a Monday so you can get a full 4 days off from Dec 22 to Dec 25?
To recap, here is the full list of regular holidays and special non-working holidays for 2012:
Regular Holidays:
New Year’s Day                                                      January 1 (Sunday)
Maundy Thursday                                                    April 5
Good Friday                                                             April 6
Araw ng Kagitingan                                                  April 9 (Monday)
Labor Day                                                                May 1 (Tuesday)
Independence Day                                                    June 12 (Tuesday)
National Heroes Day                                                August 27 (Last Monday of August)
Bonifacio Day                                                           November 30 (Friday)
Christmas Day                                                          December 25 (Tuesday)
Rizal Day                                                                  December 30 (Sunday)
Special (Non-Working) Days
Chinese New Year                                                   January 23 (Monday)
Ninoy Aquino Day                                                  August 21 (Tuesday)
All Saints Day                                                          November 1 (Thursday)
Additional special (non-working) day                       November 2 (Friday)
Last Day of the Year                                                December 31 (Monday)
Plan you breaks. Enjoy your vacation leaves. You deserved it!
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Merry Christmas

 

Merry Christmas

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.

 

 

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Simbang Gabi

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.

flickr photo by storm-crypt

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.

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Positive Community – A World Aids Day Post from Davao City

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: emmanuel.roldan@gmail.com)

 

 

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