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.

Easter is obeying God than men

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the Second Week of Easter, 15 April 2021
Acts 5:27-30   ><)))*> + ><)))*> + ><)))*>   John 3:31-36
Photo by author, dome of the chapel at Shepherd’s Field, Bethlehem, the Holy Land, 2019.

Your words today, O Lord, from the first reading invites me to examine my attitude when somebody or something reminds me of my sins and sinfulness. What a shame that too often, we are like the members of the Sanhedrin who refused to acknowledge their complicity in your crucifixion, much less even mention your name.

When they heard this,
they became infuriated
and wanted to put them to death.
(Acts 5:33)

Forgive us, Jesus, when our worldliness prevents us from seeing you and others, when we tend to see only ourselves that we do not care at all to others, thinking we have a monopoly of truths, of having so many excuses and alibis defending ourselves.

We pray most especially to our government officials led by the president himself who continues to see himself self-righteously, maligning his detractors and critics despite the many deaths and sufferings of the people especially the poor.

We pray for their blind supporters that you open their minds and hearts that “we must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29) as Peter had told the Sanhedrin during their trial.

Most of all, dear Jesus, only you has the power to cast away all evil and convert hearts: we pray for our leaders and their blind supporters to be reminded always that it is only you “who comes from above is above all” (Jn.3:31), that there is no other God except you!

How sad and tragic that while this pandemic is raging around the world, so many people, world leaders and nations are acting as if they are gods who are above all, doing everything that pleases them, unmindful of you and of others.

For so long, our government leaders have been “rationing God’s gift of the Spirit” (Jn.3:34), feeding us with half truths and worst until now, they have no definitive plan in containing the pandemic except quarantines that have severely affected the poor.

Like the psalmist, we trust only in you our Lord and our God.

The Lord confronts the evildoers,
to destroy remembrance of them on the earth.
When the just cry out,
the Lord hears them,
and from all their distress
he rescues them.
(Psalm 34:17-18)

Amen. Amen. Alleluia, Amen!

Learning to pray again in Lent

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 25 February 2021
Thursday, Week-I of Lent, 35th Anniversary of EDSA People Power Revolution
Esther C:12, 14-16, 23-25     ><)))*> + ><)))*> + ><)))*>     Matthew 7:7-12
From Pinterest.

Late have I realized, God our Father and of history, that our much revered event/experience of the past, the EDSA People Power of 1986, happened during the Season of Lent. Was it because we were sincere in our prayers that the impossible happened on those days from February 22-25, 1986?

I believe so.

And that is why I pray again for our beloved country before EDSA is totally relegated to just dates in our poor memories or worst, as the most notorious symbol of everything wrong in us which is the highway where it all happened 35 years ago today.

In this Season of Lent as we celebrate another EDSA People Power Revolution Anniversary, teach us again how to pray.

First, to have that attitude of total surrender to you, O God, like when we faced tanks and soldiers in full battle gear holding flowers and rosary beads and images of Mary and the saints at EDSA.

Like Queen Esther in the first reading today, may we pray in total surrender and dependence on you.

Queen Esther, seized with mortal anguish, had recourse to the Lord. She lay prostrate upon the ground, together with her handmaids, from. morning until evening, and said: “God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob, blessed are you. Help me, who am alone and have no help but you, for I am taking my life in my hand.”

Esther 12, 14-15

Most of all, teach us that in order to obtain whatever we may pray from you, let us ask only for what is good for us and for others like during those days at EDSA. So many times you neither hear nor grant our prayers because it is not good enough, for us and for others. Teach us to be good, to desire only what is good, for you are the only Good One.

“Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asks for fish? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.”

Matthew 7:9-11

You know very well how most of us, the ordinary people who came there, simply wanted change in our country. You know so well we have neither lands nor money nor names to keep and safeguard. You know so well how most of us simply have you until today.

Photo by author, yellow flowers at the Carmel of the Holy Family Monastery, Guiguinto, Bulacan, 2019.

How sad some persons of power and influence took advantage of that and fooled us into believing they we were one with us in the ideals of EDSA. You also knew so well what were in their hearts then which they still keep to this day — self interests and greed for power, wealth, and fame.

Forgive us, Lord, in allowing them to prostitute EDSA.

Never again should it happen again.

Sayang.

Please show us again the way to regain its glory, its dreams and aspirations especially at this time we are at our lowest point in history as a nation. Send us selfless men and women willing to leave everything behind to you for the good of the nation.

Yes, Lord, “The Filipino is still, and always, worth dying for.” Amen.

Love: the Spirit of God

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Memorial of St. Pius X, Pope, 21 August 2020
Ezekiel 37:1-14 >><)))*> || >><)))*> ||+|| <*(((><< || <*(((><< Matthew 22:34-40
Photo by author, Jewish cemetery outside Old Jerusalem, May 2019.

Together with the psalmist today I sing to you, O God our Father: “Give thanks to the Lord, for his love is everlasting.”

Yes, O Lord, your love is everlasting, your fidelity is so true and whatever that is good for us, there is no stopping you from doing it because of your love for us.

Thank you for fulfilling this promise you made to Ezekiel your prophet in the Old Testament:

Thus says the Lord God: O my people, I will open your graves and have you rise from them, and bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and have you rise from them, O my people! I will put my spirit in you that you may live, and I will settle you upon your land; thus you shall know that I am the Lord.

Ezekiel 37:12-14

Through the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus your Son, you have indeed opened our graves and put your spirit upon us for we have been dead to sin but now raised to life in Christ.

Unfortunately, many of us have turned into spiritual “zombies” by being dead to sin again – lifeless and therefore loveless!

Revive your Spirit in us, O God, the spirit of love that Jesus poured on us.

Let us love you beyond words and letters of your laws but in flesh and blood by being loving to our brothers and sisters, in loving you by loving others.

May we continue the work of St. Pius X whose papal motto was “Renew all things in Christ” by returning to you in Jesus through the Blessed Sacrament and the Holy Eucharist.

St. Pius X came at a crucial stage in Church history in the early 1900’s when the world was experiencing great changes and revolutions not only in many nations but most especially in the thinking and outlook of people of his time — exactly like today, Lord.

May we restore all things in you, Lord Jesus by awakening in us anew the basic spirit of love through kindness and generosity to one another specially in this time of the pandemic.

We also remember today the assassination of Benigno S. Aquino Jr. who had offered us his life because he believed we “Filipinos are worth dying for.”

As our nation slid back to darkness these past decade, help us, O Lord, to rise again, to be filled with life and love for one another, for our nation and our future generation by being selfless and honorable before one’s self, others, and you. Amen.

Photo by Dra. Mai B. Dela Peña, Carmelite Monastery, Israel, 2014.

Aral ng COVID 19, VI: disiplina ang gamot sa sakit natin

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-11 ng Agosto 2020
Larawan kuha ni Bb. Anne Ramos, Abril 2020
Habang tumatagal itong quarantine 
lalong ipinakikita hindi COVID-19
ang kalaban natin kungdi ating sarili din;
matagal nang sakit na hindi kayang gamutin
nakaugat nang malalim sa katauhan natin
kawalan ng disiplina kay hirap sugpuin.
Sa gitna ng kawalan ng maaasahan
sa pamahalaang abala sa kapalaluan
ayaw pakinggan mga paraan ng nakakaalam
disiplina nating mga mamamayan
ang pinaka-mabisang sanggalang
laban sa virus na galing sa Wuhan.
Tingnan, pag-aralan, at tularan
pamamaraan ng mga bansa kung saan
paglaganap ng COVID-19 ay nalabanan
laging matatagpuan dalawang bagay magkasabay:
mahusay at magaling na pamahalaan
disiplinadong mga mamamayan.
Masunurin ang turing sa taong may disiplina
na nagmula sa wikang Griyego na discipulos,
taga-sunod o alagad; sa wikang Latin, 
dalawang kataga ang pinagsama
"ob audire" na ibig sabihin "makinig na maigi"
kaya sa Inggles "obedient" ang isang masunurin.

Ang taong may disiplina
 masunurin sa tuwina
laging nakikinig sa mga sasabihin
upang kanyang tuparin 
mga ipinagbibilin
 ano mang atas na kanyang gawain.
Kung ating lilimihin lalim
ng kahulugan ng disiplina
ito rin ang siyang dahilan
upang ating matutuhan
kahalagahan ng pagtitiyaga
at paghihintay na atin nang tinalikuran.
Pagkaraan ng mahigit limang buwan
lahat na lamang sa atin ay dinaraan 
sa paspasan, pag-aagawan, at pagdarayaan
kaya hanggang ngayon wala tayong patunguhan;
kung bawat mamamayan mayroong disiplina
baka sakali tinablan ng kahihiyan mga kinauukulan
wala na silang dahilan sa kanilang kapabayaan 
dahil sila unang nagkulang sa disiplinang kinakailangan
hindi nila tayo maaring sisihin 
nagkulang sa pagsugpo sa COVID-19.
Larawan kuha ni Bb. Anne Ramos, Marso 2020.

When we are the weeds among the wheat….

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Week XVII, Year II in Ordinary Time, 28 July 2020
Jeremiah 14:17-22 >>><)))*> >><)))*> ><)))*> Matthew 13:36-43

God our merciful Father, today we pray for our countrymen blinded by the many evils happening in our land today. For those who continue to defend the cycle of murders and killings to weed us out of criminals and addicts, for those who defend the blasphemies uttered against you and jokes against everyone, for those who continue to deny something is terribly wrong among our leaders.

We pray for them all, Lord. Open their eyes and their ears to the many sufferings around us: the cries of mothers losing a child, the pains of fathers losing their jobs, the frustrations of young people in finding a job, and the alienation of a nation lost in a circus where clowns are running the government.

Like your Prophet Jeremiah whom you have asked to tell your people in Judah and Israel how their sins have caused all their miseries and sufferings, enlighten us more to wake up our nation to the truth we have turned away from you.

Let my eyes stream with tears day and night, without rest, over the great destruction which overwhelms the virgin daughter of my people, over her incurable wound. If I walk into the field, look! Those slain by the sword; if I enter the city, look! Those consumed by hunger. Why have you struck us a blow that cannot be healed? We wait for peace, to no avail; for a time of healing, but terror comes instead. We recognize, O Lord, our wickedness, the guilt of our fathers; that we have sinned against you. Is it not you alone, O Lord, our God, to whom we look?

Jeremiah 14:17-18, 19-20, 22

Show us the way, the path back to you, O Lord.

We have become the weeds among the wheat, trying to ruin everything.

We have become callous and numb with our sins, too, that others cannot believe our calls for conversion and renewal.

Renew us, O Lord, so we may listen more to your words that will guide us to recovery and conversion. Amen.

Photo by author, Sonnen Berg Mountain View, Davao City, August 2018.

Holiness is for everyone, in all seasons

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Memorial of Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher, Martyrs, 22 June 2020
2 Kings 17:5-8, 13-15, 18 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Matthew 7:1-5
Photo by Dr. Mai Dela Peña, Tokyo, 2018.

Today we praise and thank you O God for two great saints of modern time who remind us that holiness is for everyone in all seasons because you are always relevant in every age, in every nation.

St. Thomas More and St. John Cardinal Fisher, two great men who taught us more than 500 years ago the need for us to be faithful to you and your Church than with the modern world and its modern thoughts, of the need for us to fight and oppose all forms of tyranny of men especially of those in power that always have impact on everyone especially those with less in life who take the brunt of such sinful excesses.

Both men were martyred because of their refusal to go with England’s King Henry VIII’s divorce from his first wife and eventual break from Rome and the Pope.

Both men, especially St. Thomas More who was a diplomat-lawyer and a family man, showed us that though we are in this world, we are not of the world; though we are citizens of the city of man, we are first of all citizens of the city of God.

How sad that we have refused to learn the value of their lessons of obeying you, our loving Father in heaven above all.

In fact, it was also the problem with Israel in the first reading when its capital city of Samaria fell into the hands of the Assyrians due to the people’s infidelities to God.

May we realize that every time we turn away from you O Lord, we turn away also from one another and go on our selfish own ways in life that further divide us apart and bring us into destruction and ruins.

Through St. Thomas More and St. John Cardinal Fisher, help us O Lord to examine our very selves, to see our own wickedness and shortcomings so we may effectively fight tyranny and deceit in this modern time. Amen.

From Pinterest.com.