Showing posts with label religion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label religion. Show all posts

Monday, January 4, 2016

Do dogs go to heaven?

There have been some heated and also humorous discussions about whether dogs go to heaven. You can easily google this and you will get articles about Pope Francis saying something to the effect that Heaven's gates are open to all of God's creatures. There are also many images including cartoons and photos (many likely photo-shopped) of bulletins outside churches in what appears to be a heated exchange about dogs going to heaven with references to the bible and Christian doctrine. I saw this cartoon that I thought perfectly captures my sentiments about dogs going to heaven.

Today is the birthday of our Labrador Retriever Troy who would have been 12 years old (84 in dog years). Here's another photo of him in our room in our former home.

Troy at my bedside in our old home - he loved to sit beside the aircon before eventually lying down just beneath my side of the bed. We thought at times during hot summer nights that he was gesturing for us to turn on the airconditioning.
I certainly would believe that dogs go to Heaven and our Troy who passed away in 2014 would be very qualified. I imagine that he is already there and enjoying himself while also watching over us. 

Rest in peace Troy. You earned it and deserve to be happy forever.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

All roads lead to Antipolo - Alay Lakad routes and traffic schemes

I'm reposting here an article I wrote in another blog that I maintain. I thought it appropriate for the season and the Holy Week.

The Rizal Provincial Government and the Antipolo City Government recently posted traffic rerouting schemes on their Facebook pages. Lalawigan ng Rizal was the first to post schemes that affect traffic in at least 3 major local government jurisdictions – Antipolo, Cainta and Taytay. The schemes affect the two major corridors that basically lead to Antipolo’s National Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage (or Antipolo Cathedral to many) – the Ortigas Avenue corridor and the Marcos Highway-Sumulong Highway corridor. There are many major and minor routes connecting to these corridors and are clearly seen in the maps.

Within Antipolo, there are also re-routing schemes, which the Antipolo City Government posted along with a “clearer” re-posting of the maps from the Rizal FB page. The Antipolo FB page includes information/maps on the rerouting within the city center. These schemes will affect traffic circulation including public transport routes. Critical would be the permanent and temporary terminals and parking areas set-up around the city that should be able to accommodate the thousands of vehicles that are also expected to be used by people who won’t be walking or cycling.

What the maps basically say is that from 4:00 PM today, Maundy Thursday, to 6:00 AM tomorrow, Good Friday, the stretch from Cainta Junction to the Shrine will be closed to traffic. This is to allow the hundreds of thousands expected to make the trek to Antipolo to have the road for themselves. What the maps don’t say is that motorcycles and tricycles would likely be allowed, too. I can understand that motorcycles could easily squeeze into the throngs of people but then allowing tricycles to operate among the walkers and bikers would be risky given their drivers’ behavior. Add to this that they would be making a killing out of charging opportunistic fares.

Technically, the rerouting schemes don’t appear to be as well thought of as can be expected from the LGUs. Baka ito lang nakayanan ng staff o ng consultants nila, and surrender na agad ang Rizal and Antipolo with regards to the coming up with more options for people to travel to the Antipolo Shrine? Not all people can walk or cycle but are willing to and could take public transport for their pilgrimage. The maps themselves are a bit crude and the Province of Rizal and City of Antipolo could have done much better maps given the resources of these LGUs. There are open source tools now available as well as your basic software like PowerPoint or Photoshop (even Word!) that can be used to render good quality images to guide people making the Alay Lakad. This is a regular event and though it happens once a year then perhaps the LGUs could have better plans especially to transport people who cannot make the walk to Antipolo. The objective after all is to convey the masses to and from the shrine safely and efficiently – something a mass transport system can do whether via Marcos/Sumulong or Ortigas corridors.

One reminder to all doing the Alay Lakad: keep your garbage to yourselves if you cannot find a proper waste bin. Do not dispose of your waste along the route and make a dumpsite out of Ortigas Avenue, Marcos Highway, Sumulong Highway or whatever roads you are taking! Kasalanan din po ang irresponsableng pagtatapon ng basura. While you might be forgiven for these “sins” through the Sacrament of Reconciliation (which many will likely take at the Cathedral), nature will have a way of getting back at you for your environmental travesty.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Questions and reflections on a Maundy Thursday

Three verses in the New Testament of the Bible have always caught my attention whether they are read during Mass, as part of a lesson from when I was in high school or when I happen to remember them for whatever reason. In Matthew 19:24, Christ says that "it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." In Matthew 25:35-36, He says "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me."

The first verse is something that seems to be biased against wealthy people and is often quoted (perhaps wrongly or incorrectly?) by those who tend to interpret these verses too literally. However, the second and third verses that I also cited have been used to explain the first one and probably applies to those who have so much and yet share too little of the blessings granted to them. What was the context of these verses and what was it like being rich at the time? Similarly, what was it like being poor during those times? Was it the same as being poor today? Was poverty as described the same poverty we experience at the present? It seems quite so obvious and yet if we delve deeper, it becomes much more than the financial or economic poverty we automatically associate with these verses. These days, we can extend our definition of poverty to psychology, to health, and even morality, respect and decency. One can be financially wealthy but morally poor. One can have so much property and yet be so corrupt and infamous. Blessed and few are those who have and are able to share their resources and themselves with the have-nots. But then do they give enough (until it hurts?) or do they just give excesses, surpluses that they could just as easily throw away rather than give away to the needy? A popular saying that is also based from the Bible (the story of Lazarus and the rich man) tells us that we cannot bring riches in the afterlife. And so the logic is that all the money and property in the world would not be enough for entry in heaven.

Matthew 19:24 seems in conflict with the "Parable of the Talents" found in Matthew 25 where a master rewarded two servants who used the talents granted to them to produce more while scolding and punishing one who did not use the talents given him. But then one perspective is that perhaps God gave us each different talents and at different amounts. Maybe wealthy people were given the talent to make wealth while less financially fortunate people were granted talents like being able to design things, build things, repair things or maybe a green thumb to grow things for food. I would like to think that these verses from the Bible presents us with a challenge for us to try to understand and extend our concept of sharing. If we are good in making money, could we be good at tilling the fields to grow rice and vegetables? If we are adept in the stock market or trading, could we also be good in fishing? Indeed there are always exceptions to the rule and success stories where the results seem to state that its possible to have multiple talents. But that is not an aberration but rather a sub-case of the same parable. These multiple talents can be harnessed to produce more but the challenge is also to share more with others. 

But we should not forget that this is not a one way thing. Even for those who have less, there is also the challenge to give and not just to take. The problem we often have is something of a mendicancy mind-set. Some less fortunate people have come to believe that they should receive financial and other assistance from the government and those who are better off. The tragedy here is when they become selfish in the sense that they no longer want to use their own talents, to work and improve themselves. And there are so many of these people now who take advantage of other people's goodness and generosity that the former become abusive and the latter jaded of their efforts. These set to motion a vicious cycle that is leading us to becoming uncaring and indifferent and perhaps unbelieving or faithless. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A renewed hope

We have a new Pope in Francis, the first to adopt the name which the Pope himself says is after St. Francis of Assisi instead of St. Francis Xavier. The latter and the Pope are both from the Society of Jesus, more commonly known as the Jesuits. I must admit this came as a surprise as I read the explanation that adopting the name Francis alludes to a message or a statement being made by the new Pope of how he intends to lead the Roman Catholic Church and the possible policies and practices that he will advocate.

I learned about St. Francis of Assisi during my grade school and high school days at Lourdes School of Mandaluyong, a school ran by Capuchin Franciscans (Order Friar Minor Capuchins). There we learned much about his life and works including popular stories of his works with the poor and animals. St. Francis lived a very simple life after giving up his possessions and taking a vow of poverty, chastity and obedience, and forming the order of Franciscans. It is said that Christ spoke to him and asked him to "rebuild my Church." Perhaps, despite all the reports citing the Pope for his being a conservative during his time as Bishop of Buenos Aires, the new Pope will surprise us and become active in rebuilding and reconciling the Church with these modern times.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Expression of love and praise

"Hi Ferdi, nice to see you again kanina. Your homily was great and seems to have answered a question running in my mind since last Sunday. The wife and I were hearing Mass at a church in Singapore and prior to the Mass during hymn practice, the choirmaster warned people against raising their hands while singing the "Our Father." He said it was wrong and that the Church didn't teach that. Parang napahiya naman kaming mga Pilipino. Well, I didn't know exactly where that came from considering the choirmaster was supposed to have been knighted by the Pope. We were thinking that it was a sad view considering people raising their hands or holding hands together during the singing of The Lord's Prayer included not only Filipinos but Singaporeans, other Asians, and Caucasians. Kanina, I was reflecting on what you said and I think we should be thinking not of how others see us, how we look to others but rather how God will see us for what is truly in our hearts. I'd like to think our practice of raising our hands or putting them together with the hands of family, friends or strangers is our own expression of worship, of thanksgiving and praising God.
God bless Ferdi!"

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Francis and Ferdinand

The topic is not about the person who is the subject of what is widely believed to be the even that triggered the Great War. It is certainly not about the popular rock band. It is, however, about 2 persons who to me are rock stars in their own ways - if we can call Men of God rockstars. Francis and Ferdinand are the names of two priests I have come to know via I believe that they are to be emulated by their brethren, particularly as they have consistently delivered inspired homilies whenever they celebrate the Holy Mass.

Fr. Ferdinand Santos is a secular priest who is also an academic, teaching at Providence College in the United States. Ferdie also happens to be a schoolmate of mine back in the day when we were studying at Lourdes School of Mandaluyong. His father taught Christian Living in grade school. He graduated one batch ahead of me in high school and was recognized with the St. Francis of Assisi Award, the highest recognition our school gave to her graduates. I know that he entered the San Carlos Seminary after graduation but was also able to study at the Vatican under a full scholarship. I got reacquainted with Ferdie when he became chaplain of UP Diliman at the Parish of the Holy Sacrifice. After leaving the chaplaincy to return to the US, he eventually taught at Providence College, Rhode Island.

Fr. Francis Cruz is a Vincentian missionary currently assigned to China. Vincentian meant he was of the order of St. Vincent De Paul, the same order that administers Adamson University. I am familiar with the order because 3 cousins graduated from that university and I have memories of reading their school paper (Ozanam?) in my childhood. I came to learn from one of his homilies that he had a Jesuit education at Ateneo De Manila and eventually decided to become a missionary in part due to his desire to spread the Good News to those who have yet to receive it.

I remember hearing a noontime Mass at the UP Chapel where I was pleasantly surprised to see Ferdie as the celebrant. I immediately approached him after Mass and discovered that he was assigned to UP and was designated Chaplain for UP Diliman. Sunday Mass quickly became anticipated for Ferdie's brand of sermons. It was always organized, clear and direct to the point. Anecdotes were choice stories from his experience. And he never failed to emphasize the most important points in is homilies. The style is reminiscent of homilies delivered by Fr. Ed Tiamzon, who was our Rector at LSM (and the main celebrant in our wedding). Ferdie eventually left UP and the country to accept a teaching post in the US. He would, however, always take his summer break in the Philippines and would usually be back behind the altar at UP for the 9:00 AM Mass whenever he was around.

The Clairvoyant and I had the pleasure of "discovering" Fr. Francis when we resumed hearing Mass at UP Diliman. This was after we became tired of hearing uninspired and (apparently) poorly prepared homilies from the priests at our village chapel. This was many months after Ferdie left for the US and right after the Vincentians assumed the parish at UP Diliman. After the first time we heard him celebrate Mass, we became regulars of the 9:00 AM Sunday liturgy. We looked forward to his homilies where he never failed to deliver clear lessons and messages that served as fine starts for the week for us. After being assigned to China, he still returned during the summer (August) and celebrated Mass during his old 9:00 AM slot. Only two Sundays ago, we were happy to see his familiar face behind the altar.

I believe that both have contributed much to enriching our lives, providing the guidance many of us need these days whether in trying times or not. They are, after all, instruments of God in conveying His message to His people. Fr. Francis and Fr. Ferdie are very effective channels through whom God is able to reach out to remind us of how we should live our lives.

We are often told that speeches should not exceed 10 minutes for attention spans of audiences are usually short. Many priests, even bishops, make the mistake of failing to prepare for their homilies and assume that the congregation is a captive audience. I don't mind if it were Fr. Francis or Fr. Ferdinand since I am quite sure that they would be able to deliver homilies that are organized, insightful and interesting that one would not feel time passing as they spoke. But then again, they seldom exceed 10 minutes because they come prepared, inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


This is supposed to be the Holy Week issue for this blog. However, I never really got to writing as I instead chose to take the week off and contemplate on the simple things of life. You know, waking up to a nice sunrise in the morning. Having a terrific mug of hot chocolate prepared by the wife, cleaning up after breakfast...I could go on and on, and it seems I wouldn't run out of material for a list of simple things you can do at home while not thinking of work, of the office and those other complexities that a typical day would bring.

I use courage for lack of a more appropriate word to describe what a friend and an acquaintance did - convert to another religion. A close friend, I learned only in February, became Orthodox while an acquaintance of old became Muslim. These were their choices and I guess and must believe that they decided on this after much reflection, after much assessment for the implications of their leaving their old faith (Roman Catholic).

For my close friend at least, I can claim that I have seen the transformation initiated back in our college days. We were always kidding him about the award he got in high school - Best in Religion. I still remember one of our barkada quipping "Like that award would help a lot in a school like UP." And we all just laughed, including my close friend who was always the cheerful type and good-natured.

He even wrote a book, containing research made that I can now assume was a part of his way of searching for the meaning of his faith. I must also assume that this "search" continued even after he married and while raising two wonderful daughters, blessings if I may state myself. Throughout he was able to understand his faith and himself more than we even attempt (or claim to attempt) ourselves.

Do such ideas even graze our minds as we attend Mass on Sundays? Perhaps it is even appropriate that we use the term "attend" rather than participate as we seem to be spectators in church. I remember our school rector admonishing us for being present physically but with our minds and spirits elsewhere during what many Masses we celebrated in grade school and high school. There, I said it, "celebrate" the better word for "participate." We too often are passive about our faith, taking for granted that rules, dogmas, tenets, and even commandments must be contextualized in the face of reality - not practicality, which is always associated with convenience. True, there are hardliners among us and even I must admit that I maintain certain beliefs to hold my faith together. Yet I am very flexible in as far as my being Catholic is involved - I do have a lot of opinions about and against certain principles. But I do believe that this is what living faith should mean - to be able to ask the difficult questions and not be in denial about the realities happening around us. Keeping the faith to me is to embrace my being Catholic including all its flaws while maintaining and nurturing my liberal views.

I admire my friend for his courage - to ask questions, to question himself and his faith, even to challenge himself to get out of the proverbial shell and come out liberated, redeemed. I could only hope I can be as courageous in my life - or so it seems.