Utoy’s Pop Quiz Ek-Ek: What does your church wear reveal about you?

Nainspired ako sa success ng mga FaceBook quizzes (na madalas walang kwenta), syempre, gusto ko ring gumawa ng pareho (yung wala ring kwenta).  Gaya-gaya lang, pauso, ganun.  Ang napagdiskitahan kong topic ay ang ating usual Sunday wear, yung mga soot-soot natin kapag nagsisimba tayo, at kung anong sinasabi nito tungkol sa atin.  Bakit kamo yun ang napili kong tapic.  Kasi gusto ko at kasi blog ko ito.  Wag ka nang magulo, kumuha ka na ng bolpen at isulat sa palad nyo ang sagot(sayang ang papel, save the forest tayo).  Sige na’t multiple choice naman ito.  At syempre, true to FaceBook tradition, this quiz is “scarily accurate!”  Continue reading

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Mga Sure-Fire Tips para Hindi Antukin sa Simbahan

Una sa lahat, welcome kay Atticus, kay Luna, kay Jesshua, kay Ikay, kay Bluguy at kay Katpusa sa blogroll ko!  Mga kabisyo, tangkilikin din po natin ang mga kabaliwan nila sa blogs nila.ü

Pangalawa,  maraming maraming salamat kila Malen at Menard sa offers nilang Datkom.  Nakakataba po ng puso pero parang di pa po ready si Utoy sa Big League. Pasensya na po.  Atsaka po, may naoohan na rin kasi ako.  Hehe…  Maraming salamat po ulit!  Touched po ako!

Pangatlo, i-click nyo ito at dalawin nyo ang mga bagong listang baguhan sa ating Hellish Links, Heavenly Blogs.ü

Panglast, patawad po kung di ako nakakablog-hop.   May sinalihan kasi akong theological discussion group dito sa kabundukan tapos yung mga reading materials eh kailangang itranslate ko pa from French to English para lang maintindihan ko.  Syempre, ita-translate ko naman from English to French ang reflections ko para sila naman ang makaintindi sa akin.  Anim na documents ang lagi kong tina-translate every week.   Diba, easy lang.  Maning mani.  Parang gusto ko nang mamatay.

* * * * *

Isa sa mga pinaka-common na problema ng isang karaniwang Kristiyano tuwing siya’y dumadalo ng Holy Mass o ng Sunday Bible Service ay ang labanan ang antok.  Automatic yan na pag-upong pag-upo natin para sa First Reading eh parang nagbu-book na agad tayo ng flight papuntang dreamland.   Yung tipong sana di ka na nagpakahirap na maligo at magpaka-japorms:  Nagpajama ka na lang sana para mas komportable pa ang sleep-over mo sa simbahan.

Henywey, alam ko naman na may honest effort talaga ang marami sa atin upang labanan ang antok sa Misa.  Yung tipong isang oras na pakikipagbuno na wag mapikit o tumangu-tango na parang aso sa dashboard ng kotse ang ulo natin sa sobrang antok lalo na during the readings at homily ni Pads (yan ang tawag namin sa mga pari sa seminaryo).  Kaya naman, narito si Kuya Utoy ninyo upang magbahagi sa inyo ng mga tried and tested stay-awake-in-the-Church tips na tyak hindi itinuro sa inyo ni Miss Pacheco at ni Sr. Catherine sa Catechism at Christian Living Class.  Eto na.  Go. Continue reading

Bintana Chronicles

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HIMNO KO KAY BATHALA

(pasensya na, impromptu lang) Continue reading

Of God, Atheists and Christmas Mornings

Warning 1:  This is a snobbishly serious english post.  Nosebleed.

Warning 2:  It is very important to visit this link first to know more about Taizé and understand what I’m about to say. 

I went and stayed at Taizé for four days, together with Père Manuel, two adult monitors and some teenagers from La Mure.  At the very beginning of the journey, it felt like it’s a roadtrip to hell.  Or at least for a magpie like me.  Not only do I barely speak French, but I also can’t keep up with the conversations of these kids who seemed to be hyperventilating their elisions and liaisons through any given topic.  Sometimes, I just felt plain stupid trying to weave through their speech, grasping no more than a word or two to give me the flimsiest clue of what they’re talking about.

That’s why, when I learned about the special group for Anglophones, I immediately grabbed the opportunity to make this Taizé experience truly meaningful.  I left my morning post as an animator for the “petits groupes” (much to the disappointment of Pére Manuel) and hobnobbed with those who can truly compose a real English sentence and pronounce it correctly.  The Taizé experience is just too good to be lost in translation (or the virtual lack of).

Out of the 3,000 people in Taizé that time ( French youth mostly), there was only about 20 Anglophones present, and I was surprised how motley our group was:  There were Germans (who were protestant theologians and church leaders), Norwegian social workers, a Swedish Taizé volunteer, student-hitchhikers from Netherlands, a Brazilian, an Indonesian Catholic youth leader, a Russian Parisienne, etc, etc… and of course, me, a Filipino.  In fact, even the Taizé brother who gave us a talk is an American of Puerto Rican descent.  Sure enough, this variety of culture has brought a lively exchange of varied experiences and ideas among us, which, on the bottomline, surprisingly shares so many common essential elements.

One of the themes of these meeting of Anglophones focused on the Incarnation of God.  A Gospel reflection was made from Luke 2:8-20 which speaks of the adoration of the infant Jesus by the shepherds.   Br. Hector of Taizé then lead us to recall our Christmas experiences and traditions.   Indeed, each of us has something to share about Christmas but I was quite surprised that the warmest and most intimate Christmas memory was that of Ralph (not his real name).  Ralph, you see, is an atheist.  I had a notion of what atheists are before, basing on the some “atheists” who left ignorant comments on my blog  and I, of course, deleted.  But Ralph changed all my negative image of an atheist:  Yes, he doesn’t believe in the existence of God but then he doesn’t argue with or taunt anyone about religion, he’s genuinely open to the opinion of others regarding faith, he’s not fumingly angry with the Church and he is not afraid to explore and experience Taizé, a Christian place of dialogue and prayer.   The fact that he doesn’t think there’s God hasn’t hinder himself to be trully generous, open and brotherly.  What’s more, I, for one, secretly wished I had a Christmas as happy and as memorable as his.

During our small group discussion, we were asked to reflect on a statement which roughly goes like this:  “When all things in my life seems lost, God is my sure refuge.”  Or something like that, I already forgot.  Ralph, as expected, had a problem with the word “God” and so found it hard to make a reflection out of the statement.  I then suggested that he could probably substitute a word for God like Love or Peace or Justice or Family…  He paused for a short while and gave a confident reply.  He said, it will be, for him, his experience of Christmas.  He then explained that it’s because Christmas reminds him of home and family, the experience of unconditonal love and acceptance, the act of giving and receiving gifts, the warmth, the joyful expectation of being reunited with loved ones and gathering for meals…

His description of Christmas was surprisingly very Christian, as each of his words aptly describe an authentic life with Christ: a homecoming, a feasting, a welcoming, the spirit of thankfulness, sharing and acceptance.  In my Catholic world, this is the very essence of a Eucharistic life.

Truth to tell, I never suggested to Ralph how his Christmas experience translates to the experience of God.  I don’t want to impose my religion to this young man’s journey, especially when there’s so much going on in his heart which I myself do not understand and so must not interfere.  Nevertheless, within me, I am thankful to this young man who unknowingly reminded me of what truly God is all about.  It’s a shame how we, Christians, celebrate the major Christian feasts without truly experiencing their rich and life-changing significance.  I guess, it took an atheist to remind me all that, and as Frère Roger, the founder of Taizé succinctly said, God is love, and love alone.  Nothing else…

If you read this article in its entirety…

then your reward is this: 

My photos of the stainglass windows of the church of Taizé!

Pentecost

Pentecost

Visitation

Visitation

Easter

Easter

Annunciation

Annunciation

Transfiguration

Transfiguration

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday

Assumption

Assumption

Epiphany

Epiphany

If you noticed, each of these stainglass windows represent a particular Catholic liturgical feast.  I arranged them not by their chronological order but rather according to the sequence of colors on a rainbow. Wala lang. Trip ko lang.  These windows were artworks of Frère Eric de Saussure, a brother of Taizé who died last year.  I pray now that as we celebrate and reflect on these feasts, may we truly discover their meaning and message in our lives.  Amen.

All-Saint: Purely Pictures

Ang totoo nyan eh gusto kong dumaldal tungkol sa: 

  • pangalawang pamumundok namin ni Brigitte, sa ngalan naman ngayon ng raspberry tart
  • ang aking pagkabano sa isnoh
  • ang recipe ko sa crepe (sosyal na pangalan ng lumpia wrapper)
  • ang bago kong karir as a kantoro
  • next ten questions na dapat di itanong sa seminarista

pero dahil abala ang Brother Utoy eh pagtiyagaan nyo na lang muna ang out-of-focus niyang litrato ng mga kahindikhindik na wax figures ng santo.  Tamang tamang pang-November 1!ü

St. Peter Julian Eymard

St. Peter Julian Eymard

St. Vincent de Paul

St. Vincent de Paul

St. Jean Marie Vianney

St. Jean Marie Vianney

Diba parang nakipaglamay ka na rin sa burol nila?

Eto pala ang tombstone dati ng founder ng congregation namin na nasa entrance lang ng local simenteryo.ü

At syempre ang stainglass windows of the days (kasi mawawala ako ng maraming araw) ay ito:

Honoring the Dead
Judgement
Ito ay mga stainglass windows sa Chapel for the Souls in Purgatory sa loob ng Basilica of St. Serin sa bayan ng Toulouse, sa katimugan ng France.  Kuha ko ito habang naghihintay ako sa pagdating ng tren papuntang Lourdes.  Ngayon eh alam nyo na kung saan galing ang header ko.  Diba, kahit nasa impyerno/purgatoryo na eh may breast exposure pa talaga?ü
God bless!

“Dikon”

When St. Paul noticed that certain Christian widows were being neglected from the distiribution of temporal goods, he assigned seven young Greek hunks to do the deeds.  They were called diakonos which literally means… waiters.  It was such a big hit for the early Christian church (especially among the ladies) to have them that the practice of ordaining deacons remained in the ecclesiastical traditon even to the present.  Today, however, deacons are not as Greek-looking as before and the “waiting on tables” thingy is now very much limited to the liturgies, especially during the Holy Mass, but their role as preachers and distributors of Church temporalities remained, albeit in the Philippines, for only about six months or so.  Then they’ll be ordained priests, these poor, poor creatures of God.

I’m blogging today the ordination of a friend, Rev. Deacon Jhoen Buenaventura, because among my friend-deacons, he is the only one who has the temerity to ask me to blog about it. hehehe…  Jhoen is someone I met in the Friendster through  Bluepanjeet, who featured Jhoen’s vocation story and mine in his blog.  Like me, he was an OCD aspirant but then he decided to pursue the path to dicocesan priesthood by way of Balanga Diocese.  Quite a gifted fellow, he was sent by his Bishop to Rome to throw his weight around Europe to study Theology.   He then returned home after three years of lakwatsa of scholarly pursuits and about a few weeks later, on 3Oth of June, at the feast of the Martyrs of Rome, he was ordained as Deacon in Mariveles. 

Mariveles is about three hours drive from Manila if you take a Cubao bus at dawn.  Any later than 5am and you’ll spend an additional hour just weaving through North part of EDSA.  Anyway, here is what I immediately saw upon my arrival in Mariveles.

Parish of Nicholas Tolentine

Parish of Nicholas Tolentine

 Aba, at may banners pa!   I met an old lady, obviously an usherette for the occasion (given away by her Maria Clara ensemble on a monday morning and that all-too-eager demeanor of someone who wanted to be useful in an occasion).  I’m suspicious that this old lady might have read my previous post on seminary fashion as she immediately identified me as a seminarian.  Upon demand, she directed me to where the best toilets are and even brought me to this nice house to have a breakfast, to which I was all too willing to follow.  There, I found myself in the company of quite a number of seminarians, which explained why there’s no more breakfast left.  When it comes to eating, seminarians are forces to reckon with.

seminarians, now well-fed

seminarians, now well-fed

Then we gathered at the Parish of St. Nicholas Tolentine to attend the Holy Mass, precided by Rev. Bp.  Socrates Villegas, DD, the bishop of Balanga. 

inside the parish

inside the parish

Here is Jhoen during his entrance procession. 

"Ansaya-saya ko!  Weee!"

"Dis is da moment!! Weee!"

Truth to tell, this is the first time I ever saw him.  Aba, at may hitsura naman pala.  medyo nakakaloko lang ang ngiti…  Anyway, after a battery of Latin songs and  a series of prayers and biblical readings, Jhoen was presented to the bishop as a candidate for ordination.

"everyone is enjoying a spot in front of the electric fan"

"everyone is enjoying a spot in front of the electric fan"

Then Bishop Soc, known for his meaty homilies, gave quite a mouthful for Jhoen to masticate.  He explained in this exhortation the meaning of the color, red, in the Catholic liturgy.

Bishop Socrates Villegas,DD

Bishop Socrates Villegas,DD

Then Jhoen was anointed and was given the Scriptures.

"now, Jhoen, I need your opinion on this one..."

"now, Jhoen, I need your opinion on this one..."

then he was prayed upon by the Congregation by invoking the prayers of quite a long list of saints as he laid prostrate on the floor.

"get that cameraman off me..."

"get that cameraman off me..."

Then the bishop laid hands on him, invoking the Holy Spirit to be upon Jhoen.

Laying of Hands

"good thing, I used Clear for Men..."

Then he was given a new set of vestments to mark him as deacon.  First is the half-stole (not visible in the picture) which is like a sash worn across the chest of the deacons like there were beauty contenstants.  Then there’s the dalmatic which is a formal liturgical wear for those who wish to sweat more during the Mass.  He is vested by his parents and by a couple of priests.

"anak, bagay talaga sayo ang pulang gown..."

"anak, bagay pala sayo ang pulang gown..."

Then Jhoen is welcomed by his bishop and his fellow deacons with asphyxiating embraces.

Bishop bearhugs Jhoen

Bishop bearhugs Jhoen

Then Jhoen is given his rightful place in the sanctuary, which is actually a chair on the corner of the sanctuary. hehehe…

"Man... this dalmatic is way too warm!"

"Man... this dalmatic is way too warm!"

Of course, there’s the table service where at this picture, Jhoen acted as the sommelier. har!

"what?  that's all the Mompo you've got?"

"what? that's all the Mompo you've got?"

As part of his ordained ministry, he can now perform exclusive clerical acts like the Elevation of the Sacred Species.

"Through Him, with Him and in Him.."

"Through Him, with Him and in Him.."

Then he distributed the Holy Hosts to the faithful.  He called me by name when I hac my communion with him.  I particularly chose to take this picture because all of them here are wearing red.  Wala lang, trip ko lang…

"The Communion is brought to you by the color Red."

"The Communion is brought to you by the color Red."

Then Jhoen gave his “thank you” speech to the faithful.

"...and thanks to Via Mare for the catering."

"...and thanks to Via Mare for the catering."

Of course, the event is capped with picture-taking

With the priests and the Bishop

With the priests and the Bishop

da Carmel boys

da Carmel boys

"Kapagod rin palang ngumiti sa kodakan!"

"Kapagod rin palang ngumiti sa kodakan!"

Bro. Utoy and Rev. Jhoen after the ordination

Bro. Utoy and Rev. Jhoen after the ordination

Congratulations, Rev. Jhoen, and keep us in your prayers!

Bisi-bisihan Overload

Recent highlights on the charmed life of Utoy, the saintly seminarian from hell.

  • my dad had a stroke last week.  I’m flying to bicol on the 5th of July to visit him.  My sister said he’s calling out for me.  Weeks ago, when I called him up on his birthday, he pleaded me to visit him there before I leave for my pastoral exposure.  When I said I’ll try but I can’t promise, he told me in high Batangueño:  “Ay ala, anak, bakin ga gay-on?  Baka ga ako eh magpantay na ang paa habang ikaw eh naanduon sa malayo.  Alaan mo namang tuong ikapamamanglaw ko ang pagyao mo duon.”  (translated:  Alas, my son, why is it so?  I fear that I should perish while you’re at a great distance.  You knew very well the sorrow it would cause me once you embark on the journey yonder.)  I then answered (also in high Batangueño), “Ay, tatay, ako ga nama’y ubos na ang bakasyon eh kainaman din naman sa hirap magpaalam sa aking supiryor at gawa nang ang pagkakaingli ng pari dine eh ako’y naghihikap laang.”  (translated:  Dad, I’ve used up all my vacations and it’s just darn dificult to get permission from my superiors as these priests often suspect that I’m just playing hookey.)  To that he replied, “Ay gay-on ga?  Ay sya’t ako na laang ang gagawa ng paraa’t nang harimanawari’y tayo eh makapagpanagpo laang at makapaglipon-lipon.”  (translated:  Is that so?  Well then, let me find a way so that, God willing, we’ll be reunited again to enjoy each other’s company.)  Two weeks later, he indeed gave me a valid and urgent reason to visit him.  Haaay, Tatay…  Seriously speaking now, I very much worried.  Please pray for my Tatay.
  • I called a plane ticketing hotline to reserve a plane seat to Bicol.  They gave me a round trip to Legaspi.  That same day, I went to pay for the reservation where I was given a printout as a ticket.  Gone were the days when tickets really looked like tickets.  Later that day, my sister called me up so say how stupid I am for booking a flight to Legaspi instead of Naga.  How on earth would I know there’s an airport in Naga? Oh, well, at least, I’ll get to see Mayon again.
  • Last thursday I went to apply for a visa.  As I checked from the embassy’s website, I learned that I am to set an appointment first before I can submit my requirements.  And so I called their visa section for a schedule.  A foreign-sounding lady answered.

         me: helo, helo, gudmowning, mam, ay wud layk to inkwayr haw mats syud I pay por bisa prasesing? tenkyu beri mats.

         foreign lady:  (paused a little)  99 euros, monsieur.

         me:  (with a certain thickness of the face)  haw mats is dat in pesos?

The lady, patient enough to bear with my temerity, gave me the amount.  I thanked him again and put down the phone.  Then, I realized, I forgot to set an appointment!  So I called up again.  A Pinay answered.

         me:  helow poh, pede poh akong magpa-sched ng appointment?

         Pinay:  mamaya pang alas dos.  (then she banged down the phone).

hmmmm… rudeness.   So I waited for 2pm and just to be sure, I called up at 2:30pm.  A different pinay answered.

          me:  helow poh, pwede pong magtanong kung…

         Different Pinay:  Hindi ito tanungan.  for setting of appointments lang.  (then she banged down the phone)

uunganaman.  My bad.  As in every situation with a lady, I always deliver the wrong pickup line.  So I called up again.  Yet another Pinay answered.

         me: helow poh, magpapasched poh ako ng date of submission.  Pede po sa byernis?

         Yet Another Pinay:  Ok.  8am, tomorrow.   (then she slams down the phone.  Standard procedure siguro nila ang maging rude.)

My conclusion:  If you happen to call or visit an embassy for visa, for your own sake, avoid the Pinay.  Most likely, she’s got PMS or is simply a bitch.

  • Two weeks ago, I gave our novices a talk on… -I don’t think you’ve guessed it-  the breviary.  It’s actually an expertise of mine as I knew the history, the structure, the theology, the inner logic (or the lack of) and quite a host of trivia about this beloved prayerbook.   It was some serious conference on prayer which the novices had no choice but to attend.  The good priests, God bless their humor, paid me with movie passes (or in today’s lingo, invites).  I spent them all at once with Kung Fu Panda and The Happening.  The Kung Fu Panda recounts my own battle with gluttony and low self-esteem and how I overcame them by eating siomai with a Master.  The Happening is a very funny movie about people killing themselves faster than they do today.  I mean, don’t pollution, over-eating, smoking, fad diets, substance abuse and sleep deprivation already examples of suicidal acts?  And the way Mr. Wahlberg acts:  Downright hilarious.
  • I gave a recollection talk to the community last Saturday which I conscentiously and lovingly prepared 30 minutes before it started.  It wasn’t bad, it turned out.  Some even congratulated me.  Now it’s official:  I’ve got a special talent, a gift of winging things out. hehehe…
  • Again, please pray for my Tatay.  and for Bluep’s Dad as well as he undergone (underwent? undergoed?  alin ang tama?) surgery today.  And pray for Jhoen to who will be ordained tomorrow to the Order of Deacons.  God bless!