Postscript to Holy Thursday: that non-essential “lugaw” is essential!

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 05 April 2021
“An Essential Holy Thursday Transubstantiation” by artist DengCoy Miel posted on his Facebook, 01 April 2021.

It was a Holy Wednesday when the incident went viral as picked up by network news that evening when the previous night some barangay officials in Muzon, San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan insisted that lugaw is “not essential”, that man can live even without lugaw.

The timing was so perfect being a “Spy Wednesday” or the night of traitors when Judas Iscariot struck a deal with the chief priests to hand them over Jesus for 30 pieces of silver (Mt.26:15).

And so, there were the three barangay officials handing over to their power trip the common lugaw not knowing they have in fact betrayed us Filipinos in their arrogant insistence that lugaw is a non essential food.

The following Holy Thursday, another Judas Iscariot not only betrayed but crucified si lugaw as non-essential without knowing his remark was a self-indictment of this government’s preoccupation with politics, disregard for the people and lack of any definitive plan regarding the year-old pandemic. Trying to sound a smart aleck and clown rolled into one this administration has too much of, his explanations only made him look like the lowest kind of lugaw – rice leftovers boiled in water.

The benighted souls who have denigrated our favorite food have just proven that this pandemic is something we have to see in the light of spirituality and morality, not just a medical and social issue to be addressed.

Any food is always essential because every food signifies a person, has life and sustains life.

Recall that during his Last Supper on the night before he was betrayed, Jesus had chosen the most ordinary but very essential food to be the sign of his loving presence among us until the end of time – the bread. An unleavened bread, to be exact, which was the food taken by the Jews during their exodus from Egypt at the time of Moses.

The bible teems with so many references to the lowly food of bread as something divine with deeper meaning as a sign.

Consider that Jesus was born on a manger which is an open box or a trough for animals like horses and cattle to eat from to signify his being our very food in this life journey. He was born in Bethlehem that literally means “house of bread”; thus, at his last supper, Jesus gave himself to us under the sign of a bread.

In establishing the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist which St. John Paul II emphasized in 2002 by adding the Mysteries of Light in praying the Rosary, Jesus elevated the meal into the most sublime human activity making our food divine and holy. As a result, the table had become one of the most intimate places in our lives that every time there is a meeting or any gathering, there is always the meal to be shared. I used to tell my students before that every first date is always in a restaurant – if possible a fine dining one – because what matters most is the moment to be shared together by you and your date.

It is always easy to know when couples and parents are not in good terms with each other: they never eat together or during meals, they do not talk or speak to each other. The same is true when people decline our invitations for dinner or party or simple meal: they do not want to be with us. Period. That is why Judas Iscariot had to leave and not finish the Lord’s supper!

See that we never call people as “enemies”: like Jesus Christ, as much as possible we welcome everyone to our table to share meal with us and it is only then when we realize who is our enemy when like Judas, some people stab us in our backs while sharing meal.

When we eat and share food and drinks, we actually share our very selves to our guests and friends. We host parties because we want to share our very selves with our family and friends, to share and be a part of our lives, of our achievements, of our important stages in life. Their coming signify the same willingness to share us their lives too.

Photo by, April 2019.

The food we share are signs of our bonding, of our relationships, of how we care and respect for one another. It does not really matter what food we share. More often, the most simple and ordinary food are the ones that truly delight us like tuyo. Or lugaw!

How I wish parents today would bring back those days of old when nobody is supposed to waste not even a single grain of rice or any food for that matter because it is from God.

When we were growing up, every meal was the most awaited family time not because of the food but more of the bonding and exchanging of stories. As we age, it has become more truer than ever! That is why we all wish this pandemic would end so we could all eat together as families and friends, is it not?

Any food is always essential because every food signifies a person who has life and sustains life of others.

Every one of us is a companion to each other. From the two Latin words “cum panis” that mean someone you break bread with, a companion is a friend, a fellow traveler who sustains and nourishes you like food in your journey!

In that beautiful story of the road to Emmaus when Jesus appeared to two disciples disappointed with his death and news of his empty tomb on Easter, they recognized him only after he had broken bread but simultaneously disappeared because at the table of the Lord, we also become his Body meant to be shared with everybody.

The recent issue that went viral on whether lugaw is a non-essential or not is a tragic indication of the kind of people we are, of how we categorize persons like food.

There seems to be a direct correlation 
between food and humans:  
when there are plenty of food, 
that is when people are taken for granted, 
while where there is scarcity of food, people are valued. 

Take the case of ice cream. When somebody is rich and young and beautiful or handsome, they are the “flavor of the month” or the “all-time favorite” and “classic” or “premium”.

Photo by Marc Schulte on

And how do we call our ordinary ice cream peddled by Mamang Sorbetero? “Dirty ice cream” – dirty because ordinary and cheap like the street kids, the poor, the “wa-class” and opposite of the more expensive sosyal ice cream.

Worse, with so much food available these days unlike before when we valued every food so much because we can only have apples (and softdrinks) when sick or chocolates when relatives from the States sent packages or some rich neighbors brought you as pasalubong from Dau’s PX stores outside Clark Air Base in Pampanga, things today have also changed in the way we relate with one another.

There seems to be a direct correlation between food and humans: when there are plenty of food, that is when people are taken for granted while where there is scarcity of food, people are valued.

As more food are readily available these days, the more we have become choosy, the more we categorize food as essential and non-essential that at the same time, the more we denigrate humans.

Such was the plan of Satan with his first temptation to Jesus – turn stones into bread after fasting for 40 days in the wilderness.

For Satan, let us have more food and things to satisfy our body so we forget God and one another, and everything of higher value. When food is retained in the stomach and becomes an end in itself, it then becomes an occasion for sin like gluttony, exactly what Satan was pushing for so that we just keep on filling our stomachs with food, satisfying the cravings and desires of the body until we destroy ourselves and our image as likeness of God.

Jesus put food into the right perspective that God is our real and true food that in two instances at least, he fed vast crowds of people in the wilderness after seeing them rightly disposed for material food.

Call it as generation gap but I am shocked when I hear some people especially the young describing handsome men and pretty women as “yummy” and “delicious” like food. Problem with that kind of mentality is how it shows we have come to regard everybody like food that if we are no longer “fresh” or “new”, becoming “old” and stacked in the cold fridge, later to be discarded or thrown out like old people being sent to retirement homes totally unknown to us 40 years ago.

Worst of all is how this administration launched its bloody campaign against drugs when addicts and other criminals were considered as non-essentials to be eliminated or killed like animals – exactly the deeper implication of what that government official kept saying last Holy Thursday that “non essential si lugaw”!

Since last year’s Holy Week when we first went into this lockdown, I have been telling friends to avoid as much as possible posting their lavish food on Facebook as a sensitivity to others with almost nothing to eat. And I maintain it is still valid to this time of this worsening crisis.

Let us be food to everyone as source of strength and nourishment, of inspiration. We do not have to make extraordinary efforts. Simply be human as yourself. Be present with a text or a phone call to those suffering. Pray for them and let them know you care for them.

Be a lugaw who could warm someone’s cold body freezing in fear and anxiety, offering quick relief from whatever suffering others may be going through.

Most of all like a hot, steamy lugaw, giving hope that Jesus is with us, his salvation is coming soon.

Remember, friends, lugaw is essential.

And so is everyone.

The late Joey Velasco’s 2005 painting “Hapag ng pag-Asa”.

Lugaw sa Biyernes Santo

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Biyernes Santo, Ika-02 ng Abril 2021
Larawan mula sa ng “Ecce Homo” ni El Greco.
Kung mayroon mang higit na malungkot
ngayong Biyernes Santo
habang tayo ay muling binalot
saka pinalaot sa gitna ng bulok
at kawalang sistema sa pandemya
noon pa, iyan ay tiyak walang dili iba
kungdi si Hesus na ating Panginoon
at Manunubos; marahil hindi Niya maubos
isipin sa gitna ng masasamang nangyayari sa atin
mas binibigyang pansin ng maraming hangal
sa ating pamahalaan mga bagay-bagay
kay daling isipin habang mga paksa 
nagiging usapin dahil sa pagsisinungaling!
Ngayong Biyernes Santo
araw ng pag-aayuno 
upang ating mapagtanto
Panginoong Hesus ay naririto
sa ating pagtitiis ng kagutuman
nalilinis ang puso at kalooban 
nawawalan ng laman
upang tayo ay mapunan 
ng Diyos ng kanyang kabanalan;
kay laking kahibangan
lalo ng mga nasa kapangyarihan
kalimutan at talikuran tuluyan
mga payak at aba, lugaw ang kumakatawan!
Pinakamalungkot pa rin 
ngayong Biyernes Santo
ang Panginoong Hesu-Kristo
dahil katulad niya noon
patuloy pangungutya sa kapwa
lahat hinahamak at minamaliit
gayong kanilang mga isipan 
ang walang laman, sadyang
mapupurol at makikitid
na hindi nababatid 
ang tao na higit na dakila
hindi masalita, nakikilala sa
busilak ng kanilang puso at diwa.
Huwag nating kalimutan
bago sumapit ang Biyernes Santo
noong gabing ipagkanulo si Kristo
pinili niyang walang hanggang tanda
ng kanyang kapanatilihan sa atin
tinapay na walang lebadura
na alalaong-baga sa atin dito sa Asya
kapantay ay lugaw na siyang inihahain
sa mga panahong alanganin
ito ang kinakain upang maging sapin
sa tiyan na dumaraing sa maraming hinaing
di lamang sa gutom kungdi pati
kawalan ng mga pumapansin.
Alalahanin tuwing ikaw ay kumakain
nitong paborito nating pagkain
lugaw marahil ang hihilingin
ni Hesus na Panginoong natin;
napakadaling pakisamahan
lasap kanyang linamnam
hindi maselang lutuin
walang ulam na aalalahanin
ano man maaring isahog at i-pares
sarap at ginhawang walang kaparis
kaya nakakainis mga nagmamalinis
sana'y umalis na
dahil sila ang mga panis!
Salamat sa mga taong simple at payak, maasahan kailanman tulad ng lugaw: mahalaga at mainam sa katawan!

Basta may panlasa at pang-amoy, ayos na!

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-21 ng Agosto 2020
Larawan kuha ni G. Jim Marpa, 2019.
Ngayong panahon ng COVID-19
sumagi sa akin mga turo ng dalawang pari
na napakalapit at mabuti sa akin:
Una ay si Padre Nanding 
malimit sabihin sa akin
"Pinakamasarap makasama
tao na mayroong panlasa";
"iyong iba," aniya, 
"pakanin mo ng buong baka,
hindi pa rin masaya!"
Ikalawang paring butihin
ay si Padre Johann 
madalas ako paalalahanan
"Biyaya ng Diyos ang ganang kumain
dahil ibig sabihin
wala kang sakit na dapat intindihin
di tulad ng ibang hindi makakain."
Nakatutuwang isipin at malayin
kung paanong noong panahon natin
mga mumunting butil ng pagkain
pinahahalagahan upang huwag sayangin;
ngayon naman ating alalahanin
itong ating panlasa at ganang kumain
mga biyayang hindi napapansin;
magdildil ka man ng asin o 
maalat man o maasim ulam na inihain
huwag nang punahin o laitin 
sapagkat iyong nalalasap pa rin
ang pagkain at walang COVID-19!
Sa hapag ng pagkain
mga samahan at ugnayan natin
nabubuo, tumatatag at tumitibay
kaya sa ating buhay
masarap kasabay
sa paglalakbay
mayroong panlasa
at maganang kumain,
basta huwag lang sasairin
at uubusin ang sinaing 
baka iba hindi na makakain
dahil ikaw pala ay sakim!
Photo by Pixabay on
Ito naman ang habilin na galing sa akin:
basta nakaka-amoy ng masarap na lutuin
maski hindi sa iyo ang pagkain
matuwa ka na rin, wala ka pang COVID-19;
gayun din naman, 
iyo nang kalimutan hindi man kagandahan 
 ilong na ngayon ay natatakpan
makaamoy man ng alimuong
makalanghap man ng masansang
at masamang hangin ay mabuti pa rin:
nakakahinga ka ng malalim
wala kang COVID-19!
Larawan kuha ni G. Jim Marpa, 2019.

Eat, pray, live, and love

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Memorial of St. Clare, Virgin, 11 August 2020
Ezekiel 2:8-3:4 >><)))*> ||| >><)))*> ||| >><)))*> Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14
Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2019.

O God our Father, we praise and thank you in sending us your Son Jesus Christ to show us how in the most ordinary and essential aspect of our lives – eating – we can either be far away from you or very near you.

Yes, O Lord! Just like in the movies, eat, pray, live, and love.

How wonderful it is to think that it was in eating the forbidden fruit at Eden that we have fallen from your grace while it is in partaking in the Supper of the Lord in the Eucharist that we have become blessed to be one in you, sharing in your holiness.

Help us to sink deeper into the inner reality of “eating” that leads us to praying, living and loving.

Like your prophet, may we realize that the key in understanding fully your words is in immersing ourselves into them like eating when we savor the aroma of food, biting and chewing in pieces to let its taste cover our palate, digesting it into our whole body system to nourish our lives.

Son of man, he then said to me, feed your belly and fill your stomach with this scroll I am giving you. I ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. He said: Son of man, go now to the house of Israel, and speak my words to them.

Ezekiel 3:3-4

So many times in life, O Lord, we complain at how difficult are your laws and teachings, your words without ever trying them.

Open our selves like Ezekiel and your saints, specially St. Clare who left everything behind after being inspired by your words through St. Francis of Assisi to be poor and spend life praying to you.

Leaving the world in exchange of a life in poverty and simplicity, of prayer and witnessing, her life was sustained by your words that eventually nourished countless souls in search of you and meaning in life.

If we can just plunge ourselves into your words and eat them like real food, digest their meaning to savor its sweetness and wonderful taste like St. Clare and other saints, then we would no longer be so concerned with things of this world like in knowing who is the greatest among us.

Give us the simplicity of children who delight in the most ordinary food offered them, enjoying life with the sense of awe and surprise of your presence. Amen.

Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2019.

Human situation, Divine response: multiplying our blessings

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Week XVIII, Cycle A in Ordinary Time, 02 August 2020
Isaiah 55:1-3 >><}}}*> Romans 8:35, 37-39 >><}}}*> Matthew 14:13-21

Remember our reflection last Sunday? Of how parables teach us that “less is always more” because to have the kingdom of God – Jesus Christ himself – we have to learn to appreciate the little things in life?

Beginning this Sunday until August 16, our gospels will start telling us who is Jesus Christ by showing us his powers and abilities that are exactly opposite the way we see and understand them. This new series of stories are so relevant to us in this time of pandemic, giving us wonderful insights into God’s ways of responding to our human situations.

St. Matthew now leads us with Jesus to the wilderness after teaching us in parables to experience his power in transforming us like the five loaves and two fish to feed more than five thousand people.

Multi-layered story of the multiplication of bread

All four evangelists have recorded this story of Jesus Christ’s multiplication of the loaves of bread with their particular focus and stress, showing us that it truly happened and was a major event in the Lord’s ministry.

Very unique with St. Matthew’s version of this miracle story – which has not one but two! – is his economy of words in narrating it like a straight news as if it were a developing story or a “breaking news” unfolding before us, calling us to follow its updates and details due to its multi-layered meanings.

When Jesus heard of John the Baptist, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns. When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said, “This is a deserted place and it is already late; dismiss the crowds so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.” Jesus said to them, “There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves.” But they said to him, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.” Then he said, “Bring them here to me,” and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over — twelve wicker baskets full. Those who ate were about five thousand men, not counting women and children.

Matthew 14:13-21
Photo from iStock/Studio-Annika.

The consolation of Jesus.

Our situation in this time of the corona pandemic is so similar with that of Jesus. With the increasing number of COVID-19 cases, it has finally hit us hard, so close to home with news of those we know getting infected and worst, dying from this disease.

Like Jesus upon hearing the death of John the Baptist, we are all saddened that we wish to withdraw away from everyone.

We want to mourn but there are more people in need of our presence and help in this time of pandemic like the countless medical frontliners and health workers who must be so tired – even sick, physically and emotionally – by now with the growing number of COVID-19 patients and yet have chosen to remain in their posts.

And there are still the other casualties of this pandemic like those who have lost their jobs, those evicted from their rented apartments, those stranded and separated from their loved ones, those begging for food, and those afflicted with other sickness going through dialysis and physical therapy.

Jesus knows so well the “wilderness” we are all going through and he is right here with us, one with us in our sufferings, in our fears and anxieties, and in our exhaustion.

To be one with us is consolation, from the Latin “con” or with + “solare” or alone, to be one with somebody feeling alone.

Jesus did not remove our pains and sufferings, even our death; he joined us to be one with us in these that he can call us to “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give your rest. Take my yoke upon you… For my yoke is easy and my burden light” (Mt.11:28-30, 14th Sunday, 05 Jul 2020).

Compassion of Jesus.

Still with Christ’s reaction of being “moved with pity” at the sight of the crowds who have followed him to the wilderness, we find something more deeper with his being one with us, in consoling us that he had forgotten all about himself, his tired body that he went on to heal the sick among them.

To be moved with pity is more than a feeling of the senses but a response of his total person.

You respond for help, you reply to a call.

Ever wondered why we have the “responsorial psalm” after the first reading in the Mass? Because those words from the Psalms express our total assent and commitment to God, involving our total self like body, mind, heart and soul.

Photo by Dra. Mai B. Dela Peña, Carmel Monastery, Israel, 2016.

God cannot suffer because he is perfect.

That is why he became human like us in Jesus Christ to be one with our suffering and death so that we would one with him in his glorious Resurrection.

In the wilderness, Jesus stayed with the people, not allowing them to leave as suggested by the Twelve because he was moved with pity with the crowd because he wanted to suffer with them.

That is compassion, literally means to “suffer with” from cum + patior. Here in the wilderness, Jesus showed his compassion for the people which will reach its highest point in giving himself on the Cross on Good Friday.

Have we “responded” to God’s call to serve, to a call of duty, and to a plea for help from the poor? Have we truly given ourselves to somebody without ever thinking our own comfort or rewards? Or, are we running away from his Cross?

What a shame in this time of pandemic there are some among us who rejoice at the losses of others like the Twelve who wanted the crowd to be sent home because they were afraid of responsibilities, of taking care of the suffering people.

Consolation and compassion are the two most needed from each of us in this time of crisis.

Our scarcity mentality, the God of plenty.

We now come to the miracle of the feeding of five thousand. According to the late Fr. Henri Nouwen, this story is an example of our “scarcity mentality” when we think of not having enough, of finding what we have as too little, always looking for more; hence, our tendency to hoard everything.

The Twelve were thinking more of themselves, afraid they could go hungry with the five loaves of bread and two fish they have. They were so afraid of difficulties ahead of them in their situation where to find and how to feed those great number of people.

They were focused on what was lacking than on what they have, and who was with them, Jesus Christ! They were hungry for food in the stomach than for food to the soul unlike the crowds who have followed Jesus.

Worst of all, the Twelve got “mad” upon seeing the crowds who have followed them to the wilderness when in fact, it was Jesus who needed most to rest to mourn John’s death!

But through all these, Jesus patiently bore the people’s woes and the Twelve’s selfishness to teach them all in a very nice way something so essential in our response to every human suffering and extreme situation: opening and entrusting our selves totally to God.

And that was actually the greatest miracle that happened that day.

Photo by Pixabay on

In doing it, Jesus simply asked the Twelve what they have, never asking how much they have or its condition. Just whatever they have to give everything to Jesus like those five loaves and two fish that he took, and while looking up to heaven, blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the Twelve to distribute to the crowd.

And everyone was satisfied with a lot of left overs too!

Matthew nor any of the other Evangelists ever explained how it happened because it does not really matter at all. What is most important is what are we willing to give up to Jesus so he can transform us into better persons.

That is what we continue to do this day in every celebration of the Holy Eucharist- whatever we have, even not the best or the worst and littlest we have, when given to Jesus becomes holy and multiplied!

The power of God is immense, without doubt. But, in this miracle of the feeding of five thousand, Jesus is showing us that his power is not meant to satisfy our material or bodily needs but our deepest desires that lead to our fulfillment in him as prophesied by Isaiah in the first reading.

Why spend your money for what is not bread; your wages for what fails to satisfy? Heed me, and you shall eat well, you shall delight in rich fare. Come to me heedfully, listen, that you may have life.

Isaiah 55:2-3

Amid the pandemic worsened by our government officials’ inanities, irresponsibilities, and sheer lack of compassion with us in this wilderness, the Lord assures us today that he is with us for “nothing can separate us from the love of Christ” (Second Reading) if we are willing to give him all that we have.

It is our spiritual transformation first that leads us to our material blessings. We can all have it if we are willing to give everything to Jesus and believe in him always. What do you have for miracles to happen?

A blessed August ahead for you! Amen.

Photo by Dra. Mai B. Dela Peña, Carmel, Israel, 2016.

When a small act of kindness is like a pinch of salt

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Week X, Year II in Ordinary Time, 09 June 2020
1 Kings 17:7-16 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Matthew 5:13-16
“Tiangge” in Carigara, Leyte; photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2019.

When this pandemic struck us and kept us home for two months, Lord, you never failed to bless us with food on our tables. It does not really matter whatever was served but the most important thing is how we have shared meals with family and friends, even with strangers.

And what makes food so glorious and wonderful, Lord, is not merely the food itself, be it meat or poultry, vegetables or fish but the things we take for granted like the people who prepared and gathered together, and not to forget, ingredients that bring out the flavor like the lowly salt.

Jesus said to his disciples: “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.”

Matthew 5:13

Like the food we prepare and share, we are good in ourselves because of you, Lord.

But our real goodness comes out when we become kind and generous with others, even a single smile or a pat on a shoulder of someone else can always make a world of difference. Indeed, a small deed is better than the best intention.

Like that widow at Zarephath of Sidon who was so kind and generous enough first to give your prophet Elijah some water and later with a bit of bread.

And you rewarded her kindness with overflowing goodness:

She was able to eat for a year, and Elijah and her son as well; the jar of flour did not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, as the Lord had foretold through Elijah.

1 Kings 17:15-16

Teach us, O Lord, to be generous like St. Ignatius of Loyola and make life here on earth more flavorful with just a pinch of salt.

Dearest Lord, teach me to be generous, 
teach me to serve you as you deserve. 
To give and not to count the cost, 
to fight and not to heed the wounds, 
to toil and not to seek for rest, 
to labor and not to seek reward, 
except that of knowing that I do your most holy will. 
Photo by author, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Monastery, Guiguinto, Bulacan, 2019.

Pagkain sa Quarantine ng COVID-19

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-30 ng Abril 2020

Photo by Ray Piedra on
Sana ay huwag ninyong masamain
itong aking puna at pansin 
sa marami nating kababayan
ngayong panahon ng COVID-19
palaging daing walang makain
ating sinasambit
saan mang bahagi ng mundo sumapit
kapag tayo ay nagigipit.
Hindi naman sa kung ano pa man
pagkain lamang ba ang sadya nating kailangan
na siyang laging pinahahalagahan 
kaya naman kadalasan ito ang sanhi 
ng ating mga alitan at di pagkakaunawaan?
Anong sakit mapakinggan, malaman na
nag-aagawan, pinag-aawayan
ay pagkain lamang?
Larawan mula sa Google.
Sa Banal na Kasulatan ating matutunghayan
habilin ng Diyos sa ating unang magulang
maari nilang kainin mga munting butil 
pati na rin mga bunga ng punong kahoy sa hardin
huwag na huwag lamang nilang kakanin
mahigpit Niyang bilin 
bunga ng puno ng karunungan 
dahil magiging sanhi ng ikasasawi natin.
Hindi napigilan kanilang tinikman
pinagbabawal na bunga kaya lumuwa mga mata
sa katotohanang lumantad sa kanila na di nakaya
kaya't dating kapwa hubad ay nagdamit na!
Nang pumarito si Jesu-Kristo upang tubusin ang tao
unang tukso na kanyang pinagdaanan sa ilang
sa gitna ng kanyang kagutuman
ay gawing tinapay mga bato upang busugin Kanyang tiyan.
Hindi nalito si Kristo nang sagurtin niya ang diyablo
na hindi lamang sa tinapay nabubuhay ang tao
kungdi sa bawat salitang namumutawi sa bibig ng Diyos;
kaya noong gabing ipagkanulo siya habang kumakain sila,
nangunsap Siya sa mga alagad Niya
habang hawak-hawak ang tinapay na pinaghati-hati
"Tanggapin ninyong lahat ito at kanin
ito ang aking katawan na ihahandog para sa inyo."
Mula noon hanggang ngayon
nakikilala, naaalala natin ang Panginoon
sa hapag ng kanyang piging, sa mesa ng Misa
nang kanyang inangat katayuan at kahulugan 
nitong pangkaraniwang gawain natin na kumain:
hindi lamang upang busugin mga tiyan at laman natin
kungdi upang punuin din kamalayan at kaluluwa natin
ng diwa ng piging na mismo tayo ay maging pagkain din!
Larawan ng “Supper at Emmaus” ni Caravaggio mula sa Google.
Nakikila pag-uugali ng tao 
kapag nakita paano siyang kumain
sapagkat doon lamang sa mesa ng piging
nawawala mga pagkukunwari natin
nabubunyag tunay nating saloobin
kaya naman sa bawat pagdiriwang natin
palaging mayroon pagkain upang
magkasalu-salo, magkaniig at magkaisa mga kumakain.
Alalahanin si Hudas noong Huling Hapunan
lumisan na kaagad dahil siya ay tumiwalag
di lamang sa hapag kungdi sa kaisahan at
pakikipag-kaibigan kay Jesus at mga kasamahan;
iyon din ang sinasaad sa bawat piging ng mga 
dumadalo at hindi dumarating
mga kumakain at nanginginain
kay daming pagkain ngunit makasarili pa rin!
Sa tuwing tayo ay kumakain
laging alalahanin kaisa palagi natin
Diyos na bukal ng lahat ng pagpapala sa atin:
huwag mangangamba o mag-aalinlangan
kung sakali mang tayo ay gutumin
sapagkat hindi iyan ikamamatay natin
kungdi pagkabunsol sa labis na pagkain
lahat-lahat ay inaangkin.
Ang tunay na sarap ng pagkain
nalalasap pa rin
maski tapos nang kumain
kapag nabusog di lamang tiyan 
kungdi puso at kalooban; 
mga alitan nahuhugasan sa inuman
mapanghahawakan pagsasamahan at pagkakapatiran 
upang huwag masabi ninuman na wala silang makain!

Ang walang katapusang pagdaing

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog, Parokya ni San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Bagbaguin, Santa Maria, Bulacan

Martes, Ika-5 Linggo ng Kuwaresma, 31 Marso 2020

Bilang 21:4-9 ><)))*> +++ <*(((>< Juan 8:21-30

Ang eskultura ng ginawang ahas na tanso ni Moises sa tikin sa lugar kung saan mismo nangyari na ngayon nasa pangangalaga ng mga Paring Franciscano sa Jordan. Larawan kuha ng may-akda, Mayo 2019.
Batay sa salaysay ng aklat ng buhay
nainip mga Israelita sa paglalakbay sa ilang
nang sila ay dumaing, nagreklamo
kay Moises ng ganito:
"Kami ba'y inialis mo sa Egipto
upang patayin na ilang na ito?
Wala kaming makain ni mainom!
Sawa na kami sa walang kwentang pagkaing ito."
Bakit nga ba hindi na naubos 
ating mga reklamo
lalo na kapag mayroong krisis
walang mintis yaring mga bibig
walang hanggang daing
tila hindi aabutin, napakamainipin
nakakasakit na ng damdamin
pati Diyos sinusubok, hinahamon natin?
Kung inyong mapapansin 
yung talagang walang makain
hindi na makuhang dumaing
tanging isipin saan hahanapin
kanilang isasaing, lakas ay iipunin
sa pagbabaka-sakaling dinggin
dalanging tulong dumating
kanilang hahatiin at titipirin.
Ang masakit na kapansin-pansin
ngayong panahon ng COVID-19 
marami sa mga daing ng daing
sa Facebook pinararating!
Akala mo walang makain
bakit nasa harapan ng computer screen?
Katulad nilang nagmamagaling
ibang natulungan may reklamo pa rin!
Magandang pagkakataon 
kaloob nitong COVID-19 sa ating panahon
mabuksan puso at kalooban sa katotohanan 
"Hindi lamang sa tinapay nabubuhay ang tao" 
na kung uunahin natin si Kristo
makikilala natin bawat kapwa tao
ka-patid at ka-putol na dapat bahaginan 
ano man mayroon ako.
Madalas sa maraming reklamo
puso ay sinarahan, pinanlalabuan ang isipan
bibig ang laging binubuksan, hindi mawalan ng laman 
pinababayaan kaluluwa at kalooban 
tiyan lamang nilalagyan
kaya walang kahulugan ni katuturan
ano mang karanasan hindi mapagyaman
kaunting hirap at tiisin, puro daing at hinaing.

“Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories” are recipes for troubled hearts and lonely souls

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 20 November 2019

A chef is basically a person who loves people. And that is why for any chef, cooking is both a passion and an art. His menu are not only meant to feed the body but most especially enrich the heart and soul of every diner.

Welcome to Netflix original series “Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories”!

Each episode is exactly like every recipe the main character called “Master” dishes out to his patrons and customers who come from all walks of life with their unique burdens and story to share and eventually, resolve after tasting his fresh and easy to cook meals.

Midnight Diner is as Japanese as the ramen and sake the Master serves his guests. Everything is in Nihongo with English subtitles that demand one’s total attention to understand the conversations briefly interspersed with first person accounts by the Master.

At the opening, the Master gives us the warm and nice ambience of the series set at midnight until seven in the morning for people who do not wish to go home straight after their office hours.

It turns out that they are not only looking for good food but for warm company as well which the Master ably provides with his total attention and communion.

Very interesting to note that the Master is a celibate, reason why he can devote himself wholly to his diners, listening to their joys and sorrows, victories and defeats. So far, from what I have seen in its two seasons, he has no love interests although it won’t be surprising if in the third season he turns out to be a character from one of Murakami’s novels or short stories.

Though he is a fictional character, he is rightly called “Master” for his commanding presence that is not intimidating but so warm and gentle, so unlike the celebrity chefs we see on TV.

The Master can cook anything, including fancy corndogs and pancakes that are very American. He always has a “menu of the day” as title of each episode.

Should anyone ask for any kind of dish, he willingly prepares it subject to availability of ingredients that turns out he always has or sometimes, like a true chef, finds other alternatives just to fulfill a customer’s cravings. In one episode, a patron comes nightly with his own three pieces of bread so the Master can make him “yakisoba sandwiches” — exactly how we Filipinos eat pancit with another carbohydrate!

What makes the series so good is that the Master is more than a chef — he is the Tokyo counterpart of Paris’ Cafe Anglais famed lady chef “Babette” of the 1987 Danish film “Babette’s Feast” and James Taylor’s 1977 hit single “Handy Man” rolled into one.

More than the food he passionately serves, the Master delights and comforts every troubled heart and lonely soul longing for love and relationships, forgiveness and kindness they finally find in his Midnight Diner.

Most of all, neither the Master nor his food is the main focus of each episode but the story of every customer who comes to his diner at the most unholiest hours – between 12 midnight and seven in the morning – searching for food for their souls!

Mainstays of the Midnight Diner.

Helping the Master in processing every customer are his interesting mix of characters of regular patrons: LGBTQ members, career ladies mostly single, retirees, professional gamblers and of course, Yakuza gang members.

They are the Master’s “secret spices” who bring out all the flavors and aroma of every customer’s life story like a widowed lawyer searching for his lost step brother to a nightclub stripper sought and saved from miserable life by her high school teacher suffering the early stage of Alzheimer’s disease. Sometimes they act like the Master’s garnishings, adding taste and beauty with some sprinklings of life lessons to lost customers.

Though most stories are understandably peculiar to Japanese culture, they all touch a common chord within us for our basic need of acceptance which the Master warmly provides like his steaming hot dishes.

Unlike most TV series, Midnight Diner’s pacing is so fast and without any pretensions that prevent it from becoming dragging and boring. In less than 30 minutes, each episode is deftly resolved just as magically how the Master came out with a superb meal from his limited resources and tiny kitchen.

But the best attraction of the show is how the viewer eventually finds one’s self warmly welcomed into the diner, laughing or crying, sympathizing or objecting to whatever situation is presented by every guest.

It is a very lovely series that transcends language barriers and cultures because it nourishes and warms our soul that never rest nowadays due to the demands of modern living. Somehow, inside the little Midnight Diner, there is always a space welcoming everyone including us viewers to unwind and be fulfilled with good food, nice people, and meaningful conversations.

Hoping for the next season soon.


Love is Being a Food for Others

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul
Tuesday after Epiphany of the Lord, 08 January 2019
1 John 4:7-10///Mark 6:34-44

            “In this is love:  not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins” (1 Jn. 4:10).

             Today as we move on to new directions and new beginnings this 2019 on this first full week of work and school – when we claim to be back to “normal” in life – you remind us also Lord Jesus Christ of the nature of love:  that everything is because of you because “God is love.”

            As we return to the usual grind of life, teach us always Lord to feel with the people like you when you were moved with pity upon seeing the vast crowd following you.  Most of all, teach us Lord that love is being a food myself for others to receive, to share with.  Yes, this is precisely what you meant when you told your disciples in the wilderness to “give the crowd some food yourselves” (Mk.6:37).  Whenever we share food and drinks to others, when we offer them to partake of our meals, we actually share ourselves with them.  That is the meaning of your sacred meal, the Eucharist.  And that is why such meal is also called agape, the highest form of love when nothing is expected in return.

             Give us the grace O Lord this New Year to be more loving, more caring with others by giving more of ourselves to others. AMEN. Fr.Nicanor F. Lalog II, Parokya ng San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan.

*Photos from Google.