My Ash Wednesday 2021 Version

I am a Catholic and last year I had one of the weirdest and rarest observance of Palm Sunday.  The country was already on a strict lockdown due to covid19 and I had to contend myself from hearing the Holy Mass in front of a TV.  And since no one was allowed to go out then, the “palm” that I used was actually an outgrowth of a vine that I plucked from the few pots of plants in my balcony.

attended palm sunday in the comforts of my home as celebrated by the pope last april 2020

palaspas! (that is how we call palm sunday in filipino)

Today is Ash Wednesday.  In the Catholic tradition Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the Lenten period.  It is the season of repentance and reflection.  It is also marked by a Holy Mass in which priests or church leaders will make the sign of the cross out of paste made of ash and sacramental oil on the foreheads of the congregants.  Part of this tradition is that ashes are made from the palm fronds that have been burned from the previous year’s Palm Sunday.

Since I was lucky enough to have kept the fronds (dried leaves and vine) that I used in last year’s Palm Sunday and because I refuse to go to church due to the crazy scary pandemic, I decided to do my own observance of Ash Wednesday.

Part of my creating my own ash for the celebration of this special day is the symbolic burning of my sins.  I decided to write down on a piece of paper my confessions and burn it at the same time with that of my last year’s Palm Sunday fronds. 

With the thought in mind that “for dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return”, instead of placing the formed ash on my forehead, I decided to return the ashes to earth.  I alternatively add the formed ashes into the soil of my plants as a symbol new life with the hopes of a rosy spring for the rest of the year.

glad to have kept that fronds for today’s observance…

I know that my ceremonial version of this day is a total deviation on how a Catholic Ash Wednesday should be observed.  But honestly, while doing what I was doing, I felt free, I felt light and I felt at peace.  And I guess that is what matters on this holy day of Ash Wednesday.

The Misfits, Redundant & Useless

Let me be brief about this post. I was stuck in Manila during the 4-day no-work Catholic Holy Week. There was basically nowhere to go to nor do anything in Manila during the holy observance of holy week.
Out of boredom, I decided to clean, clear and organize my dresser cabinet. For the record, people who may wonder how big my dresser cabinet is, well, it is basically the size of my whole condo unit. I consider my whole apartment as my dresser cabinet because (except for the space inside my ref) you will basically find a piece of apparel, vestment and clothing everywhere.
The 4-day no-work Holy Week holiday has concluded but I have yet to finish with my dresser’s clearing operation. I was not surprise to find out that there has been eight humongous grocery bags that I was able to fill with old, used and outdated pieces of clothing.

So as to get rid of these bags full of misfits, redundant and useless articles, I went on Easter to the nearest H&M store and took part in their Close the Loop Project. I was just super glad that H&M got such a super worthy program. I am at least confident and assured that my old apparels will not end up in a noxious landfill.
Thanks H&M! Now my dresser can breathe…
Aleluya! May speys ulet!

A Palm Sunday in San Francisco and My Anti-Ageing Cream is Working

My Holy Week last year would most probably be the holiest Holy Week I will ever have, it is because I got to spend it right where the holy Holy Week happened, in Jerusalem, Israel.  This year I am in San Francisco USA.  And though it is definitely less divine compared to last year, I nevertheless got to observe Holy Week here.

I got to attend and celebrate Holy Mass at Grace Cathedral last Palm Sunday.  I actually arrived 30 minutes before the mass started that is why I got the opportunity to take photos and go around the holy church.

my 2017 palm sunday church



One funny thing happened though.  As I was about to leave the church after dipping my fingers into the Holy Water to make the sign of the cross, a lady approached me with the biggest smile.  She expressed that she was so glad to see such a young man like me attending a Holy Mass on a Palm Sunday.  She further expressed in a very gentle voice that new generation whom according to her I belong no longer attends a Holy Mass.  She then uttered “God Bless you young man!”


my instagram post last palm sunday

selfie muna

eto na yun… palaspas nila… pinitas lang.

I did not say anything.  I just stood there.  Listened to her and smiled.  If she only knew how old I am and that I may actually older than her.  I decided not to correct nor rectify her statements.  Besides, I don’t want to ruin her beautiful morning.  I just left the church smiling and thinking how much love I have for my anti-ageing cream….

Lumelebel… o baka naman malabo lang ang mata ni Inday.

Kissed a Relic

national shrine of padre pio

One of the highlights of Nengkoy’s birthday celebration last week was my whole family’s visit to the National Shrine of Padre Pio located in Sto. Tomas Batangas (80 km south of Manila).  Except for my younger sister Joie, it was everybody’s first time in the church.

Before proceeding to the main church area all of us took time to roam and check out the grounds of the holy national shrine.  We even lighted a number of votive candles to give thanks and pray for some groovy and awesome intercession.

votive candles…. got myslef a green for health, nengkoy took a brown for birthday while nephew miggy got himself a yellow for money! hahaha!

smiling nengkoy with smiling padre pio

come holy spirit…

few of my monster nephews… denden, luis, kambal, neil and miggy

got to kiss this…

a super blessed day… (nephew alexis: a photo bomber hahaha!)

We failed to attend and listen to a Holy Mass but we were nevertheless lucky and were at the perfect time to have attended an awesome Healing Liturgy.  And part of the blessed ceremony is that people got to kiss a sacred relic of St. Padre Pio followed by an anointment of a fragrant oil on both palms and the forehead.

Though it initially freaked me out, because I thought my lips are gonna burn (hahaha!) when it touches the relic, the experience was something serene, calm and divine.  I definitely felt God’s blessings and Padre Pio’s embrace.

Visiting Padre Pio church in Batangas was one beautiful experience.  It was one blessed experience!

Mwah! Mwah!

Joseph of Arimathea is One Fab Dude

this obviously is not my photo... got it from pinterest (thanks)

i obviously don’t own this photo… thanks pinterest!

I am writing this article now from Jerusalem… Today is a pretty special Sabbath day here in Jerusalem because today is Black Saturday for the Christian Catholics.  And since I belong to this denomination, let me give tribute to an awesome Saint who showed sincere generosity on the time of Lord Jesus’ death (which was commemorated yesterday – Good Friday).

His name is Joseph of Arimathea, considered one of the secret disciples of Jesus Christ, he was the one who donated his very own tomb so that Lord Jesus can be buried and laid to rest.

Hands down to this wealthy fella!  His selflessness and generosity was obviously swift and instinctive because Lord Jesus during that time (who died on a Friday at around 3:00PM) needs to be buried immediately because the Jewish Sabbath is soon to come.  That indeed is one fab of a deed!

And during my Holy City Tour in Jerusalem, I had the opportunity to actually see and set foot on the grave/tomb on where this generous dude was buried or laid to rest.  Of course he was not placed in his own tomb because Lord Jesus has occupied it, but instead, his tomb was nearby and can actually be found in one timeworn corner of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

after seeing this... hands down to this generous dude1

after seeing this… hands down to this generous dude!  he indeed is worthy of his sainthood…

Generus ni Manong!

My First Visita Iglesia

I have been to Bangkok, Thailand three times.  And in all those times I with friends tour their well known Buddhist temples in a day.  I even coined it Visita Buddhista.  This made a tinge of guilt because in my homeland and with my very own religion, I’m too lazy to pull off the Filipino Catholic Lenten tradition known as Visita Iglesia (Seven Churches Visitation).

But I’m guilty no more because in this year’s Holy Thursday, I have completed my very first Visita Iglesia. I did this pious tradition not with friends but with my family.  We did not chose the grandest and tour-worthy churches and cathedrals found in Metro Manila but instead we settled on visiting the houses of prayers that are in a way close and connected to our hearts. Five of which are located in Pasay City, 1 in Makati and 1 in Manila.

Here they are…

The Shrine of Jesus, The Way, The Truth and The Life


20130328_150248Located near SM Mall of Asia, my family calls this MOA Church.  It’s literally is close to our family because it is the nearest church to Nengkoy’s house.  That is why it is so obvious that it is the first church we visited.


Our Lady of Sorrows Parish Church

our lady of sorrows

20130328_151812This church is very special to me and my siblings.  We consider this place of worship as the “Binyag Church” (Church of Baptism) because all of our catholic baptism rites when we were still infants were held in this very church.


San Rafael Parish Church


This is my family’s Parish Church.  In 1962, this was the very church where the glorious wedding ceremony of my parents was held.  Nengkoy was all smile when she entered and left this very quaint church, she feels like she’s so part of it.  Also, this was the very church that I was scolded by a priest (mind you, it was during the homily) for wearing shorts when I heard a Holy Mass one early morning a couple of years back.


Sta. Clara De Montefalco Parish Church


This is the house of prayers of Nengkoy when she was a young girl studying in St Mary’s Academy.


San Isidro Labrador Parish Church



This one is the personal favorite of my nephew Luis.  The adjacent catholic school is where he studied in high school.  Anyway, I personally like the drama of this church… the holy cross was placed outdoor and visible indoor through a clear glass wall.


St. John Bosco Parish Church


This is the church where my elder sister and her husband claimed to have first met.  Ewww super cheesy! As for me, I always wonder why every time I pray inside this church my prayers are in straight English.  Is it the location, is it the minimalist modern interiors or is it the stylish well-dressed church goers?  I don’t know why. (I think it’s the “pa-sosyal” in me. hahaha!)


Our Lady of Remedies Parish Church


This very old yet majestic church was the venue of my elder sister’s wedding.  This church is a very popular church for Visita Iglesia aficionados.  It was full packed!  That is why when we entered to say our prayers the first thing I uttered was “Wow blockbuster!”  Anyway, Our Lady of Remedies otherwise known as Malate Church is a special church for me.  It is a stone throw away from my office.  That is why this is the church I go to for me to say my morning prayer every time I came too early for work.

Nanikip ang dibdib ko sa bisitang yan hah! Muntik na ko matunaw!

Dilemma On Quaresma: The Modernized Pabasa

pabasawithmicrophoneIts Maundy Thursday today and the traditional Pabasa Ng Pasyon (Chanting of Christ’s Passion) literally kept me up all night.  Not because I joined the bandwagon this year of chanting in monotonous tone the narratives of the life, passion, death and resurrection of Lord Jesus but because a community right beside the building where I live chose to chant the Pasyon in loud and proud manner utilizing a microphone with humongous sets of speakers.

I know Pabasa Ng Pasyon is considered to be a unique Filipino communal tradition which would run during the whole span of the Holy Week.  But do devotees today really have to use a microphone to fulfill this religious meditation? What about those who opted to follow the tradition of shutting their mouth and ears to find peace and serenity during the observance of the Holy Week?

I am not saying that Pabasa should be stopped in all corners of the land what I am trying to point out is that this tradition should be kept and observed in the traditional manner, that is, speaker-less, microphone-less with merely raw, genuine and unprocessed chants.

In my personal opinion, using microphones and speakers in Pabasa denotes artless, insincere and contrived expression and profession of the Catholic faith.  It no longer sounds the way I used to hear it – exotic, bizarre and mysterious.  For me, using these modern technological equipments turns the “modernized” Pabasa into nothing but a thoughtless, vain and immodest show.

It’s the Holy Week no one should be playing or making loud music for Pete’s sake!  I just hope the ear fatiguing sound from the nearby colony of human beings would stop while I write this post otherwise this week is turning out to be one unholy week.

Mataimtim na kwaresma para sa lahat…