To Inoo, My Prince

You should’ve turned eight yesterday, my love. I should’ve made a cake for you. I was saving the carob for yesterday, because dogs can’t have chocolate, and Chloe Coscarelli has this recipe for pupcakes I was dying for you to try. But I didn’t bake. I didn’t even cook your favorites. I don’t know, my prince. Not a lot of things interest me anymore since you flew to heaven. Most of the time I dread going home because you wouldn’t be there to welcome me. Or waking up because I wouldn’t be seeing you anyway. Truth is, I also find it hard to pray because I’m still secretly angry at God for not letting you live for 200 years when that’s all I was asking for. I hate our resident priest, too, you know, because he said dogs can’t love so I shouldn’t love you. The only beautiful thing that’s happening now is Uncle Francis. He takes care of mawmaw as you asked. He still includes you in our prayers. Does God tell you? The rest I don’t really care about.

I’m wondering, my love, when do I move on? But more importantly, do I really want to move on? Do I want that, to not miss you anymore? To slowly forget? I remember someone saying how our pain is self-inflicted. This could be. But I wouldn’t want this any other way.

I want to remember you forever. If that means I’d mourn for you forever, I want that, too. I love you.

Do you remember these pictures? These were when you jumped on the bed and let me hug you until I fell asleep. For the last time. 


A Visit at Ayala Museum

February 4, 2017

As a professional librarian, I’ve always understood the importance of librarians, archives and museums (LAMs).  But compared to libraries and archives, for some weird reason, I didn’t really appreciate museums as much.

That is, until I became part of the city museum technical working group and I visited the National Museum of the Philippines (Manila), National Commission for Culture and the Arts (Intramuros, Manila) and the NFA Grains Industry Museum (Cabanatuan City) last year. I realized there’s a hidden love for museums in me after all.

So, I made visiting museums one of my goals this year.  And on February 4, I kicked off my museum visits with one of the best the Philippines has to offer: Ayala Museum.

(The original purpose of my February 4 luwas is to meet up with my UP friends but since I would be in Makati already, I thought why not, right?  I’m surprisingly practical.  Plus please don’t be surprised I can go on trips on my own.)

So this is Ayala Museum.  (Insert “So this is the ship they say is unsinkable” look.)  The entrance fee is P225 for local residents.  (That means Filipino, just to make things clear.  Don’t make the same humiliating, ridiculous mistake I did insisting I’m a non-resident because I don’t live in Makati.)

Because the museum opens at 9 and I arrived 10 minutes earlier.


Taking pictures is allowed only at the second floor where the dioramas showcasing Philippine history are situated.  I love dioramas, especially the intricate detailing.  Since I consider myself a history buff, I spent like one hour at the 2nd floor re-learning stuff I learned in school.

At the 3rd floor are the exhibit of Juan Luna, Fernando Amorsolo and Ferdinand Zobel paintings and the museum shop.  The guard asked if I was an art student.  (I wonder if I looked like a student or I looked like a starving artist… that happened to be a student.)  I realized 1) I’m not into abstract art at all, and 2) I love Amorsolo.

The 4th floor houses archaeological artifacts like ceramics and golds, as well as native textile – which was my favorite in the floor because I was amazed to find out that the weaving patterns are actually a form of storytelling about how man is a mediator between God and earth.  I also learned that there’s actually an archaeological site here at Nueva Ecija: Arubo Cave.  I’ll find it one day.

I spent two hours exploring the Ayala Museum and enjoyed every second of it.  One thing I failed to do was go to the Filipinas Heritage Library at the 6th floor but I will someday.

I love museums.


Simbang Gabi

In spite of being baptized a Roman Catholic, I didn’t subscribe to any religion for most of my life.  Fact is, people who knew me from long ago are shocked upon learning I now go to Church mostly every day and serve as a lector/commentator at the Cathedral of St. Joseph the Worker.  Who would’ve thought that the evil girl who loved crushing campus crusaders at the Sunken Garden and who was the only person who raised her hand when the priest asked if there was anyone who didn’t have a religion during recollection 2011 would turn out to be a manang?  My friend Cyryll claims she never stopped praying for my conversion and that is why now I am a born again Roman Catholic.  Thank you, dear.  I can so relate to St. Paul.

Anyway, the point is I’m very new to the Simbang Gabi tradition.  The only knowledge I have of it is that if you complete the nine mornings (December 16 to 24), your wish would come true.  (That’s from the movie “Nine Mornings,” which I haven’t seen.)  And when in college I tried it – I was wishing for 1st First Love to get to law school so he didn’t have to go anywhere else – I failed to wake up on morning number three and he didn’t pass the entrance exams.  So… I guess the nine mornings myth is true?  Last year would have been my first time but a typhoon gatecrashed our Simbang Gabi.  I couldn’t even go to the Cathedral because our street was flooded to my waist.

Unfortunately, 2016 really isn’t my best year.  I wouldn’t be able to complete Simbang Gabi as well because we’re going to Mama’s hometown for Christmas.  Flight is on the 23rd and we’d stay at a beach until the 24th.  Our ministry coordinator also didn’t give me a schedule even on days I’d be available (why?), so….  To cut things short I’m not going to have my first nine mornings this year either.

So there, my musings.  For everyone else who has a chance to complete the nine mornings, you are already blessed.  Please try to complete them, and please do it not primarily for the opportunity to be with your love interest – although going to Church as a couple is a beautiful thing – or to eat delicious bibingka and puto bumbong after the Mass.  Hahaha.  I’m trying not to drool.

(Note to self: Worship not courtship.)

Anyhoo.  Because I’m quite sad that I don’t know when I’d be able to have my first complete Simbang Gabi, I’d just leave you with a link to some reminders for the upcoming novena.

God bless and merry Christmas!

Schedule of Simbang Gabi at the Diocese of San Jose, Nueva Ecija:

  • Cathedral of St. Joseph the Worker: 4:00 a.m., December 16 to 24, plus the Midnight Mass on the 24th.
  • St. Joseph the Husband, Abar 1st: 6:30 p.m., December 16 to 24.

If God loves me for me, why can’t I be me?

I have a short temper. I can be really rude. I tend to do as I please. I’m vain. There are times I think I’m smarter than everyone around me. After all, I’m only human. I’m not God. And to even try to be like God is blasphemy, right? This is me.

Or not.

I was thinking of a post on social media I saw yesterday: why is being you a lie of Satan when God loves you for being you? I wanted to comment but a person I love told me that sometimes she wishes I’d listen without responding. So I didn’t.

I tried, at least.

Being you becomes a lie when who you think you are is, in the first place, a lie.

God created us in His image. If we find this vague, look at Jesus. Everything He is, that is how God is. As a Mormon blog lists, Jesus is faithful, prayerful, wise, virtuous, humble, obedient, patient, charitable, giving and forgiving. So shall we be.

Instead, we think we aren’t – or can’t be – these. We allow our weaknesses to enslave us. We believe we are the bad things we do. We think that these are natural – that we were designed to be this way. We subscribe to the lie that the superficial us is the real us.

But we are not. We were created in God’s likeness. Scrape off the shining superficial you and in the core of your being you will find a faithful, prayerful, wise, virtuous, humble, obedient, patient, charitable, giving and forgiving person who is desperate to come out, desperate to be.

This is the real you. This is how you were designed. Let that person free from the web of lies suppressing it.

Yes, God loves us despite our temper, rudeness, impertinence, disobedience, earthly desires, pride and all else. But the experience of feeling that love – “in our guts,” as Fr. Albert Nolan wrote in his book and Fr. Peter motioned one Sunday – will force us to do something about it. Our Father’s selfless, unconditional, all-encompassing love will fill us with the desire to love Him back, even with the knowledge that we can’t love Him as much as He loves us.

His goodness will drive us to try to be us. The real us.

Looking for Signs

Then Gideon said to God, “If You will deliver Israel through me, as You have spoken, behold, I will put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I will know that You will deliver Israel through me, as You have spoken.”

(Judges 6:37, New American Standard Bible)

My friend Timothy, an Evangelical Protestant, didn’t believe in signs. He used this illustration: say I’m torn between eating and not eating. I tell myself, “If I see someone wearing a striped pink shirt, I will eat.” Depending on whether I truly want to eat or not, I would subconsciously either look for a striped pink shirt or avoid the chance of spotting one. Asking for signs when making a choice, for him, is skewed from the start.

As an alternative, he suggested a toss coin. I laughed. So I should rely on chance? He said not at all: once the coin is in midair, I would know what I want. What I want would be what I want to appear when the coin lands. Then, regardless of the result, I would know which to choose.

That was maybe five years ago and I followed this suggestion every time: don’t ask for signs; do a toss coin instead.

In retrospect, aren’t the two methods similar? In both circumstances, I have to choose. If, upon asking for a sign I recognize that I don’t want to see anyone in striped pink, then I would know that I do not want to eat. So, even if I see someone wearing striped pink, I still won’t eat because I don’t want to. In the end, it just depends on whether I follow the sign or the result of the toss, or what I want.

As for me, I have started believing in signs again. Maybe not the same way as I used to in my pre-Church days. I believe in signs that are from God. How can I not? It was through signs that I knew God exists.

Sign No. 1

In December 2014, my life changed. A child could die because of my carelessness. The doctors said there was no assurance the medicines would work: it was too late. All we could do was wait.

This was, actually, what made me return to the Catholic Church after years of exploring and independence. I never really needed God before. I wasn’t born with a silver spoon but I got by just fine. But at that time, there was nothing I could do: neither science nor food provided no assurance she would survive. For the first time in my life, I needed God’s help. Save her, please.

It was the darkest moment of my life. I found myself in the Resurrection Crypt of the St. Joseph the Worker Cathedral and for the first time in years, I was asking something from God. I knew I had no right to ask for anything. I asked anyway. There was nothing else I can do.

Then, I opened my eyes and saw an inscription – a graffiti, actually – on the pew in front of me: Nataniel.

(Yes, without the h.)

I went home to get my things. I was to take the child to the hospital in Manila again for her second series of shots. As I walked out of our gate, a cardboard flew and landed exactly at my feet. It was a cover for men’s underwear: Nathaniel.

And as I boarded the bus, the TV showed a trailer of an upcoming prime time drama that I saw for the first time: Nathaniel.

Three times. Like the number of times Jesus prayed in Gethsemane. Like the days that passed before the resurrection. Like all the other threes in the Bible.

Was this a sign?

I texted my sister: What’s the Biblical meaning of Nathaniel?

She replied an hour later: God has given.

I wept. God has answered my prayer. Me – who thought I was smart not to believe, who ridiculed his believers. And indeed, the medicines worked. The child is alive. If this isn’t a miracle, if this isn’t the work of God, if this isn’t from Him – then what is?

God has given me a miracle when I didn’t deserve anything good from Him. This is the story of how He restored my faith.

He gave me the much needed consolation through a sign: a sign that I might not have found if, in the first place, I didn’t believe in it.

Sign No. 2

A year ago, I was faced with what I consider as the hardest dilemma in my life. It was a Monday in July and I had served as both lector and commentator for the morning Mass. I had been back in Church for barely seven months and have just started reading the Word. (Our parish is blessed to have ordinary Mass at 6 am and 5:30 pm from Monday to Saturday, and seven on Sundays. If only all parishes in the diocese have as much opportunities to celebrate.) The morning Mass had ended and as I was returning the Mass guide in the commentator’s lectern, a nun asked if I wanted to be a nun.

Yes! half of my heart screamed. You see, I had been thinking about it for sometime. I love going to Church. I had been feeling that everything else that I have to do – my work, especially – was a hindrance to my practice as a Catholic, and that if I can, I would spend my whole life with God. (They said it was a new believer’s high.) Just the day before, I told mama, jokingly, that I wanted to be a nun. Plus, I think I would make an okay one, especially if I join the Benedictines.

But the other half was crying because I was taking care of papa and I can’t leave him. He has diabetes. Mama worked far, my sisters were equally busy with their jobs as a nurse and a public school teacher, my brother had just started working to be bothered. I, on the other hand, find fulfillment and joy in looking out for my family’s health. If I left, who would take care of papa? Sister B. said my family didn’t because I was always there.

I was torn: Jesus or my father? My father or Jesus? Why do I have to choose? For others, this shouldn’t even be a matter of discussion. The first commandment says to love God above all else. And it breaks my heart that I can’t leave some things for Him.

The gospel that day was centered on Luke 14:26, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple” (NASB). Harsh, don’t you think? Fr. Peter, who presided over the morning Mass explicitly said: leave everything and follow God.

And so I attended the Mass that afternoon, too, to sort of ask for a second opinion. Usually, being a Salesian, Fr. Jerry’s homilies brimmed with joy. For the first time, I was devastated when Fr. Jerry said the same thing: leave everything and follow God.

I cried. I wept, actually. Then, on my way home, I asked God for a sign: What should I do? I opened my eyes after that prayer. A car overtook my commute and on its bumper were these three words: Just Do It.

In the course of forty days, the same three words popped in the most random places seven times, and twice I saw the Virgin Mary with the message, “Am I not your mother?” I was in despair. I think they were clear indications of what God wants me to do: leave everything and follow Him. But I didn’t because as the forty days drew to a close, I met a man. (We didn’t end up together, just so you know. But I believe he came into my life for a specific purpose, too.)

The signs were clear but I didn’t follow them. Instead, I followed Timothy’s advice: listen to my heart.

And you know what? At times, I still feel guilty for not devoting my whole life to God.  But with the thought that God’s will could be where I am going to be happy, I do not regret my decision.

Despite the signs, I know this is where I’m called to do.

There are, I believe, two kinds of signs: one is designed to help you unravel what you really want, the other to deliver God’s message. And it’s only through God’s grace that I got to receive both… when I had done nothing good to deserve them.

So, one day, when I get the chance to talk to Timothy again, I’d tell him: I believe in signs.