Our Life during the Lockdown

Hermit Crab

One of my unusual pet when I was a kid is the hermit crab. I used to amuse myself with it by scaring it into hiding to its scavenged shell. I then wait for it to cautiously get out of the shell just to be scared again. Well, I guess our pet hermit (may it rest in peace) is now amused with us and probably saying "that's karma for you" because we have been living like hermit for 8 weeks now thanks to the government-enforced lockdown. 

The pandemic disrupted our lives and shook the very foundations of our society. We have read many stories of suffering, from health workers working in hazardous conditions to no-work-no-pay people who are now reduced to begging just to survive. 

So far, this is our life during the lockdown. 

Working from Home

Fortunately, my work can be done in a Work-from-Home (WFH) setting and our company allowed us to have this set-up. Thus, our family still has income despite the lockdown.I am also fortunate that I ditched Smart Bro and moved to a better ISP. 

Transitioning to WFH is not easy because there are so many distractions at home. The kids ruin my focus and I also allot time to do house chores since My Beloved Wife is pregnant with our fourth child. 

To make up for the loss time, I tried waking up very early during the first weeks of the lockdown. It did not work. It took me a long time to get my work-from-home rhythm. Now, in the eight week of lockdown, I managed to juggle work and family concerns.

Despite the WFH struggle, I still don't work during the weekends. I avoid, as much as possible, working at night unless the office concerns are urgent. 

Paranoia is Real

We experience some sort of paranoia during the first weeks of the lockdown. The news of the spread of the virus and the number of dead people scared us, especially my pregnant wife. She was afraid for her children who might be infected by the dreadful virus. Facebook, with scary posts and constant fighting, is also not helpful.

There were also times when I was not motivated to work. I feel stressed and tired even if I am just staying home. I guess this is what some call as cabin fever. 

What we do is to distract ourselves. My Beloved Wife made me cook lunch. We also have our merienda in the front yard so that we can breathe fresh air. We also watched less news or entertained ourselves by watching movies. 

Homeschooling the Kids

One of our concerns is the education of our kids. We do not know how schools will operate in the midst of the pandemic. My Beloved Wife decided to teach our children herself. She researched about homeschooling and we recently bought some digital educational materials for our children. 

We Pray More as a Family

The greatest tragedy for us is that we can no longer attend the Holy Mass physically because of the lockdown. We attend Sunday Mass via online streaming but that is not enough. Our souls hunger for the physical presence of Christ at the mass. 

Our paranoia pushed us to pray more. Now we pray the 3 O'clock Prayer and also pray as a family before we sleep. This is the best positive effect of the lockdown for us.

Going to the Grocery is a Big Pain

One major difficulty that I experienced during the lockdown is when I buy our needs at the grocery. The lines at the grocery store are long and I spend at least half a day to finish.

Public transportation is prohibited so I just used my bicycle. Unfortunately, there was a time when I walked three kilometers from the grocery as I pushed my bike loaded with a boxful of grocery items.

I am a smart grocer now because I bring two backpacks and plenty of eco bags so I can still ride the bike while I carry all groceries back home.

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Our family is somehow coping with the disruptions caused by the pandemic. Sadly, the end is not yet in sight because there will be third and more waves of infections. In short, our temporary incarceration at home will be longer than what we imagined.

Visita Iglesia 2020: Baclaran Church (Pasay)

Today, Black Saturday, is the day when we commemorate Jesus' descent to Hades and His liberation of the blessed ones from the shackles of Death. 

Today is also the seventh day of my virtual Visita Iglesia and the church that I am featuring today is the popular Baclaran Church. 

Baclaran Church in Pasay City

I don't usually go to Baclaran Church since it is out of my way. It is My Beloved Wife who sort of introduced me to this church when we are not yet married. Now, whenever My Beloved Wife wants to attend mass in Metro Manila she always chooses Baclaran Church. 

Baclaran Church in Pasay City

Baclaran Church is popular because of the people's devotion to Our Mother of Perpetual Help. Wednesday is the day dedicated to our lady and many devotees flock to Baclaran for their panata to the "Mahal na Ina". 

Baclaran Church History

The Redemptorists, officially known as the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, reached the Philippines in 1906. They landed in Opon, Cebu and started their missionary works in Compostela, Cebu and Camotes Islands. Their missions then spread to Luzon where the Archbishop of Manila gave Malate Church under their care.

The Redemptorist, however, requested that they be posted in a more remote location because they considered Malate as an urban area. The archbishop granted their request and sent them to Baclaran.

Looking at Baclaran now makes it hard to imagine that that place was once grassland near the sea. Baclaran was a just fishing village when the Redemptorists built their wooden chapel in 1932.

Jesus on the cross at Baclaran Church in Pasay City

The wooden chapel for the missionaries where transformed when the novena to Our Mother of Perpetual Help was held for the first time in 1948. From the original 70 attendees in the first novena, it doubled to 150 attendees the next week, then to hundreds, and to thousands by 1949. Now, it was estimated that around 150,000 devotees go to Baclaran every Wednesday, which is aptly called as Baclaran Day.

The sudden growth of devotion to Our Mother of Perpetual Help necessitated the construction of a bigger church. The current structure of Baclaran Church was built from 1953 to 1958 and was designed by architects Cesar Concio and Jesse Bontoc. The church is of Modern Romanesque style.  

Baclaran Church in Pasay City

Actually, I always think that its facade resembles a big pipe organ.

Christmas at Baclaran Church in Pasay City

Baclaran Church is one of the biggest church I have been to. Its ceiling is so high and of interesting design.

Inside Baclaran Church in Pasay City

The website of Baclaran Church said that the ceiling was made to appear like big palms clasp as in prayer. Thus, Baclaran Church is the church that prays with the people. 

Ceiling of Baclaran Church in Pasay City

The altar Baclaran Church has interesting design. It consists of bronze wheat stalks crisscrossing together. 

Altar of Baclaran Church in Pasay City

At the top is the revered image of Mother of Perpetual Help.

Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Baclaran Church in Pasay City

The original image of the Mother of Perpetual Help has an interesting history. It was believed that the image was stolen by a merchant from the Greek island of Crete to Rome. At the hour of his death, the merchant asked a friend to return the image to Crete. The merchant's wife did not wish to relinquish such a beautiful image until the Virgin Mary appeared to the merchant's daughter. Mary instructed that the image be placed in St. Matthew's Church in Rome. 

The icon of Mother of Perpetual Help remained in St. Matthew's Church for three hundred years. Many people reported of miraculous healings that happened after praying to the image of the "Virgin Mary of St. Matthew's".

Altar of Baclaran Church in Pasay City

In 1819, the Irish Agustinians who managed St. Matthew's Church had to leave because the church and monastery was destroyed by the French during the Revolutionary Wars. The Augustinians moved to the Church of St. Mary in Posterula, where "Our Lady of Grace" is being venerated. Thus, the image of the "Virgin Mary of St. Matthew's" was placed in the chapel of the monastery hidden from public view.

The Redemptorists acquired the land where St. Matthew's Church once stood. After hearing a sermon of the Jesuit priest Francesco Blosi, the Redemptorists discovered the importance of the land that they acquired and the image of the Virgin of St. Matthew. The Redemptorists petitioned Pope Pius IX to get the image of Our Mother of Perpetual Help from the Church of St. Mary in Posterula. The pope granted their request and instructed the Redemptorists to make the Mother of Perpetual Help known to the whole world. The original image of Our Mother of Perpetual Help is now housed in Church of St. Alphonsus Liguori in Rome.

Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Baclaran Church in Pasay City

The image of Our Mother of Perpetual Help originated from Germany and passed through Ireland and Australia before reaching the Philippines in 1906.

Aside from the altar of Baclaran Church, the candle chapel has a big image of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.

Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Baclaran Church in Pasay City

This is where we usually spend a long time to pray. This is also my children’s favorite place in Baclaran Church because they can light candles and watch them melt.

The candle chapel is the place where devotees can get close and personal with Our Mother of Perpetual Help.

Love Locks in Baclaran Church in Pasay City

In the past, a smart aleck placed a “love lock” on the fence of the “wishing well” of Baclaran Church. The fence was soon filled with padlocks. 

Love Locks in Baclaran Church in Pasay City

This showy affection may be cute but cringeworthy and makes the place look ugly in the long run. Good thing that these love locks were removed and I did not see any of them during my last visit to Baclaran Church.

Dear lovebirds, placing a love lock does not guarantee your love will last forever.

Baclaran Church is one of the greatest Marian shrine in our country and I am sure that many people were blessed by our Lord after asking the intercession of Our Mother Perpetual Help.

Many people, especially the protestant ones, are scandalized by our veneration to Virgin Mary. I was once like them and accused my fellow Catholics of worshipping Mary. I was wrong because we Catholics do not worship Mary but we honor her like how the Israelites honored the queen mother in Biblical times. We know that Jesus’ loves Mary and placed her at the summit of His creations. We also know, as narrated in the Bible during a wedding at Cana, that Jesus listens to Mama Mary.

So, let us continue asking the intercession of Mama Mary and for sure she will prove to us the she is Our Mother of Perpetual Help.

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Prayer to Our Mother of Perpetual Help

Dear Mother of Perpetual Help from the cross Jesus gave you to us for our Mother. You are the kindest, the most loving of all mothers. Look tenderly on us your children as we now ask you to help us in all our needs especially this one

(Pause to recall your petitions).

While you were on earth, dear Mother you willingly shared in the sufferings of your Son. Strengthened by your faith and confidence in the fatherly love of God you accepted the mysterious designs of His Will.

We, too, have our crosses and trials. Sometimes they almost crush us to the ground. Dearest Mother, share with us your abundant faith and confidence in God. Make us aware that God never ceases to love us; that He answers all our prayers in the way that is best for us. Strengthen our hearts to carry the cross in the footsteps of your Divine Son. Help us to realize that he who shares the cross of Christ will certainly share His resurrection.

Dearest Mother, as we worry about our own problems let us not forget the needs of others. You always love others so much; help us to do the same. While praying for our own intentions and for the intentions of all here present at this Novena we earnestly ask you, our Mother to help us comfort the sick and the dying give hope to the poor and unemployed heal the broken-hearted walk in solidarity with the oppressed teach justice to their oppressors and bring back to God all those who have offended Him.

Dearest Mother, help us to avoid sin which separates us from our heavenly Father and from one another. Full of trust in you we place ourselves under the mantle of your maternal protection and confidently hope for your compassionate intercession. Amen.

I recommend that you visit the website of Baclaran Church to pray the whole Novena to Our Mother of Perpetual Help.

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We are now in the seventh church for our virtual Visita Iglesia so we pray the:

If you missed the earlier stations, I suggest that you visit the churches that we featured earlier in this year’s virtual Visita Iglesia: