The Sad History of the Tombstone in front of Binondo Church

The floor in front of the door of Binondo Church catches my attention every time I enter the church. Of the bland marble stones laid in front of the church, only this big particular part has inscriptions that are difficult to understand. 


Tombstone of Juan Dionicio Coqua at the doors of Binondo Church
The mysterious tombstone at the door of Binondo Church.

The word that I read in the tombstone is AQVIYAZE JVAN DIONICIO. Below those big letters are 22 DED 1722 AÑ.

I suspected that this suspicious marble stone is a tombstone but I couldn't understand the text since I do not know how to read Spanish. So I enlisted the help of Google translate, which was also as clueless as me. At least Google search pointed me to a photo of a tomb of the Spanish king Don Pelayo that also bears the text AQVIYAZE. So, my suspicion was somehow confirmed that Binondo Church's tile is a tombstone.

A change in keywords brought me to an online paper which gave the proper rendering of the text. According to the paper, the text should be read as:

AQUI YAZE 

JUAN DIONICIO 

COQUA FALLEC EN 

27 DE F. DE 1722 AÑ

Super facepalm for me. I forgot that in old writings, the V should be read as U. 

The text, when translated to English, read as:

HERE LIES

JUAN DIONICIO

COQUA WHO DIED ON

27 OF FEBRUARY OF 1722

My suspicion is finally confirmed to be correct. That marble stone, or better known as piedra china, at Binondo Church's door marked the grave of Juan Dionicio Coqua, who died on February 27, 1722.

This discovery actually created more questions for me. Who is Juan Dionicio Coqua? And why was his tomb placed at the church’s door where churchgoers will step on it? These questions pushed me to do more online research and to the discovery of another dark part of our country’s history.

The history of Binondo is characterized by the inter-racial tension between the natives of Manila (the so called Indios), the Chinese immigrants, the Chinese mestizos (those who mostly have Chinese father and Indio mother) and the ruling Spaniards. The land of Binondo was donated in 1594 by Governor General Luis Pérez Dasmariñas to the Chinese who converted to Christianity. Some historians say that the donation was a way for the Governor General to skirt the royal decree of expelling the Chinese from Manila, possibly due to their involvement in the attack of Chinese pirate Limahong in 1574. However, based on another source, I believe another reason why the Chinese converts were transferred to Binondo was to separate the "good" Chinese from the "bad" Chinese living in the old Parian, which is located in the now Liwasang Bonifacio and Manila Post Office. 

Chinese as depicted in the Murillo-Velarde-Bagay Map
The Chinese or Sangleys as depicted in the Murillo-Velarde-Bagay Map. (Source: Wikimedia)

1594 is the year of great tension in Manila because of the arrival of a great number of Chinese ships loaded with men and weapons. The Spanish authorities suspected the Chinese but still welcomed their dignitaries. It was believed that the Chinese planned to invade Manila while the Spaniards were on a military campaign in Moluccas. However, they changed their minds when they saw the Spanish armada. 

The mandarins thought that the Spanish fleet is on a campaign in the Moluccas. The mandarins' intel was correct but already inaccurate. The military campaign to Moluccas was put into action by Governor General Governor Pérez de Dasmariñas in 1593. The military campaign did not push through, however, because the Chinese crew of the flag ship mutinied and killed the governor general. Had the Moluccas campaign pushed through then the Chinese mandarins may have been successful in invading Manila. Thus, it can be said that the planned invasion of Manila by China in 1593 was foiled by their fellow Chinese who mutinied during the Spanish military campaign to Moluccas.

Luis Pérez Dasmariñas, the son of the governor general killed by mutineers in the aborted Moluccas campaign, is the new governor general. As I said previously, Luis Pérez Dasmariñas is the governor general who made Binondo as the new settlement for the Chinese. In this new Chinatown, the Chinese were heavily taxed and had to pay large amount of fees as well as provide yearly labor to the government.

In May 1603, Chinese Mandarins visited Manila again. There mission is to search for a certain mountain in Cavite that produces great amount of gold and silver. The Spanish was suspicious of the mission but they still welcomed the mandarins like in their previous visit. The mandarins eventually left Manila but the colonial government were wary of the Chinese immigrants in Binondo. The result of this animosity is the so-called Chinese Rebellion of 1603 (according to colonial government sources) or the Chinese Massacre of 1603 (according to Chinese immigrant sources). The casualties of that event included the many dead Chinese immigrants, native Filipinos used as soldiers by the colonial government, and the death of colonial government officials that included Luis Pérez Dasmariñas himself.

Binondo, Manila circa 1739
Old map of Binondo circa 1739 as seen in the "Topographia de la Ciudad de Manila" by Hipolito Ximenez. (Source: The British Library)

Despite of the “bad blood”, the colonial government couldn't give up the Chinese immigrants because of their link to the Chinese mainland, which is vital for the success of the Galleon Trade. It is this link that the Dominican friars planned to take advantage of when Binondo was placed under their care 1596. The Dominicans used Binondo as their springboard for their missions to China.

The friars originally built Binondo Church with a cemetery adjoining it. Actually, the cemetery outside the church is for commoners while the prominent persons in the community, especially those who were the church's great benefactors, were buried inside the church. The big tombstone is then a proof that Juan Donicio Coqua was one of the prominent benefactors of Binondo Church.

Little is known about Juan Dionicio Coqua. Internet research did not yield good information. Facebook search yielded little result of any person who is surnamed Coqua. The only clue that I got is that coqua is a Latin word for "cook". Maybe Juan Dionicio Coqua was a cook or a restaurateur in Binondo.

Unfortunately, the prominence of Juan Dionicio Coqua and his family didn't guarantee that his final resting place will not be disturbed. There came a time when the Dominicans turned Binondo Church into a Filipino church. The result is that all piedra china were removed and destroyed. I cannot find any source when this happened but it can be after the British Invasion of Manila. During that incident, many Chinese immigrants sided with the British. Unfortunately, the Seven Years Wars between Spain and Britain ended and the treaty between the two nations declared that Manila will be returned to Spain. The Chinese in Manila received punishment from the Spanish colonial government and many of them were deported back to the mainland. Traces of Chinese culture in Binondo Church were possibly removed during that time.

The piedra china inside the church was defaced. According to the Richard T. Chu the Teresita Ang See, the Chinese characters, which is the vertical line on the piedra china, were removed from the tombstone of Donicio Cocqua.

There were other piedra china tiles on the floor of the Binondo Church but all of these were removed when the the church was wrecknovated renovated. The parish priest and the parish council who approved the allowed the destruction of centuries-old of historical artifacts.

Binondo Church is not the only church where the Chinese tombstones were disturbed. Santa Cruz Church, located at the other end of Ongpin Street, has piedra china tiles that are used to fence the plant box. 

Chinese Tombstones Outside of Santa Cruz Church, Manila
Piedra china outside of Santa Cruz Church.


The Chinese characters are clear. Some of the stones bear the text SEPULTURA, which means that they are indeed tombstones.

Chinese Tombstone Outside of Santa Cruz Church, Manila
"SEPULTURA" says the tombstone outside of Santa Cruz Church.


Santa Cruz Church is currently under the care of the Sacramentinos. However, the church was under the care of the Jesuits, who employed Chinese converts and Tagalogs in building the district of Santa Cruz from marshland into a liveable settlement.

It is sad to note that there is a dearth of study made into the history of the missing piedra china or Chinese tombstones in Binondo and Santa Cruz. This only means that there is much to be uncovered about the history of Manila, which I think will enrich our view of this city and the whole Philippines. Alas! The current state of these valuable artifacts shows that the living Filipinos of today do not care about the lives of the dead Filipinos and the stories that they can tell.

- - -

Read more about Binondo in these blog posts:

1. Visita Iglesia 2019: Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Chinese Parish Church (Binondo, Manila)

2. Visita Iglesia: Binondo Church

3. Chinese New Year Feast along Ongpin Street

4. Chinese New Year in Binondo Chinatown

5. A Walk through Quintin Paredes Street

6. A Parade of Delicious Chinese Dishes

7. Yummy Hopia from Salazar Bakery

8. Searching for Wedding Rings and a Bad Day in Binondo Chinatown

9. Lunch Break at Lan Zhou La Mien

10. Eng Ho's Mamon Cake

- - -

Historical info in this blog post was sourced from the following:

1. The massacre of 1603: Chinese perception of the Spaniards in the Philippines  by José Eugenio Borao

2. Chinese mestizo and natives' disputes in Manila and the1812 Constitution: Old privileges and new political realities(1813–15) by Ruth de Llobet

3. Toward a History of Chinese Burial Grounds in Manila during the Spanish Colonial Period by Richard T. Chu and Teresita Ang See

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Ano ang Ginagawa sa Kumpil?

Kumpil
Ang Kumpil (Source: Wikipedia).
Ang kumpil ay ang Sakramento ng Simbahang Katolika na kumukumpleto sa spiritwal na biyaya o grasya na natanggap ng isang Katoliko noong binyag.

Ang sakramentong ito ay pinahihintulutang ibigay sa lahat ng Katoliko na may edad 12 na taong gulang pataas. Katulad ng binyag, sa kumpil ay dapat may ninong o ninang ang kukumpilan.

Ano nga ba ang ginagawa sa kumpil?

Simple lang naman ang seremonyas na ginagawa sa kumpil. Heto ang mga mahalagang ginagawa sa kumpil:

1. Pagpapabanibago ng mga pangako mg binyag.

Dito ay inihahayag ng kukumpilan ang kanyang pananampalataya kay Kristo at sa Kanyang Simbahan, at pagwawaksi kay Satanas. Kung sa binyag, ang mga magulang, ninong at ninang ang nagsasabi nito, sa kumpil yung mismong kukumpilan ang ang maghahayag nito

2. Pagpapatong Kamay

Ang obispong nagkukumpil ay ipapatong nya ang kanyang kamay sa mga kukumpilan habang pinagdarasal sila. Sinisimbolo nito ang pagbabasbas ng Simbahan sa mga kinukumpilan.

3. Pagpapahid ng Langis

Ang bawat kukumpilan ay papahiran ng banal na langis sa noo at "sasampalin". Ang langis ang simbolo ng kumpil.


Ang mga ginagawa sa kumpil ay simple lang pero puno ng simbolismo. Ang kumpil ay nagbibigay sa bawat Katoliko ng tatak na sila ay handa nang makipaglaban para kay Kristo. Ibig sabihin nito, ang kumpil ay hindi isang simpleng bagay sa espiritwal na aspeto.

Nakakalungkot lang na ang kumpil ay ang madalas malimutan kumpara sa iba pang mga sakramento. Yung mga magulang ko, halimbawa, ay nakalimutan akong pakumpilan. Kaya ako ay nagpakumpil lang sa Quiapo Church bago ikasal.

Kung ikaw kapareho ko ng sitwasyon, basahin mo ang aking post tungkol aking kumpil sa Quiapo Church bago ikasal. Ang kumpil ay isa sa mga requirements kung ikaw ay magpapakasal sa simbahan.

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Fatherly Thoughts: Going Down from Gold to Silver

One of my fervent wishes after I got married is to have a daughter. I have no problem having a son but having a daughter is like having a little princess at home.

After having a son as our first born, the Lord granted my wish and gave me my daughter "Samantha". She is both sweet and maldita. She likes Hello Kitty and unicorns but can play rough with her kuya. Unfortunately, she's getting some of my bad habits and it's like dealing with a smaller version of myself - a mini-me of sorts.

In any case, Samantha is my one and only princess - from infancy even to her adulthood.

I am having this fatherly thoughts after I watched this scene in an episode of the anime Kakushigoto that struck the emotional chord in my heart:

Kakushigoto: from gold medalist to silver medalist


Goto: By the way, what's this gold medal for?

Daughter: It means you're a gold medalist in my eyes.

Goto (thinking): ...but when she grows up and falls in love, I'll become a silver medalist.


T_T


Well, I guess it is true. No matter how much a daughter loves her father there might come a time when another man will be the priority.

The Bible is clear about this. Genesis 2:24 says:

For this reason, a man shall leave behind his father and mother, and he shall cling to his wife; and the two shall be as one flesh.

Well, that passage is not only about the man but also about the woman who leaves her family, the household of her father, then becomes one with her husband.

This is a painful possibility for all the doting fathers out there. Even if our daughters stayed single her whole life, there will come a time that they have to live on their own (either voluntarily or involuntarily when the time of our death comes). Our work as a father is to prepare them for that future even if there's that possibility that we will be the silver medalist in their eyes.

Whatever happens, even when that possibility comes, Samantha will stay as the gold medalist in my eyes.

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Malunggay Wars 2! Feralac vs Moringa Vita

My Beloved Wife knows that breastfeeding is important for the health of our bunso. Physically, breastfeeding gives our baby a good immune system, healthy tummy, and other health benefits. Emotionally, breastfeeding makes the bond between our baby and my wife strong. Financially, it is less costly than buying the expensive infant milk formula.

However, there are times when my wife's milk supply is not enough to meet the needs of our growing baby. To ensure that she has enough milk, My Beloved Wife eats galactagogue food or food that boost the milk supply of breastfeeding moms. 

Aside from eating galactagogue food, she also takes malunggay supplement. There are many brands of malunggay supplement. I talked about some of them in my previous post. Now, she tried a new malunggay supplement brand, which is Feralac.

Feralac

It was difficult to go out during the ECQ lockdowns so there were times that we couldn't immediately buy a malunggay supplement. Good thing that there is Shopee where my wife can buy the malunggay supplements that she needs. 

The malunggay supplement that she ordered from Shopee is Feralac.

Feralac Malunggay Supplement
(Source: Shopee)

She bought one box of Feralac Malunggay Supplement (30 pieces of 50 mg capsules). The price is 250 pesos per box of 100 capsules.

My Beloved Wife said that Feralac is not working for her. This malunggay supplement is not increasing her milk supply. In the end, she stopped taking it and she just bartered it for Yakult.

Since Feralac is not a good galactagogue (breastmilk booster), she returned to Moringa Vita.

Tai Chi Moringa Vita

Moringa Vita is my wife's tried and tested malunggay supplement. She used it while breastfeeding our first and second child. She is now using it for our third child.

My wife noticed better results with Moringa Vita so she still preferred it than other brands. 

Moringa Vita is available in Mercury Drug and can also be bought online from Shopee or Lazada.

My wife's experience with malunggay supplements doesn't mean that Moringa Vita is better than Feralac. The truth is that other moms have good results with Feralac. This only means that each mother is unique and has different results. So, if you think that the current malunggay supplement that you're taking is not boosting your milk supply, then that means you need to try other malunggay supplements. You can also eat more food that is known to boost milk supply like malunggay leaves, green papaya, and carrots.

For more info about malunggay supplements, please read Malunggay Wars! TaiChi vs Natalac vs Mega Malunggay.

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The Quints and Why I'm Drawn to Rom-Com Animes

I admit that I am sucker for rom-com animes. I remember the times when I spent the night 'til the wee hours of the morning just to watch episodes of High School Rumble and the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.

However, it was a very long time a ago since I watched a rom-com anime and it was just a replay of Haruhi's antics. So I was pleasantly surprised when I sampled the first half of the first episode of Quintessential Quintuplets.

The Quintessential Quintuplets
(Source: Long Zhi Tian Xue)

Actually, I resisted watching it. I tried watching The Way of the Househusband but it didn't clicked with me. So I returned to the Quints and it is the best decision I did because I truly enjoyed this anime.

Quintessential Quintuplets is about quintuplet sisters who eventually fell in love with their classmate and tutor. The mystery is who among the quintuplets will marry the man of their dreams? Well it's still a mystery for anime-watchers but not for the manga-readers.

One reason that I avoid reading a novel or watching a new series is that it affects my sleep. I kept on saying that it will be my last chapter or episode before I go to sleep until it's 4 am. This is what happened recently so I was able to finish two seasons of Quintissential Quintuplets in 3 or so days.

Quintissential Quintuplets is a Shonen manga that is for teens. However, it pulled a string in me. Well, I guess I am still an isip-bata. Or maybe Quintessential Quintuplets reminded me of my uneventful high school years sprinkled with rare drama. The tensions of the Quints, culminating in a sisters war, is a direct opposite of my high school experiences. Yes, there were crushes, school activities, sports events, the banter between classmates, the fights...all of it not worthy to be featured in an anime, of course.

I ended my high school with a tragedy of sorts. During prom, I danced the night away with a girl from another section who I just met that night. I saw my girl "bestfriend" in tears. Did she cried because I did not partnered with her? Does she have feelings for me? Or maybe I was just assuming? I cannot recall it that much but everything between us changed after that night. After the prom, I courted that girl from the other section. I was flatly rejected just to discover that she had a crush on my classmate who is handsome (well he was our section's representative to pageants). That was the last time I ever courted a girl.

For an immature me in high school, rejection by a crush is a great tragedy. I think it intensified my belief that I am "ugly" or no girl will like me (although I daydreamed that they like me). This is the reason why I was a torpe in college and never had any romantic relationship until that less-than-a-month girlfriend came along and confessed her feelings to me. Well, it ended in tragedy and it kinda soured the final months of my college. Well, we were immature back then and I don’t know how to handle a relationship. Instead of fighting for it (well, was it worth fighting for?) I chose the easy way of ending it, hesitantly. The only positive effect of the tragedy is the creation of this blog to soothe my broken heart.

I guess I can relate with the male protagonists of these rom-com animes - Harima Kenji, Kyon, Fuutarou Uesugi - socially awkward and torpe. One scene when Fuutarou said he is the "garbage" in their group of friends reminded me of the days when I felt that I was alone in my college “barkada”. As the years progressed, I drifted far and far away from the "barkada" until I became a loner.


Just Throw Away the Unnecessary Stuff

Just like Fuutarou, I just focused on studies during college and my classmate though that I am smart and tutored them from time to time.

Miku is the best Quint
Miku is the best Quint.


Back to the anime, my favorite Quint is the silent-type Miku. There's no surprise there. When it comes to anime, I always root for the silent type like Yakumo of High School Rumble and Nagato of Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.

I think she deserves to be the bride of Fuutarou. However, I had feeling that Yotsuba will be victorious or maybe Ichika.

Miku loves Fuutarou
(Source: Akhbar24)


Up until now I feel emotional with Quintessential Quintuplets. My heart felt warm during Miku's confession and that the second season ended without the Quints falling apart. My favorite scene is on Episode 8 when Miku was so happy because Fuutarou guessed rightly that it was her despite having the same face and attire as her sisters.

Fuutarou Recognized Miku
Fuutarou recognized Miku.

So, why do I watch anime? The simple answer is that it is a sort of stress reliever. I was under the weather these past days because of demanding bosses, unpaid overtime, exacting tasks --- I was feeling so bad that I think of migrating to Canada or New Zealand.

The Quints helped me destress, but now I couldn't help but be stressed about who will be the bride in the end. And the next season is said to be released next year! It is a long wait.

Oh well, I guess I have move to another anime so as to bear the long wait or I just read the manga.

- - -

P.S.

So I cannot stop thinking about the ending of Quintessential Quintuplets so I decided to end everything by finishing the manga. Well, it was a disappointment not because Miku was not the bride but the ending is "meh". The mangaka even gave it a sort of "harem ending".

The mystery bride is Yotsuba and I didn't like it simply because I consider her as the worst of the Quints. 

I consider Yotsuba as the worst Quint because her cowardice is the cause of the pain and sufferings of Fuutarou and her sisters.

She could've told Fuutarou early on that she is the girl that he met in Kyoto 5 years ago. But she chose to hide the truth just because she was afraid of Fuutarou's reaction because she did not fulfill their promise of studying diligently.

Some claim that Yotsuba is the best Quint because she supported Fuutarou during the whole duration of the story. However, the best support that she should've given is in telling the truth. What she actually did is to avoid, evade  and run away during the whole story.

Even though she knew that Fuutarou longs for the girl that he met in Kyoto, she used Itsuki to "release" him from the past. She even pushed Miku and Ichika to go for Fuutarou, even though she knew that Fuutarou is looking for her, longing for her. 

She used her sisters as her cover. She used her Itsuki disguise to kiss Fuutarou at the bell. She claimed that she "supports" her sisters' love for Fuutarou and yet kissed him while in disguise. In the end, her cowardice exposed her sisters to heartbreak.

It is unfair then that Yotsuba is the winner in this story. The victory should've gone to any of the other four Quints because they went out of their comfort zones to show their love for Fuutarou.

Nino Nakano Going on the Offensive
My second favorite Quint, Nino, going on the offensive.


- - -

P.S.

I think I've gone full circle in this blog. In the past I only wrote about my petty heartbrokenness and other personal stories of my life. I realized then that no one read such things. So, I decided to make this blog more interesting and draw more audience by writing about my travels. The number of visitors grew and I got minimal compensation due to ads.

Now that I am older and have no time to write lengthy travel posts, I return to my old ways and just write about myself. I know no one will be interested but hey I am just returning to the true purpose of this blog, which is being my stress reliever especially now that the pandemic is affecting me.

I also thought that this blog would be a good way for me to remember my life when I am already a senior citizen.

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Visita Iglesia (2021): St. Michael the Archangel Chapel (Taguig City)

Of the three angels named in the Holy Bible, Michael is considered as the warrior since most of his "screen time" is him fighting some demons. In the Book of Daniel he fought the Prince of Persia, who is a demon who rule over the Persian Empire. In the Book of Revelations, Michael led the faithful angels against Satan and the fallen angels.

As the leader of the heavenly host, many Filipino soldiers consider him as their protector and patron saint. Because of this, the chapel located within the grounds of the headquarters of Philippine Army Support Group along Bayani Road in Taguig City is dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel.

St. Michael the Archangel Chapel in Taguig City

The facade of this chapel is unremarkable with a facade that is plain and forming the shape of a quonset hut, which are temporary structures popularized by the military.

Just outside of this chapel is an armored personnel carrier.

Armored personnel carrier at St. Michael the Archangel Chapel in Taguig City

So far, this is the only church that I encountered that has a war vehicle parked in front of it.

Despite being a chapel, the interior of St. Michael the Archangel Chapel is quite spacious.

Interior of St. Michael the Archangel Chapel in Taguig City

I finally saw this chapel's altar. I was disappointed during my last visit because a tarp covered the crucifix.

Altar of St. Michael the Archangel Chapel in Taguig City

In front of the altar is the image of the chapel's patron saint.

Icon of St. Michael the Archangel in St. Michael the Archangel Chapel in Taguig City

The church is under the care of the Military Ordinariate of the Philippines, which provides pastoral care to the members of the military, police, and coast guard.

Catholic military chaplains are a unique group of priests because they have military ranks and can be deployed to a battlefield. They minister to the wounded and the dying.

One striking scene in the movie Saving Private Ryan is of a military chaplain, possibly a Catholic, ministering to a dying soldier while under fire.

Catholic Military Chaplain in Saving Private Ryan
(Source: Quora)


In fact, the story of Saving Private Ryan is loosely based on the story of a military chaplain of an airborne regiment.

Military chaplains were also present during the 2017 Battle of Marawi. A military chaplain was the first priest to celebrate mass in Marawi Cathedral after it was retaken from terrorists.

First Mass in Marawi Cathedral during the 2017 Battle of Marawi
(Source: Rappler)

The Holy Mass was held while the sounds of war still rang all around Marawi. The dismembered image of a saint and the desecrated image of Christ is still around while the mass is ongoing.

Water Font in St. Michael the Archangel Chapel in Taguig City

I attended a couple of masses in St. Michael the Archangel Chapel and the celebrant is a military chaplain and the servers are members of the military. It is an unusual sight for a civilian like me.

St. Michael crushing the Devil at St. Michael the Archangel Chapel in Taguig City

Angels are classified into nine choirs or ranks. St. Michael is an archangel, which is the second lowest choir. Lucifer, who led the third of angels in rebellion against God, is a member of the cherubim, which is the second highest choir.

It is interesting to note that St. Michael of the low rank led the faithful angels and defeated Lucifer of the second highest rank. Revelation 12:7-9 tells us the story of that great battle:


And there was a great battle in heaven. Michael and his Angels were battling with the dragon, and the dragon was fighting, and so were his angels.

But they did not prevail, and a place for them was no longer found in heaven.

And he was thrown out, that great dragon, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, who seduces the whole world. And he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were cast down with him.


This story of St. Michael tells us that being in a lowly rank or humble situation in life is not a hindrance to serve God. All we need is to be faithful to Him so that we can away the evil dragons that imperil our soul.

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Visita Iglesia is a Catholic tradition of visiting seven or fourteen churches during Maundy Thursday. For each day, this Holy Week, I will feature one church as a sort of virtual Visita Iglesia.

Unfortunately, due to the pandemic and the lockdowns, I was only able to visit three churches. So, for this year's virtual Visita Iglesia I can only feature 3 churches, namely:

Palm Sunday: St. Polycarp Church in Cabuyao City

Holy Monday: St. Francis Church in Ortigas, Mandaluyong


- - -

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Visita Iglesia (2021): St. Francis of Assisi Church - My Refuge in Ortigas

In the midst of high buildings and commercial complexes stands my refuge whenever I go to Ortigas for a business. That refuge is named as St. Francis Church.

St. Francis Church in Ortigas, Mandaluyong

I discovered this church while walking from SM Megamall to San Miguel Ave. The cross fronting it is big and quite imposing.

St. Francis Church in Ortigas, Mandaluyong

The parish of St. Francis of Assisi was founded in 19581 and was placed under the care of the Order of Capuchin Friars Minor, who are also known as the Franciscan Capuchins. These friars are the followers of the strict rule laid by St. Francis of Assisi. For this reason, the Capuchin's church in Ortigas is dedicated to St. Francis.

St. Francis of Assisi on Stained Glass at St. Francis Church in Ortigas, Mandaluyong

At the entrance to the church, I was welcomed by the stained-glass image of St. Francis. On the floor are the words "Pax et Bonum", which is said to be the welcoming and parting phrase of St. Francis.

Pax et Bonum

"Pax et Bonum" is Latin for "Peace and Goodness".

The doors of the church are quite simple…

Doors of St. Francis Church

...that it betrays the fact that its interior is huge.

I never expected that this church that looks small from the outside is quite spacious inside.

The lights were off during my visit so I was not able to have a good shot of the church's altar, which depicts St. Francis standing beside the crucified Jesus.

Altar of St. Francis Church

I can only visit St. Francis Church on weekdays so I can only attend the mass with a much smaller crowd than Sunday masses. So the masses that I attended were held at the side altar.

Side Altar of St. Francis Church in Ortigas, Mandaluyong

The side altar is also spacious and looks good despite being at the side. It's altar features the major events of Jesus' life: His birth, baptism, death, and resurrection.

My favorite place for prayers is the Adoration Chapel at the ground floor (the main church is on the second floor).

Adoration Chapel of St. Francis Church in Ortigas, Mandaluyong

The Adoration Chapel is a better place for praying and meditation because it is much smaller and has less distraction.

Our Crucified Lord in St. Francis Church in Ortigas, Mandaluyong

Also, the chapel has the relic of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, who is the famous Capuchin saint. The adoration chapel of St. Francis Church is the best place to pray to God and then ask for the intercession of Padre Pio.

Relic of Padre Pio in St. Francis Church in Ortigas, Mandaluyong

St. Francis Church is a good discovery because it serves as my refuge whenever I happen to be around Ortigas. It is like the Shrine of Jesus, The Way, The Truth, & The Life at SM Mall of Asia, Chapel of the Eucharistic Lord in SM Megamall, and the Sto. Niño de Paz Chapel in Greenbelt.

- - -

Francis of Assisi was born in a wealthy family and lived a carefree life as a young man. Jesus touched his heart and brought him to conversion. He became an instrument for the conversion of many by shedding off his wealth and living a life of poverty.

Francis emulated Jesus Christ in rejecting material wealth. Let us then emulate St. Francis so that like him we will earn enormous spiritual wealth in Heaven.

Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace; 

Where there is hatred, let me sow love; 

Where there is injury, pardon; 

Where there is doubt, faith; 

Where there is despair, hope; 

Where there is darkness, light; 

And where there is sadness, joy. 


O Divine Master,

Grant that I may not so much seek

To be consoled as to console; 

To be understood, as to understand; 

To be loved, as to love; 

For it is in giving that we receive, 

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, 

And it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life. 

Amen.

- - -

Visita Iglesia is a Catholic tradition of visiting seven or fourteen churches during Maundy Thursday. For each day, this Holy Week, I will feature one church as a sort of virtual Visita Iglesia.

Unfortunately, due to the pandemic and the lockdowns, I was only able to visit three churches. So, for this year's virtual Visita Iglesia I can only feature 3 churches, namely:

Palm Sunday: St. Polycarp Church in Cabuyao City

Holy Monday: St. Francis Church in Ortigas, Mandaluyong

- - - 

Sources:

1. Info on the founding year of St. Francis Church from FederalLand

2. St. Francis Church official Facebook page

3. Prayer of St. Francis from Our Catholic Prayer

Visita Iglesia (2021): Revisiting Cabuyao's Oldest Church - St. Polycarp Church

(Souurce: Wikipedia)

The "inutil" government did it again! Malacañang recently declared ECQ over the so-called NCR+. This means that we Catholics are barred again from celebrating the holiest week of the year. Making only the Holy Week as ECQ is obviously a revenge from the Man in the Palace, whose ego was bruised by the comment from Bishops Pabillo and Bishop David on the illogical protocols directed against the Church and her celebration of the Holy Week.

Anyways, let us go back to the topic of this post. Today is Palm Sunday and on this day I begin my Virtual Visita Iglesia. The visita iglesia or "church visit" is a Filipino tradition of visiting 7 or 14 churches every Holy Thursday. It is a form of penance, traditionally, with some penitents walking barefoot from church to another. For some, visita iglesia is treated as a tour of churches. Now in the years of lockdowns, no one is allowed to do this tradition.

For Palm Sunday, let me revisit the church in Cabuyao, Laguna that I featured in the Virtual Visita Iglesia in 2017. That Church is St. Polycarp Church of Cabuyao.

It was dusk when I attended mass in St. Polycarp Church in 2017. So the photos that I took of the church's facade and exteriors are dark. This time I visited the church in the afternoon and got a very good view of the church's exteriors.

It is disheartening that the door of Cabuyao Church is closed and no one can enter to pray. The pandemic and the government's addiction to lockdowns took many things from us. It is as if they are denying us to gaze at the real presence of our Lord.

The church's facade features Cabuyao's patron saint, St. Polycarp.

Hearing the name Polycarp reminds me of the Pokemon Magikarp. There's no connection of course. The truth is his name means "many fruits", which is a testament to the many spiritual fruits that he brought to the Church.

St. Polycarp is considered a Church Father, disciple of St. John the Apostle, and the bishop of Smyrna (now Izmir, Turkey). He was executed by the Romans when he refused to renounce his faith in Jesus Christ.

St. Polycarp's icon, which features his execution, is on the left side of the church. St. Polycarp was executed by being burned at stake. The fire, however, did not even touch the holy man. Some accounts even say that the fire made an arch over St. Polycarp. Seeing that fire is not working, the executioners stabbed him and that's when he died.

According to the marker below the image of the burning St. Polycarp, Cabuyao Church is the first church in the Philippines that was dedicated to St. Polycarp as its patron saint.

Aside from St. Polycarp, the church's facade also features the icons of St. Vincent Ferrer and Sto. Domingo.

Near the icon of the burning St. Polycarp is the icon of St. Clare of Assisi. The image of St. Clare is more fitting to the history of Cabuyao Church since it was under the care of the Franciscans for a long time. Also, near the church is the Poor Clare Monastery.

In front of the church is the image of Mama Mary, standing on the "Tomb of the Unborn".

The "Tomb of the Unborn" is dedicated to the babies killed through abortion. It is the Church's public denunciation of abortion.

What I like about Cabuyao Church is the big tree in its front yard. It is massive and its leaves provide the much needed shade.

I bet that this tree is much older than the many inhabitants of Cabuyao.

What astounds me about this church is its old bell tower with trees or shrubs growing on it.

The scene of plants growing on the massive adobe blocks has some beauty in it. It is like a silent struggle between nature and man's creation.

Below the old bell tower is the old bell of Cabuyao Church.

The bell is broken and bears the text "REYNA DE SMO ROSARIO" and "CURA PARROCO …"

The old bell of Cabuyao was restored through the help of Parlatone Club of Cabuyao and was installed beside the bell tower on April 17, 2019.;'

The bell is an important part of Cabuyao's history. So, it was placed as the central element of the seal of Cabuyao City.

There is a legend in Cabuyao that claims that Cabuyao Church once had a golden bell. One day, the bell suddenly went missing. Most probably it was stolen. People believe that the bell was thrown in a river or in Laguna de Bay and is now lost to the people of Cabuyao.

Incidents about missing treasures and precious things are somewhat common in Cabuyao Church. One of such incidents is the diggings made by the members of the Philippine Constabulary (PC) in 1972, which was the year when Marcos declared Martial Law. The diggings in and around the church were conducted for two month and the townsfolk claimed that the PC unearthed treasures hidden by the Japs during the war. It is not surprising that Cabuyao Church caught the attention of the greedy elements of PC since this church because it was used by the Japanese as infirmary for wounded soldiers and stable for horses during the War.

Another missing treasures are its antique images and baroque accouterments that went missing during the renovation of the church. Some towns folks say that the antique images were taken to some homes for "safekeeping".

It is unfortunate that I was not able to enter Cabuyao Church this time. Well, at least this latest visit gave me a new perspective about this church.

- - -

Collect Prayer for St. Polycarp

God of all creation, who were pleased to give the Bishop Saint Polycarp a place in the company of the Martyrs, grant, through his intercession, that sharing with him in the chalice of Christ, we may rise through the Holy Spirit to eternal life. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

- - -

Visita Iglesia is a Catholic tradition of visiting seven or fourteen churches during Maundy Thursday. For each day, this Holy Week, I will feature one church as a sort of virtual Visita Iglesia.

Unfortunately, due to the pandemic and the lockdowns, I was only able to visit three churches. So, for this year's virtual Visita Iglesia I can only feature 3 churches, namely:

Palm Sunday: St. Polycarp Church in Cabuyao City

Holy Monday: St. Francis Church in Ortigas, Mandaluyong

- - -

Read about my previous visit to Cabuyao Church in 2017.

- - -

References:

1. St. Polycarp Parish - Cabuyao official website

2. Catholic Culture for Collect Prayer for St. Polycarp

I Blog because I Want to Tell Stories

El Fuerte de San Pedro (Fort San Pedro) in Cebu City

 A visit to El Fuerte de San Pedro reminded of the reason why I write or blog. The reason is not to earn money (although it would be good to have earnings from my blogs). The real reason why I write blog posts is to tell stories.

I revisited Fort San Pedro in Cebu and this second visit made me realize that there are more stories to be told about this historic structure.

I posted this in Facebook during my latest visit to Cebu City in February 2020. 

Read more about this Spanish fort by checking my post about my first visit to the Fort San Pedro in Cebu

Read more of visit to Cebu by checking out my blog posts about my adventures in the Province of Cebu.

My 2020 in Hindsight (Unfinished Post)

NOTE: Just like many of my tasks, this blog post is currently unfinished. I know that half of January 2021 has passed and it is too late now for a post looking back at my experiences in 2020. BUT I dedicated plenty time on this and I realize that this is a good way for me to remember all the topsy-turvy events that I underwent for the first year of the terrible decade. Hopefully, I will able to finish in the first half of this year. 

- 0 - 0 - 0 -

 As the world counts down the hours, minutes, and seconds to the new year; this is the opportune time to look back to the year that was and how it upended my life.

JANUARY

Taal Volcano 2020 Eruption (Source: Wikipedia)


After the firecrackers, loud noises, and explosions when we said good bye to 2019 and welcomed 2020, Taal Volcano followed up with it's own explosion on the 12th of January. 

I still remember how puzzled I was when I saw a weird looking sky that afternoon when Taal Volcano spewed its fury. I saw half of the sky covered with dark clouds and the other half still blue with white clouds. "Will it rain?" I wondered.

My parents, who live in Metro Manila, called and asked how we were doing. They were worried because Taal Volcano erupted. That's the only time when I knew of the explosion. A few minutes later, ashes started falling and covered everything with dark grey color.

As the ash fell through the night, I considered evacuating to my parents house for the sake of the kids and my pregnant wife. Fortunately, the ash stopped falling the next morning so we decided to stay home. I then spent the whole day cleaning the ashes on the road and in our backyard. It was a back breaking task but must be done to avoid respiratory illnesses for me and my love ones. 

The Taal Volcano explosion caused panic among the people, including those who will not be affected by the ash fall. Chaos ensued in Luzon. People started hoarding face masks while resellers took advantage of the situation by overpricing their facemasks.

A few days after Taal's explosion, our lives returned to normal. I didn't know by that time that Taal Volcano's tantrum is the just the beginning of 2020's series of unfortunate events. In January, there were already signs of the dark days ahead.

My First Post about Wuhan Virus in FB


Photo of the Month

Final Hardware (Parang, Maguindanao)
Heto na ang final solution sa construction needs mo: FINAL HARDWARE. (Source: Google Earth)


Meme of the month

Vegan Cruelty against Carrots
(Source: Dad's Jokes)


Blog posts this Month:

Jollibee Party Package Price for 2020


Final Words:

King David's wicked plan to murder Uriah after raping Bathsheba is a proof that humans will do everything to cover up their crimes.


King David's wicked plan to murder Uriah after raping Bathsheba is a proof that humans will do everything to cover up their crimes.

FEBRUARY

February is the month when the Wuhan virus starts gaining public attention. I shared many stories about it in my social media pages. One post that strike the cord is the news about the whistle-blower doctor who warned China's government about the pandemic. That doctor was imprisoned and eventually he died due to the virus.


Chinese Doctor Imprisoned by China


This doctor is just the first of the many people silenced by Chinese government to prevent the spread of the news about the Wuhan virus.

February is also the month when Duterte and his minions commenced their operation to strip ABS-CBN of its franchise. 

This is also the month when I took my one and only travel for the year. I visited Cebu City once again and for the nth time before the government placed the whole Philippines in in lock downs (a.ka. community quarantine).


My Last Visit to Cebu

Photo of the month 

French woman pouring tea for a soldier busy in a firefight
French woman pouring tea for a soldier busy in a firefight. (Source: War History Online)

Meme of the month

Iyak si Bato Walang US Visa
Iyak ang kalbong Bato.

Blog post this month:

Playtime for the Kids in Rizal Park Children's Playground - this is about our visit to Rizal Park as a family to visit the children's playground in. It was a fun filled day, which reminded me of our visit to the playgrounds of Baguio's Burnham Park.


Final Words:

Prayer, prayer; pray for a while each day, and life will be easier and bearable. Learn to speak with God without words and, in this way, practice the prayer of meditation.

- Bl. Josefa Naval Girbes


MARCH



The major event this month is the beginning of the world's longest lockdown due to Wuhan virus. On March 16, the government declared the start of Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) for the whole Luzon Island. It is the start of calvary for many Filipinos, specially those who lose their jobs and livelihood, just because the inutil president who did not stop people from mainland China from entering the country.

(Source: News5)

My daily routine was suddenly changed as I find myself working from home. 

It was a great struggle for me balancing work and home concerns. There were times I tried waking up early just to finish my daily tasks. Unfortunately, it was a futile exercise. But still, I was thankful since I still have work. Countless of Filipinos lose their jobs and livelihood.

A great struggle for me this month was buying our supplies. There was no public transpo so I rode the bicycle while carrying a week's worth of food and supplies. The queue at grocery stores was long and I spent almost a day buying our supplies. Also, choosing grocery items was a pain because I had to message pictures to Mrs. Ahab to make sure that I'm buying the right brand. 



Hoarding was also rampant this month that grocery stores no longer had instant noodles, canned goods, and alcohol.



One of the realizations I had during this month is the importance of protecting our farmers and the local agriculture industry. As I said in a Facebook post, we need to protect the Filipino farmers because in times of pandemic and worldwide disasters the countries where we import rice will priorities their citizens before they export their food supply.



My greatest realization for this month is this:


No point arguing with a Dutertard
No point arguing with a Dutertard.


Another realization is that the so many meetings that I attended prior to the pandemic can be done via emails. Meetings in our office is actually a waste of time. Not attending meetings is one of the positive effect of this lockdown.

March is also the month when the powerful government people violated quarantine rules without any consequences. Koko Pimentel and Omar Duterte are some of the high profile violators. And this is also the month when Cynthia Villar once again revealed her matapobre self to the public. This time she insulted the nurses.

(Source: Facebook)

 


Image of the month 



Meme of the month


Pilate Demonstrate Hand Washing
(Source: Thomasian Crusader)

Blog post this month:

When in Marikina - We Buy Leather Shoes - this post narrates our visit to CPoint, which is one of Marikina's popular shoe store.

Final Words:

Let nothing trouble you,

Let nothing scare you,

All is fleeting,

God alone is unchanging.

Patience everything obtains.

Who possesses God

Nothing wants.

God alone suffices.


- St. Teresa of Avila


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