“Jesus is there…”

Finally, after being away from home for what felt like an eternity, I was able to visit my home in Koronadal City, South Cotabato last weekend. This weekend was a very special one.

My parents and I have made the habit of attending the eight o’clock morning Mass every Sunday because there is greater probability of seeing my Ate’s family in the church. True enough, last Sunday, during the Holy Mass, before the offertory, two cute smiling little girls came into view, and giddily settled in our pew to smother their much-missed aunt (that’s me) with hugs and kisses. Soon after, I saw my sister and my brother-in-law take their seats in the row behind ours.

Since my small lap can only accommodate one toddler, my mother took Karol (Kay), the second child, while I held the eldest, Dominique (Dom). I just have to chronicle and share this particular moment with my inquiring and curious niece, Dom. My mother and I were kneeling, waiting for the Consecration of the Bread and Wine. Meanwhile, Dom and Kay were sitting on the armrest, with Dom in front of me, and Kay in front of my mom. When the priest finally said, “Do this in memory of me” and raised the Host, I opened both of my palms.

Dom suddenly asked me, “Bakit ka naga-ganyan?” (Why are you doing that?) referring to the opening of my palms.

I simply answered, “Andiyan kasi si Jesus.” (Because Jesus is there.) I remember feeling surprised by my reply. Surprised not because I was in doubt, but because I felt a deep tugging in my heart, affirming me that what I just said is completely true, and that it did not come from me. Surprised because a river of gratitude for the Lord flowed into my consciousness in view of that seemingly uneventful moment to teach the truth to a small and innocent child. Truly indeed, the Lord Jesus Christ is physically present in the Holy Eucharist.

“Saan?” (Where?) Dom asked again, meaning I have to point to or tell her where Jesus is.

“Yan O,” I said gently, “yung gina-raise ni Father.” I scrambled for the Hiligaynon/Tagalog word for “raise.” “Yung gina-taas ni Father na puti.” (That white one being raised by Father.)

She was sitting on the armrest, and turned her head towards the altar. Her head moved from side to side, as she was obviously trying to find where Jesus is. She turned her eyes to a statue of Jesus standing near the altar, and said “Yan O, yung statue?” (That statue?)

But I firmly said “No, the white, round one.”

Dom scowled, confused of what I said. I noticed she became restless, discontent of not being able to understand what her aunt has told her. Her curiosity, her quickness to things has always fascinated me, qualities which are common in my Ate’s kids (ahem, it’s the genes from our side of the family. hehe), and which I so admire. So, to appease her, I whispered, “Quiet muna tayo, mag-listen tayo kay Father.” (Let’s be quiet for a while and listen to Father.)

I let what happened linger – in my heart, in my soul. I felt immense joy for the given opportunity to teach a child, and I fervently prayed to God, that the conversation we just had will be etched in Dom’s memory, and that she may someday grasp what I said. “Andiyan si Jesus,” this time, I heard a comforting whisper from my innermost being. Thank you Lord, for the years of Catechesis – studying in a Catholic school, watching EWTN, reading theology books, Catholic websites and magazines – for finding a community and for a fruitful and consistent prayer time. The Lord knows how much I want to partake the Christian joy that is both in me and outside of me, especially with the kids in our small family. While writing this, few days later, I realize I happen to be one of Dom’s godmothers.

Lord, give us the grace to teach and pass on what is right, true and honorable to the young generation.



I may not say Mama Mary’s prayer with the same depth, conviction, reverence and awe, but she’s very loving to let me borrow some words of it to encapsulate my 30th birthday. I have taken them to heart, I feel, through the prayers of St. Pope John Paul II (who has become my favorite saint and patron):

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; 
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
The Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is from age to age
to those who fear him.
He has shown might with his arm,
dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.
He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones
but lifted up the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things;
the rich he has sent away empty.”
[Luke 1:46-47, 49-53]

The atrocity of wicked words

Hold that wicked tongue!
sharp as a sword,
deadly whenIMG_0799 it strikes.

I beg of you,
take a hold of it,
you are breaking my heart,
maiming my limbs.

Do not paralyze me,
with your ill spit,
with your icy words.

seal your lips,
and open your heart.

Please, my beloved,
allow my love
to heal your sick mouth.

Let my warm embrace
deeply penetrate
your ailing heart.

Your heart
I wish to heal,
for from a mended heart
a new tongue
will spring forth,
in which you will utter
my powerful, life-giving words.

A Personal Jerusalem

“They were on the way, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus went ahead of them. They were amazed and those who followed were afraid.” -Mark 10:32

Lately, Biblical passages that describe, talk or discuss about roads, paths, or taking a journey have struck me in an unsettling kind of way. I have spent time in prayer to try to squeeze out or grasp the Lord’s message for me, but He answered me in silence. However, in one noon mass in the days leading to the end of May, the priest talked, in his homily, about having to climb our personal Jerusalem. In the Gospel reading during that day, Jesus and his disciples are on their way, “going up to Jerusalem.” Jesus also told his apostles that in this place, He will suffer and condemned to die – “Behold, the son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and hand him over to the Gentiles who will mock him, spit upon him, scourge him, and put him to death, but after three days he will rise.” It is not a pretty picture, if not scary. Jesus knew of His death in Jerusalem, and yet He still chose to continue, and pursue entering the place in which His death is inevitable.

The priest went on to impose a question on us which is particularly arresting – what is OUR personal Jerusalem? “What is MY personal Jerusalem?” I quietly asked the Lord. The question lingered, as I continued with my prayer time, wrestling with God. I have to admit that I am oftentimes hard-headed and steel-hearted that when the Lord asks uncomfortable questions I try to evade them. Thankfully though, I have become mature enough (I hope) to know that try as I might in evading Him, my efforts will end in vain. Thus, the lingering thought was presented to me again in another biblical passage, at the start of this month of June. The words in 1 Kings 19:11-15 became alive to me – “Go take the road back to the desert near Damascus.” – that I hear the Lord personally whisper these words in my ears as He did to the prophet Elijah. Go, take the road back to the desert. It is more striking the second time. What is MY desert? I asked the Lord In the same manner I’ve asked what is my Jerusalem? Whether it be my personal Jerusalem or desert, I know that they are both uncomfortable places. Places of challenge for they are hot, dry and bare. A place of suffering, hunger and thirst. But somehow, a great place to be pruned and to grow an oasis of faith and love. Maybe at this point in my life, the Lord is inviting me to fully and joyfully embrace a cross that is already wounding my back, or take a leap of faith and decide to tread a path which I may perceive to be thorny and fearsome, but which will make me fall deeper in love with Him. Whatever it is, I am at peace in knowing that in the “Jerusalem’s” or deserts in my life, the Lord is my companion, and He even takes the lead.

“Each of us may be sure that if God sends us on stony paths He will provide us with strong shoes, and He will not send us out on any journey for which He does not equip us well.” -Alexander MacLaren

A letter to my future teenage daughter*

Because I overheard a conversation of teenage kids while waiting for my barbecue near the sidewalk of Ateneo de Davao High School, I felt compelled to write this letter:

Dearest Future Teenage Daughter,

I love you so much and you have grown to be a beautiful young lady. I hope that though our relationship will not be perfect and smooth sailing, you would still be proud that I am your mom. I also hope that you would still see me as beautiful (and cool, i might add) despite the wrinkles that have slowly formed around my eyes and my mouth for smiling too much, when I am seeing your face, and for painstakingly sharing with you the wisdom I have gained through the years in the words I speak and through my different facial expressions. I hope you would still proudly say, “I have a beautiful mom,” even if I can no longer maintain a slim/slender physique due to a slowing metabolism brought by old age and child bearing. I am full of joy when the Lord allows me to carry life inside my womb, thus i am not afraid if bringing back my younger physique is no longer biologically possible. Please remember my dearest, sweetest daughter that the beauty of a woman is determined by our Maker. The beauty of a woman is measured by how receptive she is of God’s grace and how willing she is to be a vessel of God’s love. Remember our dear Mama Mary. She is the epitome of womanhood. May you always seek her help, as she freely allowed herself to become the Lord’s Vessel. No matter what the world says about beauty, look at our dear Mother. The Mother of Christ. She will tell you what beautiful means. Gently. In her silent strength.



*Reposted from my previous blog account. This entry was written on 21 July 2014.

Flash fiction #7: Unrequited

His countenance changed a bit. It has become more pleasant than the last time we saw each other. He gave me a loose hug that I received casually, in my usual awkward manner. When he started talking to me, his voice sounded like a song from some memorable past. I felt my heart skipped a beat. “My God,” I prayed in my thoughts, trying to maintain my composure, “guard and protect my heart from false hopes, assumptions and speculations. It hurt the last time, and the culprit was this same admirable, unassuming gentleman.”

Flash fiction #6: Perspective

P1050131And she looked up. There was no other direction but to look up so that she can breathe. She saw how vast and blue the skies were. She loved the change of perspective. When one looks down, one is deceived that the world is small, and its smallness seems to choke her. But when one looks up, the truth that the world is big becomes apparent. “Life is not about me,” she thought, “I am just a small player in this greater scheme of things. But no matter how small the task is, my God, help me gracefully complete it.”