Losing to win, lesson of Our Lady of the Rosary

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary, 07 October 2021
Acts 1:12-14   ><}}}*> + ><}}}*> + ><}}}*>   Luke 1:26-28
Photo from canningliturgicalarts.com.

This feast of the Holy Rosary has its origin in the victory of Christian forces against the Ottoman Turks in the Battle of Lepanto Bay in 1571 that decisively stopped the Moslems from occupying Europe.  The first Dominican Pope, St. Pius V attributed that victory to the recitation of the Holy Rosary.  Popularity and devotion to the Rosary eventually grew and spread when subsequent other victories in various parts of the world, including the Philippines’ La Naval were attributed to our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary. 

In our gospel today, we find the key behind every victory attributed to the praying of the Holy Rosary:  it is when we “lose” that we actually “win”!  After explaining to her the plan of God, Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.  May it be done to me according to your word.”  Then the angel departed her (Lk.1:38).  In a sense, Mary was a loser— she “lost” herself to God and eventually became an instrument for our victory in the salvation through her Son Jesus Christ.  The Lord Himself was crucified, another “loser” in a sense but truly a victor because in dying on the cross, Jesus Christ resurrected on the third day and won over death and sin.

Sometimes it can happen we feel at a loss, when we have lost in some battles in life when later on, we find out we have actually won

Some may have been bullied while in school. Or, sometimes we fail an exam or flunk a semester but eventually we graduated, now have a career, a wonderful family.

In business, sometimes investors and entrepreneurs may go bankrupt before hitting gold.

That’s how it is with life. Win or lose, in the end, it is always a win. Especially when we in God.

When we choose to be like Mary, to submit ourselves to the will and plans of God, we must be ready to endure so many sufferings and hardships in life that sometimes we feel like we are at the losing end.  When we try to be patient, when we try to understand, when we forgive, when we bear all the pains because we love, that is when we win as we lose ourselves and begins to be filled with Christ Jesus like Mary in the gospel. 

True, a lot often we lose so many battles when we try to stand for what is true and good but in the end, we actually win the war against evil.  That is the greatest victory Christ had gifted us, first His Mother Mary:  salvation.  Hence, we find in Marian prayers and hymns the requests for the Blessed Mother’s prayer for us sinners to be saved from hell and be brought to her Son Jesus Christ in eternity.  That’s the final victory we all hope for in praying and living out the Holy Rosary with Mary. 

But first, lose yourself to Jesus.  

“You Can Call Me Al” by Paul Simon (1986)

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 26 September 2021
Photo by author, Singapore 2018.

Today’s featured music is one of our favorites by the great Paul Simon whose meaning we only realized now. We were discussing in our communication class last week the meaning of his classic Sound of Silence when I invited my senior high students to check this one too.

Released in 1986 from his seventh studio album Graceland that featured South African musicians, You Can Call Me Al according to Simon is inspired by a funny anecdote at a party he and his first wife Peggy Harper hosted in New York in 1970. Simon’s friend and fellow composer Stanley Silverman brought along the French composer and conductor Pierre Boulez who mistakenly referred to him as “Al” and his wife as “Betty”.

You Can Call Me Al became Simon’s first hit since 1980 which according to him is partly about himself and largely a man in a midlife crisis who went to South Africa at the midst of an economic embargo against that nation due to apartheid, so absorbed with so many mundane things that eventually ended up awakening to something extraordinary spiritual experience.

Filled with Simon’s poetic play with words that at first seem to be unrelated but by the time you are absorbed with his music, you realize how in this life God has blessed us with so many good things that we have marred with our selfish interests like labels and groupings, even names as Simon had experienced being referred to as “Al”!

A man walks down the street
He says, “Why am I short of attention?
Got a short little span of attention
And, whoa, my nights are so long
Where’s my wife and family?
What if I die here?
Who’ll be my role model
Now that my role model is gone, gone?”
He ducked back down the alley

With some roly-poly little bat-faced girl
All along, along
There were incidents and accidents
There were hints and allegations

If you’ll be my bodyguard
I can be your long lost pal
I can call you Betty
And Betty, when you call me, you can call me Al
Call me Al

A man walks down the street
It’s a street in a strange world
Maybe it’s the third world
Maybe it’s his first time around
Doesn’t speak the language
He holds no currency
He is a foreign man
He is surrounded by the sound, the sound
Cattle in the marketplace
Scatterings and orphanages
He looks around, around
He sees angels in the architecture
Spinning in infinity
He says, “Amen and Hallelujah!”

In our readings today, we find how people would always resort to labels and tags, names and groups in determining what is good and best for everyone when God has total freedom in dispensing his blessings to everyone. All good gifts come from God which he gives us meant to be shared with everyone for the building up of the community. How sad that in our simplistic views, we feel that we are doing a great service in jealously guarding the generous prerogatives of God and others.

In this Sunday’s gospel, Jesus reminds us that “sky’s the limit” when it comes to doing good in the name of God. The only limitation and obstacle we have to guard against in this life is sin (https://lordmychef.com/2021/09/25/and-god-said-sanaol/).

Have a lovely Sunday and a blessed week ahead with Paul Simon’s feel good video to his 1986 hit You Can Call Me Al with his friend, actor Chevy Chase.

*We have no intentions of infringing into the copyrights of this music and its uploader except to share its beauty and listening pleasure.

From YouTube.com.

Without God, we are empty

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Memorial of St. Padre Pio, 23 September 2021
Haggai 1:1-8  ><]]]]*> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]*>   Luke 9:7-9
Photo by author, 22 September 2021.
O dear God our Father,
without you,
we shall never be complete, 
we shall always be empty.
How foolish that we keep on filling
ourselves with so many things
without realizing our fulfillment 
is in you alone.
Twice you ordered us today
through the Prophet Haggai to
"Consider your ways!" or look at ourselves
to see how we think so much of ourselves, 
when we think so much of our needs
without ever thinking of you from whom all
good gifts come from.

Now thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways! You have sown much, but have brought in little; you have eaten, but have not been satisfied; you have drunk, but have not been exhilarated; have clothed yourselves, but not been warmed; and he who earned wages earned them for a bag with holes in it. Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways!

Haggai 1:1-8
We know, O Lord God
that you have no need of anything
from us to be sufficient
for you are perfect;
if ever you "need" us,
it is for our own good and benefit!
Even the most powerful
know this like King Herod
in our gospel today who was
"greatly perplexed" at your Son Jesus Christ
that he "kept trying to see him"
because there must be a large
gaping hole in him without
Jesus.
Teach us to be like
Saint Padre Pio whose
memorial we celebrate today:
enlighten us to imbibe fully the meaning
of his expression that
"I only want to be a poor friar who prays."
How amazing and inspiring,
dear God are the many gifts you have
given St. Padre Pio who desired only
one thing in life, to be poor who prays.
Let us desire you alone
and that is more than enough.
Amen.

Why the cross of Jesus is a “must”

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 14 September 2021
Photo by author, St. Ildephonsus Parish, Tanay, Rizal (January 2021).
Must you, O Lord, 
come and suffer 
so I may see 
your great love
for me?
Must you, O Lord,
be betrayed and denied thrice
so I may see
your loyalty?
Must you, O Lord,
die and rise again
so I may see
your glory?

Jesus summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”

Mark 8:34
So many times
like the young man
who came to you
I find myself asking too
"Lord, what must I do
to gain eternal life?"
But always the same
scene you repeat
again and again:
that I must deny myself,
take up my cross,
and follow you
my Lord to realize
the gravity of my sins
and the immensity of your
love and mercy for me.
Let me turn to you
and remain with you, Lord
at your Triumphant Cross
that I must raise up
over the world
to illumine the paths
that lead to life and love
into the gates of heaven
found here on earth
and not above;
must I fall and stumble,
raise me up
along with others
who are also following you
with whom I must find you too
to truly exalt your Cross!
Photo by author, November 2019.

Being small, and blessed

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Feast of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 08 September 2021
Micah 5:1-4     ><]]]]*> + ><]]]]*> + ><]]]]*>     Matthew 1:18-23
“The Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary”, a 1305 painting by Renaissance artist Giotto in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, Italy. The two babies are Mary: below is Mary upon birth wrapped in swaddling cloth and washed by attendants and then above being handed to St. Anne her mother. Photo from en.wikipedia.org.

We rarely celebrate birthdays in our liturgy, except for the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ on December 25 and of his precursor John the Baptist on June 24. Feasts of the saints are often based on the date of their death or when their remains were transferred for proper burial.

Today is different: it is the birth of the Mother of God, the Blessed Virgin Mary. And so we celebrate!

Nine months after her Immaculate Conception celebrated as a Solemnity on December 8, we now have the Feast of her Nativity which is lower in status or ranking of celebrations. Nonetheless, aside from Jesus and John the Baptist, her birth is still celebrated as it is the completion of her Immaculate Conception by St. Anne.

But in this time of the pandemic when everyone’s birthday celebration is kept at the simplest level unless you are a police general or a corrupt government official or a callous lawmaker, it is good to reflect anew on the significance of a birthday. Thanks a lot to Facebook in making every birthday so special, alerting everyone of someone’s birth every day.

Photo by author, December 2018.

"Every birthday is a small Christmas 
because with the birth of every person 
comes Jesus Christ."

In his 1995 Encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), the great St. John Paul II beautifully expressed that “Every birthday is a small Christmas because with the birth of every person comes Jesus Christ.”

What makes that so true with every birthday beginning with the Blessed Virgin Mary is God’s great mystery of becoming small, of being a little one. In the birth of his Son Jesus Christ, God revealed to us that true greatness is in becoming small, in being silent. Even insignificant.

This we find right in the place of birth of the Christ prophesied in the Old Testament.

“You, Bethlehem-Ephrathah too small to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel; whose origin is from of old, from ancient times.”

Micah 5:1

And if we go further, we find this true greatness of God in being small found also in the Mother of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary who came from the obscure town of Nazareth, the only place in the New Testament never mentioned in the Old Testament. Recall how the Apostle Bartholomew (Nathanael) belittled the Lord’s hometown after being told by Philip that they have found the Messiah from Nazareth, saying, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” (Jn.1:46).

Nazareth was totally unknown.

And so was Mary!

That is why it is so disappointing and sad when many Catholics unfortunately led by some priests have the misimpression of portraying Mary as a “beauty queen” with flawless skin and Western features when she is clearly Middle Eastern woman. Worst of all is the pomp and pageantries we have in the recent fads of processions and coronations.

Photo by author, La Niña Maria at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, Valenzuela City, 07 September 2021.

How sad we have missed how the Blessed Virgin Mary as the model disciple of Jesus was the first to embody his teaching of being small like little children with her simplicity and humility so very well expressed in her 20th century apparitions in Fatima, Portugal and Banneux, Belgium.

Thanks in part to the COVID-19 pandemic that has given us so much time and opportunities to “reboot” or “reset” our priorities in every aspect of our lives, including in our religious devotions and faith itself.

With a total stop to those Marian “extravaganzas” that have been going out of control in recent years, the pandemic is now teaching us in this Feast of the Nativity of Mary of the need for us to rediscover the values of being small and simple, silent and hidden.

Enough with our imeldific celebrations even in our religious gatherings that have sometimes become egregious display of wealth and power.

Being simple and small like Mary, both as a child and as an adult, enable us to see again the value of life and of every person.


The more simple and true 
we are like Mary and Joseph, 
the more Jesus is seen 
and experienced in us!  

Aside from the lack of any account on the birth of Mary, we heard proclaimed today the birth of Jesus to teach us that truth expressed by St. John Paul II that in every person comes Jesus Christ. The more simple and true we are like Mary and Joseph, the more Jesus is seen and experienced in us!

That is why when we greet somebody a “happy birthday”, what we really mean telling him/her is “I love you, I thank you for making me who I am today.” Through one’s simplicity and littleness in Christ, we are transformed into better persons because we are able to have glimpse of God’s love and kindness.

Photo by author, December 2020.

The true joy of celebrating a birthday is not found in the externalities of gifts and parties and guests with all the fun that come along. In this time of the pandemic as we learn to celebrate simpler birthdays, we are reminded of life’s beginning and direction that is eternal life.

And how do we get there? Through death or dying – the one reality in life Jesus has taught us in his Cross which we have avoided that has suddenly become so common these days of the pandemic.

Like in the birth of Jesus Christ, we are reminded by every birthday that life is precious because it is so fragile – any infant and every person can be easily hurt and harmed, be sick and eventually die.

Like Mary and Joseph, the little Child born in Bethlehem asks us, even begs us to take care of him found in everyone among us. Let us be more loving and kind, understanding and caring, even merciful and forgiving with one another not only in this time of the pandemic.

Such is the wisdom of God in making life small and fragile so that we may care and value it because there lies also its greatness. The best birthday greeting we can express to the Blessed Mother Mary today is to start being small and simple like her to share Jesus with everyone. Amen.

Seeing Christ in what is traditional and what is new

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Memorial of St. Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church, 
03 September 2021
Colossians 1:15-20   ><)))'> ><]]]]*> ><)))'>   Luke 5:33-39
Photo by Dr. Mai B. Dela Peña, MD in Barcelona, Spain, 2018.

The scribes and the Pharisees said to Jesus, “The disciples of John the Baptist fast so often and offer prayers, and the disciples of the Pharisees do the same; but yours eat and drink.”

Luke 5:33
Oh yes, God our Father!
So many times we are like
the scribes and the Pharisees
asking Jesus not to seek the truth
but to confirm what we believe 
as true and proper, trying to find
justifications for what we are
doing which we hardly understand
the deeper meaning.
Like the gospel last Sunday,
we cannot distinguish what is
traditional and what is new,
what is clean and unclean,
and most of all, what is good
and what is evil because 
we are more focused with our
selves than with you and Jesus.

And he also told them a parable. Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins, and it will be spilled, and the skins will be ruined. Rather, new wine must be poured into fresh wineskins. And no one who has been drinking old wine desires new, for he says, “The old is good.””

Luke 5:36, 37-39
Like St. Gregory the Great,
refresh us in your Son Jesus Christ,
dear Father.  
Make us "new wineskins"
to be poured with Jesus, the "new wine";
indeed, old wine always tastes good
but we have to become new wineskins too
to be able to adjust to the new wine
to bring out its goodness and zest.

For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile all things for him, making peace by the Blood of his cross through him, whether those on earth or those in heaven.

Colossians 1:19-20
Let us always seek first Jesus Christ,
loving Father in looking at things
in life and especially in the Church;
like St. Gregory the Great who
accomplished so much not only
in the Church but also in civil society
despite his short stint as Pope for
only 13 years, help us to center our
lives in Christ Jesus because
"he is the image of the invisible God,
the first born of all creation"
(Colossians 1:15).
Amen.

Fulfillment in Christ

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Week XXII, Year I in Ordinary Time, 02 September 2021
Colossians 1:9-14   ><}}}*> ><}}}*> ><}}}*>   Luke 5:1-11
Photo by author of the statues of Simon Peter kneeling before Jesus after the miraculous catch of fish at the lake, 2017.
As the pandemic rages with its
more devastating surge affecting
whole families, we pray dear Father
not only for healing of those afflicted
with COVID-19 but also for the opening
of our minds and hearts to find the
deeper realities of life instead of still
being preoccupied with mundane and 
selfish desires we have taken as our
false securities.  Let us remove all these
blindness in us to see and embrace 
the truth of your Son Jesus Christ, the 
only one who can lead us out of this
darkness that is also of our own making.
Let the prayer of St. Paul for the Colossians
be our prayer today, Father:  "that we may walk
in a manner worthy of the Lord so as to be fully
pleasing in every good work, bearing fruit
and growing in the knowledge of God" so that
"we may be fit to share in the inheritance 
of the holy ones in light" (Colossians 1:10,12).
Dear Father, help us realize the need for us
to seek fulfillment only you in Christ Jesus
"in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness
of sins" (Colossians 1:14).
Open our eyes to see the deeper story behind 
the news happening around us today:  
of what sense is our pursuit for fame,
wealth and power when we can easily die with
COVID-19 or when our country is overrun 
by rebels like Afghanistan?
Fulfillment in life can only be found 
in Jesus Christ your Son who had come 
to enable us "catch abundant fish" when
all our toils and efforts yielded nothing;
teach us to trust in you more, to dare 
cast the net into the deep and most of all,
to leave our "boat" of comfort and ease
to walk with Jesus, following him as
"fishers of men" sharing his loving service
and presence, mercy and kindness with everyone.
Amen. 

The Holy month of August

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 30 August 2021
Photo by Fr. John Howard Tarrayo, National Shrine and Parish of Fatima, Valenzuela City, 06 August 2021.

Like the months of November and January, August now suffers the same fate of being more known with pagan rituals and beliefs despite its rich liturgical celebrations and feasts we celebrate – ironically – as the only Christian nation in this part of the world.

Spurred mainly by the social media, more and more Filipinos now believe that August is a “ghost month” with almost everybody even not a Chinoy are posting those “Do’s” and “Don’ts” on Facebook to cast away or avoid the evil spell by ghosts that August is supposed to bring.

What a sad reality in our Catholic Christian country.

Forty or 30 years ago, all we have was “pangangaluluwa” when some people would sing in front of our homes for some donations like in caroling during Christmas season. With the advent of social media and our penchant for anything American, we now have every November those grossly erroneous and pagan Halloween practices of costume party and “trick or treat”. Not far from that is our January tradition borrowed also from pagans of literally welcoming every New Year with a lot of “bang”, wasting precious money that also cost some lives and injuries to so many due to fireworks and firecrackers.

Here we find the kind of religiosity that binds most of us, more on rites and rituals but lacking in roots and spirituality, centered on ourselves to be assured of every kind of blessings, forgetting all about the very object of faith who is God expressed in our concern for one another.


August is not a ghost month nor any other month of the year.  
Like the days of the week, every month is a blessed one.  
No day nor date nor time is malas because 
when God became human like us in the coming of Jesus Christ, 
life has become holy, filled with God, 
debunking those ancient beliefs of the Divine being seen in various cosmic forces.

August is not a ghost month nor any other month of the year. Like the days of the week, every month is a blessed one. No day nor date nor time is malas because when God became human like us in the coming of Jesus Christ, life has become holy, filled with God, debunking those ancient beliefs of the Divine being seen in various cosmic forces.

In this regard a text by Saint Gregory Nazianzen is enlightening. He says that at the very moment when the Magi, guided by the star, adored Christ the new king, astrology came to an end, because the stars were now moving in the orbit determined by Christ[2]. This scene, in fact, overturns the world-view of that time, which in a different way has become fashionable once again today. It is not the elemental spirits of the universe, the laws of matter, which ultimately govern the world and mankind, but a personal God governs the stars, that is, the universe; it is not the laws of matter and of evolution that have the final say, but reason, will, love—a Person. And if we know this Person and he knows us, then truly the inexorable power of material elements no longer has the last word; we are not slaves of the universe and of its laws, we are free. In ancient times, honest enquiring minds were aware of this. Heaven is not empty. Life is not a simple product of laws and the randomness of matter, but within everything and at the same time above everything, there is a personal will, there is a Spirit who in Jesus has revealed himself as Love[3].

#5 of Spe Salvi (Saved in Hope) by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, 30 November 2007
From catholicapostolatecenter.org.

Consider the name of this month August which was borrowed from the Roman Caesar Augustus that signifies reverence or to hold someone in high regard. As an adjective, august means “respected and impressive” like when we say “in this august hall of men and women of science”.

Most of all, consider the great feasts that fall on this month of August: the Transfiguration of the Lord Jesus Christ on August 6 and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven on August 15. Both feasts remind us of the promise of glory in heaven as we strive and persevere to lead holy lives in this world filled with pain and sufferings.

(See our blogs on these feasts, https://lordmychef.com/2021/08/06/transfiguration-in-time-of-corona/ and https://lordmychef.com/2021/08/14/mary-mirror-of-gods-greatness/.)

There are also so many saints we celebrate on this month of August like our patron saint as priests, St. John Vianney (August 4); St. Dominic who died 800 years ago on August 8 after serving not only the Church but also the whole world in general when he founded the Order of Preachers (O.P.) also known as the “Dominicans”; St. Clare of Assisi (August 11), a contemporary and friend of St. Francis; St. Bernard of Clairvaux (August 20) who wrote so many beautiful homilies, hymns and prayers like the Memorare; St. Rose of Lima (August 23) who was the first saint from the New World; and of course not to forget the greatest mother and son tandem next maybe to Mary and Jesus, St. Monica (August 27) and St. Augustine (August 28).

August is also the month of two great followers of Jesus, St. Bartholomew the Apostle (August 24) and two former Pharisees who buried our Lord, St. Joseph of Arimathea and St. Nicodemus (August 31). Likewise, it is on August 29 when we celebrate the martyrdom of the Lord’s precursor, St. John the Baptist who was beheaded during the birthday party of Herod who was so afraid to take back his oath to give whatever Salome would ask him after delighting his guests with a dance number.

There are two special saints we celebrate this holy month that according to St. John Paul II are both saints of our modern time, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (August 09) and St. Maximilian Kolbe (August 14). Both saints were martyred in the gas chambers of Auschwitz during the Holocaust.

St. Teresa Benedicta is the same German philosopher Edith Stein, a former Jew who had become an atheist in her younger years in the university but upon further studies and prayer, converted into Catholicism, becoming a Carmelite nun where she adopted her new name. She wrote in one of her writings that “Those who seek truth seek God, whether they realize it or not“.

Though she had become Catholic, she did not abandon her Judaic roots, even writing the Pope at that time to ask him to speak strongly against the Nazi Germans’ extermination of Jews. Her death on August 9, 1942 at Auschwitz with her younger sister who had become a Catholic too was a fitting testimony to her faith, honoring her Jewish roots by dying among them as a martyr of Christ and one who had “learned to live in God’s hands” according to Sr. Josephine Koeppel, OCD, a translator of much of her works.

Dying ahead of her in Auschwitz on August 14, 1941 was St. Maximilian Kolbe, a Franciscan priest who was arrested for his writings against the evil Nazis. It was actually his second time to be arrested.

When a prisoner had escaped from the camp, authorities rounded up ten men to die in exchange of the lone escapee. Fr. Kolbe volunteered to take the place of a married man with children. They were all tortured and starved in order to die slowly in pain. A devotee of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Maximilian was injected with carbolic acid on the eve of the Assumption after guards found him along with three other prisoners still alive, without any signs of fear like screaming but silently praying.

Photo of Auschwitz from Google.

We no longer have gas chambers but atrocities against human life continue in our time, hiding in the pretext of science and laws. Until now, men and women, young and old alike including those not yet born in their mother’s womb are hunted and killed to correct what many perceived as excesses and wrongs in the society. Just like what Hitler and his men have thought of the Jews at that time.

The Nazi officers and soldiers of Auschwitz remind us the true “ghosts” or evil spirits of our time sowing hatred and deaths are people who may be well-dressed, even educated in the best schools, and come from devout or “normal” families. They sow evil every day without choosing any particular month, blindly following orders without much thinking and reflections or introspection.

By the lives of the many great saints of August, or of any other month for that matter, we are reminded especially in this time of the pandemic that holiness is not being sinless but simply being filled with God, allowing that holiness to spill over and flow onto others with our lives of authenticity to the truth of God among us in Christ expressed in charity and mercy, kindness and justice, humility and openness with one another.

It is very sad and depressing to watch in the news and social media feeds how some among us continue to display their lack of any concern at all with the suffering people with their lavish lifestyles and display of expensive clothes and food. And worst of all are those men and women, in power or hungry for power, in their excessive display of brute force against the weak and the poor.

Let us make every month holy and blessed with our good deeds to make everyone aware of Christ’s presence among us.

Photo from inquirer.net.

Aral ng lumot sa panahon ng pandemya

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-25 ng Agosto 2021
Larawan kuha ng may-akda sa Tam-Awan, Baguio City, 2018.
Minsan isang umagang kay panglaw
sikat at busilak ng araw aking tinatanaw
ako ay gininaw sa malagim na katotohanan
hindi pa rin papanaw 
at patuloy pang hahataw 
pananalasa nitong pandemya;
Kahit mayroon nang bakuna
dumarami pa rin mga nahahawa
isang paalala maaring lumala pa
bago humupa at tuluyang mawala na.
Noon din ay aking namataan 
mga tumutubong halaman 
sa kapaligiran tila nagsasabi
huwag susuko
magpatuloy sa paglago
ano man ang panahon
tagtuyot o pag-ulan
manatiling luntian
maski mga dahon lamang
saka na mga bulaklak at bunga.
Larawan kuha ng may-akda, Malagos Gardens, Davao City, Agosto 2017.
Pinakamahalaga
manatiling buhay at umunlad
sa gitna ng karahasan
aral ng mga halaman
sa ati'y kay lalim at
napakayaman sa
kahulugan na maari nating
tularan at gamiting aral
na gagabay sa ating buhay
ngayong panahon ng pandemya.
Sa lahat ng halaman
na lubos kong kinagigiliwan
bukod sa hindi ko kailangang
mga ito ay alagaan 
ay ang mga lumot
sa sumusulpot 
maski sa mga sulok-sulok 
na kahit malimot
tutubo at lalago, kakapal
parang alpombra sa mga paa!
Hindi gaanong naabot
ng liwanag itong lumot
ngunit kay lamig sa paningin
kay gandang tanawin
kung ating susuriin
nagsasabi sa atin
ng himig ng lilim at dilim
tinig na mahalumigmig;
hindi man masikatan ng araw
mayroon din busilak sa kadiliman!
Paalala sa atin ng mga lumot
ngayon ang panahon ay masalimuot
katotohanan at kagandahan
nitong ating buhay
bumubukal saan man malagay;
Maykapal sa ati'y hindi humihiwalay
pahalagahan at pangalagaan
lahat ng ating taglay
dahil walang kapantay ating buhay, 
mas makulay sa ano mang halaman
lalo't higit sa lumot
huwag sanang iyan ay malimot.
Larawan kuha ng may-akda, Agosto 2019.

My screen this quarantine

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 17 August 2021
Image from Pinterest.

We are almost done with the first week of our third lockdown with nine more days before it is either extended or modified depending on what jumbled letter combinations come out from the magic roulette in the Palace. Either way, hail to all couch potatoes for longer weeks in front of that magic screen!

Thanks for the gift of Netflix in keeping our sanity in this pandemic. And more thanks again Netflix in streaming more television shows lately especially coming from the Philippines.

Forget My Amanda that should have been called My Cars or My Abs or My Hair

One series you should not miss before the end of this Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) is Bagman starring Arjo Atayde.

First released in 2019 as an original series in iWantTFC, Bagman is so unique as a Filipino series because of its fast-paced tempo of less than 30 minutes per episode without the usual Pinoy director’s penchance for intense close up shots on faces of the characters with nothing expected to happen at all.

Everything in the production is superb, especially cinematography and musical scoring as well location sets that are characteristically the hallmarks of every ABS-CBN film undertaking. In fact, Bagman is one perfect reason that ABS-CBN should get back its franchise to operate for helping elevate television and film in the country.

Unlike other socio-political movies where we already know how low and evil is politics in the country, Bagman challenges us for a more personal response in ending this vicious circle of corruption and decadence in our culture and life as a nation.

Kudos to its creators Philip Kind, Lino Cayetano and Shugo Praico who directed the two-season series we hope would still have a final sequel. Their great attention to details with subliminal meanings on the roles and manners of different characters make the viewers “experience” – not just watch – the series done in first-person storytelling with narrations by Atayde himself as a former barber becoming a bagman of the governor. Each episode opens with a disclaimer that it is a work of fiction based on realities we have heard and read.

At its best, Bagman can be described as “totoong-totoo” – very true with its great storyline with characters played out so well by every actor like a thespian, beginning with Atayde and his co-stars that included the resurrected former sex-goddess Ms. Rosanna Roces and former Bagets Ms. Yayo Aguida.

From Twitter.

Personally striking for me as a former smoker and police reporter is Atayde puffing his cigarettes clipped between his middle and ring finger.

So classic, tsong!

They must really have a superb study for Atayde and even everyone, like Mr. Joel Saracho who played a supporting role in a few episodes as a former cobbler turned “assistant” of the evil congressman played by Romnick Sarmenta. A writer himself and a veteran to many great productions on stage and the movies, Saracho brought his usual finesse in the few scenes he was included with great impact.

Bagman teems with many scenes focused on marginalized people forced to make that desperate “kapit sa patalim” due to poverty and exploitation by crooks who come from both the rich and poor alike. Here lies the beauty of the series in teaching everyone without pontificating the need to always choose the right path in life, to be careful of getting stuck into a situation one can no longer get out and cost one’s life or loved ones, or both.

One unforgettable scene for me is that episode focused on Atayde’s father-in-law played by Rolando Inocencio as a Political Science professor telling his class the story how three congressmen died and were held at the gates of heaven by St. Peter for interview. The first two were sent to hell for their sins but the third lawmaker made into heaven after “bribing” St. Peter!

The whole class burst into laughter while Inocencio lamented in a very fatherly manner how deeply ingrained is corruption among us Filipinos until the bell rang and his class dismissed. In a later episode, Inocencio would ask their hostage-taker (Karl Medina) claiming to be his former student how did the third congressman get into heaven to check if he was indeed in his class at the university.

Medina would not give any reply at all to Inocencio who would again lament how every student of his would surely know the answer because he tells the same story in every class he handled. For me as a priest, the scenes that followed reverberated with voices, asking us teachers and educators what have we really done in forming the minds of the young in our schools and parishes when corruption is even getting worst?

Bagman is a timely reminder for us in this time of pandemic of rectifying the excesses of our “old normal way of life” that is so unfair and unjust that many clamor to bring back in the face of the “new normal” that is still far from what is just and true.

One downside for me with Bagman is the excessive use of foul language, one of the worst “new normal” introduced to our society four years before COVID-19 came. The series could have been more effective and compelling minus those p*@#&^_!

See it for yourself. Enjoy and reflect the series.

More power to the people behind Bagman!

From Esquire Philippines.