For whatever I can share to inform, inspire, enlighten, and bring joy and hope to others, then this blog has best served its purpose.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sinulog heat reaches fever-pitch status

The colder weather caused by the Siberian cold front’s north wind blowing southward reaching as far as the Philippines seemed to have no effect  to Cebuanos as the rising heat in anticipation of the Sinulog festival has reached fever-pitch level. Some jeepney and other vehicle's regular routes must be re-routed to prevent the city from chocking up with heavy traffic, the Basilica del Sto. Nino church will have to be opened 24 hours a day to accommodate the rising number of devotees who will attend masses and say their prayers, a Devotee city was built up to offer free temporary stay and other services to devotees coming from other places who can’t afford to make it to the hotels, souvenir shops expecting a sell-out for Sinulog souvenir items, Henna tattoos once again to become an instant hit, and many more. And who, among the Cebuanos, will refuse to get infected with Sinulog fever? The fact that it is the grandest and mother of all festivals in the entire island of Cebu, Cebuanos are even making it a little bit more significant, grandiose, and alive each time. This year’s Sinulog festival falls on the 20th, which is the 3rd Sunday of the month. Sinulog festival has no specific fixed date to celebrate with but on every 3rd Sunday of January.

Cebu is the center of Christianity in Asia where the first Philippine native Christians namely Raja Humabon, together with his wife, and some of his people, dwelt and baptized. Raja Humabon, by the way, is the local chieftain of Cebu when the first group of Spanish colonizers came led by the Portuguese explorer, who served for the king of Spain, Ferdinand Magellan more than 400 years ago. According to historical accounts, Ferdinand Magellan handed Raja Humabon, as a gift, the wooden images of the baby Jesus known as the Sto. Nino, and the Ecce Homo which is the face of Christ. Many years would have to pass after that, the image of Sto. Nino was found by a Spanish soldier inside a burned down hut unscathed, when they were burning down some of the locals’ houses thought to have conspired for rebellion against Spanish authorities in Cebu. The image was then decided to be housed in a church, and so the first Sto. Nino church, which underwent a series of reconstruction before the final form was built of what is now the Basilica del Sto Nino de Cebu, in the entire island of Cebu has been built. Basilica del Sto. Nino is one of the Philippines’s oldest of churches.

The Sto. Nino image, believed by many Cebuanos to be miraculous and one by which they can seek refuge with, has become a symbol of faith, hope, and love. The festival itself is just a physical representation to keep the symbol alive. Most importantly, it reflects the psyche of every Cebuano—their more-than-average devotion to the baby Jesus and their dedication to keep it alive in their hearts are what made it colorful and special.

Friday, January 11, 2013

I found myself wanting a drink: A San Mig coffee experience

Talking about coffee is to make sense of what you’re talking about. This most consumed of beverages, known for its energizing effect on humans, believed to have been first discovered in Ethiopia is why I love talking about wanting a drink and feel that warm liquid to go down my throat. I’m a coffee drinker and San Mig coffee, through the cup, tastes better among the best. Yes, I was convinced that this had to be the case: San Mig coffee just tastes a lot better.

My hands shook as I pressed on the keyboards to write something. What would I think of next? I found myself wanting a drink. A hot San Mig coffee by the cup: chococino, white, brown, 3 in 1, or super. The warm liquid went down into my throat. Yes, I found myself wanting a drink, and finally this poem I’ve written:

I sometimes wonder
how your infectious smile
unlocked the unstable

Growth of a glowing sun
that bursts from within
your private face,

Sending dark secrets
toward a stare
that feeds the senses.

There you fully surfaced, melting,
inside me all time:
The longing between

Pouring the cream in your coffee
and to get to know
the shape of a new word

The quieting emerged.
The depth that moves
to flee or chase   

Speed, for whatever reason,
to swift the moment.
Yet there I found it in your face

At every pouring of a cream into a cup
that unlocks language.
We linked smiles.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Sinulog 2013 falls on the 20th of January

CEBU CITY, PHILIPPINES -- A little over a week from now, Cebu’s grandest of festivals called the “Sinulog” will once again take center stage attracting huge crowds of people from all walks of life from both the tourists and locals alike. Some of these tourists have been regular visitors to the country already making Cebu their point of destination. While the local excursionists, on the other hand, will be making it here for many different reasons. Some will just come to witness or experience, out of curiosity, what a grandiose display of what is considered as one of the grandest of Philippine festivals will be like and all about. Others will have to be here to collect souvenirs as well as to take pictures of the said event and to simply enjoy. But most, a lot will come as devout Catholics who will be making it like a pilgrimage each year. For these so called “pilgrims”, to be able to attend in the festivity and offered prayers and flowers to the baby Jesus locally called as the “Santo Nino” could give them a new vigor, a new source of hope, and more blessings. Whatever the reasons for their coming, one thing is certain though: it is to celebrate the socio-cultural significance as well as the religious connection of the said event.

The influx of tourists to witness the Sinulog festival could help boost the local economy of Cebu. Most of the hotels will be fully booked several days or even a few weeks before the said festival. Souvenir shops selling Sinulog souvenir items and memorabilias will become instant hits. Cebu’s famous restaurants will be fielding their bests (I suggest you must eat and drink with moderation though). Not only will the metropolitan Cebu be exposed and re-discovered but as well the countryside. Beautiful sceneries from the nearby provinces will complete the package.

More interesting aside from that are the people. Filipinos are known to be hospitable. But the Cebuanos (a term referred to the inhabitants of Cebu), aside from being hospitable, are most approachable. They are a people known, too, for their very deep Catholic faith. Sinulog festival mirrors the soul of every Cebuano, their rich culture, and faith in God.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A journey of faith by the three wise men from the East

Today, the Roman Catholic Church is celebrating what is called as the Feast of Epiphany. In the Philippines, it is the last day for the longest Christmas celebration in the world which officially starts on December 16th. It is also a day for the visitation of the three wise men from the East known as the Magi who happened to be also kings namely Melchior, Gaspar, and Balthazar to the baby Jesus and brought Him gifts of gold, myrrh, and frankincense. The date was fixed on the 6th of January being the 12th day after Christmas. It is also known by many today as the "Happy Three Kings Day!"

The fixed date for Epiphany and even Christmas may have been a subject of debates for many within as well as without the Church, a complex a feast as it may be, one thing is certain though: it happened. In a much deeper sense, the Feast of Epiphany is for the Christians to celebrate the incarnation of God to a human form in the person of Jesus Christ. In other words, it is the Feast of Manifestation. It is the complete fulfillment of a divine promise, the coming of the Light into the world through Christ.

The book of Matthew in the Bible has mentioned about the visitation of these wise men from the East in chapter 2 verses 1 to 12: “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.’

“When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born.  ‘In Bethlehem in Judea,’ they replied, ‘for this is what the prophet has written: “But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.”

“Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.’

“After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.”

Actually, it has remained to be unknown as to how many wise men from the East who came to worship the baby Jesus but it was assumed there are about three of them based on the number of gifts being given: the gold, the frankincense, and myrrh. They were thought to come from somewhere in Persia or even Babylon. I would like to believe that these wise men from the East belonged to the top-notched class of astrologers of their time who, upon seeing Jesus’s star, by faith embarked on a journey towards a still unknown far away land with only the star as the guide, and when they found the bearer of that star, worshiped him and offered what were the precious gifts.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013: A new hope to deal with

The year 2012 has just ended; 2013 is here to take the place. Will this year be one that’s better than the last? 2012 has left us with both the many sad and happy memories to reminisce about. But I would like to think, though, that every New Year is always better than the last. Of course, we have to make it better by doing what it takes to make it better. Horrible things may happen to people everywhere and the living is not always easy, but these are what made life a very wonderful experience. We have to accept and appreciate for whatever life has in store for us. 

No matter how this year will have to unfold, it sure has to be a new source of hope that we can deal with at. Another chance for all of us to make things right for what we’ve had failed to do in the previous year. There’s always got to be a next time and 2013 will have to be our “another try”.

2012 has brought me good things fairly well. Topping the list was the birth of my firstborn son Nathaniel Harris in August. For the first time in my life I felt about the joy of fatherhood and it has enriched my life all the more. But some of these could as well be found in the little things in our everyday life. Yes, the little things that means a lot.

So what about you? I’m sure there are also lots of wonderful things coming your way in 2012 which I hope to double in 2013. I’m not saying it would be problem-free or a trouble-proof one, but that’s going to be just right for you to make the best out of it. To all of those who think they can make this year a better one for each of them and for the world, you own this year! Happy New Year!

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