Five things to keep in your pocket as you move on to Senior High

Homily by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Baccalaureate Mass, 04 July 2022
Grade Six and Grade Ten, Our Lady of Fatima University in Valenzuela City,
Fairview, Quezon City and San Fernando, Pampanga
Photo by olia danilevich on Pexels.com

Congratulations, our dear graduates in Grade Six and also to our “completers” of Grade Ten! As you “move up” to Junior and Senior High School, please consider these five things I strongly recommend you must always have in your pocket or purse as you pursue your dreams in life.

These are the fruits of my own journey from elementary school to college and professional life and later, as a priest in the past 24 years. I have shared these with my former students in Malolos and later when some of them got married and asked me to officiate their wedding, I have used this again as my homily.


First thing you must always have is a handkerchief.

Photo by Zaid Ali on Pexels.com

If you are a man, make it white. And better, make it two – one for wiping your face and the other for sneezing. Or, who knows, someone might need a handkerchief in an emergency; it is good to always have an extra one like in my experience here at the National Shrine last week when I officiated a wedding.

Forgive me, my dear students and parents and faculty members: I was aghast – shocked and so kadiri to see the groom crying and sniffing as he pressed his nose and rubbed his eyes with his fingers when he saw his bride walking down the aisle because he did not have a handkerchief! I hope the video editor had edited that part of his wedding. It was good that his best man had some paper napkins and gave it to him.

It was exactly what my father used to tell me in elementary school to always have a handkerchief to wipe dirt off my face, adding that “baka mamya mabahing ka at sumambulat mga sipon mo tapos ni wala kang panyo, nakakahiya ka.”

Very true! It is part of good hygiene. And remember that saying we learned in Grade One, “Cleanliness is next to godliness”. And that is the deeper meaning of having handkerchief always: for us to stay clean. Be faithful to God who gave us his Son Jesus Christ to wipe away and cleanse us of our sins. That is the message of the prophet Hosea in our first reading today: be faithful to God. Remain clean before the Lord.


Second thing you must have in your pocket or purse for ladies is money. Never leave home without some money, at least a hundred pesos in case of an emergency.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

My mother used to tell me whenever I would go out with my classmates on weekends to watch a movie or visit friends to always have some extra money, saying “baka makatisod ka ng isang tumpok na kamatis wala kang ibayad sa tindera”.

I’m sure you do not understand what I am speaking of: before the coming of supermarkets, during our time, vendors would sell their goods on sidewalks like tomatoes and calamansi that are always grouped together (that is, tumpok). There were no weighing scale then. If you are careless in walking, you might step on the tomatoes and surely, you will be charged to pay for it.

You are so lucky these days, children. During our time, we only have either baon like sandwich that was actually a pan de sal with Cheez Wiz or money; today, you both have baon and money!

And I won’t be surprised at all that some of you might have G-Cash too! My point is, have some money for emergencies. Learn to budget. Never spend beyond your means. And, be generous to those in need. Remember, money is important in life but not the most essential; learn how to manage your wealth at a young age.


Photo by Plush Design Studio on Pexels.com

Third, always have a pen or a ballpen. I was a reporter before but after I have resigned and went to the seminary to become a priest, I have realized the importance of having a pen like when you witness a hit and run accident: you can always write down on your palm the plate number of the vehicle in the accident.

In this time of the pandemic, it is very important to have your own pen than borrow or use those pens laden with virus and bacteria in filling up forms to enter an establishment.

It is sad that in this age of computers that had gone paperless, your generation is missing a great deal about life itself in the art of writing. Look at the penmanships of your elders, how legible their writings are unlike us today who are more used to pounding keys than “romancing” the paper with pen.

My lesson for you my dear students is that like the pen, always leave a mark. And the mark you must always leave is the mark of Jesus Christ. The marks of kindness and respect, of love and generosity. What marks are you leaving behind at our Basic Education Department?


Photo by Mk7 Bober on Pexels.com

Fourth, always have a comb. I am sure the ladies among you always have brush or even a blower or hair dryer in your bag! A comb is our best weapon for looking good even on “bad hair days” so to speak.

But please, do not comb your hair in public. Go to the washroom to fix your hair. It is not vanity. It is good grooming, having proper decorum before other people. You might say what is essential is invisible to the eye, of what is inside us; yes, that is true. But keep in mind that what others see in us outside, in our appearance is an indication of what is inside us. If you look good, most likely, you must be a good person because you give importance to others you meet by looking good!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Last but not least you must have in your pocket or purse is a Rosary. It is not an anting-anting meant to keep you safe from all harm. It is to remind you to always pray, to never forget God and our Lady of Fatima, our Patroness.

I know some of you are not Catholics but my message is simple: never forget God. Handle life with prayer. As you advance in your studies, there will be more trials and hardships coming your way. But Jesus is with you, will help you in everything. So, hold on to him. Imitate Mary his Mother, our Lady of Fatima in being a faithful disciple of Jesus by remaining at his side at the Cross. Always begin and end the day with prayer.

In our gospel today, Jesus brought back to life a dead young girl who was about 12 years old, the daughter of a synagogue official. Just like some of you today.

See how Jesus held her hand and raised her up. Notice also how Jesus turned his face toward that old woman who touched his garment along the way to be healed of her sickness? That is how Jesus Christ would always want to relate with us, with you especially, young people: always touching us, calling us by our name, speaking to us. But, do we listen to him?

Since I came here last year, I have been telling our students to study hard, work harder and pray hardest. To you, I say the same. And add these five things you must have in your pocket or purse. Hope to see you again in August as you rise to the top! God bless you all!

Photo by Mr. Chester Ocampo, springtime in Japan 2017.

God, our true treasure in life

Homily by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II for the Baccalaureate Mass
Our Lady of Fatima University, Valenzuela City, 17 June 2022
2 Kings 11:1-4, 9-18, 20     <*{{{{>< + ><}}}}*>   Matthew 6:19-23
Photo by Ms. Jing Rey Henderson in Taroytoy, Aklan, 30 April 2022.

Congratulations, dear graduates of Academic Year 2022! The term “earning your degree” is most appropriate for your batch because it was no easy task and feat to go through college these last two years on line and limited face-to-face classes.

Most difficult for you, Batch 2022 who are all so young and should have been out there exploring the world, learning life beyond the classrooms but due to the COVID-19 pandemic have to be kept inside your homes, denied even of lakwatsa? (I doubt…)

You have not only earned a degree nor would receive a diploma next week; remember, Batch 2022 of Our Lady of Fatima University, you have made it in one of the most difficult moments in modern world history!

The past two years were truly difficult as we navigated through uncharted journeys, making the best of whatever we can and we have to finish our studies and yes, keep our sanity. Let us be grateful to our Administrators and professors, and everyone in Our Lady of Fatima University who ensured our online classes continued so you may graduate this June.

These past two years are so precious that surely in the years to come, we would all look back for the many lessons we have learned about life.


God must be preparing you for something big, something so special like the young King Joash of Judah in our first reading.

Photo by Fr. Pop dela Cruz, San Miguel, Bulacan, 15 June 2022.

Our first reading today is very interesting, a bit like Stranger Things for its bizarre plot and most of all, it tells us something good and beautiful about isolation like what we have experienced in COVID-19 pandemic.

Around the year 387 BC, the King of Judah by the name of Ahaziah died at a very young age of 22. His mother Athalia seized power after his death and to ensure she would keep the throne as queen, she ordered the king’s children – her own grandchildren – killed!

Here now are the stranger things: Athalia’s husband, King Jehoram who was the father of Ahaziah, also killed all his brothers and their sons upon succeeding their father to the throne so that no one among them would seize power from him. To top it all, the brothers of Ahaziah were killed by raiding Arabs that have left their royal lineage from King David almost deleted, except for one infant who survived Athalia’s carnage – his youngest son named Joash. He was saved by his auntie, Ahaziah’s sister Jehosheba by hiding him for a year in the maids’ quarter with his yaya or baby sitter. After a year, Joash was brought to the temple to hide him there for six years under the care and protection of the high priest Jehoida who happened to be the husband of Jehosheba.

When Joash turned seven years old, his uncle, the high priest Jehoida staged a coup d’etat against his grandmother Queen Athalia by revealing to the people gathered at the temple the evil deeds of Queen Athalia. Furthermore, he revealed to the people how one of the princes had survived, Joash, who was immediately installed as the new and legitimate king of Judah.

Athalia was arrested and killed outside Jerusalem along with the priests of the pagan idol Baal. King Joash lived long to rule over Judah to eventually continue the Davidic lineage of kings to fulfill God’s promise of sending the coming Messiah from the family of King David.


We are not told what was taught or the kind of formation the little prince Joash had while in isolation and hiding in the temple but that surely prepared him for the great task and mission he would have later in life.

From Facebook, April 2020.

Imagine King Joash had to hide for seven years from his own, wicked Lola and, we are just in our second year of the COVID-19 pandemic with many semblances of normalcy beginning to return; I won’t be surprised at all that many of you have already gone to Baguio City or Boracay or any vacation spot these past months.

My message for you, dear Batch 2022 is simple: following the COVID-19 lockdowns and isolation, never forget its beautiful lesson that God is our only surety in life, that God alone is our true treasure who could never be stolen or destroyed.

Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.”

Matthew 6:19-21

God alone is our true treasure whom we must keep and nurture in life, both in good times and in bad.


We have all experienced these past two years that nothing is permanent in life except God alone. Some of us have lost friends and relatives, even family members not only to COVID but to other sickness.

Many of us got sick with COVID and other diseases and ailments.

We experienced tightening our belts, trying to cut down on many expenses as finances went down while others lost their jobs and livelihood. We cannot even rely on our savings and investments as the pandemic brought them down.

Despite the many viral trends that came out these past two years, we have learned too that popularity does not last. In fact, it wanes too fast until the next trending topics or videos.

There is nobody else we can truly rely on except God and his everlasting love. Remain in him in your prayers and communal celebrations like going to Mass on Sundays. Since last year when I came here at the Our Lady of Fatima University, I have been telling you in our Masses and conferences, most especially during Baccalaureate Mass like this, study hard, work harder, and pray hardest.

Bad times like sickness and death, problems and difficulties are like storms that keep us inside our homes so we can reflect more about ourselves, our lives and our goals. Though the clouds may be dark, it is during the storms in life when we are truly enlightened to see the more important things in life, our true treasures.

Remember, it is always after the rains and the storms when the leaves are greenest.

Photo by Peter Fazekas on Pexels.com

Just like you, Batch 2022, who went through severe tests and storms these past two years. Now, you rejoice for the well-deserved recognition of completing your courses, of graduating.

There will be more storms coming your way, even darker and stronger than what you went through while at Our Lady of Fatima University. We are still in a pandemic and nobody knows until when we shall have all these set-ups in life, in work and in school. However, if we have made it this far especially you, Batch 2022, better days are coming ahead for you.

God has special plans for you like King Joash that is why he kept you at home for two years, why he pushed you to be patient and persevering in your online classes despite the many problems you have had like the perennial slow internet.

As you go out to the world with your diploma, with your knowledge and wisdom as you rise to the top, do not forget God. Handle life with prayer, practice well our two mottos, Veritas et Misericordia, Truth and Mercy. Sometimes, go into isolation or retreat with God to find the truth, to examine how merciful you have been and to listen to God’s voice, to discover his plans for you. And to be focused more in him through Jesus Christ, the light of the world.

Keep Jesus your light. Even if you are not able to see the entire path, one step is enough because Jesus will never leave you, would always guide you to our true treasure in life, God. Amen.

Congratulations again and God bless you more, OLFU’s Batch 2022!

From Facebook, Our Lady of Fatima University, 15 June 2022.

It is after the storm when leaves are greenest…

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 15 June 2022
Photo by Ms. Jo Villafuerte, Benguet, September 2019.
God our loving Father:
It has been three weeks
since June started and 
I was so happy we are already
halfway through the year
when suddenly the thermostat
went crazy, going as high as 34
and 36 in some places; but,
the most weird of all is after 
the searing heat of the day are
the evening thunderstorms that
cause floods in some areas 
due to heavy rains that poured.
It has been going on like that, Lord,
with Mother Nature reminding us
to really change our lifestyles and
way of thinking before we totally
destroy our only home, planet Earth;
what a playful way, Lord, 
for you to remind us of how things
are not going well with thunderstorms
especially for some people.
When I was younger,
you have always heard my prayers,
Lord, during thunderstorms;
thank you for keeping us all safe.
As I got older,
every thunderstorm has become
a reminder for me to pray
not only for my safety but
most especially for people
going through many storms in life. 
Photo by Greg on Pexels.com
Bless, dear God our Father,
the many people staying indoors
due to the heavy rains 
coming their way these days:  
those who are battling loneliness
and old age amid the emptiness
 in their empty nests and retirement. 
Bless, dear God our Father,
those devastated by heavy storms in life:
those diagnosed with cancer,
those immobilized by stroke,
those who have to go on dialysis
and delicate surgeries
along with their loved ones
who have to take care of them
or worst, with caregivers
because no one in their family
can be present for them.
Bless, dear God our Father,
those living under dark gloomy skies
of grief after losing their loved ones
especially during this pandemic;
many of them have not taken any
respite yet and death has come
knocking at them twice or thrice lately.
Photo by Peter Fazekas on Pexels.com
Bless, dear God our Father,
the many others being pummeled 
by so many typhoons in life:
those having problems in their 
family and relationships, those
who have lost their jobs,
those trying so hard to make
ends meet, those who wish 
to give up on life due to so many
problems that beset them.
I pray for them all, Father.
In the name of Jesus Christ your Son
our Lord, keep them strong,
enlighten their minds and hearts 
with your Holy Spirit so they may
keep on seeking and standing by
your truth; fill them with courage 
and perseverance, keep them faithful 
and hopeful even if things get worst
BECAUSE IT IS ALWAYS AFTER
THE STORMS,  AFTER THE RAINS 
WHEN THE LEAVES ARE GREENEST; 
IT IS AFTER THE FLOODS WHEN RICH TOP SOIL
ARE DEPOSITED ON THE FIELDS.
Let us hold on to you, loving Father,
to lead us to abundant life 
and fulfillment in Jesus Christ
with the Holy Spirit.  
Amen.
Photo by Fr. Pop dela Cruz, San Miguel, Bulacan, 15 June 2022.